Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling - Long distance/touring bike for a very short person
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04-23-09, 05:10 PM
Hey guys. My very short friend Tanya is getting some nice tax returns this year and I have promised to help her build a bicycle. She wants a bike with fender mounts and provisions for a good rear rack, and provisions for wider tires/wheels (700x28-35 or 26" slick tires). Ordinarily I would have no difficult whatsoever doing this for a friend. The only problem is that she is extremely short (I believe somewhere between 5'1" and 5'3"). She's currently riding an adolescent's Schwinn Sport which is definitely too short and too heavy for her.
I suggested that a 42cm Long Haul Trucker is a decent weight and quality, provides for 26" wheels, racks, fenders, and a short stem if necessary for sizing.
Does anyone have any other suggestions?
04-23-09, 05:14 PM
Just get a tandem and pull her with you.
Is she shorter then Alice?
04-23-09, 05:28 PM
No.... definitely taller than that. 5'1"-5'3"
04-23-09, 05:32 PM
The "World Tour", by Bob Jackson Cycles in England is similar. It has all the same braze-ons, but the frame is 631, and has nice lugs instead of welds. Frameset is about $650 including shipping to the U.S.
04-23-09, 05:46 PM
I'm 5'2" and ride a 17" (XS) Trek 520. I replaced the stem with a 60mm stem. It's appropriate for fully loaded touring - can take front & rear racks, fenders, 3 waterbottle cages.
If you are ordering/building, try to get lower gearing (mtb gearing) - if she's going to actually carry heavy bags. The stock gearing is a little high.
But, if she's not going to actually tour / carry stuff, this bike *is* quite heavy. I expect the LHT is similar.
I've had many happy miles on my 520.
04-23-09, 05:49 PM
If her tax returns are really nice, build a custom Ti bike. Very comfy, proper geometry, excellent fit (the main thing). Serotta does a great job of fitting.
Years ago, REI had a series of bikes they called Randonees. I bought my short wife one that was basically a hardtail MTB frame with steel fork, MTB drive train, 26" slicks, canti brakes, road drop bars and brifters and full touring braze-ons. Only change that she made, other than the saddle, was to put on HP road tires instead of the slicks. It was a cheap way to go and works for her.
04-23-09, 06:00 PM
Another option -- especially if going custom build -- is a 650b bike. (http://www.veloweb.ca/mybikepages/blerioso.html) Very comfortable and just a bit smaller than 700C which gives more options in geometry for the smaller rider.
04-23-09, 06:00 PM
My wife is 5'2" and rides a 49cm Salsa Casseroll. This would be suitable for light touring.
04-23-09, 09:30 PM
I am 5'3" and I ride a 42cm Long Haul Trucker. So I would say get the LHT. Of course, I am not biased or anything. :)
I'm 5'2" and ride a 17" (XS) Trek 520.
Hey, me too!! (Actually I'm only 5'1" tall.) :D
The Trek is my commuter bike right now, so the most I've ever loaded it with is about 13 pounds on the rear rack, and I haven't done any long distances with it yet. I want to try some touring this year, though.
When I was first looking for a touring bike, I thought I would get the complete LHT, because it seemed like a good price for a bike that was pretty much "tour-ready" right out of the box. (I suspect the 520's gearing might be too high for a fully-loaded, hilly tour.) But then my LBS checked the dimensions on my Airborne (on which I *do* ride long distances, quite comfortably) and noted that the 520's frame geometry was very close to the Airborne's -- the LHT, not so much.
The 520 is lighter than the LHT.
04-24-09, 10:37 AM
I'd start by getting her out on some bikes... Conventional wisdom is women have short torsos and long legs, but it's not always the case. I'm a long torso, short leg type. At 5'6", it's not a huge deal. I ride a slightly smaller frame than you might expect from my height, but it's nothing spectacular (tho it does lead to the amusing situation that my 4'11" short torso/long legs friend and I can trade bikes...). At 5'1", there might not be any stock frames small enough if she's built like me. If Tanya is built more like my friend, there's a bit more chance to fudge.
