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Old 08-30-10, 09:59 AM   #1
Justin J
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Any female cyclists under 5 feet with a 23 inch inseam...?

Having a difficult time finding a bike for my petite wife. I’m a afraid there’s nothing in a 700c wheel that will fit her. We’ve tested at least a dozen bikes. The step through models are deceiving because if she is straddling the bike, the seat won’t allow her to stand back far enough. The front of the seat basically pushes her in to the top tube where it starts to rise vertically. Even though she can “technically” straddle the bike, it is NOT safe for her to be wedged between the seat and the top tube like that.

If we go down to a 26 inch wheel, she has just a few more options, but not much. There are a bunch of 13 and 13.5 inch frames out there, but the stand over height is between 23 – 25 inches. It basically comes down to how dramatic the slope is on the top tube. If it’s too flat, she’s got no stand over clearance. If it slopes down at a steep angle, then it’s almost like a step through where she jammed between the seat and top tube.

We did find one lonely bike out there with a 12 inch frame and a 21.5 inch stand over. It’s the 2009 Diamond Back Lustre. But I would have to order it without having a chance to test it. I think we are leaning towards ordering it. She’s tested so many bikes in the last two weeks that we’re confident this geometry would be perfect for her. But before we do that, I want to exhaust all the possibilities in a 700c wheel.

Is it even possible to have a 700c wheel on a frame with a 21 – 22 inch stand over?
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Old 08-30-10, 10:44 AM   #2
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My wife is just a tad taller than yours 1/2" or so. The best fit we ever found in a bike was a nondescript German (I think) city bike, it had 24" wheels. Unfortunately it got stolen. Currently the best bike for her is a Raleigh Twenty folder. Take a look at some of the better quality folders, they can be made to fit a wide range of sizes fairly easily. Dahon has several, I would look for 20" wheels rather than the smaller 16" ones. And it has the advantage of being easy to store and transport.

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Old 08-30-10, 12:36 PM   #3
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I'm 5'2" on a warm day. ; ) I ride a Giant OCR2 in the extra small size. When I was looking at bikes a few years ago, I tried several bikes in the XS to small range and the Giant had the best feel and fit. The one thing I found was the distance from the seat to the handlebars was different for each bike, and that was the deciding factor with the Giant. It was a shorter stretch than the Specialized or Treks.
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Old 08-30-10, 03:29 PM   #4
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Is it even possible to have a 700c wheel on a frame with a 21 – 22 inch stand over?
If you are looking for a bike with 700c wheels for your wife, I assume you are looking for a road bike? If that's the case, you don't want that Diamondback-- That bike is definitely not a road bike. It's more like a heavy mountain bike.

Though it has far smaller wheels than 700c, this is the smallest road bike I can find: http://www.schwinnbike.com/usa/eng/P...-Midi-Fastback It has 23-inch standover height. Available at Perfomance Bike. http://www.performancebike.com/bikes...7_20000_400122
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Old 08-30-10, 03:40 PM   #5
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The GF is about 5' even and has a Specialized Crossroads mixte with 700C wheels she bought from a shop that told her it fit her. It's way to big for her, but she likes it. She can stand over the frame without trouble, but the seat is about 2" above the top of the rear tire.
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Old 08-30-10, 04:07 PM   #6
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She can probably ride a Trek 43cm frame WSD with 650c wheels. I do.
It comes in the 1.2 and Madone 4.7 lines. There are still NIB 2.1's and 2.3's out there too. Use Google to find one (NB: Trek dealers CAN ship to each other).

No frame for 700c wheels will fit her.

Last edited by trek2.3bike; 08-30-10 at 11:44 PM.
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Old 08-30-10, 05:58 PM   #7
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Having a difficult time finding a bike for my petite wife. I’m a afraid there’s nothing in a 700c wheel that will fit her. We’ve tested at least a dozen bikes. The step through models are deceiving because if she is straddling the bike, the seat won’t allow her to stand back far enough. The front of the seat basically pushes her in to the top tube where it starts to rise vertically. Even though she can “technically” straddle the bike, it is NOT safe for her to be wedged between the seat and the top tube like that.

