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    Recommendation gravel bike for petite woman

    Hey all,

    Trying to get my wife on a gravel rig but having a tough time.

    She's 5'3", 28 3/4" stand over and we're looking for something that can crank out the milage on dirt roads and such, but also wear a pair of slicks and do some pavement time. Less CX race geometry, more endurance… you know the drill.

    Lots of great bikes in this category these days but frame size is an issue with many frames going down only to 52cm. As an example of the build and price range we're looking at she's nuts about Santa Cruz's rebuild of the Stigmata. Sadly, they build down only to a 52cm with a 30.1" stand over which I think is going to be too much for her. Santa Cruz Stigmata


    So far I've been looking into (internet research, haven't been on any of these nor are any of them ruled in or out yet)

    Diamondback Hannjo Trail
    Diamondback Bicycles - Haanjo Trail

    Specialized Diverge
    Specialized Bicycle Components

    Ridley XBOW Disc Allroads
    Cyclocross: X-BOW 20 DISC ALLROAD 1505AM

    Any suggestions for something that might fit her needs and come in a smaller frame? COmments on the bikes I've mentioned or other suggestions?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Surly Pacer or Straggler or Cross Check?
    Bikes | Surly Bikes

  3. #3
    Member nocluejimbo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yipyipyip View Post
    Surly Pacer or Straggler or Cross Check?
    Bikes | Surly Bikes
    You can even get a Straggler with 650B wheels in 38-58cm sizes.

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    A friend of mine that is about the same size bought a Salsa Vaya in 52cm, but a 49cm is also available. These two smaller sizes have 26" wheels, which would seem to make sense. It can be a terrific gravel bike, road bike and touring bike depending on tires. I believe this will take up to about a 1.9" wide tire.

  5. #5
    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    Second the suggestions of a 650b or 26 inch wheel gravel bike. Depending on how much you want to spend, a custom bike might make sense here.

    26 Inch Rodriguez Adventure with Gravel Road Customizations | Rodriguez Bike News

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    Hey Dirt Neck,

    The 49cm Diverge might work. Specialized lists the standover height as 714mm (28.1"), but the sloping toptube makes it position dependent.

    I measured mrs lvick's 49cm Diverge (Comp Carbon): it's 28.5" mid-way along the toptube and 26.5" directly above the center of the cranks. Hope that helps.

    Sweet bike, by the way. Ride is very comfortable and the hydraulic brakes are fantastic. A possible limitation is that the the max tire width is about 36mm, but the OEM 700x30/32 Roubaix tires are great all-rounders unless it gets too muddy or sandy.

    - L

  7. #7
    Senior Member chriskmurray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nocluejimbo View Post
    You can even get a Straggler with 650B wheels in 38-58cm sizes.
    Straggler in 650b was going to be my suggestion as well! Great bike and with such a small frame it will probably eliminate some issues with bigger wheels like toe overlap or stand over issues while still rolling great.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Tim_Iowa's Avatar
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    Agree, 650b or 26" wheels for someone that height. Especially with the wider tires for gravel, as they raise the height compared to skinny tires.

    Stay away from cyclocross racing bikes (unless they have small diameter wheels) because the bottom bracket is higher (not good for shorties).

    I built up an old 26" rigid MTB with drop bars and wide slick tires, and it's a great gravel bike. I did the same for my 5'3" girlfriend from a 90s univega.

    Personally, I prefer ~2" slick or semi-knobby for gravel (Schwalbe Super Moto tires rule!). I don't understand how folks like 32 mm cross tires on gravel. But then, I'm big (#220) and the gravel around here is big (0.5" to 1" crushed limestone), so the bigger tires float where skinnies cut through.

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    Great stuff everyone. Thanks.

    So far it's feeling like the Diverge is in the lead… so far. Thanks for measuring and for your thoughts Ivick.

    I'm psyched about the Surly options (particularly the Straggler 650b). But I must admit I have some hesitation with steel due to weight. She MTBs a bit, but is new to the road. I'm a pretty strong rider and we ride with friends who would be happy to slow down for her but are total bad asses. I want her to be on the lightest frame possible so she can keep up and have a real positive experience. Seems like there aren't any good carbon options in our budget which leads me to aluminum.

    Any thoughts on that Diamondback I listed above? This also fits the theory that maybe we should get her on an inexpensive, good enough bike and we'll upgrade after she has a better feel for what she likes.

