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  1. #1
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    I'm really short...

    I'm 4'7" tall and I cannot find a good quality bicycle anywhere... I live in a small town and there is only one (rinkie dink) shop around that sells good bikes. I was thinking of ordering online, but not for such an expensive purchase. I'm willing to spend $500.
    I have an awesome vintage schwinn that my grandma used to ride that fits almost perfectly, but it's really old and I'm not risking it getting ruined since it's in such wonderful condition.

    I'm moving off to college next fall and I don't want a car, but if I can't find a bike, I might have to get one. I just need something decent to ride around campus and run errands on. Any advice?

    -Char

  2. #2
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    How far do you live from a bigger city? The major bike manufacturers have dealer locators on their websites so you could get an idea of how far you'll need to travel to look at some more bikes. Two ideas immediately come to mind: a kids bike or a woman's specific bike (you don't say if you're male or female).

    http://www2.trekbikes.com/bikes/bike...d=1323013&f=26 (I'm 5 feet with my shoes on and comfortable ride the 15" size but it comes in a 13")

    http://www2.trekbikes.com/bikes/bike...d=1033000&f=23 (also comes in a 13")

    I don't think you want a road bike but these come in 43cm (I ride a 47). They're a bit more than you want to spend new:

    http://www2.trekbikes.com/bikes/bike...id=1413003&f=4

    I'm in no way affiliated with Trek; it's just what I ride. Good luck in your search!

    Another thing to consider might be bike security. I've read on these forums about plenty of bike theft esp. on college campuses. The "pretty" bikes seem especially attractive.

  3. #3
    Retro-nerd georgiaboy's Avatar
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    Redline Conquest 24 is one suggestion for you.

    Redline makes a nice bicycle for shorter persons. The frame is pushed down with 24" wheels to accomodate the smaller frame. Check the website for the closest dealer to you. Call them and discuss the bicycle and purchase.

    The standover height for this bicycle is 26.3 inches. Hopefully, your inseam is not less than that.



    Here is the link:

    http://www.redlinebicycles.com/adult...nquest-24.html
    Last edited by georgiaboy; 03-19-06 at 04:16 PM.
    Would you like a dream with that?

  4. #4
    Senior Member AnthonyG's Avatar
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    I'm 5'1" and had to get a custom bike built with 650c wheels (smaller than the 700c standard wheels) to get one to truely fit properly. With a $500 budget that's not going to get you far in the world of custom bikes

    Anyway to stop rambling you need a 24" wheeled bike which I guess is what your grandmothers bike is. An old 24" wheeled road bike. The bad news is that there's not a modern direct equivelent to these bikes any more but you do haves some options. You can get modern high performance 24" road bikes from companies such as Trek, Felt, Specialized, Giant, Orbea, Bianchi and more. These bikes are for juvenile racing and are more expensive than your looking for but they will be your best option. Honestly I'm at the minimum limmit with 650c wheels myself and could ride a 24" road bike myself!

    The best cheaper option you have these days is an unsuspended 24" mountain bike which you can fit 24" slicks to for road riding. I have a bike like this as a cheapy and its realy very good. There are also some 24" cruisers out there that look cool and as long as you don't need to climb hills could be good too.

    Honestly its the smaller wheels that are CRITICAL in getting a bike to fit someone of small stature and I beleive this is why your grandmothers bike fits.

    EDIT: Georgiaboy just beat me to it with a link and that's the kind of road bike I'm talking about however I had a quick look at its geometry and I don't like that paticular models VERY steep seat tube angle. I prefer Felts 24" road bike with a more relaxed 73.5 STA.

    http://www.feltracing.com/06/06_bikes/f24/

    Regards, Anthony
    Last edited by AnthonyG; 03-19-06 at 04:14 PM.

  5. #5
    Retro-nerd georgiaboy's Avatar
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    The Felt is an awesome bike. Good suggestion.
    Would you like a dream with that?

