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Attention women riders... Allison?(18 posts)

Attention women riders... Allison?tronracer
May 22, 2002 12:04 PM
Hello ladies, I'm trying to help my mom out choosing a bike. She doesn't know the first thing about bikes. She wants to keep the price down. So far I've looked at a 43cm Fuji sl and a 44cm Cannondale r500 compact. Bare feet she was touching the top tube on the Fuji and the Cdale is a 1/2cm higher standover height. So, I assume she'd be fine with cycling shoes on as far as the standover height goes. Am I right? She's 5"1'115lbs.

Also, both of these bikes come with 650cc wheels. What problems might she have with a smaller wheel. The guys at the lbs seem to think the smaller wheels would be good for her. There were no female opinions on the subject there so I'm beckoning your help. She's getting the bike mostly for fun and exercise. She'll never race, she just wants to stay in shape.

Any other advice I can pass on to her? Your help is greatly appreciated. And my mom thanks you too!!
not a woman, but I'm roughly the same sizeweiwentg
May 22, 2002 12:12 PM
I'm a couple of inches taller, and I recently had a hell of a time finding a cross bike.
650c wheels are OK, but the thing is that tires are less available. I think that's the biggest problem she'll have with a smaller wheel. a smaller wheel will also reduce the gearing by something like 9 or 10 %, but that's not a problem. as an aside, that's the reason (I think) why DA triathlon chainrings come in up to 56-44. it'll be easier for her to climb (lighter), and the smaller wheel will reduce toe-overlap problems.
the recommended standover is 1" for road bikes. she would be OK with less than that (I would probably stay away from the Cannondale), but not too much less.
oh, and ask her to get speedplays or perhaps some other light MTB pedal (egg beaters?). double sided is good for beginners. heck, it's good for anyone. go for the zeros so she won't have to deal with the float (unless she has knee problems).
Why stay away from the Cdale?......;-(tronracer
May 22, 2002 12:27 PM
Shoes will add an inch and a half. She was barefoot standing over the Fuji.
Why stay away from the Cdale?......;-(weiwentg
May 22, 2002 12:31 PM
an inch and a half? ok, sounds like the C'Dale is fine. I just never realized shoes were that clunky, sorry!
btw, I think speedplay cleats are clunkier than most :)
oh, and see here...weiwentg
May 22, 2002 12:38 PM
Trek WSDrobbz27
May 22, 2002 12:32 PM
I know you want to keep the price down, but Trek has WSD models starting around $1000. I used to work in a shop and sold SEVERAL WSD (Women's Specific Design) bikes to women about that size.

650 wheels lower the frame for increased standover, and from a performance standpoint they will be more aerodynamic and faster rolling (it's physics, I don't want to explain). Also WSD bikes have shorter top tubes and stems, narrower bars and shorter cranks. Usually equipped with a women's specific saddle as well.

Anyways, good luck finding Mom a bike, may the miles be plentiful!!
re: Attention women riders... Allison?jtolleson
May 22, 2002 1:05 PM
In that size frame, she'll most definitely want the 650 cc wheels. 700cc wheels on a small frame (under 47 cm) gives significant toe overlap, which no one loves but casual riders tend to really struggle with. The standover sounds absolutely fine.

She may want to check out the Bianchi Eros Donna. Aluminum bikes in the small sizes can be really brutal.
Cannondale makes a 40cm R500...Slowclimber
May 22, 2002 1:38 PM
Which my wife rides (at least in the summer). She is 4' 11" though she professes to be 5'1" (the tape measure doesn't lie though :-)

She likes the fit of the 40cm and hasn't complained about the ride too much. The bike is very light for the price and the components are great for beginners. The only change I would make to the bike is to switch out the handlebars for something a little wider if possible.

The 40cm should give a good inch or two of stand over clearance and would be well worth the look even if you have to order the bike.
First, tronracer, that is great news! Good for you and your momAllisonHayes
May 22, 2002 2:46 PM
First, some questions:

You stated she wants this for fun and exercise. Start her out with something that allows her to gain her confidence. Something that is too sophisticated or uncomfortable may become a barrier, particularly if she should go down or get hurt before she feels comfortable.

Does she have an idea of what kind of frame she would like or is she relying upon you for advice? Have you considered how she will learn using clipless pedals, using the drops, learning how to shift, how to brake? It may be second nature to you, but can be overwhelming to someone just starting out.

Who is she going to ride with? Is there a local club where she can compare notes with other women before she decides?

I ask these question because what you think is great may not appeal to her over the long run. Is a road frame really what she should consider as a first bike? How about a cross-bike?

If you are sure she is ready for a road bike, I tend to agree with Slowclimber and look at a 40cm frame. I think she will need a good bit of standover height, particularly since she is new. The problems I tend to see with sizing shorter women is that they have a harder time getting a proper fit due to top tube length.

