New frame. Steep seat angle. Unrideable.

For discussions about bikes and equipment.
srb88
Posts: 48
Joined: 21 Jun 2017, 6:21pm

New frame. Steep seat angle. Unrideable.

Postby srb88 » 9 May 2019, 9:42pm

Bit of an essay, but advice and perspective would be much appreciated.

So, I've had a new frame built, by a well-known UK maker, whom I won't name currently. It's not hard to work out who for now I'll try to avoid their name cropping up in google searches with a negative thread, as I retain (dwindling) hope that they'll sort this out.

The frame is an 'off the peg', 'audax' model, 21 inch, in their 'standard' geometry, with a few custom features (tubing upgrade, eyelets removed, oval chainstays for tyre clearance).

I built the bike up expecting to tweak the fit, knowing that on nearly every road bike in the same size, I've been able to use a standard 20-25mm layback post, with the saddle centred, give or take a few mm. All of the bikes I own/have owned have been between 73 and 74.5 degrees seat angle, which is pretty much the standard range if you take a random sample of production road bikes.

However, on the first couple of rides, found that the saddle felt too far forward, even when I jammed it right back on the rails. It was pitcjing me forward, putting too much weight on my hands and forcing me to pedal hard constantly just to stay balanced. Even though my hands hurt, it did not seem possible to let go of the bars or loosen my grip as there was so much weight forward.
This is with the bars in a sensible enough position - around an inch below saddle. I can actually ride with bars much lower with appropriate setback, as I am well balanced on the bike, though prefer to be able to see the world a bit.
When I got home and used a plumb bob to measure it, I found that I could only attain 42-45mm saddle setback behind the BB.
On my other road bikes, both of which have a 73.5 seat tube angle, I ride with a touch over 60mm, and can attain 70mm, with the same seatpost and saddle. 60mm gives a good mix of slight forward aggression and balance on the bike. I'd move it a touch back if cruising or unfit.

I then used trig and bought an angle measurer, and found that the seat tube angle measured at just over 76 degrees. I contacted the maker, to ask what was going on, and was told that this is correct - that is the intended seat tube angle for that model.

They explained that this is done to avoid toe overlap and is 'common practice'. I found this extraordinary. I am aware that many smaller frames use slightly steeper angles (74-74.5) but have only ever come across a 76 degree angle on a TT or tri bike.

Without looking hard, I'm able to find tens of bikes of similar type (standard, non-race road bikes, designed originally for mudguard use), that use a 73-74 degree seat angle in the closest size to 21 inch. I cannot find a single road bike that uses a 76 degree seat angle, even when searching, 'road bike with 76 degree seat tube angle'.

When I enquired before my order, I was keen to know stack height and confirm that the geometry was 'square', i.e. 21 inch seat and top tube. Re. angles, I was told words to the effect of 'standard road geometry'.

It did not seem possible that an experienced, traditional builder would make such a compromise just to avoid toe overlap, when there is so much information around to suggest that the most important aspect of fit is seat setback and height, and also that steepening the seat angle to avoid toe overlap is a bad compromise and also causes a deceptively long reach to the bars, assuming proper setback can even be achieved.

The best bit is - I still have toe overlap!
(This isn't a problem for me - I have had it on every road bike I've owned and it's never been an issue. I have friends who have it on much larger bikes too).

NB: The fork I'm using is the appropriate length - very close to the specs of the original fork, which I had to send back for modification as the brake pads sat too high on the at the bottom of the slots - nearly touching the tyre. The company was happy to sort this, though claimed at first it seemed fine to them. (It definitely wasn't).

So what to do now.

My view is that this is such an unusually steep seat angle in comparison to the vast majority of other bikes of the same type that it ought to be mentioned as a feature on the product info or on ordering. Further as it genuinely affects fit, comfort, handling and even safety, it renders the frame not fit for purpose. It is not a disagreement on what makes a better bike, it tangibly affects things.

I have consulted with a couple of other builders for perspective, without naming and shaming the maker. They were as surprised as I was.
I could have enquired about every angle on the frame, but my view on this is that I'd been told 'standard' and it was safe to assume that it was within the typical parameters of that type of bike, in that size.

If I was buying a pair of shoes, I would not be expected to know the width in mm, but if they were much narrower than pretty much every other shoe on the market of that type and size, I would expect the manufacturer to point this out. If I wore them for a day because they generally fit in the house, but my feet were in agony by lunchtime, and then I measured the width as compared several other shoes of the same type and size, I think I would have a case for a refund.