My friend and I both happier on 26" wheels. It gives the designer a bit of extra slop to keep the geometry relaxed, and 26" wheels are slightly stronger. Because my friend is so short, she pretty well has to ride a step through or mixte frame with North Roads in an off the rack bike... conventional drop bar bikes don't have a short enough top tube to suit. I have to ride a step through due to arthritis issues.
Terry makes bikes well suited to smaller women, and they have a tourer. VO makes dreadfully pretty bikes, and their mixte frames seem well suited to shorter riders. Soma has a mixte frame that comes in a pretty small size... if I had infinite cash, I'd love to build one up as a fun ride :) Bianchi and Giant seem to run short in the top tube, which might help too.
My son, who's 12, is currently riding a bike I put together from an old Trek 830 mountain bike frame. The 26" wheels are important because with bigger wheels the handlebar will be too high --this is, in my opinion, a serious problem with small sizes of bikes with larger wheels like the Trek 520, for one example. My wife is also small; she used to ride a 520 but moved over to a Bianchi Eros with 650c wheels, which could be made to fit her much better. It's nice but I suspect she actually prefers my son's Trek.
Look at Terry bikes, if you haven't. Designed by and for women.
04-24-09, 11:45 AM
My wife is also small; she used to ride a 520 but moved over to a Bianchi Eros with 650c wheels, which could be made to fit her much better.
Not to be confused with the 650b wheels I recommended above. There are very limited choices in 650c tyres and they tend toward very narrow "tri" tyres.
The OP mentioned the person desired wider tyres and 650b (though not common) presently have the best selection of wide/performance tyres of any wheel size.
04-24-09, 11:46 AM
Carbonfiberboy - Randonnee is still around, not sure if it comes in a small enough size
Maxine - yeah, for fully loaded touring, on my first 520 i put a 26 tooth inner ring and 12x34 cassette. on my second one (first died in a crash, liked it so much I just replaced it) - i ordered it had the shop install MTB cranks - so now my low gear is 22x34 - which is great when you are trying to haul 70% of your body weight up mountain passes!!
re: 650b wheels - I would strongly urge you NOT to get those if you plan on actually touring, because the availability in small-town bike shops is poor. Better to go with a more common size. 26" is great around the world, 700c is good in the "first world".
If there were LHT's when I was buying the 520 the first time, I would have strongly considered one. I'd be interested to ride one, but there's no reason for me to replace a bike I like just fine.
A number of off the shelf fully loaded tour bikes don't come small enough - windsor, fuji. With unlimited budget I would be looking at a Bruce Gordon, CoMotion or Thorn.
A touring bike that uses 26 inch wheels (Mtb wheels) in the smaller sizes would be the usual choice.
My wife is 5'2" and rides 650b. We just bring a spare tire, it's not a big deal. Because 650b tires run at such low pressure, flats don't happen much.
I think 650b would be the best choice. But it's not a mass market item, so something like the Surly LHT will be a lot cheaper unless you can find a used Bleriot or something in her size.
04-26-09, 12:52 PM
Hey, me too!! (Actually I'm only 5'1" tall.) :D
me four! I have short legs though so I have negative stand over room. but I guess the plus side is that the 540 mm top tube is okay with me. I have an 80mm stem and salsa poco bars. I think I might switch over to specialized bars though.
Mine is really for commuting and group rides. I've put in excess of 20 pounds on one side with no problems. It weighs 25 pounds with a rack and commuter pedals. I have an old triple DA on the front and 9 spd mountain cassette. this gives me all of the range I need and I'v heard of fit cyclists getting by with a compact double.
04-26-09, 03:53 PM
Well, you simply can't choose a frame size by overall body height. There are too many variations in leg length at any given height. For a touring type of bike, you usually would want larger rather than smaller, so, given that, many people around 5'2" can easily straddle a conventional 50-51 cm frame riding on 700c wheels. You only really need to start thinking smaller wheels if the frame is smaller than 50 cm. While 26 in wheels/tires are common, 650B is a bit of an oddball size, no matter how many fans there are on the internet. Even the French builders use 700c or 26 inch on touring bikes.
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