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How come the LBS's keep saying...(38 posts)

How come the LBS's keep saying...Kristin
Mar 26, 2001 10:03 AM
...that most mens frames are fine for me because I'm taller? I'm puzzled by this. I've heard all the arguments as to why I need a bike that fits. I'm also aware that women in general need bikes with shorter TT and longer ST because our proportions are different. I understand this.

But practically every LBS tells me that I don't need a WSD or a bike built under square because I'm 5'6". I don't get the logic here. Just because I'm taller my proportions suddenly become more masculine? If a rider is 5'2" and has long legs and a short torso, then she needs a bike that's built under square. Does that become any less true for a women who is 5'10"? But I've heard this statement over and over again. I'm beginning to doubt all this newly acquired knowledge.

So far, the only advantage I've seen to my being taller is the toe overlap issue--and perhaps being able to reach stuff on the top shelf.
so they can sell you a bikeET
Mar 26, 2001 10:27 AM
Think about it. And I'm not being entirely cynical, but if you don't go custom, you have to choose the best alternative among the available options.

Can I ask, what is WSD?

Also, did you have your Serotta size cycle fitting and how did it go?

Also, you have to be careful not to loosely bandy about the word "square", as in "under square" meaning TT is less than ST, and "over square" the reverse. There are, unfortunately, several ways to state the nominal size of a frame('s seat tube), and this can dramatically affect the square rule. We've talked about it at length and I'm sure you've seen our discussions. As just one example, you could call the Trek OCLV square because, e.g. the size 56 has a 56.1 TT. But the size 56 really is, by others' more standard measurements, I believe more like a size 53 c-c or 54.3 c-ttt, nowhere close to square, and in fact way over square.
WSD = Women Specific Design (Trek) nmGadfly
Mar 26, 2001 10:42 AM
nm
re: serotta fitKristin
Mar 26, 2001 12:15 PM
I've got a call into the guy who does the serotta fit--he keeps bankers hours. I'm gonna schedule the fit and look at the DiBernardi on the same day.

As a side note, I rode the Terry on Sat. and it was pathetically too short. The catalog image is a bit decieving--the wheels in the pic don't look like 26's, but thats what they are. Strange looking bike overall.

Next I headed over to VillageCS to look at a Trek wsd. The only one they had in my size was a 2300. So, I took it for a spin. Can you say mistake? Ignorance WAS bliss... Its a very sweet bike and I officially HATE my budget. But alas, I'm not yet worthy. [Sigh]

Anywho, the 54cm wsd is the closest fit so far. The standover was approx. 2.5" -- not bad. And the reach was fine. Its got potential. All the Trek WSD framesets are identical. Theoretically, I could get the 2000, upgrade it slowly and end up with a 2300. :) Costlier in the long run, but manageable.
Same reason they try to tell me a 62cm frame fits fineCory
Mar 26, 2001 10:31 AM
Actually, depending on your proportions, a man's frame MIGHT work for you. A lot of shops, though, will try to sell you what they have in stock. I'm 6'4", ride at least a 64 and often 65cm bike, and every damn bike dealer I've ever talked to has tried to sell me the 62 they have in stock. Looks real racy with 13 inches of seatpost showing, sir...
But are your proportions "statistically" feminine?shmoo
Mar 26, 2001 11:43 AM
You don't really say. Just because you are a woman does not mean your proportions are statistically feminine. I'll bet 30-40% of women are not. In fact, that is the nature of the bell curve. For instance, my wife has a very long torso and short legs. Also, her upper legs are very long in comparison to her lower legs. So she is way outside of the statistically "normal" population - way off to the side of the bell curve. Frankly, I don't think that any production woman specific design frame would fit her. She's definitely a long (for the torso) sloping (for the standover) top tube candidate.
re: Need more info...Morgan
Mar 26, 2001 12:08 PM
There is a chance that they could be correct. Keep in mind that most women these days are still riding bikes that are designed for males.
You said in your note that you are 5'6". What is your inseam? Some of the frames design for men might fit you well with the right stem and seat post combo.
re: How come the LBS's keep saying...tmontee
Mar 26, 2001 12:30 PM
forget that wsd foolishness unlesss you are a casual strolling-type rider. look at female racers. do you see them riding wsd bikes? no, you do not. forget that you are female . get a bike that fits and ride it. wsd was invented to feel good in parking lots to people who don't ride.
So there are only 2 categories?Kristin
Mar 26, 2001 1:40 PM
Strolling riders and racers?? I'm neither. Obviously, I'm a newbie or I wouldn't have asked this question. However, I love riding and I'm serious about finding the right bike to improve my skills (within said budget). Still, I don't foresee any time trials in the near future. :)