Eek, anyway. Thanks for reading, if you made it to the end.

JohnW
Posts: 6240
Joined: 6 Jan 2007, 9:12pm
Location: Yorkshire

Re: New frame. Steep seat angle. Unrideable.

Postby JohnW » 9 May 2019, 10:42pm

That is one steep seat angle. There have been other threads on the Forum from people who cannot get their saddle back far enough. We're all different, but I cannot get a Brooks saddle far enough back on a 74º seat angle - I know, I've tried. 73º is as steep as I can get a Brooks saddle far enough back on. On a 74º angle I have a Spa saddle - which is OK. I would think that 76º is too steep for a normal riding frame for a normally proportioned rider. Brooks saddle do have less fore-and-aft flexibility than many others.

Now that's just me - I'm not a technician or frame builder, but I've been riding a long time and I've seen a lot of bikes. I would say that the angle you're quoting is possibly a mistake except for a specific purpose.

I would be upset if I couldn't set a bike up around a frame supposedly built specially for me.

There is one (at least) commercial bespoke framebuilder who fairly recently did quote such angles for a road frame, and it surprised me.

What does Brucey say?

srb88
Posts: 48
Joined: 21 Jun 2017, 6:21pm

Re: New frame. Steep seat angle. Unrideable.

Postby srb88 » 9 May 2019, 10:52pm

JohnW wrote:That is one steep seat angle...



Thanks for your reply. I'm using a saddle with 7cm of adjustment (Fabric - brand, not material), so a Brooks would be even worse. And I'd been considering a Brooks, for super-long rides.

I've actually checked with another company that uses the maker's frames as their base models, with their logos and tweaks, and they have confirmed that this angle is the set geo for the frame.

I am upset, not least because I'm not at all well off and have saved and sold a bunch of stuff to afford this. It's not 'built around me' as such, but it is built partly to my specs, and was intended as a treat, once in a decade purchase for an otherwise frugal fella still hoping to get on the housing ladder.

I don't of course expect the maker to take my wider circumstances into account, but this is a good place to offload! I almost don't have the energy to pursue it as I need focus on work and real life, but I can't just let it lie, either. It's unsuitable for me, and if I was to be honest in describing it, pretty unsellable too.

Brucey
Posts: 36060
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: New frame. Steep seat angle. Unrideable.

Postby Brucey » 9 May 2019, 11:00pm

at one time 76 degree seat angles were not uncommon in smaller frame designs. It is possibly a good compromise if you are going racing, but it is frequently problematic if you are not; there are other ways of getting the clearance at the front.

Since there is no such thing as 'standard road geometry' their reply when questioned was effectively meaningless in absolute terms, even if it might have meant something to them.

I have been in the unhappy position of having to reject a custom built frame and the wrong seat angle was one of two major faults. Fortunately I had a drawing with various things clearly marked on it including a very reasonable tolerance for the seat angle and it was clear that they hadn't achieved what had been agreed.

However when buying a frame of OTP geometry it is probably incumbent upon the purchaser to ask what the geometry is, exactly, and the vendor to supply that information on request. In this case I can see nothing but an argument arising, since it presumably can't be proved that the question of geometry ever arose, or that their 'standard geometry' might not fit some folk or indeed vary from other people's 'standard geometry'.

Unless the vendor is prepared to offer a refund (and they may well argue that they shouldn't have to) I can't see a happy outcome from srb88's POV; even if you can get the saddle back far enough (eg with a different seat pin) you may not be able to get a stem that is short enough to get the handlebars in the right place.

cheers
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

srb88
Posts: 48
Joined: 21 Jun 2017, 6:21pm

Re: New frame. Steep seat angle. Unrideable.

Postby srb88 » 9 May 2019, 11:08pm

Brucey wrote:at one time 76 degree seat angles were not uncommon in smaller frame designs. It is possibly a good compromise if you are going racing, but it is frequently problematic if you are not; there are other ways of getting the clearance at the front.

Since there is no such thing as 'standard road geometry' their reply when questioned was effectively meaningless in absolute terms, even if it might have meant something to them.

I have been in the unhappy position of having to reject a custom built frame and the wrong seat angle was one of two major faults. Fortunately I had a drawing with various things clearly marked on it including a very reasonable tolerance for the seat angle and it was clear that they hadn't achieved what had been agreed.

