Was I sold a bike that is too big for me?

Hello all,

Bought a 58cm 2019 CAAD12 Ultegra about a year and a half ago. Was still pretty new to cycling when I bought it, about a year into it so didn’t know anything about sizing. Came from a bike that was way too small for me but it was free so I made it work until I could afford to buy a new bike.

Shop simply had be stand over the 58cm and told me it was my size, foolishly I didn’t think twice about it and trusted their opinion. Always felt I was too laid out on the bike but figured it was because my previous bike was so small.

I am 6 foot (182 cm) with longer arms and legs/shorter torso and ride with my hands a bit behind the hoods because I just feel far too stretched out with my hands on them (guy in the shop told me that was normal?).

Does anyone a similar size ride a 58? Would it be best for me to try and track down a 56 frame on ebay and swap it out? Or just sell the whole bike?

Unfortunately can’t get fitted in NYC right now due to covid.

Thanks.

  • It depends on what you mean by “a bit behind”… but no, I don’t consider that “normal” as in being “OK”. If we are talking a few millimeters, then fine. But if we are talking 10mm or more, then that’s a sign of a problem, IMO.

  • However, it is quite common in my fitting experience, to see people riding behind and away from the hoods. Some even slide as far back as the rounds at the rear of the bar as their “default hand position”, which is bad news to me.

  • Gapped hands is far from ideal, because you do not have proper access to the controls for steering, shifting and braking.

  • Yes, we use a range of hand positions on the road bars, and is part of their shaping, but I feel that your default (close your eyes and grab the bars) position should be landing on the hoods, inner part of your hand right up to the upcurve of the hoods, with the ability to have fingers on the controls.

  • I would hold off on any major changes without a proper review. You have given a bit of info, but far from enough to make a firm call on anything.

  • Landing further back on the hoods is a sign of a problem. It may be something as simple as a slight adjustment, a swap out of a component (like a stem) or a sign that you are on the wrong size bike. There is no real way to tell without more info, specifically some pics of you in that position.

  • Your position on the saddle could be off. A slight change in bar position or stem setup may help. You might even need a different stem, which is easy and relatively cheap. All impossible to say right now.

I don’t think the nominal frame size means that much anymore, because bike geometry can differ in other ways. That being said, I’m 2cm shorter and ride a 54 frame.

You can probably do something with a shorter stem and saddle position, but long term maybe a different frame might be better. The market is crazy right now though, so if you can ride it ok enough, I’d keep it and look at selling next year. If you can get someone experienced to have a look at your position in the meantime, that would be good too.

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One new option that you can do from home is then fitting solution.

We are discussing it here and one member already got some good results from it.

I don’t know that it will clearly identify if you are on the wrong size bike. But if it recommends some drastic changes to positions of saddle and bars, especially if they lead to odd component sizes (like a super short stem), that can indicate a frame size issue.

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Appropriate frame sizes are dependent on more than just height. I am 6’0" exactly, and I rode a 58 CAAD9 for years. My brother on the other hand, who is exact same height, has different arm/leg/torso dimensions, and does best on a 56.

Also, a lot of it comes down to desired position. There isn’t a necessarily perfect or “right” position IMHO. For instance, my position on my CX bike is very different than my road bike which is obviously different than my MTB.

I would say that it is tougher to adjust if you get a frame that is a little too big than a little too small.

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Hard to tell. My first road bike was a 56" and it was all i knew so i just got on with it.
My next bike was a 58" SuperSix Evo and put side by side it looked worryingly big and felt a bit odd for a few rides. I crashed that after 2 weeks (hit by a car) and moved onto a Cervelo R3. I’ve done many 1000’s of miles, raced and all sorts on this bike.

I am pretty sure that i was sold a slightly too small bike the first time and 58" is right for me. I am 6’1"

Interestingly, I used a Slice on my trainer for a whole winter and that has a shorter reach. When i went back outside onto the Cervelo again at first it felt like i couldn’t reach the brakes. Then i rapidly got used to it, got my flexibility back and all’s good again.
It might be that you just need to get used to the position and get flexibility back. When you ride, spend a lot of time with the right hand position and bend your elbows to get low. It’ll come back pretty soon.

I’m a bit taller than you (about 6’1.5") with a longer torso. I have ridden a 58 Cannondale Synapse for years and love it. Riding on the road I am comfortable all the way out on the tips of the drops if riding fast but move back for more casual riding. I had an initial fitting done with the Specialized fitting and later a ReTul fitting. Both made only minor adjustments to fit. The ReTul fitter did say I was slightly “stretched out” but If I was comfortable then no issue. The easy solution it I was uncomfortable would have been a 1 cm shorter stem.
I would get a fitting as soon as you can. I would also say whoever sold you that bike did not do their job in the initial fitting. A good LBS should at least put you on a trainer and check the overall fit to make sure you are on the right frame as part of the initial purchase. In the meantime it is pretty easy to swap the stem for something just a little shorter and see if that makes a difference.