  6. #6
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    I'm short also-5'5"-and have had to be aware of bike height.You will get the most bang for your buck by doing this.
    Get a decent-but older 1996-2002 MTB full suspension bike off Ebay.One with at least 3' of front and rear suspension.Gety one with the smallest frame you can find(14-17"-standover with2" tires will be 27-29") -that is still a good quality bike-nice components.For example-the older carbon trek Y bikes can be bought-with XT-LX components for $400 or less.The same goes for other high end bikes that are 4 or more years old-they sell for maybe 25% of new cost.
    Now it gets a little tricky.Take the shock off-Get someone to cut a rectangular piece of aluminum-or steel to support the rear of the bike-cut it and drill it so it is just long enough to allow the rear tire to clear any hard part.Your bike will now sit low at the rear(high at front) and the standover will be about 2' less9you will have dropped the rear by about 80mm,but standover will be 50mm less).
    The front end is a little trickier-if it is low enough-just leave it the way it is-nose up.If you want another 1.5" of standover(roughly 80mm total less than originally)-you have to remove the spring-or plastic 'spring" and then lock the tubes in the down position.I would be tempted just to epoxy the tubes.If it is a nice fork then buy a cheapo rock shock judy and use it as a solid fork-save or sell the 'good fork".
    All this sounds complicated,but it isn't.Give me the dinensions and I'll cut and drill an aluminum strut for you.
    The upside is that you can have high end good components with "normal wheels-tires.The 650c tires are expensive and you have a very limited selection of very high pressure hard riding tires.24"-more selection,cheaper but still nothing like the 26" MTB tires.Also,you can get very skinny MTB tires and very wide MTB tires-the 650-just skinny-the 24' just fat.You will also end up with a high end frame-components that can be sold to a wide market-the market for 650c and 24' bikes is very limited.All the changes-except maybe the fork-are reversible for future .selling.Luck,Charlie PS This should drop it to 25-26" standover-less if you go for skinny tires.I You can usually tolerate about 2' more standover than my actual pant inseam-you just tilt the bike a bit.
    PPS-A Mixte frame is pretty nice also.I like them-I'm male,but some guys won't ride them.Standover for them is maybe 24"-no mods. Same story for some 20" folders-they are kinda cool.Might have to mod the seatpost or HB.

    .

  7. #7
    Senior Member AnthonyG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phoebeisis
    I'm short also-5'5"-and have had to be aware of bike height.You will get the most bang for your buck by doing this.
    Get a decent-but older 1996-2002 MTB full suspension bike off Ebay.One with at least 3' of front and rear suspension.Gety one with the smallest frame you can find(14-17"-standover with2" tires will be 27-29") -that is still a good quality bike-nice components.For example-the older carbon trek Y bikes can be bought-with XT-LX components for $400 or less.The same goes for other high end bikes that are 4 or more years old-they sell for maybe 25% of new cost.
    Now it gets a little tricky.Take the shock off-Get someone to cut a rectangular piece of aluminum-or steel to support the rear of the bike-cut it and drill it so it is just long enough to allow the rear tire to clear any hard part.Your bike will now sit low at the rear(high at front) and the standover will be about 2' less9you will have dropped the rear by about 80mm,but standover will be 50mm less).
    The front end is a little trickier-if it is low enough-just leave it the way it is-nose up.If you want another 1.5" of standover(roughly 80mm total less than originally)-you have to remove the spring-or plastic 'spring" and then lock the tubes in the down position.I would be tempted just to epoxy the tubes.If it is a nice fork then buy a cheapo rock shock judy and use it as a solid fork-save or sell the 'good fork".
    All this sounds complicated,but it isn't.Give me the dinensions and I'll cut and drill an aluminum strut for you.
    The upside is that you can have high end good components with "normal wheels-tires.The 650c tires are expensive and you have a very limited selection of very high pressure hard riding tires.24"-more selection,cheaper but still nothing like the 26" MTB tires.Also,you can get very skinny MTB tires and very wide MTB tires-the 650-just skinny-the 24' just fat.You will also end up with a high end frame-components that can be sold to a wide market-the market for 650c and 24' bikes is very limited.All the changes-except maybe the fork-are reversible for future .selling.Luck,Charlie PS This should drop it to 25-26" standover-less if you go for skinny tires.I You can usually tolerate about 2' more standover than my actual pant inseam-you just tilt the bike a bit.
    PPS-A Mixte frame is pretty nice also.I like them-I'm male,but some guys won't ride them.Standover for them is maybe 24"-no mods. Same story for some 20" folders-they are kinda cool.Might have to mod the seatpost or HB.

