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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2007 11:06 pm 
Dirt Disciple

Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 12:16 pm
Posts: 87
Location: Vancouver, CANADA
So I've been having this internal debate lately as I continue to acquire more retro frames and parts.

For many during the early 90's, the preferred way to set up your ride was with the smallest frame possible mated to a super long seatpost and long/low rise stem. The reasoning was as follows:
- a small frame resulted in a stiffer and lighter frame.
- a long seatpost was only marginally heavier than a short one and was a good compensator for a small frame.
- a long stem would offset the short top tube that your small frame provided.
- Lots of standover clearance with a small frame
- This compact layout was "cooler looking" than a larger frame with appropriately sized components.

Syncros even catered to this market by selling (many) 425mm seatposts.

So my comment is this. Being that I'm 6', my hardtail XC frames should fall somewhere in the 18-19" size. In highschool, I preferred riding a 16" Rocky Mountain with a 425mm Syncros seatpost and 150mm zero rise stem. Most of my riding buddies had a similar set-up.

Since vintage 16" team edition frames often come up for sale, I'm tempted to buy them for their rarity. On the other hand, I'm now aware of the handling drawbacks from this now unconventional set-up.

"So what" you ask?

So this: Period all the way? or build it to ride?


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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2007 11:15 pm 
Mr Darcy
Mr Darcy
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Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2005 8:36 pm
Posts: 5687
Location: Bicester
build to ride definitely.
.....so long as it still looks cool :wink:

I am a smidge under 6' and an 18.5" Rocky with a lot of post is probably the best fitting bike I have found (130mm stem)


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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2007 11:30 pm 
retrobike rider
retrobike rider
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Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2007 12:31 pm
Posts: 2482
Location: ManchestOr
Hmmm dunno

The small frame thing for me was so you dont bang ya balls,

and later in teh late 90's so you can do some mean can cans etc (which i cant) :lol:

I'm 6'2 i could of made do with 20" frames but 18 and 19" always felt right :D

now i'm on my Dr Jekyll (XL) it feels like the cross bar is miles below and pedalling in teh saddle isnt an option, but then who wants to be clubbed in the ar$e when ya jump stuff. after riding my too small apex (17") i'd be happy with a 19" again for XC whippet duties. however a sloping tupe always looks cool ya ;)


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PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2007 10:35 am 
retrobike rider / Gold Trader
retrobike rider / Gold Trader
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Joined: Thu Dec 08, 2005 12:29 pm
Posts: 2378
Location: London
I'm a lanky streak at 6'3" and a bit. I bought my bikes in my late teens / early 20s and must have grown since then because they look TINY in pictures when I'm riding them!

Recently bought a full bouncer with a larger frame and it feels just perfick, but I still think the smaller frame and an extra couple of inches of seatpost is the best look

I struggle to find retro frames in 20" or bigger. Which is probably a good thing ...


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PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2007 10:44 am 
Retro Guru

Joined: Wed Jun 14, 2006 3:35 pm
Posts: 420
Location: Newbury
id say built not to ride! but then again, that depends on where you are riding.

ill post a pic of my zinn z-centuar when i can, it had a 3ft seatpost & a 150mm stem. WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING! :shock:

not to bad for riding bridleways, but anymore, & its nooo good. (dont say road riding)

modern bikes are a mix up. some comfirm to looks, appeal & image (kona's with their far-to-fat down tubes, & high headtubes-a-la DH bike) but some dont. look at hardtail gary fishers, they are quite old skool-ish, with long top tubes, but & this is THE difference from the 90's, they have shorter stems, & higher head tubes for 4" forks.

some will dissagree, but mtb geomerty has changed, because of downhill bikes..


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PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2007 12:02 pm 
Old School Hero

Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2007 3:47 pm
Posts: 194
Location: Conyer, Kent
I am 5'9" and started in 1990 with an 18" frame. This was through circumstance. The next frame was 17.5", also through circumstance. The 17.5" felt better. When I bought my first new frame so had a choice of sizes in 95 it was a 16". I haven't really changed since, a FSR XC in 99 was 17" and my current ride is a 16" Zaskar.

I always went for the smaller frame to give me goolie room for the emergency jump off the pedals moments. I also think it looks better. I have given up on silly long stems and now ride with riser bars so its a bit of old and new thinking. Works for me


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PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2007 12:52 pm 
Old School Grand Master

Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2005 11:18 am
Posts: 15804
Location: near cwmcarn
I dont know where the small frame, super long stem idea came from but it was a bad 1! get the "reach" from toptube (IE correct size frame) not stem. shorter stems just handle better. production set ups have changed for a good reason, they handle better. no argument.

theres also no reason why you cant fit shorter stems to retro frames (assuming the frames got correct top tube lenght)

I admit theres a period of adjustment with this. If you've been riding a 16in frame with 130mms stem since "back in the day" you probabily think theres nothing wrong with it, probabily even like the current handling. perserve with a modern set up & you'll be loving it in a few months. All my friends made this transition & I was the old skool holdout, took me a looong time to make the change. looking back I cant believe I was so stubben just to experiment & I'm enjoying my biking waay more because of it :)


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PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2007 12:56 pm 
Retro Guru
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Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2007 8:13 pm
Posts: 1661
Location: fettling in the cave
I blame David Baker. Recall seeing him perched a'top his MMC at Broxa Forest


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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 11:03 am 
Dirt Disciple

Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2007 10:45 pm
Posts: 95
I'm 6' and always rode 17" back then, up until '02 in fact.

However, the bike I have just bought, a '95 P7 to replace my nicked one, is 19". Part of the reason was lack of decent nickel P7s but also I reasoned that I am 12 years older and at least a little less flexible than I was in '95.

Would still bite someones hand off for a good 17" though.


Last edited by Graeme on Fri May 11, 2007 10:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 12:10 pm 
Old School Grand Master
Old School Grand Master

Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2007 9:37 am
Posts: 4916
6'4" with a 35" inside leg and looooong arms. I ride 19" or 20" frames but they have to a 23"+ top tube and a 135mm Stem.


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