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Terry & other women's bikes for 'shorties'(21 posts)

Terry & other women's bikes for 'shorties'Rosemary
Apr 30, 2003 4:01 AM
I'm finally replacing my 30 year old road bike. My inseam is 27.5" and I'm finding very few choices. I'm thinking of a road bike style with straight handle bars, I ride about 40-50 miles per week on paved bike paths. Has anyone bought a Terry bike? Others? What is with all the suspension stuff-is it worth it?
Lots of choices depending on your budget.MB1
Apr 30, 2003 4:17 AM
Any road bike can be set up with straight bars so that should not limit your choices.

Terry bikes are somewhat out of favor because of the 2 wheel sizes they use on their small bikes. They are a bit overpriced for what you get too.

Trek makes their WSD (women specific bikes) to fit short riders. The smallest use 26" wheels front and rear and should give you plenty of stand-over and likely a good fit.

For a bit more money Gunnar makes a nice 26" wheel small frame in their road model.

For lots of money almost all custom builders will make a bike around your dimensions and needs.

Start with a budget and go from there.
re: Terry & other women's bikes for 'shorties'Grampy
Apr 30, 2003 5:01 AM
Check out the LeMond bikes. They do an excellent job with Womans specific frames. I just bought my wife the Tourmalet. She loves it.

Sorry don't know anything about Terry.
Try LeMond.......Tower
Apr 30, 2003 5:31 AM
Check out the Wayzata. It has MTB bars and ergo barends. Reynolds 853 Select steel, triple chainring. Pretty nice set-up.

They also have two women-specific designs in two models. Tourmalet and Zurich.

My wife rides a LeMond Buenos Aires 55cm, and really likes it.
Anything OTHER than a TerryFez
Apr 30, 2003 5:36 AM
The Terry bikes are not particularly well spec'd, heavy, and quite expensive for what you get. Lots of women I know like the Terry clothes and saddles, however.

Fitting small female riders is always a challenge. Getting low standovers and short top tubes while achieving proper wheel clearance (toe overlap is a common issue) is a series of compromises.

Some will go to a smaller wheel up front, but the rest of the bike has to be designed around that (front hub will be lower than rear).

Others will do 650c wheels front and rear. These are less common, but still used by the triathlete crowd and bike stores have choices for this size.

Terry I think uses the 24" wheel and tire. Be prepared to have a healthy stock of 24" tires and tubes, because chances are noone else around will have one. If you ride with a partner or a group, then you can't share if everyone else is on 700c tires.

Maybe you want the convenience of buying a complete bike. But if you are value conscious, you can do a lot better than Terry.
I agree with everything you say, butdzrider
Apr 30, 2003 6:55 AM
the 3 women I've talked to that ride them love them and swear that they feel way better than any other bikes they've tried. As a result of their testimony, I've come to view Terry as kind of like Rivendell or Waterford - bikes that shouldn't be measured by the same standards we use to evaluate most bikes. The value of a bike is better measured by how much the owner likes riding it than by parts, material, or lightness per dollar.
I agree with everything you say, butFez
Apr 30, 2003 7:18 AM
True. I know a lot of women are frustrated by a seeming lack of commitment by the industry to make things that fit them. But lets take the warm and fuzzy Terry story out of the equation. And lets also take the value component out of the equation.

From an engineering standpoint, are they good bikes? Is having a tiny wheel up front and a larger one in the back good for handling and stability?

Waterford and Rivendell bikes are designed with different philosophies than traditional road bikes. They, like Terry, are not inexpensive bikes. However, they are extremely well designed quality bikes. I honestly believe Terry bikes are cheap bikes dressed up as Woman Specific and slapped with a huge price tag.

Maybe a lot of these Terry bikes are ridden slowly and primarily in the straights, so that's why there are so many happy customers. BUT if not, I wonder if handling and stability is severely compromised just so toe overlap is reduced?

Any bike engineers want to comment?
wheel/toe overlap is not a problemelviento
Apr 30, 2003 7:36 AM
If you go slow enough to worry about wheel/toe overlap you should get a mountain bike.

