One issue I don’t really understand is the obsession with standover clearance. On quite a few of my bikes [both Surly LHTs, my Pugsley & my Boulder Bicycle All Road] I have no standover clearance at all. When I straddle the bike with both feet flat on the ground I get light contact with “my boys”. In years of riding, crashing and falling off my bikes I’ve never hurt my groin due to smashing into my TT. In particular I ride my Pugsley on soft sand/snow where, in theory, I should have a ton of standover problems as my feet would sink into the ground reducing standover even more. Yet it just never happens no matter where I stop or how I crash – and I do crash on my Pugs – a lot!
Now you might say standover can’t hurt so why not make sure you have a bunch of it just in case?:
- People buy frames that are too small for them to achieve the stand over they feel is essential when really the effective TT of the bike they are looking at is what’s important.
- In order to achieve standover designers have to make frames very small with sloped TTs.
- Small frames mean loads of seatpost stuck out which leads to other problems and much less space inside the frame if you want to use a frame bag or if you want to carry large water bottles.
- With 29ers and full suspension the efforts to lower the TT start to drive bike designs to the point of compromising them.
Okay let’s say you must have 2″ of standover clearance on a bike:
- Look at the geometry charts for bikes you are interested in and find the frame size that gives you the effective TT you need with a 100mm stem.
- This will give you +/- 1cm of TT adjustment when you actually get the bike while keeping the stem at a reasonable size.
- Check the tires they used to measure the standover clearance and adjust the stated TT height depending on what tires you would like to run.
- Measure yourself by sliding a book up between your legs until you get light contact – don’t jam it up into your groin or you’ll be cutting down the standover you’ll actually experience on the bike.
- Measure with your feet about 18″ apart….like you were straddling a bike…not with your feet together or you’ll get less standover than you expect on the bike.
- Add 2″ or 50mm to the measured value and check that you have that mid-TT on your bike of interest.
- If yes you are solid.
- If not don’t buy the next size down as you’ll mess up the more important TT dimension. Instead skip that bike as the design doesn’t work for you and look for one with a more radically sloped TT.
Following this approach I couldn’t ride an 18″ Pugsley and a 16″ Pugsley would have a TT that was too short. I could fit on a medium Salsa Mukluk though. After all my fun adventures on the Pugsley I am glad I didn’t let standover clearance drive my decision process.
That’s not to say I don’t care about standover at all. I find light contact with my boys the practical limit for TT height. Not because I’m worried about injury, but because that’s how high I can swing my leg over my bike without too much trouble.