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ATTN 5'2" riders!!(12 posts)

ATTN 5'2" riders!!paulyjsob
Sep 5, 2001 4:07 AM
Hi, I'm looking for a road bike for my girlfriend. I'd like to surprise her with it on her birthday, so I really don't want to take her to a bike shop for any test rides.. and if I really wanted to, none of them have a bike in her size. Anyway, she is 5'2". What frame size would she need? Thanks! Oh...and if anyone would be interested in trading a road bike in that size for a 12.5" mountain bike, let me know. Thanks!
Tougher than average fit.nee Spoke Wrench
Sep 5, 2001 5:09 AM
Women under about 5'5" tend to be hard to fit on stock bikes. The issue is top tube length and toe overlap with the front wheel.

Terry Bikes have successfully served this nitch market for years. I've never had a serious customer test ride a Terry and not buy it, probably because it's the first bike they have ever ridden that fits. Cannondale, Specialized and Trek have also all recently come out with short top tube designs to serve this market.

Fit affects your comfort, performance and enjoyment every minute that you are on the bike. I'd recommend doing whatever is necessary to be sure that you get it right.
Sep 5, 2001 6:45 AM
Yes, Ms. Terry has done a good job of convincing people to buy her overpriced mediocre steeds by appealing to the politics of feminism and leading us to believe that no one else really understands the female rider. So, she sells us tiny wheels and now straight handlebars for our delicate backs.

I think that Terry bikes are very average, and as a woman rider her marketing really ticks me off. The saddles are great.

At 5'2", your girlfriend should fit the 47 cm offerings from Trek or Cannondale (and probably not need the WSD but that is more a function of torso length). This will also keep the 700 cc wheels, which I think is important for repair convenience and yes, riding efficiency.
Help me to understand.nee Spoke Wrench
Sep 5, 2001 8:18 AM
You obviously have some pretty strongly held opinions. I can respect that. You failed, however to address any of the issues that I have found significant in fitting shorter women. Not one word about top tube length, toe clip overlap or handlebar height.

Am I wrong to think these are real issues or do you have an answer that isn't appearant to me? Believe me, I'd LOVE to feel I could serve my customers with fewer sizes and frame geometries.
Help me to understand.jtolleson
Sep 5, 2001 3:07 PM
I think that toe overlap is overplayed. Any frame under 50 cm with 700 cc wheels can create the technical risk of overlap, but I think it is more theoretical. If a frame can accommodate a 700cc wheel (as most down to 47 can) I don't think the downsized wheel is a solution. It trades one handling problem for another, or at least for an efficiency loss.

Other manufacturers are now making bikes that accomodate some of the issues you've mentioned; smaller handlebars, shorter top tubes (if the modification isn't modest enough for just a different stem or one with a slight rise). Compact frame geometries have also helped mitigate the top tube length issue.

For some small riders (regardless of gender), a small frame with 650 cc wheels, downsized bars, a stem with rise, etc. will be the only solution. But Terry markets such bikes to women of all heights, telling us our hands are not strong enough for regular STI shifters, or that our backs need upright handlebars, or putting a 650cc wheel on the front of a 54 cm bike for no good reason.

Yes, I like the moves that Terry prompted in the market, but her marketing is something I can skip. BUt it is, as you noted, just my opinion as a woman cyclist and member of a fairly female dominated large roadie club.
Now we're getting somewhere.nee Spoke Wrench
Sep 5, 2001 4:23 PM
Trading one handling problem for another.

I too think that the problem of toe overlap is overstated because it only happens at very low speeds. It doesn't matter what I think, however, because some of my customers feel otherwise and they are my boss.

There are only five ways to deal with toe overlap on a small bike.
1. use a too long top tube.
2. Steepen the seat tube to move the saddle forward.
3. Slacken the head tube to move the handlebars back.
4. live with toe overlap.
5. use a smaller front wheel.

Shorter seat tubes and sloping top tubes (compact geometry) by themselves have no effect on toe overlap that I can see. I have some other mostly negative thoughts about compact geometry, but that's another topic.

For what its worth, the shop that I work for today does not stock Terry Bikes, but I still think it's a real good nitch brand. I have two points to make about Terry Bikes:
1. I've never had a serious customer test ride a Terry and not buy it. Lots of women obviously love them.
2. Terry has better confidence in their products than any other manufacturer. Terry will ship a test ride bike to almost any LBS for a customer to test ride. Terry will take the bike back and pay the shipping both ways if the customer doesn't like it. They do it with saddles too. Try to get a deal like that from Cannondale or Trek.
re: ATTN 5'2" riders!!nestorl
Sep 5, 2001 5:15 AM
It depends on the size of her legs but a guesstimate is that she probably needs a 48 center to center or 46 center to top. Good Luck. I am not sure how much you want to spend, but if you want a mid end bike check He has some 48 frames and can build them with shimano 105 for a great price. If you want a low end bike...go to your LBS. There are tons of production bikes that come on that size. cheers. Nestor
re: ATTN 5'2" riders!!raboboy
Sep 5, 2001 5:31 AM
My wife just got a bike and she is 5'2". She liked the fit on both the 47" Cannondale & Trek. Both make women specific designs in several different models (she also rather liked the smaller wheels), it just depends on how much you want to spend. Since me wife is just starting out and we went with the Cannondale r500... plus we got a better deal from the shop that carried that model.
how good you are with LBS guys?cyclopathic
Sep 5, 2001 6:10 AM
think if bike is misfit you stuck with it
I'd talk to LBS guys, maybe they can get several bikes in 45-50cm range.
Then bring her on her birthday, let her try, let 'em fit, pay, go and celebrate.

Colorado cyclist (also Voodoo site) has good fitting instructions, but you'd need to take measurements off your GF (or at least off her bike). In avg women have longer instem and shorter torso, so all women specific frames tend to have shorter top tube.

Geometry on some small frames really messed up (seat angle) and it may cause problems too. I would try to find a frame with seat angle similar to her mtb and TT about the same or slightly longer good luck
Advice from some one who is short tooOnrhodes
Sep 5, 2001 6:12 AM
I'm a whopping 5'4 (5'5" depending on rounding and significant digits). I ride a small Giant TCR. However your girlfriend might have trouble fitting that top tube to her body. I have a 29.5 inch inseam and can get away with 49-50cm frames. So, here is my advice for you
Depending on what you want, I agree with the other poster about GVH bikes but if you're looking for a really nice bike, go with the Aegis Swift Aegis Swift
I guess it really depends on how much you love her (just kidding)
re: ATTN 5'2" riders!!Shalen
Sep 5, 2001 6:22 AM
I have a 48cm Cannondale R300 that I'm looking to sell. If you are interested at all email me at

re: ATTN 5'2" riders!!sweetbuns
Sep 5, 2001 7:42 AM
I am 5'3 and I just bought a 44cm Cannondale R800. My legs are short and my torso is long. The best bike for your gf is a bike with a good return/exchange policy.