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Old 04-28-10, 08:55 PM   #1
farmersfight
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Women's Specific Bikes

I am interested in getting a Women's Specific bike but keep reading their geometry is built more for short torso and longer legs. I am almost 5'4 with a 29 inch inseam (long torso, short legs) and have been told a 50 cm frame is too big. How do I know if a 46 or 48 will fit me best if none of the shops carry road bike frames in those sizes? (Nearest bike shop is 100 miles away and it's a very small, limited store.)
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Old 04-28-10, 11:42 PM   #2
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I myself wouldnt buy a bike without testing it but if it helps:

My wife rides a 51 mens Bianchi very comfortably for 6 years, I look into a WSD bike for her. She's 5'4 with a short torso. I went to a guy that I trust, matter of fact the only guy I trust of the several shops around. I tell him she's a 51 and wanted to try a 51 WSD. He says no, she's a 49 just by looking at her and knowing the WSD set up.

At anothr shop, Dopey said the 51 was the same in the 51 WSD so I thought my trusted friend had to be wrong! I thought he was going crazy since Dopey at the other shop had said 51, same as a mans bike. SO my trusted buddy says that he hasn't any in stock but to try another store with a large inventory. I do and my wife testrides some WSD bikes. She ends up with a Trek 5.2 full carbon Pilot.

Guess what size? 49 just as my trusted buddy had suggested.!

I told my budy about the deal and asked if he could match it cause I would rather buy from him. He said "buy the bike, it's too good of a deal to pass up".

We took the bike home and mathce dit up withthe mans 51, the handlebars are the same height as the mans 51, if not a tad bit higher. So eventhough it is sized smaller, it isn't in actual size. bu the WSD is much more comfortable for her.

So if you ride a 50 in a mans frame like my wife, but the shop says you need a 48 in the WSD, I believe it!

But like I said, me myself would not buy a bike that I or my wife could not test ride. But that's true for anything that I buy!

Somethings ar worth the 100 mile drive. Heck we drive a hundred miles to other shops in other areas for funzies sometimes. Plenty of times just to look without buying so much as a tube.

BTW,wife is 5'4 and rides a 49 WSD Trek Pilot.

Wifes' 49 WSD and her 51 Bianchi (traditional mens frame)..I know you probably can't tell by the pics but trust me, the handlbars are the same height. Checkout the hb height compared to the couch, about the same.


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Old 04-29-10, 08:46 AM   #3
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FWIW, my wife finally bought a woman-specific road bike after several years of riding a "men's" Bridgestone. She was comfortable enough on the old bike, but found the new one on sale at a time she could afford it. She loved it from the start,, so there IS some validity to the theory, at least.
In your case, with a shop so far away, this is a hard call. There's plenty of information about fit online, and you can get geometry and measurements from the manufacturers' websites, but it's hard to translate that into what it feels like. If you're looking for a low-end bike for casual use, I'd take a shot. If you're going to spend big money, though, or she'll be riding a lot, I think I'd make whatever trip was necessary to try the bike in person.
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Old 04-29-10, 05:40 PM   #4
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My partner is un-tall at around 5-4, For years she has ridden a small Cannondale t-2000, we invested a lot of time getting the fit just right by changing the stem, handlebar, shifter, etc. Last fall she got the bug for more of a sportative road bike, so we went shopping at the end of season sales. Checked out a number of bikes from several makers, including several WSD models. Some WSD bikes had the same dimensions and geometry as their regular counter parts - the only difference was some color changes. Other WSD had components- like handlebars and shifters that were different size. She ended up with a small GT road bike, the moment she sat on it - the fit looked like it was custom made for her. She was comfortable, components were ideal for her size and she liked it. The T-2000 has not gotten much ride time recently.
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Old 04-29-10, 07:32 PM   #5
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Thanks for your comments

I appreciate the comments offered thus far....given me lots to think about.

Something else I have learned, a WSD in one brand...say a Specialized 48 can fit completely different than a Giant WSD 48 or an Orbea WSD 48. Where does one go to test ride three different brands in one place? I feel like I would almost need to hop off one and climb another back to back to tell a difference. Waaahhhhh!!
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Old 04-30-10, 10:39 AM   #6
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That's a pretty small bike.

Frankly, unless you go to a shop that has lots of stock your chances of finding one that size to test ride aren't very good. I'd call ahead before driving 100 miles.

One thing that you can do is to check out the frame dimensions in the manufacturer's website. The concept behind women't specific frames is to shorten the top tube to compensate for women's typically long legs compared to torso. In reality, it doesn't always work out that way. Often the smaller frame sizes will have the same top tube (or virtual top tube) length as their larger sized sisters.

The issue is "toe clip clearance". As you shorten the top tube, the front wheel is moved closer to the bottom bracket. Shorten the top tube very much and your foot will bump the front wheel during slow, tight turns. Honestly, that only happens at parking lot speeds and many petite women get along just fine riding with toe clip interference. Some manufacturers, through the years, have done some goofy things with seat and head tube angles on small frame bikes. Some substitute 650 wheels to reduce toe clip overlap. Georgena Terry addressed a nitch market producing bikes for petite women.

I don't know what kind of rider you are. If you're planning to buy what you consider to be a pricy bike, I'd strongly recommend taking the time to drive somewhere so you can be fitted and test ride a small frame bike. My wife and I recently bought an expensive recumbent tandem. Before ordering it, we drove 500 miles (one way) so we could take a test ride in an 8 degree wind chill. Burrrr. It turned out to be money well spent because otherwise we would have bought the wrong bike.
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Old 05-01-10, 08:01 PM   #7
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My wife is 5'7", but could not get fitted to her men's small Giant OCR1 due to her short torso. We bought a Specialized women's 51cm and the fit was much better except her hands were too large for the handlebars (which we changed). Seems to me a proper fit will dictate bike selection whether the end result is a men's or women's frame.
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