If we go down to a 26 inch wheel, she has just a few more options, but not much. There are a bunch of 13 and 13.5 inch frames out there, but the stand over height is between 23 – 25 inches. It basically comes down to how dramatic the slope is on the top tube. If it’s too flat, she’s got no stand over clearance. If it slopes down at a steep angle, then it’s almost like a step through where she jammed between the seat and top tube.

We did find one lonely bike out there with a 12 inch frame and a 21.5 inch stand over. It’s the 2009 Diamond Back Lustre. But I would have to order it without having a chance to test it. I think we are leaning towards ordering it. She’s tested so many bikes in the last two weeks that we’re confident this geometry would be perfect for her. But before we do that, I want to exhaust all the possibilities in a 700c wheel.

Is it even possible to have a 700c wheel on a frame with a 21 – 22 inch stand over?
You best , and safest , choice is to find a 24" wheel bike which I doubt will be easy.
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Old 08-30-10, 06:30 PM   #8
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Another vote for a 24"-wheeled bike here. The tires on a 650C bike are 26 inches tall; so the top tube isn't going to be much lower than that. OTOH, 24" wheels (520mm) tires are more like 22" tall. Bikes of that size is usually considered kid's bikes. They're around; but usually come with lower-level components. The Schwinn looks OK - you can always upgrade a few components if they're not up to your standards. Or you can go the custom route.
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Old 08-30-10, 06:49 PM   #9
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If you are looking for a bike with 700c wheels for your wife, I assume you are looking for a road bike? If that's the case, you don't want that Diamondback-- That bike is definitely not a road bike. It's more like a heavy mountain bike.
well, she really doesn't need a road bike to be honest with you. She's not an aggressive rider at all. It's just something I want to include her in for fun and fitness. We'll be exclusively on the bike path - no off road at all - which is why I was hoping for a full 700. But the 26 I think will be perfectly fine as long as we get the choice of tires right.

She did try a couple of youth 24s, and of course those were way more easy to control. But even in just testing a bunch of 26s and a few 700 step throughs, she can tell that the bigger wheels roll better. In fact, she liked one of the 700s the best for how it rolled, but it's just not a good idea. 26 seemed to be the best compromise, but we've only found that one 2009 Diamondback with a 12 inch frame 21.5 inch stand over. I think we're going to just order it. It's only $199, and we can always upgrade components as she gets into riding more. At that price, we can afford a full assembly and fit, and still be well under 4 bills.
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Old 08-30-10, 08:07 PM   #10
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These were made for your wife: http://www.bikefriday.com/petite
They aren't just smaller frames, they're lighter and even have properly sized brake levers. Reach to the brakes can be a big issue when you have small hands. Don't get her a cheap, poor quality, heavy bike; she'll just end up not wanting to ride it.

It's just not true that 700c wheels roll better than small wheels, by the way. It depends on many other factors. I have bikes with both wheel sizes and much prefer the small wheels.
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Old 08-30-10, 09:21 PM   #11
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I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Terry.

http://www.terrybicycles.com/cycling_savvy
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Old 08-30-10, 09:56 PM   #12
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It's only $199, and we can always upgrade components as she gets into riding more. At that price, we can afford a full assembly and fit, and still be well under 4 bills.
I agree with ro-monster. That Diamondback is a cheap, poor-quality, heavy bike. There is no better way to kill the desire to ride than a cheap, poor-quality, heavy bike. That Diamondback is a heavy steel frame. It uses a cheap, weak freewheel that is prone to getting a bent rear axle. (Bikes that use freehubs with a cassette are a lot stronger). It uses the cheapest Sunrace grip shifters with a lot of sloppy play. The cheap suspension fork just adds weight, eats up her pedaling power with the bobbing, and is practically worthless. No matter how much you upgrade that bike, it will still be a heavy bike that is a killjoy to ride. Changing its tires ain't going to make it any better. The specs say it all. http://www.diamondback.com/bikes/wom...s/lustre-1-09/