However when buying a frame of OTP geometry it is probably incumbent upon the purchaser to ask what the geometry is, exactly, and the vendor to supply that information on request. In this case I can see nothing but an argument arising, since it presumably can't be proved that the question of geometry ever arose, or that their 'standard geometry' might not fit some folk or indeed vary from other people's 'standard geometry'.

Unless the vendor is prepared to offer a refund (and they may well argue that they shouldn't have to) I can't see a happy outcome from srb88's POV; even if you can get the saddle back far enough (eg with a different seat pin) you may not be able to get a stem that is short enough to get the handlebars in the right place.

cheers


Cheers,

I'd say it can be proven that the geometry does vary (significantly) from other manufacturer's standard geometry, because, well, it does, based on a sample, which I will include in my formal reply to them.
I think my shoe example above is pertinent to this as well - without knowing technical specifications, a buyer should be pre-warned if a feature falls outside the norm.

I think that if they want to argue that the geometry is not problematic, they ought to take the frame back on the assumption they can sell it as lightly used or shop soiled, and withhold a few bob on a refund for their trouble.

I'm not arguing with you BTW Brucey - your points are helping me articulate my thoughts.

Samuel D
Posts: 2884
Joined: 8 Mar 2015, 11:05pm
Location: Paris

Re: New frame. Steep seat angle. Unrideable.

Postby Samuel D » 9 May 2019, 11:40pm

I think you’re justified to feel as you do. Whatever was the case in the past, a 76 degree seat tube angle is well outside current expectations for a general purpose bicycle and certainly an audax machine, and springing that on the customer by surprise is inexcusable.

Your case brings to mind Lord Denning’s remark about strange clauses in contract law:

“I quite agree that the more unreasonable a clause is, the greater the notice which must be given of it. Some clauses which I have seen would need to be printed in red ink on the face of the document with a red hand pointing to it before the notice could be held to be sufficient.”

Your 76 degree seatpost should have got the red ink treatment.

A reasonable remedy would be for the company (that I can easily guess) to take back the frame and supply you with a more sensible one, if they can, or failing that a refund. However, in practice it may be difficult to secure that, especially after you’ve got them to fix the fork for the brakes. They will have already labelled you a difficult customer (unfairly of course) for that.

These old-school British builders are a risky proposition by many accounts. That getting full geometry details out of them is like pulling teeth should be a warning sign, but against that are their reputation, long experience, and low prices.

An easy way to verify the angle, should any doubt remain, is to photograph the bicycle perpendicularly to its plane from as far away as possible (e.g. 10 metres), and then measure the angles in an image editor like Photoshop.

If all fails, name the company to warn others what to expect – if 76 degree angles are normal, the company shouldn’t mind people knowing that – and get a Nitto S84.

User avatar
horizon
Posts: 9746
Joined: 9 Jan 2007, 11:24am
Location: Cornwall

Re: New frame. Steep seat angle. Unrideable.

Postby horizon » 10 May 2019, 1:43am

How does a steeper seatpost prevent toe-overlap?
Let's just get Brexit done so that we can get on with the important job of re-joining the EU!

scottg
Posts: 670
Joined: 10 Jan 2008, 8:44pm
Location: Highland Heights Kentucky,, USA

Re: New frame. Steep seat angle. Unrideable.

Postby scottg » 10 May 2019, 2:09am

Brucey wrote:at one time 76 degree seat angles were not uncommon in smaller frame designs. It is possibly a good compromise if you are going racing, but it is frequently problematic if you are not; there are other ways of getting the clearance at the front.


Agree a 53cm frame with 76 angle sounds like a Tri bike, now 50cm and smaller you will get goofy angles with 700c wheels.
That said, there is no such thing as a standard road geometry, does the maker have a frame with geometry
that would work for the OP ?. I'd try that route if available. A swap, even with a modest restock fee,
would be fair.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Why not the best, buy Cyclo-Benelux.

NickJP
Posts: 153
Joined: 24 Sep 2018, 7:11pm

Re: New frame. Steep seat angle. Unrideable.

Postby NickJP » 10 May 2019, 3:04am

horizon wrote:How does a steeper seatpost prevent toe-overlap?

Because for a given top tube length, the distance between the bottom bracket and front wheel axle increases as the seat angle is increased (assuming the head angle and fork offset don't change). For an average saddle height, a two degree increase in the seat angle will give about one inch additional distance.

tim-b
Posts: 1073
Joined: 10 Oct 2009, 8:20am

Re: New frame. Steep seat angle. Unrideable.