    .
    Very creative and inventive

    There is still one fundamental problem that can't be addressed like this and thats reach (horizontal distance from BB centre to centre of Head tube). The minimum reach is limited by wheel size, Ie smaller wheels translates to shorter reach and while Top tube length can be fudged with steeper seat tube angles reach cant be fudged. Yes you have less choice with small diameter tires but its not that bad and with the growing popularity of recumbents and smaller wheeled folding bikes its getting better. Fudging the geometry with larger wheeled bikes isn't a good answer for small riders.

    Regards, Anthony

  8. #8
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    Ooh, lots of options! Thanks guys. I live about two hours from the state capital, so I could travel there.
    Yeah, Anthony, arm size probably would be a problem but that was a great suggestion.

    P.S. I'm a girl (hence the name chGURLsng) lol. no biggie

  9. #9
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    Reach is only a concern if you insist on using road-racing-type bars.Folks who actually use bicycles for transportation rarely use drop bars;they use normal bars and an upright posture.Now you are going to mention some bike messengers,and I am going to mention 2 billion Chinese and Indians-no drop bars there.
    Use normal bars-lots of options-reach is of no concern.If the top tube is longish,use a short stem with bars with lots of "pullback".
    The best bang for the buck is a 5 year old MTB bike.You'll get top rate components-XT-XTR etc for the $500 you plan to spend.650c tires are very pricy and not available at every walmart etc.Luck,Charlie

  10. #10
    Senior Member AnthonyG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chgurlsng
    Ooh, lots of options! Thanks guys. I live about two hours from the state capital, so I could travel there.
    Yeah, Anthony, arm size probably would be a problem but that was a great suggestion.

    P.S. I'm a girl (hence the name chGURLsng) lol. no biggie
    Char,

    I'm glad I could help. Out of my own curiosity and it would help you to know what size is your grandmothers bike. IE, what size wheels/tires does it use (measure the wheel diameter from the axle to the outside of the tire)EDIT: OK even easier read what the tire size is on the sidewalls. I also suspect that it would have 6" long cranks if it does have small wheels which are short by today's standards.

    Regards, Anthony

  11. #11
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    You also might consider a folding bike (see folder thread) - I am a short woman (5'2) and have a downtube VIII and a dahon speed 8 - I had to change the handlebars on the dahon to make the reach fit - but it worked and it was under $500. I use the folders to commute mostly - 8-10 miles a day. This also might work well if you are going to live in a dorm where space for a bike is limited.

  12. #12
    Senior Member chicbicyclist's Avatar
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    Why not just use your grandma's bike? You could always repaint it if the paint gets knicked, and you messing up the frame is highly unlikely unless you get in a(whatever-deity-you-believe-in-here forbid) really serious accident, or do alot of off-roading. I would kill for a vintage utilitarian bicycle right now.

  13. #13
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    Take some measurement from your current bike, esp the reach from saddle to bars. This is a critical dimension for comfort.

    You could probably fit a small frame for 26" MTB wheels. These are ideal for general purpose commuting/touring use. Narrow slick tyres are available for road riding.
    There are not many lightweight non-sus frames available, most are overbuilt and overweight. The small ones still use average size components (esp the cranks and bars) and the bottom bracket (pedal spindle thing) is way too high off the ground for smaller riders. Beware and have a read of
    http://www.myra-simon.com/bike/what_women.html

    Terry do some well designed hybrid style bikes using smaller MTB or 24"wheels.

    http://www.terrybicycles.com/cycling_savvy/susanb.html

    Also, see fuji
    http://www.fujibikes.com/2006/lifestyle.asp
    Last edited by MichaelW; 03-20-06 at 10:30 AM.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Bugtussle's Avatar
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    You might want to take a look at the IBEX Kids Bikes. Very good quality and well equiped for a lower price.

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    The rims on my grandma's bike are 24" in diameter. Since I'm moving out of state to a small dorm, my mother doesn't want me to take this bike with me even though I LOVE it. I wish I could find a replica of it in the same condition, but I'm sure it would be just as expensive as buying something new. The bike looks exactly like this one: http://www.schwinnbike.com/products/...ail.php?id=631 minus the headlight (which I would purchase anyway) and the brakes. I just wish that Schwinn still made this bike as durable as they used to . Maybe some of you know of something similar? This may sound funny, but I've only ridden a MTB a couple of times in my life and I fell off because of balance. I'm kinda afraid to buy one again if it's such an expensive purchse.