The essence of modern road bike design cannot get around that. And overlap doesn't really affect riding.

At 5'8", I am on the short end of normal size, and almost every bike I have ridden has toe overlap (53cm Litespeed, 54cm Trek OCLV, etc.). And if your feet have a more forward step on the pedals, you could get overlap on a 55cm Litespeed, for example.

Overlap is never a problem at regular speeds (above 6-7mph for me). If you are going so slow that you can't even hold a straight line, just coast and keep your feet at 12 and 6 o'clock.
I'm not saying it is, however the Terry folks must have thought soFez
Apr 30, 2003 7:58 AM
Otherwise, why would they design the 24" wheel up front and the larger one in the back?

Talk about a flat tire/tube nightmare on the road! Forget about finding a replacement fork down the road for whatever reason.

Is there some other reason for the staggered wheel sizes?
Why don't you test ride the bike?Spoke Wrench
Apr 30, 2003 8:40 AM
Terry will ship a bike to virtually any LBS in the United States for you to test ride, let you return it, and will pay the shipping both ways if you don't like it. You have to have a whole lot of confidence in your product to make an offer like that. Trek and Specialized aren't that confident. I asked a sales rep at Terry once about their return ratio. They said it was extremely low. I believe them because I personally never had a serious buyer test ride a Terry and not buy it.

I too think that Terry bikes have their own market that is not served very well by any other manufacturer. They certainly aren't for everybody. I think that their single biggest drawback is that people think they look goofy. All of that talk about having to carry your own 24" inner tube? Really, how much of a drawback can it be to carry an inner tube?

5'10" men aren't going to be able to evaluate Terry bikes very objectively. Hello! They aren't supposed to like them bacause bikes aren't made to fit them. As you have noticed, however, there are lots of 5'0" enthusiast riders who LOVE their Terry bikes. If I were a five foot tall woman, I'd put more credability to the comments of other five foot tall women than I would the comments of six foot tall men.
Apr 30, 2003 8:53 AM
I don't need to test ride it, because I am not female.

However, I conclude the reason for the small front wheel is to address toe overlap. Since toe overlap is not really a problem once you are up to speed, then why?

I am speculating on this, but maybe another reason for the small front wheel is about proportions. A 24" front wheel ought to feel approx the same for a 5'1" woman as a 700c would for a 6'1" person. OK, maybe I'll buy that. But its the staggered wheel sizes that concern me. Handling and stability I think would be better served by identical sized wheels front and rear, whether its 24, 26 or 700c sizes.

End rant.
Couple of things.Spoke Wrench
May 1, 2003 5:57 PM
On the frame geometry thing, Terry bikes have short, short, short top tubes. I myself questioned if maybe Georgena Terry had over done the short top tube idea, but then I'm a 5'10" male. The bikes definitely do not fit me.

Relative to the handling and stability, all of the action takes place at the contact patch and that doesn't change very much. Maybe, like you suggested, the 24" contact patch makes more sense for a rider who only weighs 100 pounds. The bottom line is that the women who like them really like them a lot.
Apr 30, 2003 5:38 AM
My wife has a Specialized Alez Vita 48cm which she is very happy with, it's a compact so standover is not a problem. Ca. $1000

I test rode some Terry's when I shoppedKristin
Apr 30, 2003 7:22 AM
Terry makes a good bike. I test rode a couple and while they weren't what I was looking for, they are a well built bike designed specifically for women. There is another member here--her name is RT--who is 5'1" tall and races bikes. She should have some good advice for you.

One warning I've heard about Terry is regarding the 26c wheels. Most road bikes come with 700c wheels. If you have 26c's and run out of tubes on a long ride, chances are slim that someone will come along with 26c tubes in their bag. However, you should be fine if only riding locally. Test ride a couple Terry's and listen to your body.

