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Thread: Dumb Wheelbase Question

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    Default Dumb Wheelbase Question

    Perhaps a dumb question, but something I've been thinking about recently - can you feel the difference if you shorten the wheelbase on a bike by 10mm?

    I've never owned a custom frame. I read this forum because, among the many reasons, having hung out here I find myself much better informed on what I want in, what to look for in, and indeed if I want a custom frame.

    That said, I've come to realize that the bikes I've owned have all had the kind of classic Italian race geometry - that is ST angle around 73.5, HT angle around 72.5, wheelbase around 988cm; this for a 54-55cm TT. This is mated to 140 stems and saddles shoved back on the rails, so effective setback and reach is a bit more than normal for that size frame (larger stock frames = not low enough in the HT).

    I've been thinking about bikes with shorter wheelbases via steeper HTs, like that found on American makers like Felt, Specialized and the like. I've ridden this types of bikes for brief test rides, but never owned one. I've been thinking that before ordering a custom, perhaps I should experiment with a owning a frame like these to see if I like the handling more than what I've been on. My guess is that I won't, but one never knows.

    My question is the VSalon intelligentsia is: am I overthinking this? Would moving to a frame of same/similar size with a 8-10mm shorter wheelbase really be a good experiment for making myself as informed as possible before spending $3-4k a custom? A CAAD10 or an Allez would be inexpensive enough to use for such a purpose. Or would I simply find that switching back and forth the bikes feel different briefly but I quickly adapt to each one each time, and the experiment is a waste of time/money.

    Thanks for reading.
     

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    Default Re: Dumb Wheelbase Question

    My italian bike has a 73 head angle on a 54 cm frame.
    I came here for the socks.

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    Default Re: Dumb Wheelbase Question

    My 2 cents.

    You are overthinking this because...
    - If you find a good builder and you describe what you are looking for, what you intend to do with the bike, they will determine what the right measurements are to provide you with a bike that does what you asked for.
    - How a bike handles is a combination of things rather than any one measurement. You are asking about wheelbase but the question is 'what do you want the bike to do that it is not doing now?'. Of course you may not know...
    - The fact that you have your seat shoved to the back on the rails is a sign of how the bike is sitting under you (or you are sitting on it). **This is not a comment about you position on the bike, but what you need to do to the bike to get the position you want.
    - Related to the point above, to me "classic Italian race geometry" involves a more slack STA. But I might be older then you so 'classic' may have a different meaning :)

    Or you may simply want to try other geometries to see how you like them. The grass might be greener on the neighbor's lawn and you want to go see for your self. All part of the fun. In that case all my ramblings above are useless. You could see if local shops have demo bikes you can use. However you may find they are mostly the same unless you go from 'race' bikes to 'cross' bikes to 'tri/tt' bikes or some of the high end bikes/brands.

    OK - this might have only have been worth 1 cent.
    Brian McLaughlin

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    Default Re: Dumb Wheelbase Question

    I've thought about this myself. I've had several 54cm Colnagos and while the ride is sublime, they require some input when cornering compared with the quicker US bikes you mention. I've owned a bunch of those too. So, anyone? I've been wondering if a 74 degree seat tube (standard with a 54cm Colnago) is putting the rear wheel in a place that just works better for me.
     

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    Default Re: Dumb Wheelbase Question

    Quote Originally Posted by grid256 View Post
    I've thought about this myself. I've had several 54cm Colnagos and while the ride is sublime, they require some input when cornering compared with the quicker US bikes you mention. I've owned a bunch of those too. So, anyone? I've been wondering if a 74 degree seat tube (standard with a 54cm Colnago) is putting the rear wheel in a place that just works better for me.
    The seat angle is about your knee and your muscles. Not about the wheel.
    I came here for the socks.

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    Default Re: Dumb Wheelbase Question

    Quote Originally Posted by colker View Post
    The seat angle is about your knee and your muscles. Not about the wheel.
    Seat angle is about weight distribution and hip angle.
     

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    Default Re: Dumb Wheelbase Question

    Quote Originally Posted by adamrogers2009 View Post

    My question is the VSalon intelligentsia is: am I overthinking this?
    Yes, you are overthinking this. If you are interested in a custom, find an established builder with a good reputation and let them decided the numbers and don't worry about what those numbers are. It's about contact points far more than it is about a millimeter here or a 1/10 of a degree there. I couldn't tell you what the wheelbase or chainstay length or anything else is on my Zanconato. The only one I sort of care(d) about is top tube or top tube equivalent and head tube length. What I do know is that the finished product is excellent. It fits very well and handles very well.

