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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I'm currently looking at buying my first road bike. I've tried out several bikes so far, some that I didn't like so much, some that I've really liked. The two that feel the best so far are the cannondale synapse alloy 4 and the giant OCR 2 (aluminum).

I'm about 5"11' with just under 33" inseam. The synapse my LBS had me on was a 56, and the Giant was a 'medium' - 50cm. Both bikes feel great and have their pros and cons - although currently I'm leaning towards the Giant as it has a more 'racey' feel and is much better on the uphill.

The only issue I have with shelling out for the OCR2 is that I seem to be right at the high end of the size range for this frame. The shop had to move the saddle back a fair amount, and although there's a bit more room to move it back even more, it felt just ever so slightly short, but not enough to actually be uncomfortable - it may have just been my perception caused by the fact that the shop guy commented that I was at the high end of the range before he sent me out on it. That's how close it is - I can't really tell.

Is there a risk to buying a compact frame like this when I'm so close to the high end of the range? The Giant site states that the OCR 50cm frame is good for people 5"6' to 5"11'. At just a hair under 5"11' am I taking a risk buying this bike?

I wouldn't be unhappy with the synapse but it is a little less 'fast' feeling and is also about $150 more expensive.

Opinions?
 

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Old Skool
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Go with what fits the best

You need to understand that bike fitting is part art and part science. There is lots of wiggle room when choosing a frame size because there are a lot of factors involved.

At 5’11” and a just under a 33 inch inseam you and I are just about the same size and proportion. From a bike fitting standpoint, you (we) have slightly short legs and a long torso. All else being equal (arm length, flexibility, personal preference, riding style) you need a longer cockpit (seat to bars distance) than the average person your height to accommodate your longer torso. A key ingredient in this is top tube (TT) length. The seat tube angle (SA) also comes into play here, as does the stem length. All else being equal (saddle position, both height and distance behind bottom bracket, stem length, bar height), the steeper the SA the longer any given TT length will feel. The specs for the two bikes in question are as follows:

TT: Cannondale: 56
Giant: 54.9
SA: Cannondale: 73.5
Giant: 73

All else being equal, the Cannondale provides a longer cockpit and is probably a better fit for you. I know, given the cockpit length of my ride, I would feel a bit scrunched on the Giant. Of course, this is me, basing my advice on our physical similarities and certain other assumptions. If it were me, I would test ride a size “L” Giant and see if that feels better. If it doesn’t you might consider putting a longer stem on the Giant. The shop should be willing to do this (at little or no charge) as part of the fitting process if you buy the bike. However, my gut reaction without seeing you on the two bikes is that the Cannondale is better proportioned for you.

Bottom line, when buying a bike, fit is the most important factor. These two bikes are quite close as far as the quality of the components goes. Therefore, you should buy the one that fits better. Better fit equals more comfortable. The more comfortable bike will definitely feel “faster” at the end of a long ride.
 

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gastarbeiter
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I think you'll be more than fine on a Medium.

If it's that much of a concern, then try the ML, but IMO a Large would be a mistake.
 

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Old Skool
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Large is the next size up

Giant only offers five frame sizes for this bike: XS, S, M, L, XL. The SA specs are 42, 46.5, 50, 55.5, and 58.5 respectively. So "Large" is the next size up. However, that is 5.5 cm more seat tube, a pretty big jump IMHO.

One of the issues here is the whole reason for “compact” (sloping TT) geometry to begin with. This has been covered / debated in excruciating detail in other threads. The short version is that Giant introduced compact geometry partly as a way to fit more people with fewer frame sizes. This allows them to get by producing fewer frame sizes and helps them manage inventory. Boil it down, and it is a cost saving mechanism. Yes, Giant (and others) state certain advantages for compact geometry, some of which may be true, but let’s remember how it really got started.

That said, it stands to reason with only five sizes, and big jumps between the sizes that some people are really “stuck” between sizes. This, IMHO, is probably the case with the OP. On the other hand, the Cannondale in question is also a compact design but is produced in seven sizes with smaller jumps between the sizes. So the chance of being stuck between sizes is less.

As for us picking the right bike for the OP, it is pretty hard for us to do it without seeing him on both bikes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Stogaguy said:
Giant only offers five frame sizes for this bike: XS, S, M, L, XL. The SA specs are 42, 46.5, 50, 55.5, and 58.5 respectively. So "Large" is the next size up. However, that is 5.5 cm more seat tube, a pretty big jump IMHO.
This is one of the issues that was confusing me. On the Giant site the following chart seems to imply they make a M/L size with a 53.5 seat tube. I guess I'll be calling the shop back and asking them to confirm/deny this.