That said, I hardly believe you can claim the Trek 2300 wsd was designed for casual riding. It's equipped almost identically to the standard 2300 - with exception to the wheel size and fork. This is no Sunday afternoon ride. Granted, its also not a serious racing bike, but its at least a decent interum bike, don't you agree?
So there are only 2 categories?tmontee
Mar 27, 2001 6:01 AM
kristen. i don't think i was clear about my point about racers. it is not about speed, it is about comfort and efficiency. female racers spend lots of time on their bikes. if that funky wsd business truly made a difference in comfort or efficiency they would use it. it doesn't and they don't. female human beings are simply not all that different from males with regard to large body dimensions. which is not to say that there aren't some things that ARE in fact different. for example, i am a big believer in the deda 'anatomic' handlebar- it offers a shorter reach for your hand to the lever. and of couse, saddles. finally just look at a group of females fitted to nice racing bikes vs a photo of some on those wsd things, which look better? more proper? more efficient? more like people who are, as you say, serious about having the right bike?
So there are only 2 categories?tmontee
Mar 27, 2001 7:57 AM
kristen. i don't think i was clear about my point about racers. it is not about speed, it is about comfort and efficiency. female racers spend lots of time on their bikes. if that funky wsd business truly made a difference in comfort or efficiency they would use it. it doesn't and they don't. female human beings are simply not all that different from males with regard to large body dimensions. which is not to say that there aren't some things that ARE in fact different. for example, i am a big believer in the deda 'anatomic' handlebar- it offers a shorter reach for your hand to the lever. and of couse, saddles. finally just look at a group of females fitted to nice racing bikes vs a photo of some on those wsd things, which look better? more proper? more efficient? more like people who are, as you say, serious about having the right bike?
re: How come the LBS's keep saying...Ian
Mar 26, 2001 12:31 PM
If you are specifically looking at a Trek WSD and you are 5'6", you probably are not a good candidate for that line. The main advantage of those bikes is for shorter people, whether they be man or woman. Notice that Trek removed all WSD logos from this years bikes. They come in 3 sizes; 43cm, 47cm and 53cm. All have 650c wheels. I am throwing out a guess here, but I think you would be to tall for the 53cm. The next step is a non-WSD bike. You may in fact need special measurements based on your proportions, but I don't think WSD is the way to go.
not so....Kristin
Mar 26, 2001 1:17 PM
Trek has introduced a 54cm wsd frame size that is virtually identical to their counterparts with regard to components. True I don't like the fact that they take some stuff away (i.e. the air rail on the 2300 standard is replaced with the carbon classic on the wsd) and there is an upcharge. But, if Trek is selling fewer of these, then its expected that the price will be steeper. And its not my final choice, its just in the list of runner-ups.
not so....Ian
Mar 26, 2001 5:01 PM
OK, but don't be stuck on the WSD just because you are a woman. I still stand by my claim that the biggest benefit of the WSD is to shorter riders based on 650c wheels. At 5'6" you are tall enough to have 700c wheels.
it may be true....dave
Mar 26, 2001 1:52 PM
Do you have a precise inseam measurment to go with your 5'-6" height? I'm male, not over 5'-7" tall, with a 32-5/8" inseam. My arms measure about 22" from shoulder to wrist. I'm generally considered to have a "short" torso. I have about 1-1/4" or 3cm of standover clearance on my 55cm Colnago. This clearance is measured to very firm contact, in bare feet. This frame has a 54.3cm top tube and 74 degree seat tube angle. I use a very average 110mm stem.

I would expect someone who is 5'-6" tall with a "short" torso, to have an inseam of at least 31-1/2 inches. You should be able to stand over most 54cm frames without problem. If your inseam is closer to 30-1/2", you'd be more "average". You'd barely be able to stand over a 52cm frame. The top tube should be plenty short for your torso in this size.