Just as a data point I’m your height and find I sit in-between size 56 and 58 frames - good news is that I can make either fit but always had that nagging doubt in the back of my mind.

This is one of the reasons I like to ride Ridley’s now because they do 57 frames :+1:

But I doubt the shop have sold you the “wrong” size bike - I reckon you will be able to get a decent fit on it.

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I think @mcneese.chad 's response covers things in a lot more depth, so trust in him. Just one data point to add - I am 6’3" and rode on a 58 CAAD12 for a number of seasons. I was closer to sizing down from the 58 than sizing up - but ultimately the 58 was the right size for me

I am 6’ 1” with your same proportions. I originally bought/rode a 58 that I could never quite get comfortable on with my own adjustments. Eventually I was able to get a bike fit and shorter stem, which helped drastically. However, I downsized to a 56 and am much more comfortable on it. Now the 58 stays on my trainer!

For the sake of seeing the real difference in a 56 and 58 of the bike in question:

Raw values:

How the 56 differs from the 58 as a “base”:

  • Reach is only 6mm shorter

  • Top Tube (effective) drops 14mm, because of the shorter reach AND steeper Seat Tube Angle.

  • If you assume a locked saddle position relative to the BB (identical on both bikes despite the slight seat tube angle difference), the functional difference in the frame size (as seen by Reach) are actually not that big.

  • All this is just frame sizing. Stock stem length may have differed (I would guess 100mm on the 56, and 100mm or 110mm on the 58), and final saddle position is variable in the rails of the post.

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I rode a 56 FP3 with aftermarket aero bars that felt fine to me for the longest time, then I got a same sized Aeroad that was much smaller by comparison and now the FP3 feels too big. I used to be comfortably on the hoods, now I’m comfortably on the curve. It’s my indoor bike, so doesn’t really matter, kind of gives me some more hand positions that I like. I then rode a 58 Trek gravel bike that looked like a boat, but felt fine. I think a lot of it is what you are used to up to a point. If you have pain, you may want to try some things, but if not, may try getting used to it until you can do a proper fit.

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Like everyone has been saying, it depends on a lot of factors. I will say that I am also 6 feet tall and ride a 58 cm CAAD12. It never really felt too big for me, but there have been a couple adjustments I’ve made since I brought it home from the shop that have helped me feel better on the bike.

  1. When I bought it, I told the guys at the shop I wanted to try out a more aggressive position. So naturally, they slammed the stem and flipped it . After a few rides, I flipped the stem and put a bunch of spacers underneath. That helped.
  2. A while later, I switched out the stock 100 mm stem for a 90. That made a big difference in how I feel on the bike. I used to sometimes feel like it was a stretch to get to the hoods - fine for short rides, less so the longer I was riding.

Good luck dialing it in.

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If it was an ethical shop they would have sold a size based on the manufacturers recommendations. If they weren’t ethical they sold whatever they had in stock.
My fitter got me to buy one size under what Trek recommends on their website but for the next model up he recommended what Trek says. It was all to do with different handlebars on each model.
You need a good independent fitter to advise you. Wait until you can see one.

This has been my experience.

Here is the current sheet on the CAAD13:

So they claim a 56, but clearly from the chart a 58 could work based on that limited info.

  • The reality is that sizing takes more than that to really get a feel for the right choice, because it’s pretty common for people to be able to fit two sizes.
  • Depending on the rider and their current state and/or preference, one might make more sense than the other.
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not to mention he has “long arms.”

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Yeah, I would err on the smaller size of the two. But I guess with taller people you have to consider are they longer in the torso or longer in their limbs? It’s never a clear cut answer.
My fitter has a physiology degree so he really dives into it. That’s the other issue too, the bike fit is only as good as the fitter doing it.

Firstly, good bike choice! I have a '16 model and I love it. :smiley:

IMHO it would bring more value to you to see a bike fitter first and take his advice in consideration.

What other people do/use in this situation doesn’t bring much value to the party.

Bike fitting is quite specific to the individual and it will even change over time.

If you looked on YouTube there’s some good videos about setting saddle height and fore/aft. I’d try that first see if your saddle is in the right position.

You could then either try a shorter stem - loads on ebay etc pretty cheap or maybe you have riding buddies who could leave one outside your house for you to try?

Or free version if you have room on your saddle rails is slide it forward 10 or even 20 mm and see how that feels. Though that’ll knock the seat position out it may give you some feeling/insight about reach.

Over the years I think a fair few of us have gathered a number of stems from doing this - you could also try asking on the pay it forward thread… If anyone has a shorter one.

Sometimes you have to give it a few rides to bed in and get used to it. Shorter stems may quicken the steering though.

Hope you resolve it and as others have said bike fit is a good idea - but what if the fitter says it’s too big. Can you afford to change it out? Or replace? :thinking:

Just thoughts.