 

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I just bought the Giant TCR 2, which I would suggest looking at for a racier geometry. Anyway, the Giant site said that I should be on a large, but when I was measured, I was fit for the XL. It just goes to show that the website is based on common body measurements but is not the sizing bible. For example, I have long legs, but a shorter torso for my size - so the Large would probably be too small. The shop I went to took a bunch of measurements and used a computer program to determine the correct size, seat and handlebar positions for me. If you feel it is small for you, try looking at a large - I'm only 3" taller and am on an XL.
 

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here comes trouble
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For example, I have long legs, but a shorter torso for my size - so the Large would probably be too small.
If you have long legs and a short torso, you would need a shorter top tube, which sometimes translates to a smaller bike.

Just sayin'.
 

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paint said:
If you have long legs and a short torso, you would need a shorter top tube, which sometimes translates to a smaller bike.

Just sayin'.
But with the compact geometry, the top tubes are shorter anyway, so couldn't you go bigger? I don't feel any more stretched out on the Giant TCR than I did on any other bike I tried in 59-60cm. Also, my torso isn't overly short for my size - just a little.
 

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Old Skool
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ML not available for the OCR 2

After some poking around on the Giant site, it appears that Giant does make a “ML” size frame, but only on its high end models. This size is not produced for the OCR 2 model. This goes back to my point about trying to fit more people with fewer sizes. IMHO, it also implies that Giant tacitly acknowledges the pitfalls inherent in this approach by producing the high end models in more closely spaced sizes.

I stand by my advice to buy what fits the best, i.e. is the most comfortable. My advice is to discuss the issues raised in this thread with the bike shop. This will let them know that you are serious about getting fit properly. I cannot comment on your shop specifically, however, it is not uncommon for shops to be less than diligent about the fitting first time buyers. They figure that the people do not know or care, and it is easier to sell them something that they have in stock. The fact that you are doing research on your own, and asking questions in this forum signals, clearly that you are taking this purchase more seriously then the “average” first time buyer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for the info everyone.

Stogaguy, I think your comment about bike shops not taking fitting too seriously for first time buyers is spot on. This shop is one of the 'bigger' shops in my area, and it was the 2nd shop I went to, the first being a smaller one where the roadie specialist was MUCH more thorough as far as fitting me to a prospective bike. While the small shop had me on a fitting platform and looked at things such as the angle of my back, feet, and arms, and made many many adjustments before he sent me out onto the road for a test spin, the larger one basically set the saddle height and fore/aft position and sent me out. Not terribly confidence-inspiring after being treated so well at the first shop.

Of course the problem is that wouldn't you know it, the bikes that I liked the most are both sold at the bigger shop, and not at the smaller one. Looks like I may have to look around for another place dealing with both Giant and Cannondale - while the bigger shop is extremely convenient (a block from my house) and has the brands I've liked the most so far, they definitely have inferior service as far as fitting. I'd be lying if I didn't say I'm sort of annoyed about this.
 

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here comes trouble
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It's mostly about specific body proportion. When you say "short torso," I almost always think smaller TT (which generally results in a smaller bike, depending on geometry), probably because I'm 5'3 and have a 32" inseam - translates to a very short torso, and I had to go a size smaller because the top tube on the one up made me feel a bit stretched.

With compact frames, it's not that the top tubes are shorter, it's that they slope downard allowing for more standover height so a bigger range of people can get their leg over/ride it. The "fit" of a compact frame comes primarily in the saddle height, setback, and stem length/position.

If you're not overly short-torso'd, then having longer legs could possibly move you up on a compact frame size because of the added standover clearance in comparison with traditional geometry. But for the most part, it's about what you feel most comfortable riding.
 

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paint said:
It's mostly about specific body proportion. When you say "short torso," I almost always think smaller TT (which generally results in a smaller bike, depending on geometry), probably because I'm 5'3 and have a 32" inseam - translates to a very short torso, and I had to go a size smaller because the top tube on the one up made me feel a bit stretched.
I'm 6'2" with a 34" torso so my torso isn't that short. What you say makes sense though. I'm comfortable on the bike and that's all that really counts.
 

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Definitely go with the Medium. I have an OCR1 (Large) and a TCR1 (Medium).

I'm 6'-0" with a 33" inseam, so we are pretty similar. I rode the OCR1 Large for 3 years and put over 7,500 miles on it. I really liked the bike, but I was never really comfortable.

Last year I decided to upgrade to the TCR1 Composite. I "thought" I wanted the Medium/Large, but it wasn't available, so I test rode the medium and immediately feel in love with the improved fit. After I bought it I went through a custom fitting (at a different shop) and now feel that I have a custom bike. I have 3,500 miles on the TCR1 and it still feels great everytime I get on it. I still have the OCR1 as a backup bike, but now it is torture getting on it - it just doesn't fit as well as the medium.
 
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