The other issue that must be addressed in addition to torso length, is arm length. If you've got short arms, a short stem might be required to be comfortable. I use the knee-to-elbow overlap test as a guide to minimum stem length. After the saddle has been set to your optimum knee-over-pedal position, there should be some small amount of clearance between the knee (at top of stroke) and the elbow, when riding with the hands in the drops, where you can reach the brake levers. A small amount of overlap is tolerable, but not desirable.
re: How come the LBS's keep saying...john de
Mar 26, 2001 2:41 PM
not all women have longer legs no matter what there hight...my legs are longer than my womans and she is the same size as me...dont belive the hype ...to compensate for the longer legs i just got a shorter stem..
shorter stem?(snicker)
Mar 26, 2001 3:13 PM
Well, if that's the way your short-legged woman likes it...
just to get it straightjohn de
Mar 26, 2001 3:58 PM
its me who has the shorter stem and longer legs...they go together..if you already knew that and it was a joke then hohoho
Fed up with fit?DCP
Mar 26, 2001 3:33 PM
I am beginning to think that a beginner (I'm one too) needs to ride for some time before he or she decides what fits really well. Do we all worry too much about the perfect fit? Absolutely not, but perhaps, just perhaps, you would be better served by getting something close and riding it for a season. You could then change what needs changing, or sell the bike and buy something else when you know what makes sense. Not perfect, but it never really made any sense to me that all the fit advice ends with "ride what feels right to you" when I, for one, didn't have a clue as to what felt particularly good or bad, and I surely wasn't going to figure it out on a parking lot or even the longer rides one shop let me do.
agreeET
Mar 27, 2001 4:47 AM
Kristin, are you ever going to just, well, you know, actually buy a bike?!? :-) I'm just kidding. I too took my time, did research, got fitted in different ways, and I don't regret it, because there are many, even here, who bought expensive bikes they soon realized didn't fit. I think by now you have a pretty clear picture, clearer than most, of what may work, so it's a matter of choosing from among the best alternatives, e.g. Colnago, De Bernardi, whatever. By road bike standards, your budget is low, but that may be a good thing for your first purchase. Buy it, ride it, and after riding for a while, you may even discover that your fit needs might change a bit, e.g. you discover you're a natural and your reach increases because you start getting your back near horizontal after much riding, or that what you got isn't exactly right; as DCP said, it's hard to tell from a test ride. If you're close, you can still play the stem and spacer game and it will be good enough. When you're ready for your next major purchase, you'll know exactly what you need, right down to the seat tube angle. A custom bike built to your specs may be a great idea at that time; it's not that much more than a stock bike either.

BTW, some advice: when you finally get your Serotta fitting, after measuring your inseam (don't tell him you got 84!) and then your shoulders, the next thing the fitter will do is get your seat positioned properly. Please ask the fitter what the seat tube angle is that he has it set on (the default is probably 73, common for Serotta). If it's not dead-center for the given seat post setback, ask him to change it till it is, or at least to the closest half-degree. He probably won't do so unless you ask. Make a note of the angle and how much your seat is forward or aft of dead-center. Also, make a note of the seat post brand and how much setback it has. You might regret it if you don't take this advice.



one more thing: Anvil on customET
Mar 27, 2001 5:26 AM
Kristin, below is a recent post takne from another forum by Anvil, a custom builder who advertises and posts on various forums. It's interesting reading.

-----------------------------

This is mostly a cut & paste from my answer to the same question asked some time ago, but it may be worth the electrons to repost it.

Everyone seems to focus solely on fit for needing/legitimizing/justifying a custom frame. That's only part of it. Proper bike fit is more than just a top tube or a seat tube being long enough. It is also about balance and while you can adjust stem length, seatpost setback, and bar reach, you need to do so with an eye to balance, the balance of your weight over the bike to achieve a certain center of gravity. The funny thing about a bike frame is that it's all angles. You change one thing like setback to stretch or shorten your reach to the bars, you also affect your knee/pedal spindle relationship. Raise or lower your saddle, same thing. Raise your stem, shorten your reach, lower your stem, lengthen your reach. Can you do all these things and still fit on a production bike that is close to your size? In most cases, sure you can as long as you approach it with an understanding of what you're doing. Adjust for fit, then achieve that fit balanced on the bike.