    Diamondback Hannjo Trail
    Diamondback Bicycles - Haanjo Trail

  10. #10
    afraid of whales Mr IGH's Avatar
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    She's 5'3", 28 3/4" stand over....
    Standover for smallest frame is 29.5", 700C tyres, huh?
    IGH's, Dyno Hubs, LED lights and old frames

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    A 20" wheel Bike Friday makes small fit sizes easy ,,,, they Make 8 sizes (lengths of the main frame tube + masts for the bars and seat .
    they also are functionally step through Frames

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr IGH View Post
    Standover for smallest frame is 29.5", 700C tyres, huh?
    Which bike we talking about?

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    Old. Slow. Happy. MileHighMark's Avatar
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    The 50cm Vaya has a standover of 27.5" and uses 26" (559) wheels. I own a Vaya, and it's one of my all-time favorites.
    I like bikes. Oh, and doughnuts, too.

  14. #14
    Senior Member chriskmurray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MileHighMark View Post
    The 50cm Vaya has a standover of 27.5" and uses 26" (559) wheels. I own a Vaya, and it's one of my all-time favorites.
    Did not know the Vaya came with smaller wheels, that is another great option!

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    afraid of whales Mr IGH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dirt Neck View Post
    Which bike we talking about?
    Diamondback Hannjo
    IGH's, Dyno Hubs, LED lights and old frames

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr IGH View Post
    Standover for smallest frame is 29.5", 700C tyres, huh?
    That is weird. Not very XS for their XS frame.

    Well, unless we could actually get on one that pretty much rules that one out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MileHighMark View Post
    The 50cm Vaya has a standover of 27.5" and uses 26" (559) wheels. I own a Vaya, and it's one of my all-time favorites.
    Thanks Mark! I'll check 'er out.

    Tried to PM you but apparently I have to have 50 posts before I can send.

  18. #18
    Old. Slow. Happy. MileHighMark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dirt Neck View Post
    Thanks Mark! I'll check 'er out.

    Tried to PM you but apparently I have to have 50 posts before I can send.
    You can always reach me at mark<at>gravelbike<dot>com
    I like bikes. Oh, and doughnuts, too.

  19. #19
    afraid of whales Mr IGH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dirt Neck View Post
    That's weird. Not very XS for their XS frame.

    Well, unless we could actually get on one that pretty much rules that one out.
    Performance Bike has the 50cm in stock. Another option similar to the Vaya is the Soma Saga Disc. It comes is 44cm, 47cm and 50cm, 26" wheels, all sizes are in stock. Standover of the 44cm is 27.5". Soma claims the 26" version takes 650b wheels too
    IGH's, Dyno Hubs, LED lights and old frames

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    Hey folks,
    Just wanted to update the thread.


    While there are some great steel frames out there, I decided to completely rule them out. I ride a steel CX frame and can muscle it around fine but I really needed something more nimble for my wife that was going to make riding less teeth gnashy and more going with the flow. So that cleaned up the field of possibilities quite a bit.

    We got very interested in the BMC GranFondo01 Disc 105. The 48cm frame seemed like a good fit with the BB drop, top tube and wheel base all seeming very reasonable for her. Really great build. Full carbon, 105 consistent throughout, etc. The design seemed to best split the difference between competent on the road and at home on gravel. Only problem was price, a good bit out of our range actually. $3,700 ish.

    This led us to the BMC GF02 105. Still a great bike but we'd give up the carbon for aluminum, hydro disc for cable, and a few other (pretty minor) downgrades throughout the build. Still a great build that i'm sure would serve us well. Also, it comes in an awesome electric green paint scheme which my wife loved. $2,500 ish

    When this story began I was looking into the Specialized Diverge. But that bike got a lot of hype this year and my LBS told me the small frames all sold out quickly and there was uncertainty as to when they'd be available aging. Not really gonna work for us.

    So, thinking we were about to pull the trigger on the BMC GF02 disc 105, I decided to do my due diligence on the Specialized Crux on recommendation from a friend.

    This is where I learned a lot. I had counted this bike out as a CX race specific bike. Not really sure why…because of Specialized's marketing? Maybe. I think I was just overwhelmed looking at so many models and specs I started to believe my assumptions as fact. Anyway… FIrst I learned that the Crux builds down to a 46cm frame. Then that the top tube on the 46 came in a bit shorter than the BMC 48 while the wheelbase was a bit longer. BB drop was a little higher yes, but everything else looked like a more comfortable and stable bike for her. Then I started specking out the various builds and comparing them to the BMC we though was in our future.