Finally, take it easy, get her involved with a peer group of riders, don't intimidate her, let her learn at her own pace. She may start out as a dynamo--there is nothing more zealous than a convert--only to be setback by some incident down the road. It she gets discouraged early, then she may not want to continue. Be patient, be supportive--if she learns the fundamentals, she will be a fan forever.

Good Luck and let us know the outcome and her progress.
Thanks Allison, great advice as expected, but one more...tronracer
May 22, 2002 6:57 PM
question. 'bout C-dale The guy at the lbs said it would be really hard to get a good fit with the 40cm and tried to steer me towards the 44cm, but with bare feet she'd basically be sitting on the top tube standing over it. He said she'd be cramped in the 40cm. Can't she just get a really long stem to compensate for the shorter top tube?

The 40cm would be a stiffer ride, but by how much? A big difference?

She'd ride with me, or with her bfriend, probably not in a club. Totally relying on me for advice. She was looking to spend under 500 and at first I looked for a used bike for awhile, but in her size the selection is very limited and nonexistent on this site.

If she started out with a peer group of riders, wouldn't they smoke her?
I say try to get the right toptube length and not worry tooelviento
May 22, 2002 7:13 PM
much about the standover height. Remember, no one dismounts a bike by landing BOTH FEET on the ground. Try it on your bike: with shoes on and left feet on the ground and the bike leaning a bit to the left, the crotch clearance is MUCH more than when you stradle the toptube with bare feet (almost 3" extra clearance in my case). Chances are she won't have any problem dismounting the 44cm bike.

Also getting a really long stem will likely screw up the handling. Since she will spend much more time riding than mounting/dismounting (1.8 hours a day vs. maybe 30 seconds a day), handling is much more important.
Thanks Allison, great advice as expected, but one more...Ron B
May 22, 2002 7:38 PM
I'm doubting there will be much of a difference between the 40cm and 44cm bikes other than stand over clearance and .5cm length in the top tube (which is very minimal).

As for the stiffness difference I don't think anybody could tell the difference between the two bikes.

I would say that the 40cm would work just fine if you had to decide between the two sizes. This is of course if you wanted to go with the Cannondale. I don't know of many other lower end bikes that go this small though so your choices are very limited.
Not sure I am the best qualified to answerAllisonHayes
May 22, 2002 7:38 PM
I would think the LBS would be in a better position to make a recommendation regarding fit, but I would get some other opinions just to make sure. IMHO, the 44cm seems big.

I don't think there would be a noticable difference in ride b/the 40cm and the 44cm. What she needs to do is feel comfortable with the bike; the C-dale may not be to her liking. Make sure she trys out some different bikes as well.

I subscribe to the theory that you can get a good fit through proper stem length, seat height & fore/aft adjustment as well as crank length, provided you are in the ball park as far as frame size. I doubt she would be cramped on the 40cm, but everything is a tradeoff. For some reason, I am somewhat suspicious about what your LBS told you. Again, get a second opinion from another LBS.

Would a peer group smoke her? Unlikely. She needs to find a group that is at her level; besides, women tend to be more supportive. Additionally, there are lots of couples who want to do recreational rides.

By your questions, you seem convinced to get a road bike. You might want to start her off with something other than clipless pedals so she gets confidence in everything else. Maybe have her get a season under her belt before trying clipless pedals.

I would think you could get a bike within your price range & size through Ebay or on the RBR classifieds but it might take some time. Why not consider an inexpensive cross bike for around $350-450 for now and get her a more expensive road bike next year?
Thanks Allison, great advice as expected, but one more...simstress
May 23, 2002 8:44 AM
For that frame size, I'd get a stem between 90-120mm. Anything longer may really screw up the handling.

By definition, your peer group cannot smoke you.

My team does developmental rides once a week. We do clinics for fixing flats, patching tubes, fitting your bike, learning how to shift, etc. The participants split up by skill level, then each group does an appropriate workout designed by the team. People of all types and bikes join us. You might try to find rides like this for your mom.
Cannondale makes a 40cm R500...raboboy
May 23, 2002 6:37 AM
My wife also rides the R500, she is 5'1" and the sizing works well for her. SHe also uses MTB pedals & shoes, not a bad idea for a beginner or someone who just wants to take a ride, stop for coffee and not skate through Peets. :) She uses Time ATACs, double sided, lotsa float, easy clip in & out, and the black looks nice with black c'dale cranks.
Does you wife ride the 40cm too? (NM)tronracer
May 23, 2002 8:22 AM
Does you wife ride the 40cm too?raboboy
May 23, 2002 11:56 AM
no, she has slightly longer legs and the 44 fit her better.
re: 650ccyclopathic
May 22, 2002 2:17 PM
in size that small you don't wanna bike with 700 wheels. It isn't possible to build frame that small around big wheels geometry gets screwed up. Even 50-52cm frames have problems: toe overlap, steep seatangle/shallow headangle and it affects bike handling. 650c are the good thing. The draw back is that tires are harder to get by and on a ride you can't borrow tube.