So again, why custom? Custom lets you have what you want whether it be fit, geometry, responsiveness, handling, resilience, material, braze-ons, aesthetics, or simply the color(s) of your choice. That's what custom is all about. People focus on fit, and justifiably so, but "custom" is more than that. It's having something unique, something made to meet your requirements with no compromise made to the marketing department or the "one tubeset for any size rider" ment"#525252" face="Verdana,Arial,Helvetica" size="1">
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Can a custom builder build the weight and performance equivalent or better of any bike on the market? No problem. Any material? No problem. Do you need to be Cannondale to build a start of the art frame? Well, if thaeft border=0>
oops!ET
Mar 27, 2001 5:30 AM
First post didn't come out too good. Try link below to read what Anvil has to say about custom bikes.

http://www.cyclingforum.com/forums/Thread.cfm?CFApp=2&Thread_ID=1660&mc=15
for what it's worth....Nancy - your mommy's classmate
Mar 26, 2001 6:06 PM
Kristin-
I think the reason your LBS tells you they can fit you on a men's bike is because they don't know any better and they want to sell you what they have in stock. To the LBS defense, true fit is not really obvious. Most bikes you can sit on and go without too much trouble. Beyond the technical side of fit, it is really something only the rider can determine after putting many miles in. I've been riding an ill fitting bike for 15 years. No one died, and I didn't even know it didn't fit until I started to put in some mileage. It was my constant neck and shoulder pain, and my inability to stay in the drops for any length of time that told me my bike didn't fit. Having said that, I have not found any garden variety bike shops that address the technical side of fit. It seems only bike shops w/upper end inventory who really address fit. Sad as it is, those shops don't sell much in the $1,000 range. In an effort to find manufactured geometry that should fit, the only bikes on the market that have the shorter top tube I've found are: Cannondale, Trek, Terry and Rodriguez. For your price range, you'll have to do some give and take. If the Trek WSD works for you, I wouldn't hesitate. (Nearly) every guy is going to tell you "real woman don't ride WSD bikes". Those same men don't have legs up to their necks, either. You could also try to work out fit w/one of the men's bikes that offer a "square" geometry or a somewhat shorter top tube. I don't know what your current geometry is, but any setup that varies from that a great deal is guaranteed to feel wierd. I've been told that w/a shorter top tube the 650 wheels are nearly mandatory for proper handling. Depending on how long you've had your current bike, and how many miles you've put on it, sitting on a smaller bike w/smaller tires is absolutely guaranteed to feel strange even if it's the fit you really need. I think that's why basing your purchase on a parking lot ride is so difficult. Unfortunately, in road biking, price points are everything. If the $1,000 is where you're firmly fixed, you'll have to give up something in regards to frame material, components and even fit. I know it's a harsh reality, but IMHO I think it's true.
for what it's worth....Nancy
Mar 26, 2001 6:07 PM
Kristin-
I think the reason your LBS tells you they can fit you on a men's bike is because they don't know any better and they want to sell you what they have in stock. To the LBS defense, true fit is not really obvious. Most bikes you can sit on and go without too much trouble. Beyond the technical side of fit, it is really something only the rider can determine after putting many miles in. I've been riding an ill fitting bike for 15 years. No one died, and I didn't even know it didn't fit until I started to put in some mileage. It was my constant neck and shoulder pain, and my inability to stay in the drops for any length of time that told me my bike didn't fit. Having said that, I have not found any garden variety bike shops that address the technical side of fit. It seems only bike shops w/upper end inventory who really address fit. Sad as it is, those shops don't sell much in the $1,000 range. In an effort to find manufactured geometry that should fit, the only bikes on the market that have the shorter top tube I've found are: Cannondale, Trek, Terry and Rodriguez. For your price range, you'll have to do some give and take. If the Trek WSD works for you, I wouldn't hesitate. (Nearly) every guy is going to tell you "real woman don't ride WSD bikes". Those same men don't have legs up to their necks, either. You could also try to work out fit w/one of the men's bikes that offer a "square" geometry or a somewhat shorter top tube. I don't know what your current geometry is, but any setup that varies from that a great deal is guaranteed to feel wierd. I've been told that w/a shorter top tube the 650 wheels are nearly mandatory for proper handling. Depending on how long you've had your current bike, and how many miles you've put on it, sitting on a smaller bike w/smaller tires is absolutely guaranteed to feel strange even if it's the fit you really need. I think that's why basing your purchase on a parking lot ride is so difficult. Unfortunately, in road biking, price points are everything. If the $1,000 is where you're firmly fixed, you'll have to give up something in regards to frame material, components and even fit. I know it's a harsh reality, but IMHO I think it's true.
If you're tall enough...Kathy
Mar 27, 2001 4:05 AM
you will find plenty of frames with top tubes the right length for you. Chances are, you will find that top tube on one size smaller frame than you would choose if you use the sizing formulas designed for men. You'll have a bit more exposed seat post, but that is no big deal. The WSD frames are necessary for petite women who will find nothing built for a man with a top tube short enough for them.
For example: I'm 5'5", and by the standover height formulas on the Colorado Cyclist bike fit page, and elsewhere, I should ride a 51cm bike. However, the typical top tube on a 51cm frame is 52.5cm or more, which I have found through experience to be too long. So, I bought a 49cm frame with a 51cm top tube, and I'm in good shape. BTW, frame geometries will vary a bit, and the sizes I'm referencing are from Litespeed, who measures center-to-top.
Good luck with your bike shopping!!
of course they measure center-to-top!ET
Mar 27, 2001 6:27 AM
Who doesn't?! :-)

