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Bike Fit from Coppi to Contador

Posted on | June 30, 2010 | 14 Comments

The more things change… Fausto Coppi (5′ 9½”) and Alberto Contador (5′ 9½”) position on the bike.

Coppi Contador bikes

Note that although there is a bigger drop from saddle to stem on Contador’s bike the default modern position in the hoods is actually higher then the old in the drops position of Coppi.


I plugged in the geometry of Coppi’s 1949 Bianchi which can be found in the Winter 2008 issue of BQ and a Specialized Tarmac SL3. It doesn’t look it in the photo but the front and back are equally shorter so weight distribution does not change as was pointed out in the comments. I thought the longer stem on the modern bike might provide additional leverage but Coppi’s stem was 115 and I chose a 130 for the Specialized and looking at the drawing the difference is not dramatic. For a rider switching between the hoods and the drops while racing the contact points are very similar between the 2 geometries.


14 Responses to “Bike Fit from Coppi to Contador”

  1. jdb
    June 30th, 2010 @ 10:10 am

    It’s interesting to see the visual comparison of the cockpit, especially the evolution of the hoods as a primary position. This seems like good ergonomics.

    I see roadies riding modern frames with their elbows routinely locked while on the hoods. Is it just bad form, or is there too much drop from saddle to bar? I think the drops are rarely used anymore outside of competition…

  2. Michael S
    June 30th, 2010 @ 11:03 am

    This is a really interesting post, and a great graphic.

    One major difference I see is where Contador’s hands are with respect to the front wheel. He is a lot further out over the wheel than Coppi is. This will change the weight distribution and the handling. I imagine the geometry and handling of modern bikes is optimized for a different weight distribution than in Coppi’s era.

    Also, the Trek’s wheelbase is several cms shorter.

  3. Jan Heine
    June 30th, 2010 @ 12:02 pm

    Where a rider’s hands are doesn’t affect the center of gravity much. Arms are lightweight – a rider’s weight is in the legs and torso. Coppi might be leaning forward a bit more, but I suspect that is just within the variability of positions as you ride.

    Weight distribution is affected by frame geometry. However, the Bianchi moves both wheels away from the BB, so the weight distribution in the end appears to be similar.

    By the way, Coppi didn’t have his stem all the way inserted – his bars actually were quite a bit higher than shown in the photo of his bike. See the photo of him on the bike above…

  4. Fun Summer Reading From I-Bob (Heine and Peg Pt. 2)
    June 30th, 2010 @ 12:52 pm

    [...] From I-Bob (Heine and Peg Pt. 2) A serotta/ibob/vsalon (?) member posted this on his blog: Bike Fit from Coppi to Contador The flash animation shows clearly the difference in wheel position. A builder question: how has [...]

  5. robert kendrick
    June 30th, 2010 @ 3:04 pm

    Note how Contador’s hoods position is Coppi’s drops position. Although he spends the majority of time on the hoods, he still uses his drops often — as does every other racer.

    The contact points are just a bit more “over” the wheels than in-between them.

    I can only speak anecdotally, but in 35+ races, I’ve found that I descend moutains and handle crit corners faster on a shorter f-c, tighter wheelbase bike with a long stem (130+) than on a larger bike set up with a shorter stem (120) to achieve the same position. I’m six one. YMMV, etc..

  6. Bike Fit of Yore « Hard Men With Soft Bellies
    July 2nd, 2010 @ 11:36 am

    [...] Bike Fit of Yore In Cycling History, Heroes of Cycling's Past on July 2, 2010 at 11:35 am I found this post from La Rueda Tropical blog interesting enough to re-blog it. Looking at modern race bikes with their ass over elbow saddle positioning I would of thought there would be more difference in rider position between a rider of yore such as Coppi and a legend in the making, Contador, but surprisingly this isn’t so. Check it out. [...]

  7. Milano Fixed Archive » etica euclidea
    July 14th, 2010 @ 11:29 am

    [...] ogni tanto sganciano queste gif veramente illuminanti. in corredo trovate anche tutta la loro bella spiegazione sull’evoluzione delle geometrie corsa da coppi a [...]

  8. Bicycle Quarterly - I'm a fan
    October 15th, 2010 @ 1:22 pm

    [...] [...]

  9. Aldo Ross
    January 4th, 2011 @ 1:28 pm

    I’ve seen other sources which state that Fausto Coppi was about 6′ 1-1/2″ tall, not 5′ 9-1/2″.

  10. Slam That Stem
    September 9th, 2011 @ 7:22 am

    [...] on it, and complain about perceived power output. A visual version from a Salonista's blog: Bike Fit from Coppi to Contador : La Rueda Tropical Reply With Quote   + Reply to [...]

  11. A fat black guy likes bike
    December 6th, 2011 @ 12:08 pm

    A fast brown bike jumped over the pet

  12. Robert Slagle Fulghum
    October 8th, 2012 @ 7:38 am

    Well done. Incredible. Perfectly researched, compared and contrasted. Submit to any cycling magazine as an article. Way more interesting than the constant fluff they write.

  13. Erock
    October 17th, 2012 @ 8:30 am

    A rider’s height doesn’t give enough information – what proportions do they each have? The legs, torso, arms all play into the position, the rider’s resulting comfort and efficiency. It’s important to consider the full picture and not just something as reductive as height alone…

  14. Eric Janik
    December 9th, 2012 @ 1:04 pm

    Ditto on Aldo Ross’s comment on Coppi’s height. While I never saw a figure, I’ve noticed he always stood significantly taller than his teammates, his build was lanky (long legs and arms), and his position on the bike usually indicated some sizing compromise between his long legs and short torso, and that his bikes were in the 59 cm (c-c) range. Jacques Anquetil, known to be 5’9 1/2″, would have been a better model.

    Regardless, this blog is correct in its assertion that the relationship between saddle, brake hoods, and cranks hasn’t changed much since post-war days. What has changed are the height of the seat tube and the shape of the handlebar.

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