Postby tim-b » 10 May 2019, 6:37am

Hi
Give them an opportunity to sort it (as you seem to be prepared to do), and if necessary use whatever consumer rights you have to raise a dispute, e.g. credit card, online purchase, etc
Regards
tim-b
~~~~¯\(ツ)/¯~~~~

Samuel D
Posts: 2884
Joined: 8 Mar 2015, 11:05pm
Location: Paris

Re: New frame. Steep seat angle. Unrideable.

Postby Samuel D » 10 May 2019, 7:32am

NickJP wrote:
horizon wrote:How does a steeper seatpost prevent toe-overlap?

Because for a given top tube length, the distance between the bottom bracket and front wheel axle increases as the seat angle is increased (assuming the head angle and fork offset don't change).

Smoke and mirrors. The cyclist must move the saddle back farther to compensate for the steeper seat tube, increasing the reach. In other words, the top tube (and down tube) could be made longer instead to reduce toe overlap. That way doesn’t require special saddles and seatposts that may not even be available.

Brucey
Posts: 36060
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: New frame. Steep seat angle. Unrideable.

Postby Brucey » 10 May 2019, 7:45am

the use of steep seat angles is based on the (in most cases false) assumption that you can move the saddle forwards and keep the same reach with no consequences. It is an easy kludge to get clearance in the front centres, and spares the framebuilder from having to make forks with different offsets etc. I mentioned that this might be an acceptable compromise for racing; reason being that you can get more aero with a steep seat angle and the added load on the handlebars is likely to be compensated for by higher pedalling forces. It isn't at all unusual to see racers use a steep seat angle that still want to slide forwards ('on the rivet') even further when they are 'going for it'. Even if the rider has to wrestle the handlebars a bit this may not be a major contribution to the overall distress level when going 10/10ths.

However a steep seat angle is more usually a bad compromise for any longer duration, lower intensity effort; the extra weight thrown onto the handlebars is unlikely to be alleviated by high pedalling forces and the added stress in the arms neck and shoulders can tell after a few hours in the saddle, if not sooner.

cheers
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

srb88
Posts: 48
Joined: 21 Jun 2017, 6:21pm

Re: New frame. Steep seat angle. Unrideable.

Postby srb88 » 10 May 2019, 8:05am

Samuel D wrote:
NickJP wrote:
horizon wrote:How does a steeper seatpost prevent toe-overlap?

Because for a given top tube length, the distance between the bottom bracket and front wheel axle increases as the seat angle is increased (assuming the head angle and fork offset don't change).

Smoke and mirrors. The cyclist must move the saddle back farther to compensate for the steeper seat tube, increasing the reach. In other words, the top tube (and down tube) could be made longer instead to reduce toe overlap. That way doesn’t require special saddles and seatposts that may not even be available.


Yep, smoke and mirrors indeed. Especially given I don't find toe overlap a concern on a road-going bike. It's only ever been a concern on a CX bike I had when trialling a very rearward cleat position, and even then, only cos I didn't want to scuff my shoes up.

I'd go as far as to say I'd rather have a lot of toe overlap - so the tyre hits the inside of the foot, than a little bit - where the tyre can squeeze past the toe and get stuck on the wrong side of the foot, or a mudguard can get jammed between toe and tyre.

srb88
Posts: 48
Joined: 21 Jun 2017, 6:21pm

Re: New frame. Steep seat angle. Unrideable.

Postby srb88 » 10 May 2019, 8:07am

Brucey wrote:
However a steep seat angle is more usually a bad compromise for any longer duration, lower intensity effort; the extra weight thrown onto the handlebars is unlikely to be alleviated by high pedalling forces and the added stress in the arms neck and shoulders can tell after a few hours in the saddle, if not sooner.

cheers


Within 10 minutes in this case, when riding on flat. Instantly on descents.

Jamesh
Posts: 692
Joined: 2 Jan 2017, 5:56pm

Re: New frame. Steep seat angle. Unrideable.

Postby Jamesh » 10 May 2019, 8:20am

Standard geometry it isn't!

To me standard geometry would be between 72 - 74° depending on usage.

Take an old Raleigh catalogue and look up the geometry's in there or the spa website to see what constitutes standard geometry.

What's the general intended usage of the bike?

Best to go back to them in a civilised manner to see what can be done..

Cheers James