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  1. #1
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    First touring bike for a short woman - recommendations?

    Hi everyone, I greatly appreciate any advice you can provide. I will be doing my first supported long-distance trip (for one week) in a few weeks and I have concluded that my trusty commuter hybrid with the milk crate strapped to the back is not going to cut it.

    I am therefore looking at touring bikes and I would really LOVE to get something specifically designed for a female body. I am 5'3", 125 lbs and (apparently) have a short torso. So far I have tried the Specialized Sequoia, the Jamis Aurora and the Surly LHT but none of them prompted a "yes this is it!" moment. (Maybe I should give the Surly another chance but the bar-end shifters just seemed too awkwardly placed. It seems like it would always take twice as long to shift having to move your hands from the top to the bottom of the handlebars - do you get used to this?)

    I am thinking about a Terry but I would have to special order one since there are no shops in DC that carry them. Do the ladies out there have any other recommendations? I'm looking to keep it under $1500, and something that could occasionally take panniers, etc. but most of the time would not. Looking forward from just this trip, I basically want something faster and lighter than my hybrid for weekend road rides, but more comfortable than a racing bike.

  2. #2
    Seņor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    You can get the LHT built with other shifters. Most any reasonable bike shop would do this if that's what you want.

    I have mine built with bar-ends, and have no regrets (although I grew up using them, so they're kind of second nature to me). Their appeal for me is the price, their non-interference with handlebar bag, and their simplicity. I could repair bar-ends myself - which I can't say the same for of "brifters".
    Last edited by USAZorro; 09-05-08 at 10:56 AM.
    The search for inner peace continues...

  3. #3
    Ho-Jahm Hocam's Avatar
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    I remember the first time I tried bar ends, it did seem very unnatural but after a few hours of riding you just get used to it.

    In fact, some people like them because you have to move your hand away from the normal position after hours in the saddle. Think of it as a way of automatically giving your hand a break and moving positions.

    For someone of your height definitely be looking at 26" wheels or smaller, possibly with a 24" in the front and 26" in the rear, or a similar setup. Why don't you e-mail Terry and see what they say?

  4. #4
    Senior Member oldride's Avatar
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    Are you sure you want a touring bike? A touring specific bike is great for loaded touring but they are heavier and generally slower than a road bike. I don't think (not sure) any touring bikes are made women specific but many do have smaller sizes.

    Trek and Specialized (and others) make several women specific models of road bikes. A Specialized Sequioa is a road bike not a touring bike but you could put a rear rack on one along with many other road bikes. You may want to look at something like the Specialized Dolce.
    http://www.specialized.com/bc/SBCLan...esignsforWomen

  5. #5
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    Check out a Rocky Mountain Sherpa 30. It comes with "brifters" off the shelf.

  6. #6
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    I don't really think you have to limit yourself to a 'touring' bike especially if it's supported. Besides a few geometry tweaks (sometimes) a touring bike basically just has eyelets so you can attach a rack and fenders easier. And some are supposedly better for carrying a heavy load, like the LHT. The LHT appears to be a great bike, and the price is nice for the stock complete bike. I had a crosscheck for awhile and think it would work perfectly fine as a long distance bike as well. I found it comfortable and heavy, and rather sluggish feeling compared to my carbon road bike.

    I ride really far, but never touring where I would need a rack to carry my gear and I am quite happy on a carbon race bike. I've done a brevet series with it and just loaded my pockets up and on a few occasions used a camelbak. My bike is a custom job but it would be similar in geometry to something like the Specialized Roubaix or Ruby for women which is has a taller head tube and slightly longer wheelbase for a more relaxed, comfortable ride.

    I would look that way instead of a touring specific bike. You'll have quite a few more options that are most likely more readily available to try out. Giant, Trek, Specialized, etc all make bikes that are considered more of a comfort road bike vs the typical race road geometry and they have women specific geometry bikes which may fit you better.

    There are racks out there which will work without having eyelets for mounting like: http://www.oldmanmountain.com/

    I, personally, strongly prefer brifters rather than barend shifters. They are for more efficient and I think the hand moving argument one or two posters mentioned is really stretching it to justify using barend shifters...
    Last edited by Spookykinkajou; 09-06-08 at 07:13 PM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member nubcake's Avatar
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    check out the masi special cx, its a steel frames bike with cross geometry ie: shorter top tube. It would make an awesome do everything kinda bike. Steel is gonna be alot more comfortable than a carbon or alu. bike, you can tour, do long rides, commute and race cross if you want to on it. I think it costs around $1000 so its not over your budget at all. other than that its a personal thing but i LOVE the classy look of it. any haro dealer can get them if your trying to find a shop other than that heres a link... http://masibikes.com/cycles/speciale_cx.php

    if you have any questions on it feel free to ask, ive played around on one a good deal and love it

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    Quote Originally Posted by nubcake View Post
    Steel is gonna be alot more comfortable than a carbon or alu. bike
    I call total BS, but each to their own. I've ridden every material out there, and while I think a few steel frames I've ridden were the most inspiring to ride(the surly is definitely NOT one of those), they were equally as comfortable as a well made carbon or titanium frame. If you are curious, a well made 853 steel frame for me has turned out to be the most enjoyable, but my quite a bit lighter carbon frame is just as comfortable, it just doesn't feel the same.

    edit: I should probably apologize here as I missed the original posters $ limit of 1500. The frames I refer to cost nearly that by themselves. With a 1500 limit you will probably be better off with something like the LHT.
    Last edited by Spookykinkajou; 09-06-08 at 07:15 PM.

