We see a lot of folks building up frames which obviously don't fit them well. I think most of these folks know that the frames in question aren't right for them. But usually they explain that it was such a great deal they couldn't turn it down, or they can't afford a new frame. Sorry, but even a cheap production frame that fits well is always better than the best hand-built masterpiece that's too small or too big.
So here are my top three clues that a frame doesn't fit:
- The vast majority of frames should have stems between 80mm and 110mm We don't even sell 130mm or 140mm stems. If you need a stem that long your top tube is too short. By using a super-long stem you are also putting too much weight forward and compromising the bikes handling. Very short stems may be useful on city bikes, but even those are a compromise.
- 15 to 30mm of seat post setback is all anyone should ever require, even with a Brooks saddle. Needing more means that either the top tube is too short or, more likely, the seat tube angle is too steep. There are those folks who convince themselves that having their seat way behind the BB allows them to apply more power. But that sort of turns your bike into a semi-recumbent. You end up loosing the ability to spin.
- An extra-long seat post on a conventional level-top-tube frame indicates a seat tube that's too short. I'm still in the "fist-full of post" school of fit.
I'll post my simplified frame fit guidelines soon. But for know I just want to emphasize that fit is more important than any other characteristic in a frame. I don't care how famous the builder is, how special the tubing, how beautiful the lugs. If it doesn't fit you well then it's not worth riding.