It is not enough to say a company measures c-t, because the "t" can mean almost anything. A few companies use c-c (e.g. Lemond, DeBernardi, Carrera), but most don't. Litespeed, to its credit, specifies clearly that its "t" means top of top tube (along center of seat tube), the best way to measure c-t. But so many other companies use all the other more useless c-t measurements, namely top of seat tube (which is not uniform for companies or even within a company), top of lug, top of clamp, top of something else. This can make the true c-t (of top tube, as in Litespeed's) several sizes smaller, and the buyer will never know. c-t, "square", etc. are all practically meaningless unless you know what the real c-t (of top tube) is. Again, a perfect example is Trek. Their 56 c-t bike is "square" (same TT as ST) using their misleading sizing, but not at all when you realize the 56 is really a 54. Honest, it is. So IMHO we just can't say just c-t; we have to say c-t of what, and then also what is its (usually unpublished) c-t of tt. I'm not being picky; I think this is important. And the misleading sizing has led to many ill-fitting purchases.
"Who doesn't?!" Well, Lemond, DeBernardi, Carrera, for startersKathy
Mar 27, 2001 8:15 AM
And I ran across some others while I was frame shopping last summer, which is why I specified c-t. While the rest of your facts may be accurate, I don't appreciate your condescending attitude.
sorry you took it that wayET
Mar 27, 2001 8:31 AM
I did not intend to be condescending, and have pointed out this same thing to others who know more than I ever will about biking, are better riders than I ever will be, and have owned more bikes than I ever will, and they did not feel or at least say my attitude was condescending. I firmly and sincerely believe that no one should ever say just c-t without clarifying. To defend myself, if I may, this is a thread about exact fit, and this c-t thing is very relevant to the initial poster.

Sorry; I'll just have to try to word things better next time.
The subject and opening line...Kathy
Mar 27, 2001 9:50 AM
were what I objected to, especially since the very next statement contradicted them. Your point is well taken, but that was not my focus. I was trying to point out that Women's-specific frame geometries are in fact not entirely necessary for women of her height to get a good fitting bike, whereas they are very helpful for petite gals. It's not unreasonable to run 4-5" of seatpost, and in fact, it seems to be the new fashion with "compact" frames. So, what the bike shop was telling her was not untrue, though perhaps in need of further explanation. By specifying Litespeed, I meant also to reference their measurement technique, though that was not apparently obvious. In the end, there is no substitute for test-riding before you buy!

Appology accepted.
OK, at least...ET
Mar 27, 2001 11:42 AM
now I know what you're referring to. I can assure you I did not intend to be condescending; it was just my attempt at humor, something I like to be mixed in with useful info here. Obviously you took it to be at your expense; now that I see that, I apologize again. If you think that was condescending, you ain't seen nothing around here. Just as more careful wording is a good thing in order to avoid spats, so is a slightly tougher skin.