While your wife might not be specifically looking for a road bike, I have no doubt she will enjoy riding the Schwinn I mentioned earlier much more. Much better components (including a freehub and cassette, STI shifters and decent Sora-level components that shifts more smoothly), and a much lighter aluminum frame. On that bike, she will have a much easier time keeping up with you. And unlike the Diamondback, the Schwinn has a true upgrade path-- Swap out the Sora-level components for 105 or Ultegra in the future, and she'd have one real smooth riding machine.
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Old 08-30-10, 10:49 PM   #13
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http://www.feltbicycles.com/USA/2010...eries/F24.aspx

They also have a size "petite" on their womens bikes with 650 wheels. Or look for a used Terry

http://www.terrybicycles.com/cycling_savvy/geometry
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Old 08-31-10, 12:02 AM   #14
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Though it has far smaller wheels than 700c, this is the smallest road bike I can find: http://www.schwinnbike.com/usa/eng/P...-Midi-Fastback It has 23-inch standover height. Available at Perfomance Bike. http://www.performancebike.com/bikes...7_20000_400122
This is probably the smallest, decent bike you'll be able to find in her size.

I've spent two years looking for a quality road bike with a standover of less than 27 inches and found damn few.
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Old 08-31-10, 05:28 AM   #15
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I know a woman who is 4'10", & rides a Giant Cypress DX bike. She is pleased & the is a good value.

http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/....w/7354/44535/
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Old 08-31-10, 06:33 AM   #16
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I have a friend with similarly short legs who rides Serotta. That's more expensive than the Schwinn, though. Can't remember if she uses 650's.
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Old 08-31-10, 09:00 AM   #17
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Thanks for all the responses.

Tom,
We'd actually be looking at the Lustre 2, which has an aluminum frame and sram triggers. Still not a great ride, I know, but at least we have the right frame geometry and it's upgradable.

Boy, that Schwinn looks nice, but she won't even touch a road bike because of the drop bars. It might take her a year or more of riding before she's even willing to consider it.
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Old 08-31-10, 08:43 PM   #18
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Tom,
We'd actually be looking at the Lustre 2, which has an aluminum frame and sram triggers. Still not a great ride, I know, but at least we have the right frame geometry and it's upgradable.

Boy, that Schwinn looks nice, but she won't even touch a road bike because of the drop bars. It might take her a year or more of riding before she's even willing to consider it.
Sorry to hear your wife does not like drop bars. It is very difficult to find a good road bike with such low standover height with straight bars.

In light of your wife's straight bar requirement, here's another possible candidate: http://www.redlinebicycles.com/bikes...11-conquest-20

Shame you can't convince her to go drop bars. That Schwinn would have been a good solution if she is willing to give drop bars a try.
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Old 08-31-10, 09:13 PM   #19
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Point to note: handle bars are by far one of the easiest ,and cheaper, parts on a bike to change so don't let handle bars get in the way of a bike she likes.
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Old 08-31-10, 09:51 PM   #20
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I know a rider who is 4'10" and rides a tiny LeMond Big Sky aluminum frame road bike with 700c wheels. She has done many century rides on it, Ride the Rockies, etc.
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Old 08-31-10, 10:16 PM   #21
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Sorry to hear your wife does not like drop bars. It is very difficult to find a good road bike with such low standover height with straight bars.

In light of your wife's straight bar requirement, here's another possible candidate: http://www.redlinebicycles.com/bikes...11-conquest-20

Shame you can't convince her to go drop bars. That Schwinn would have been a good solution if she is willing to give drop bars a try.
No biggie, Tom, I appreciate all the advice. This will be my wife's first time on a bike since her pink huffy when she was 10. She's seen how cycling is a great way to intensify a fitness program in me, so she wants in on it, but she's not a speed demon and not into "playing" sports (although she loves watching them on tv - I'm lucky).

So we'll see... we'll probably just get this DB for a baby step into riding and see where it goes from there. If she wants to step up into a good bike, then that Schwinn is on our short list for sure.
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Old 08-31-10, 10:58 PM   #22
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I just finished building this for my wife, It is a Panasonic in 43cm, certainly not a current frame but it fits my 4'11" wife well and actually has 700c wheels on it. They are out there just not common.
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