    Char

  16. #16
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    I am short too....I got you by 3" tho! I sympathize with your search, although i was interested in a mtbike and road bike and with boyfriends generosity (now husband ) my price range was a bit more which opened the market for me quite a bit...i wasn't planning on locking outside or in a dorm/apartment either. i have recently purchased a commuter and price was an issue for those very reasons (errand running which meant locking outside and loading it on a bus...a definite no no for the babies that are actually stored INSIDE the house)***let me assure you that they are by far high end bikes but they fit perfectly/sentimental value (surprise b-day present) and just downright special to me!
    Anyway...looking at what you are riding now (and what a beeeeauty i might add!!!) and your price range...i would second the suggestion for the terry hybrid!!!!

    just my $0.02

  17. #17
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    chgurlsng, heh,I can see why your mother doesn't want you to take your grandmothers bike-she is right-it would get ripped off in a college setting.Someone would recognize it for what it was-and the lock would be cut-hammered-whatever.
    I sure like the 20" folders.They have very low standover heights with no mods.You would have to do some mods to get the bars in reach since they are set up for someone 12"+ taller.They are maybe $400+-and there is a resale mkt.They are maybe 28 lbs or so-not bad.
    The weight isn't a concern because you are interested in paring every ounce,but it is a concern because you are going to have to manhandle it into elevators.bike racks,cars etc.Lighter is always better.
    Here is a crude example of what can be done to "drop" a mt bike.The starting picture is about 28.5" standover.This bike is a 2001 16.5" NRS giant-cost $600 delivered off ebay.New cost-list-might have been about $1900-actual sales cost could have been $1500 in 2001.It has been modified with more wheel travel and standover than it originally had.
    1st picture 28.5"
    2nd picture-25.5"-all I did was let the pressure out of the rear shock-nothing to the front shock-fork.
    The fork has 120mm of travel-if I dropped it the standover would drop to ~ 23".
    My guess is that 23-25" is a acceptable standover for you.It also has sorta tall tires-average about 2" above the rim-1.5" tires would drop it another 1/2"-under 23".
    Many MTB that originally cost $1000+ have air forks and shocks,so all you have to do is let the air out,and "tape" them down.Literally wind some duct tape or bungee cords between the fork bridge and crown,and the upper and lower shock mounts.Instant no suspension bike with a 24" standover.Almost any small full suspension MTB with air forks and shock will drop to the 23-25" standover range.
    The duct tape-bungee cords- will give it a slightly beat up"don't steal me" look.
    The reach-arm length problem is just a handle bar switch away.These bars-being inspected by my assistant-are sorts like your grandmothers.
    If you like straight bars-typical mtb bars-you can literally flip the stem-point it backwards.It will work just fine for you.A taller person might hit the bars with their knees-you won't.It will instantly move than about 4-6" closer to you.
    My only objection to buying a short persons bike is that you pay a lot more for a lot less,and there is a limited resale market.They aren't cheating you,they just have to sell a bike like that for more.It will be a bike that will cost $600+,but it will have the sort of components you will find on a mass produced $300 bike.It will work just fine-nice bike etc-but I guess I'm just a cheapskate.
    The children's bikes are easily the best bang for the buck,and they will fit with no mods.They won't attract many thieves either.I would go the children's bike route-cheap,no mods,low theft potential.Save the modified bikes,folding bikes,small persons bikes for when you become more bike savvy and want to spend $500+.
    You should check Ebay for Mixte frames-bikes.They have standovers in the 24-25" range,and are cheap.Luck,Charlie
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    I've posted this info before. The French Decathlon sports store, which has (I think) 3 branches in Mass, produces the Decathlon 7.0 24" wheel road bike (5 gears 119 UK) and the 7.1 44cm/17" and 48cm/19" frame bike with 26" wheels/10 gears (250UK).

    I think you can find them on www.decathloncycling.com or co. etc. I assume that the site will include the US prices.

