Question: I’m 5-foot-11, 250 pounds, with a short torso. Every bike I’ve owned has had an excessive reach to the handlebar. I’ve played around with different stems to no avail. Wherecan I get a bike that fits my body type? — Billy P.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Bike manufacturers don’t design stock frames with significantly short top tubes. Road geometry has been refined over the years, so most bikes of a given size have top tubes within about a centimeter of each other.
There are exceptions. For instance, Italian road bikes traditionally have slightly shorter top tubes. I once had a 58-cm (center to top) Gios with a 55-cm top tube. I have long legs and a short upper body so it fit me perfectly.
The web is a great resource. Most bike companies post their geometries online. Surf around to find a frame with your correct seat tube length but a relatively short top tube.
Besides using a stem with a shorter extension, you can also use one that’s taller if your bike accepts the old quill style. This has the effect of moving the handlebar toward you. Also, you can switch to a drop bar with a shorter forward extension, known as a compact bar. There are lots of options on the market.
Finally, consider a custom frame. My Serotta Ottrott has the same dimensions as my old Gios. Any competent framebuilder can make a bike that fits you well. Most will ask for detailed measurements and information to ensure a perfect fit.