    Let a good builder worry about these numbers.

    If you're going stock, ride some bikes that are out there. Many are excellent. Worry more about the contact points than about those numbers.
     

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    Default Re: Dumb Wheelbase Question

    Wheelbase, trail, front center, angles, etc...they all factor into handling. It's not just about wheelbase. But as others have said, a good builder will be able to translate what you want into something that you'll enjoy. And, FWIW, my Zanconato's wheelbase is about 19mm shorter than my Gaulzettis' wheelbases, and they all handle beautifully.
     

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    Default Re: Dumb Wheelbase Question

    Two customs here: Rock Lobster and a Della Santa. Two very different wheelbases. Both handle and ride great. Even sent Paul the numbers for the DS as a reference for "I think this bike is the jam, but I'd like your bike to do X,Y,Z that this one doesn't."

    Let the builder sweat that stuff, just tell him or her what you want the bike to do and let them take care of the rest.
     

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    Default Re: Dumb Wheelbase Question

    Anachronistic | RKP

    This article on Italian geometry over at RKP is well timed for this thread.
     

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    Default Re: Dumb Wheelbase Question

    Rigi is an Italian who believes in shorter + steeper = more better.
    Attached Images Attached Images
     

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    Default Re: Dumb Wheelbase Question

    I suspect BB drop affects more how the bike handles than head angle or wheelbase.
    I came here for the socks.

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    Default Re: Dumb Wheelbase Question

    The point of my seat tube degree observation is only that a 74 will have the wheel further away from my butt than a 73 degree seat tube would. This assumes chainstays and saddle position relative to bb remain the same between the two hypothetical bikes. I think...
     

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    Default Re: Dumb Wheelbase Question

    Quote Originally Posted by grid256 View Post
    The point of my seat tube degree observation is only that a 74 will have the wheel further away from my butt than a 73 degree seat tube would. This assumes chainstays and saddle position relative to bb remain the same between the two hypothetical bikes. I think...
    If the chainstays and seat position relative to BB remain the same, then the wheel will be in the same place relative to you.
    DT

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    Default Re: Dumb Wheelbase Question

    I suspect that winter determines how important all of these variables are, and summer determines how unimportant they become.
     

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    Default Re: Dumb Wheelbase Question

    PS:

    that Rigi
    gives me
    the he be
    ge bes
     

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    Default Re: Dumb Wheelbase Question

    Quote Originally Posted by colker View Post
    I suspect BB drop affects more how the bike handles than head angle or wheelbase.
    na 345

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    Default Re: Dumb Wheelbase Question

    Quote Originally Posted by bdaghisallo View Post
    Anachronistic | RKP

    This article on Italian geometry over at RKP is well timed for this thread.
    I find his theory hard to believe.
    I came here for the socks.

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    Default Re: Dumb Wheelbase Question

    Quote Originally Posted by theflashunc View Post
    Two customs here: Rock Lobster and a Della Santa. Two very different wheelbases. Both handle and ride great. Even sent Paul the numbers for the DS as a reference for "I think this bike is the jam, but I'd like your bike to do X,Y,Z that this one doesn't."

    Let the builder sweat that stuff, just tell him or her what you want the bike to do and let them take care of the rest.
    This is exactly what I did with Paul, I sent him my Gaulzetti numbers and said this is what I wanted this bike to do and it does it great. What I want from the new bike is this. Paul told me what he was planning to do and I said, great, can't wait to ride it.

    Find a good builder, then trust your builder.
    Nathan H

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    Default Re: Dumb Wheelbase Question

    My 1980's Italian Zullini (66 cm, columbus SP) has a 75 degree head angle and a lowly raked fork. (in order to keep the wheel base short?). Loved that bike for the paint job and the way it climbed, but it almost killed me with the shimmying on descends. I just hate to put bikes I spend weeks in a row on the "least favorite " thread, because my hardest and most memorable cycling moments I had on that bike (6 weeks to Santiago Compostella).
    I'm sure they screwed up though, keeping the wheelbase short by steepening the HA. At least , thats my theory.
     

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