My sister wants a bike. Together, we can pool about $1,000 which is a pretty decent amount for a 15 year old. She would probably use it as an alternative to a car, just getting around town, to school, to friend's, etc. She would probably also use it for longer distance day rides, as she's athletic and competitively driven. We wouldn't buy it until about Xmas, so I'm just doing some research on her behalf. Options so far include Surly CC, Surly LHT and Salsa Casseroll, in that order of preference. The most important consideration is that she's only 5'2.
The Casseroll is a little out of our budget and only goes down as long as 51cm whereas the Surlys can get down to 42cm. According to the Salsa fit chart, 51cm would be small enough for someone 5'0-5'3 1/2. That's why it's third on the list, but it's pretty so it has that going in its favor
The Surly's, though...
CC and LHT both have sizes 42,46,50, and 52. Both accomodate racks and fenders. The CC can get a granny gear and front derailleur for about $25 more. (I know because I did it for mine.) The front cogs, then, would be equal at 48-36-26. Very similar.
The LHT has a 26" for all sizes whereas the CC only has a 700c wheels on all sizes. Doesn't make sense, but whatever. That could be an issue as far as toe overlap, but otherwise I don't really see a problem. Even I get toe overlap but it isn't that hard to synchronize by pedaling on a sharp turn so that it doesn't happen. Any other reasons why she should go for a small wheel?
The LHT's geometry is more relaxed, but it also isn't as fun and snappy to ride. The biggest difference is made by the wheel base, I think. Anyways, she probably wouldn't put a rack on it and if she did, the panniers wouldn't be heavily loaded. That seems to really be the LHT's strength, its ability to shoulder a load with stability. The spare spoke holder and the extra H20 bottle boss also seems unsuited to my sister's needs.
Having just got back from a town errand on my CC, I can testify that it's really fun to ride, but I probably am biased. Also, the CC's ability to go FG/SS.
The tighter 12-25 rear cassette on the CC seems better suited to town riding. The 11-34 would allow her to tackle any hill, but there just might not be enough hills to justify the wide gear jumps.
I guess the biggest downsides to the CC is that it only comes with 700c wheels and that it's geometry is not as relaxed. Opinions? Also open to any bike suggestions other than the ones mentioned here.