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  1. #1
    Custom User Title: jallen's Avatar
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    Bike sizing for 5'1" woman

    Hi. I'm looking around for an used bike for my wife, who is 5'1" tall. We live in a really rural area, and the nearest LBS is a couple hours away.

    So I am just wondering, what you consider a good bike size for her. I assume a "small" frame. I've seen some mftg'ers label their bikes "small".. and others label theirs in inches.

    I'm looking at a mountain bike style for her.. I prefer specialized/kona lines as I am most familiar with these two brands- but will conside most brands.

    What sizes should I be looking at?

    Thanks for any tips you can give me. I'm 6'2" so this is new terrority for me. hehe. Thanks for any help you all may have getting my life partner interested in sharing my bike passion.

    Cheers!
    Learning the ropes of mechanics on my Specialized Hard Rock Sport 2004 that I ride a bit too hard.... and upgrading parts that give me trouble on an excellent frame.

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  2. #2
    ÖöÖöÖöÖöÖö Dannihilator's Avatar
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    Look for a small or extrasmall.
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  3. #3
    Dismember harov3's Avatar
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  4. #4
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    first you might try searching as i wrote something maybe a year ago...

    my girlfriend is 5'1 1/2" and we have now bought 2 bikes for her in the last 2 years (the first was stolen).

    the main problem is that most bikes are "designed" for a generic sized person - say a 5'9" guy... and then most companies don't start over from scratch for very small or very large bikes, but rather just shrink or expand a few key components and then twea few small adjustments for smaller/larger riders... but many aspects are then non-ideal.

    #1 problem: for REALLY small frames you still have 26" wheels (usually) so this changes the geometry... (think bottom-bracket height)
    #2 problem: the crank-arms and brake levers and shifters are usually not downsized...
    (e.g. if you are 6'2 and ride 175mm cranks, at 5'1 she is 82% of your height, so proportional crank length is around 144mm --- but a "short" crank is 170 and a really short crank is "165")

    a regular "small" generally doesn't work well as often only the frame is smaller and nothing else...

    anyhow, a few companies do make "women-specific-bikes" and it's probably wise to check it out... the main problem here is usually (b/c of cost/demand) they usually only offer one or 2 models (e.g. specialized discontinued the Epic WSD and now has the Stumpjumper is 2 price levels -- compared to about 9 price levels for the non-WSD models)

    what to look for:
    1) (the obvious) low stand-over height to allow mounting/dismounting
    2) low bottom-bracket or 24" wheels -- (to my knowledge Terry is the only maker designing to 24" wheels --- we didn't go further in researching here, but a MTB DESIGNED around 24" wheels would be the ideal -- a 26" for someone under 5'2" is ALWAYS a COMPROMISE!!). for a 26" wheel bike for a very short person you also need a significantly LOWER bottom bracket than someone your height -- e.g. the Santa Cruz Juliana we got has a 299mm BB (most XC bikes are in the 325 range)
    3) adjustable brake levers
    4) shorter crank arms -- we got 165mms which seem ok -- anything shorter is hard to find and $$$ -- but 170 or 175 are just too long!!
    6) if MTB will be used for technical descents, then bike must allow for the seat to be significantly lowered to allow her to "get behind" the seat --- this means the top tube must not be too long!

    some of the best models:
    Santa Cruz Juliana (our latest choice - awesome although $$$$)
    Specialized WSD - in Dec 03 we bought a 2004 Epic for her (she was happy with it before it was stolen) but Specialized discontinued the WSD Epic for 05 i think and now have a Stumpjumper FSR WSD which is ok
    --- the Juliana has a lower BB than the Epic, allows here to lower the seat more and allows her to get behind the seat

    others:
    Cannondale makes a WSD
    Terry
    i read recently that Kona will be making a "Womens" bike i think from their Kikapu XC bike