Suspension stuff. Most mountain bikes have front suspension and some have rear suspension as well. These are only usuful if you plan to ride off road and jump logs and stuff. For paved paths suspension is completely unnecessary. Some hybrids also come with front fork suspension. Its heavy, unecessary and costs money to fix. There are also suspension seat posts. Those are a purly personal choice. I had one on an old hybrid that I used on local paths. I liked it. I NEVER felt any bumps and NEVER got a bruised patutee. The only down side was that I would bounce in the saddle when I tried to ride harder. Test ride some bikes with and without them. Try pedaling really fast with the suspension and see how that feels. Ride thru some pot holes.

What is your budget?
Personally, I think "WSD" bikes are...msmootsiemartin
Apr 30, 2003 7:59 AM
a marketing gimmick. Not all women are built alike. I would recommend finding a smaller size frame and going from there. A friend of mine, about 5'1" fits well on a compact Cannondale and I am 5'3" with about a 28" inseam and have been riding a 49cm, C-T, Merlin for 6 years. Most "WSD" bikes are too short in the top tube for me. Although you may end up on a "WSD" bike, I would not limit your initial search to them or to Terry for that matter. Good luck, let us know what you end up with!
re: Terry & other women's bikes for 'shorties'sistinas
Apr 30, 2003 8:11 AM
Other manufacturers that make bikes for short people (I'm 5'1" and my inseam is about the same as yours, so I know how hard it is to find stuff):

- Bianchi - the Eros has a WSD version, and they have some other models that also come in smaller frame sizes
- Jamis - the 47cm models mostly have a smaller front wheel, so if you're uncomfortable with that, then scratch them. Their bikes are generally well-spec'd for the price, but sometimes finding a dealer is hard.
- Surly - the Crosscheck is a great do-anything bike, and they have some REALLY SMALL frame sizes.
- Soma - really small company, nice steel frames.
- Lemond also has some WSD bikes.

You could also look into Trek and Cannondale and I'm sure there are some others, but I only really know about steel bikes.
If it's within your budgetNo_sprint
Apr 30, 2003 9:04 AM
Go custom. Check out Land Shark for reasonable priced steel, Bill Holland if you've got custom Ti type bucks.
re: Terry & other women's bikes for 'shorties'raboboy
Apr 30, 2003 9:42 AM
My wife has a C'dale WSD r500 that we got end of season for ~$900 and she really likes it. Yeah, it has Tiagra components, but if you aren't racing, then it doesn't matter; you will still get 15,000+ miles of out them (wwith proper maintenance, of course). She tried out a bunch of bikes and, for her, this was the best setup. She is on the shorter side, 5'1" (don't know inseam), and liked how the 650cm wheels felt instead of the 700's. I'd still recommend trying a few models out before buying.

If you are sticking to paved bike paths, then avoid shocks. They would just add weight and power-loss with no real benefit.
For the truly short...dave_w
Apr 30, 2003 12:00 PM
There is not much out there. My GF is 4'9".
She is riding a Terry that is too big by a long way. Recently spoke with a shop guy that ordered a Terry for a very short customer and she hated it, Terry took it back just as they said. His customer ended up on Cannondale. I had looked at their stuff but had missed the fact that their CAAD4 R400 feminine (I had been looking at the CAAD5) comes in a really small size and has the ONLY standover that might actually allow my GF to stand, albeit still with no clearance, flatfooted, over the TT. The numbers on the Trek, Bianchi, surly, etc. are still too big.
hopefully this will be the one that fits.
How low can you go? Colnago.djg
May 1, 2003 12:34 PM
For the really, really short there are the Colnago kids bikes. The smaller one (22") is recommended for kids 5-7 years of age. Here's a link to the geometry:
re: Terry & other women's bikes for 'shorties'snapdragen
Apr 30, 2003 6:16 PM
I ride a Terry Classic - but I'm tall with a 32" inseam, so my wheels are both 700c. The 24" wheel on the smaller bikes is for the toe overlap. I love my Terry, I'll be switching out the straight bars for drops this summer.

BTW - I've had two of our most respected bike shops in my area tell me I have a great bike - not a cheap bike dressed as woman specific. One of them worked with Georgina Terry, who I believe is an engineer.