  9. #9
    Seņor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spookykinkajou View Post
    ...
    I, personally, strongly prefer brifters rather than barend shifters. They are for more efficient and I think the hand moving argument one or two posters mentioned is really stretching it to justify using barend shifters...
    Not making light of peoples' preferences, but bar-ends are definitely a viable alternative. The advantage of them forcing you to change hand positions did seem like a "stretch" to me also, but the hassle and inefficiency arguments are kind of weak also. Perhaps brifters might be a bit safer if your bike is loaded to the point of instability, but the kind of riding involved here doesn't place much of a premium on gaining 2/10 of a second on a shift like racing would. The learning curve really isn't very steep with them either.
    The search for inner peace continues...

  10. #10
    Senior Member nubcake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spookykinkajou View Post
    I call total BS, but each to their own. I've ridden every material out there, and while I think a few steel frames I've ridden were the most inspiring to ride(the surly is definitely NOT one of those), they were equally as comfortable as a well made carbon or titanium frame. If you are curious, a well made 853 steel frame for me has turned out to be the most enjoyable, but my quite a bit lighter carbon frame is just as comfortable, it just doesn't feel the same.

    edit: I should probably apologize here as I missed the original posters $ limit of 1500. The frames I refer to cost nearly that by themselves. With a 1500 limit you will probably be better off with something like the LHT.
    you make some points worth mentioning but really it comes down to quality. a high quality alu bike will ride better than a crappy steel or carbon bike but with high qual. steel, ti, carbon, and alu they can all ride good but of them all i still feel my ti bike rides better than any other bike ive ridden and ive ridden a $13,000 (and cheaper as well) carbon bike (freakin rocket ship though), steel soulcrafts, surlys, masi's and a few others, my ti lightspeed, and a handfull of alu bikes and from my experience i think the best road bike for the majority of cyclists is either ti or carbon but both can be kinda pricey so for cyclists on a budget i always try to steer people towards steel over alu

  11. #11
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    On a totally separate note....

    You might want to look into a Bike Friday. They make folding bikes for various purposes, including "sport touring" (i.e. occasional touring, reasonably fast for regular use).

    BF's are fully customized, from the sizing to the components, and if necessary they even have "petite" frames. Their prices are about the same as any other custom frame maker, and their time frame isn't too bad (maybe 2 months, vs 6+ for many custom bikes).

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    DOn't have a recommendation, but for supported touring, look for a road bike, not a touring bike. Unless you have to carry your own gear, touring bikes are too heavy, and you'll be behind from the beginning.
    ...

  13. #13
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    If you are interested in a semi-custom set-up, the folks at Rodriguez are well known for fitting women. They have full-out touring, racing bikes, and some in between. For supported touring their new Randonneur bike, the Rainier, might be interesting...

    www.rodcycle.com.
    Last edited by BengeBoy; 09-08-08 at 12:26 PM.

  14. #14
    Seņor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
    You didn't mention a budget.
    ...
    Quote Originally Posted by estephan View Post
    ... I'm looking to keep it under $1500, and something that could occasionally take panniers, etc...
    Or maybe she did.
    The search for inner peace continues...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by USAZorro View Post
    Or maybe she did.
    oops. I edited my post. I guess I have budget blindness.

  16. #16
    Seņor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
    oops. I edited my post. I guess I have budget blindness.
    Something we'd all like to be able to afford.
    The search for inner peace continues...

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by nubcake View Post
    you make some points worth mentioning but really it comes down to quality. a high quality alu bike will ride better than a crappy steel or carbon bike but with high qual. steel, ti, carbon, and alu they can all ride good but of them all i still feel my ti bike rides better than any other bike ive ridden and ive ridden a $13,000 (and cheaper as well) carbon bike (freakin rocket ship though), steel soulcrafts, surlys, masi's and a few others, my ti lightspeed, and a handfull of alu bikes and from my experience i think the best road bike for the majority of cyclists is either ti or carbon but both can be kinda pricey so for cyclists on a budget i always try to steer people towards steel over alu
    If you really think more expensive = better, go here: http://bulgier.net/pics/bike/Articles/ and read "steelshootout,pdf". The same frame builder makes identical frames out of 5 different sets of Columbus tubing, low end to high end. Then, the writer does a blind trial of each frame and rates them without knowing what frame is what.

    Interesting results.

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