I'll point out that some might view your comment that my "very next statement contradicted them" as condescending, or at the least an attempt to score points at my expense. Actually, it wasn't my very next statement; it was the one after that. And you selectively truncated my quote to make your case. I did not say "Who doesn't?!" I said "Who doesn't?! :-)", with the last suggesting humor, which showed I didn't mean 100% of the companies size that way, hence no contradiction, as well as support for my claim as to how it was intended. Given the context and how many times in previous posts I've already referred to the unfortunate way companies size (although admittedly you may not have read them), you'd realize that no condescension was intended.
Stand-over heightpmf
Mar 27, 2001 8:46 AM
I don't know if this is wrong, but I always compare stand-over height on bikes I buy as some evidence as to how they are measured.
yesET
Mar 27, 2001 10:34 AM
You can use standover height (STH) as a proxy for seat tube length (STL), given the always-published seat tube angle (STA) and oft-published bottom bracket height (BBH):

(STH-BBH)/(STL,c-ttt) = sin(STA)

(Assumes non-sloping tt.) So, for a given STA, if the standover is lower than what you're used to, the seat tube will be shorter as well. In fact, it is probably easier to measure the standover more accurately than the ST c-ttt, especially if the BBH is already given (so then just measure from center of BB straight up to top of tt and use above formula to determine the real seat tube.
Yes - I'm Fed Up With Fit Too...Kristin
Mar 27, 2001 6:13 AM
Thank you for tolerating my questions this long. I do digress this time... promise. This was to be my last post.

Just so you know... the reason I'm making this so painful is that whatever bike I choose is what I ride (as is) for the next 3 years. Shortly before my Trek was stolen, I made a commitment to donate a chuck of my salary for 3 years. This is a sealed deal--I can't/won't change it. I need to choose well.

Again, thank you for everything, especially your patience!! :)
A Men's bike may fit you finepmf
Mar 27, 2001 8:41 AM
My wife is 5'6'' and has two "mens's" bikes. I had to replace the stems with a 9cm on one and an 8 cm on another because she felt too stretched out. Yes, these are short stems, but not that short. It doesn't affect the handling of the bike. Her saddle is in a normal position (not pushed way up).

Depending on how much money you put aside, you could get a custom bike if you think you need it. Go someplace with a Serrotta fit kit system and get measured. If you find out you don't need a WSD, then you have a whole lot more choices than before. Try a regular mens bike, but ask if they can put a short stem on it first (these new threadless stems with removable face plates are really easy to swap out).
Not Fed UpDCP
Mar 27, 2001 12:58 PM
No one is fed up with you Kristin. Post on fit or what to buy as much as you like. Gives us something to talk about and share our experiences.
Go ask the girls at BikerGirl ForumSam
Mar 27, 2001 7:40 PM
http://library.advanced.org/10333/forum/girls/index.cgi
Thanks, I have already :) nm..Kristin
Mar 28, 2001 5:11 AM
...
re: How come the LBS's keep saying...rt
Mar 28, 2001 10:45 AM
bike fit is completely body dependent and the assumption that you seem to have is that all women have "feminine" (as defined by the bike industry) body types and therefore should ride bikes made specifically for women. however, this is not the case. wsd bikes are designed under the general ideal that women tend to have shorter upper bodies & longer legs. this is a very general rule and does not apply to all women. therefore, all women (regardless of height) will not feel comfortable on a bike that is a "wsd".

also, any number of non-wsd bikes have shorter toptubes. your need for a shorter toptube will depend on the distance from your shoulders to your waist & the lenght of your arms.

for example, i am 5'1" and i ride a non-wsd bike. i am somewhat short waisted, but i have long legs & long arms. as such i ride a 49 cm Bianchi. (the bike has a shorter toptube) on the other hand, one of the girls i worked with at the bike shop, who is my height but has short legs and a long torso bought a Giant (size XS, also non-wsd) because it has a long toptube and a short seat tube. i couldn't ride the Giant because i could barely reach the handle bars!!

in my search, i did try the Trek wsd bikes. i have a trek 8000 wsd mountain bike that i love but i hated the wsd road bikes.

while the guys at the shops who are telling you that you should be ok with a non-wsd bike because you are tall may in fact simply be trying to sell a bike, they are also correct. you should try both wsd (if you can find one big enough--the largest trek wsd road bike, if i remember correctly, was a 50cm) and non-wsd and buy the one that is the most comfortable.

hope this helps.

rt