To understand the difference between sloped and level top tubes, we must first discuss the shape of the top tubes. Level top tubes are usually the standard top tubes that are used in most modern bicycles. They are perfectly horizontal, usually at a 90-degree angle. Whereas sloped top tubes are usually at a slight angle which is not completely parallel to the frame of the bike which gives a slight elevation to the handlebars.
There are many arguments and discussions regarding the differences between sloped and level top tubes. Although I don’t think the differences are that significant to consider when picking out which style of the top tube you would want in your next bike. But let us look at some of the key differences of this design choice as outlined by one of the veteran bike manufactures of the industry-Giant.
Difference Between Sloped And Level Top Tubes
· The first primary difference is looks and aesthetics. However, that is very subjective to most so it comes down to the rider’s personal preference.
· The sloping top tube provides a smaller frame compared to the level top tube on a bike. Which in theory means less material is used for the manufacturing process of the frame which translates to the bicycle being much lighter in comparison. Although that may end up being negligible as the difference is only prominent on a bike with the same components which are usually not the case as the components used differ from bike to bike.
· The more compact form factor also means that the bike would be much stiffer which can be more resistant to flexing and hence much more durable in prolonged usage.
· To further discuss the aspect of stiffness, manufacturers have been trying to make their bikes stiffer so that they can reap the benefits of greater durability. However, one issue that always came up is that the materials manufacturers would usually use traditionally to make their bikes stiff and rigid would come at a cost of the bike is much rougher to ride. A sloping top tube usually alleviates this issue which is why a lot of manufacturers are more inclined to design their bikes using them.
· A sloped top tube also means that the seat cushion is lower in comparison to level top tubes. This can mean that the seating and fit of the bikes are much more suitable and comfortable for the rider.
· Also, the lower seating arrangement would translate to a lower center of gravity, hence giving the rider more balance. Additionally, the rider’s feet would also be much closer to the ground giving them the ability to better maneuver their bikes.
Final Thoughts On Sloped vs. Level Top Tubes
As you can see that there are quite a few advantages to sloped top tubes in comparison to standard level top tubes. However, I don’t think the differences are so significant that there is a clear winner here. Both kinds of top tubes are suitable for most riders.
Even Giant themselves probably think that the differences are negligible as their current flagship is a level top tube bike. So as a rider, my suggestion to you would be to try out both styles of top tubes before making a decision. If you notice that the sloped top tube is indeed more comfortable to use, then, by all means, you should go for that. If the difference is negligible to you then you can choose whichever frame you like as per your aesthetic preference.