    Several of the youngsters in my Kids bike Club have bought them and they are very well specc'ed for the money. Their UK store managers seem pretty clued up on cycling (Decathlon is the 2nd largest bike brand in the world after Giant) and should be able to give you useful advice.

    They are certainly good value for money

  19. #19
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    Just checked - it's http://www.decathlon-usa.com/ and click on the Decthlon cycle logo near the bottom of the page. Then click on road cycles and then sport. Unfortunately all the prices are in Euros but full US store details are given on the http://www.decathlon-usa.com/ site

  20. #20
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    With a budget of $500.00 you can get a folding bicycle. It would be even better because you're going to college and the bike won't take up much room in your dorm. In fact, the school might not allow a bicycle inside the dorm.

    I've seen children ride these bikes because the seat post and handlebar stem can be lowered. Make sure you get one that allows the handlebar to be lowered.

    www.dahon.com

  21. #21
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    I gotta agree with the folding bikes;the Dahons-steve's nomme de forum-are kinda cool,handy,and the Jack I saw(not what you want,but a good example) had very good components on it-It had $60 worth of (schwalbe)- tires on a $400 bike.Normally you get $20 worth on a $400 bike.Lotta bike for the $$.
    If you are careful with your selection you can get one that will be easily modifyable to your needs for maybe $400.It will have a perfect standover,reasonable wt(28lbs),small pk,and good resale if you decide to upgrade.You can easily fold it up and slip a u or chain lock thru it and lock it to a utility pole.They are sorta cool-stylish-not kids bikes.
    The kids bikes are a close second for my $$.Charlie

  22. #22
    Senior Member AnthonyG's Avatar
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    Char,

    If your happy with single speed then there are a few single speed cruisers on the market with 24" wheels. Here's one, http://www.raleighusa.com/items.asp?deptid=9&itemid=322 and there are others out there like this one, http://store.shop72.com/bebi26ur1spf1.html (note that the website mucked this one up. This is a picture of a 24" cruiser even though they call it a 26 and the one they call a 24" shows a picture of a 26" but it gives you an idea of what they look like). If you want gears then bikes like http://www.mongoose.com/bikes/detail..._US&brandID=38

    Anyway they are out there.

    EDIT: Having just posted this I looked at the geometry of some of these 24" cruisers and actualy there still big bikes with long cranks which isn't exactly good. The Mongoose Mtn bike I know is genuinely a smaller, suitable bike with 152 mm(6") cranks. This 20" cruiser, http://www.raleighusa.com/items.asp?deptid=9&itemid=320 would actualy be a better size than the 24" model if you raise the seat.

    Regards, Anthony
    Last edited by AnthonyG; 03-20-06 at 03:19 PM.

  23. #23
    Retro-nerd georgiaboy's Avatar
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    It would also be helpful to know how much you ride now. How much mileage will you be riding from your dorm/residence to school? Will there be a part-time job to commute?

    A bicycle to be used everyday for transportation for a one year or more will need to be well-built. Also, gearing may suit you better for long distances as well as carrying your laptop/books and belongings. When going up an incline with extra weight switching to more gears is helpful. The wheels need to be of quality to stand up to a daily commute.

    In this thread the Felt 24, Terry Bicycle, and a Dahon Folder are good choices. Decide if a folding bike is preferable. If not, then decide between a road bike geometry (Felt 24) or a relaxed geometry (Terry Bicycles).

    Just remember that everyday riding of a bicycle will test it's "metal." A lot of wonderful recommendations were given to you for a bicycle to last your entire colllege career and afterward. Your grandmother's bicycle has lasted up until now. In her day a Schwinn was one of the finest bicycles made.
    Last edited by georgiaboy; 03-20-06 at 04:36 PM.
    Would you like a dream with that?

  24. #24
    Senior Member AnthonyG's Avatar
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    Char,

    This may not be the style of bike your after but its the most practical and ecenomical bike thats still of good quality that I've seen that would fit you,

    http://www.giant-bicycle.com/us/030....06&model=11349

    Its worth checking out.

    Regards, Anthony

  25. #25
    Senior Member Nachoman's Avatar
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    Char, you might also want to consider buying a bit of a larger bicycle if you're still growing.
    .
    .

    Two wheels good. Four wheels bad.

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