    Thanks for any tips you can give me. I'm 6'2" so this is new terrority for me. hehe. Thanks for any help you all may have getting my life partner interested in sharing my bike passion.
    the most important thing is that it fits and that she is comfortable riding it. e.g if she has normal brake levers it will be uncomfortable to always reach for the levers all the time or if the bottom bracket is too high she will not be able to put her foot down while still on the seat (assuming the seat is at the "proper" efficient-pedalling height) or if the top tube is too long she will sit uncomfortably AND not be able to get behind the seat for technical sections)

    unfortunately there are very few "entry-level" WSD bikes... so you're stuck more in the $1000 to $3000 price range --- and almost no bike dealer has test/demo bikes in this size, so often you have to "do the numbers" and then order sight-unseen (we did this for the Epic and i measured and calculated and it worked out ok, but for the 2nd bike we WERE able to find a size Small Juliana demo bike -- Bicylce Sport Shop Austin Texas)
    why drive when you can ride?
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  5. #5
    Custom User Title: jallen's Avatar
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    Nathank, THANK YOU

    That is a lot of information, and I will search for that post. Looks like valuable stuff along with your post here. Again, thank you.

    The first thing out of my mind reading all this... I wonder how a Specialized HotRock would work out for a smaller adult...

    I mean, my wife sometimes has to buy shoes and occasionally speciality clothing from the children section... (oh poor gal! hehe)

    Like.. these
    http://specialized.com/bc/SBCBkModel.jsp?spid=11532

    24 inch wheels.. all the way thru 20, 16, & 12 inch wheels.

    Heck, I wish I had one of those when I was that size...

    And harov3 I noticed how similar that design of the giant you sent me is to the specialized 24" boys bike.

    Anyway, thanks all for the food for thought.
    Learning the ropes of mechanics on my Specialized Hard Rock Sport 2004 that I ride a bit too hard.... and upgrading parts that give me trouble on an excellent frame.

    Hacker's Emblem- What it's all about...

  6. #6
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jallen
    Nathank, THANK YOU

    That is a lot of information, and I will search for that post. Looks like valuable stuff along with your post here. Again, thank you.

    The first thing out of my mind reading all this... I wonder how a Specialized HotRock would work out for a smaller adult...

    I mean, my wife sometimes has to buy shoes and occasionally speciality clothing from the children section... (oh poor gal! hehe)

    Like.. these
    http://specialized.com/bc/SBCBkModel.jsp?spid=11532

    24 inch wheels.. all the way thru 20, 16, & 12 inch wheels.

    Heck, I wish I had one of those when I was that size...

    And harov3 I noticed how similar that design of the giant you sent me is to the specialized 24" boys bike.

    Anyway, thanks all for the food for thought.
    hmm...
    might not be a bad idea... cranks 160mm, 24" wheels, short top tube, low stand-over height...
    i guess my main question would be the quality/durability -- in the price range ($580 for the top level) i don't know any of the components...
    on the one hand a small woman should not weigh so more more and not be any more destructive than your average boy... although kid's items are often more disposable as they are outgrown or sit unused in the garage...

    no idea if everything is compatible so the fork/drivetrain/brakes etc could be uprgaded if need be?? (if so an option would be to do some uprgades and potentially have a really awesome bike for under $1000)

    but maybe somthing worth checking out -- it's probably the only real option without spending big bucks to get something truly sized correctly.
    why drive when you can ride?
    now a fully certified German MTB Guide! (DAV)

  7. #7
    Senior Citizen DiRt DeViL's Avatar
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    I was going to suggest a 24" bike with "normal" sized components but got beaten to it.

    My syster is about your height and she's OK on a 15" Specialized Rockhopper. Have you tried a 14" or 15" mtb with 26" wheels?

    Also you could try a WSD frame like the Trek Fuel WSD or a Cannondale F series in Petitte size.

    Shop around.
    Last edited by DiRt DeViL; 09-02-05 at 01:52 PM.
    "Life is not like a box of chocolates ...
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    may burn your ass tomorrow."


  8. #8
    Digs technical steeps
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    One of my riding partners bought a bike (Specialized Rockhopper 'medium' frame) with 24" wheels for his wife who is 5'1". She loves it! She had tried the small and extra-small 26" wheeled bikes but the 24" wheeled med. frame fit her like a glove.
    'My other bike is a bike.'

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