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PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2019 1:10 pm 
Dirt Disciple

Joined: Mon Oct 21, 2019 9:05 pm
Posts: 12
I have a 98 GT Arrowhead that I use as a daily bike and which I am reluctant to get rid of because of sentimental value. Problem is that I am 6ft2 and the bike is only an 18" and it has always felt a little small and squashed to ride. In particular the bars feel low which seems to round my back. I bought it back in the time when everyone thought smaller was better and have ridden it a lot since albeit it with pretty much everything replaced at some point. Now i am getting a little older and my body is not so forgiving I wonder if this smaller frame will do me damage and how best to remedy it?

I do not want to get a new bike as this one would just sit there doing nothing and I would not get rid of it.

So I feel my best options are:

- Replace the frame with a frame of a similar vintage (perhaps a 20" GT?)
- Put a stem extender post on the forks to raise them up a bit
- Put on a replacement fork again from a similar vintage as the Judy's are too soft anyway and that would allow me to put in spacers to raise the front (can't do this on my current forks as the steerer tube is cut to size)
- Admit defeat and get a bike that fits and just keep the old one as a spare

So of all those options what would you guys pick in my situation and is there an option I am missing?

I love my retro GT but given that it was only really an entry level bike to begin with and that almost no part of the bike is original am I being too sentimental?


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2019 1:19 pm 
Dirt Disciple

Joined: Mon Oct 21, 2019 9:05 pm
Posts: 12
Sorry just realised there is a post 97 part of the forum so please feel free to move this there if more appropriate?


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2019 2:35 pm 
retrobike rider
retrobike rider
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Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 7:19 pm
Posts: 3462
Location: Leeds, for ages!
Another bike, probably.

Adapting a frame too small kinda distorts the look of the bike.
You end up with a 400mm seatpost and a stem with ugly rise.
The effort results in little gain, even a 20" may not help you, as those GT's often
Have a short headtube as per frame size.

Keep the bike for sentimental reasons but get something else to ride properly.


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 Post subject: Re: Re:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2019 3:01 pm 
Dirt Disciple

Joined: Mon Oct 21, 2019 9:05 pm
Posts: 12
marc two tone wrote:
Another bike, probably.

Adapting a frame too small kinda distorts the look of the bike.
You end up with a 400mm seatpost and a stem with ugly rise.
The effort results in little gain, even a 20" may not help you, as those GT's often
Have a short headtube as per frame size.

Keep the bike for sentimental reasons but get something else to ride properly.


Thanks for the input.

Just to be clear I only ride this bike on road as a commuter/town bike and never off-road. Does that change anything?


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2019 3:58 pm 
Retro Guru

Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2017 12:26 pm
Posts: 697
Location: Lost now on the country miles
No, that doesn't really change anything. After all, your riding position is just the same. The length of time you're on the bike makes a difference: the longer you're on the bike, the worse the problems are likely to become. If you look at other bikes, look at reach or top tube length as well as the length of the seat tube: they're just as important. And look at the height of the handlebars relative to the position you'd be likely to have the saddle at. It does sound like more modern geometry might suit you better though.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2019 4:07 pm 
Retro Guru
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Joined: Sat Apr 23, 2016 8:46 pm
Posts: 330
Location: Chorley
I had the opposite problem. I was 5 feet 9 and a bit but always liked plenty of space. I crushed 2 vertabrae, reducing me to 5 feet 8, yet I still bought a large frame. Sliding the seat forwards has made a vast improvement. It has a lay back seat post so I could buy an in line one and still have a shorter cockpit. What about trying to find a seat post with as much lay back as possible and a long stem? I had a 140mm (at least) stem on my Mk1 Marin Rift Zone. By 2014 it looked ridiculous. A stem with plenty of rise might also help. My Proflex has such a arse up, head down riding position, it just doesn't suit the middle aged but I'm working on improving it.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 25, 2019 2:16 am 
Newbie

Joined: Tue Sep 03, 2019 7:50 am
Posts: 1
Hi mate

I'm in almost exactly the same position as you. I'm 190cm and recently bought at 1996 GT Backwoods with an 18" frame because I couldn't resist the exquisite flame decals. I find the saddle height to be fine but the bars are really too low for my liking.

Here's a few approximate measurements that might help from frames I have:

1996 GT Backwoods 18" - top tube 575mm seat tube 520mm (bb centre to very top of the tube)
1996 GT Zaskar LE 19" - top tube 580mm seat tube 540mm
1999 GT Tempest 20" - top tube 580 seat tube 565mm

The Tempest was really too wrecked to ride and is now in bits, but when it was in one piece it felt quite comfortable for me. However, stepping over the top tube was a really close shave even in work boots. If anything it was perhaps a pinch large for me. I'm hoping the 19" Zaskar will be an ideal size for me when it's finished.

The other key point is that a bigger GT frame from that era will raise your bars but won't lengthen the frame much. Top tube is only around 5mm longer (assuming my measurements are accurate) from a 18 to 20" 90s GT frame.

Here's a couple of ideas to raise your bars though:
- Fit 100mm travel forks. The awful Jett forks on the Tempest measure 420mm crown to top of axle, but the 100mm travel Marzocchi Bomber Z3.5 forks I'm fitting to the Zaskar are 470mm. So there's a decent gain there, say around 40-50mm, albeit at the expense of geometry. Won't make the bike look too out of proportion though.

- Fit a couple of spacers in the new forks - you might get 10-20mm out of this

- Fit a stem with more angle - you might get 20mm out of this. Stem length is another consideration.

- Fit riser bars - you might get 20-40mm out of this, mind you I think they look ugly.

Long story short: you won't have a modern geometry bike at the end, but it should be possible to raise the bars around 100mm with fork and stem changes. Getting a larger GT frame will raise the bars but won't get you a much longer bike.

cheers Phin


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 27, 2019 1:36 pm 
Retro Guru
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Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2011 9:14 pm
Posts: 259
Location: Colchester, Essex
Well, I know it's not for everyone, but I have used BMX bars with small frames to achieve a practical riding position. Some BMX bars are very heavy- forget those, find the multi -butted ones. Not cheap, maybe buy used. I remove a section of the brace to allow more flex, also saves a couple of ounces..
By tilting the bars, it's easy to fine tune for your preferred reach. One thing to look out for is the length of straight handlebar available for brake-gearchange combos


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 27, 2019 1:48 pm 
Retro Guru
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Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2011 9:14 pm
Posts: 259
Location: Colchester, Essex
Well, I know it's not for everyone, but I have used BMX bars with my small frames to achieve a practical riding position. Some BMX bars are very heavy- forget those, find the multi -butted ones. Not cheap, maybe buy used. I remove a section of the brace to allow more flex, also saves a couple of ounces..
By tilting the bars, it's easy to fine tune for your preferred reach. One thing to look out for is the length of straight handlebar available for brake-gearchange combos. I use thumbshifters mounted on the stubs of the cut cross-brace on some of my bikes.
You'll need a BMX stem, or shim a 25.4mm. Shims are available.
I'm 64 next month, must keep comfortable if I want to keep cycling..


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2019 8:10 am 
Dirt Disciple

Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2018 5:09 am
Posts: 34
Location: B.C Canada
I have the same problem with a too small sentimental bike. I added some surly sunrise bars 83mm rise and 820 width and its very enjoyable now. Also some taller forks could be an option?


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