    In the end we settled on the Specialized Crux Elite EVO. A much better fit, full carbon, full 105 throughout, hydro discs for $2,900. Big upgrades on a better fitting frame for only a few hundred dollars more. I'm still a BMC fan but Specialized really won our business on this one.

    Thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread. Every post really helped us along in this process.

    We've got a 65 mile gravel grinder next month. I'll update with some pics then.

  21. #21
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    The Crux is a sweet bike, Dirt Neck. The frame is not as compliant as that of the Diverge, but it will accommodate wider tires which can provide more cushion in addition to traction.

    The top tube on the 46cm Crux is a bit taller than that of the 49cm Diverge. I measured the height on mrs lvick's 46cm Crux with 700x40 MSO tires: 30" mid way along the top tube, and 28.5" just above the bottom bracket. A pic of the bike she built up from a frameset is below. I'm sure your wife will love hers as well.


  22. #22
    BNB
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    I just found this thread and info and I'm in the market too. I'm 5'4" and just finished a tough race sunday on my first "CX" bike - the Liv Invite. This bike fit me better than any bike I've ever owned (and I've owned many) BUT it is a really heavy bike with low-end components. I bought a pair of specialized wheels off a new crux which helped. It was sort of a test run for me - I absolutely love riding off road and even in mtb territory that's way beyond gravel with this bike with no fear of it breaking. I will check out some of these bikes you wrote about - thanks. Liv (Giant) has a better model than the Invite though I can't speak about it - but plan to check that out too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dirt Neck View Post
    Hey folks,
    Just wanted to update the thread.


    While there are some great steel frames out there, I decided to completely rule them out. I ride a steel CX frame and can muscle it around fine but I really needed something more nimble for my wife that was going to make riding less teeth gnashy and more going with the flow. So that cleaned up the field of possibilities quite a bit.

    We got very interested in the BMC GranFondo01 Disc 105. The 48cm frame seemed like a good fit with the BB drop, top tube and wheel base all seeming very reasonable for her. Really great build. Full carbon, 105 consistent throughout, etc. The design seemed to best split the difference between competent on the road and at home on gravel. Only problem was price, a good bit out of our range actually. $3,700 ish.

    This led us to the BMC GF02 105. Still a great bike but we'd give up the carbon for aluminum, hydro disc for cable, and a few other (pretty minor) downgrades throughout the build. Still a great build that i'm sure would serve us well. Also, it comes in an awesome electric green paint scheme which my wife loved. $2,500 ish

    When this story began I was looking into the Specialized Diverge. But that bike got a lot of hype this year and my LBS told me the small frames all sold out quickly and there was uncertainty as to when they'd be available aging. Not really gonna work for us.

    So, thinking we were about to pull the trigger on the BMC GF02 disc 105, I decided to do my due diligence on the Specialized Crux on recommendation from a friend.

    This is where I learned a lot. I had counted this bike out as a CX race specific bike. Not really sure why…because of Specialized's marketing? Maybe. I think I was just overwhelmed looking at so many models and specs I started to believe my assumptions as fact. Anyway… FIrst I learned that the Crux builds down to a 46cm frame. Then that the top tube on the 46 came in a bit shorter than the BMC 48 while the wheelbase was a bit longer. BB drop was a little higher yes, but everything else looked like a more comfortable and stable bike for her. Then I started specking out the various builds and comparing them to the BMC we though was in our future.

    In the end we settled on the Specialized Crux Elite EVO. A much better fit, full carbon, full 105 throughout, hydro discs for $2,900. Big upgrades on a better fitting frame for only a few hundred dollars more. I'm still a BMC fan but Specialized really won our business on this one.

    Thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread. Every post really helped us along in this process.

    We've got a 65 mile gravel grinder next month. I'll update with some pics then.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by BNB View Post
    I just found this thread and info and I'm in the market too. I'm 5'4" and just finished a tough race sunday on my first "CX" bike - the Liv Invite. This bike fit me better than any bike I've ever owned (and I've owned many) BUT it is a really heavy bike with low-end components. I bought a pair of specialized wheels off a new crux which helped. It was sort of a test run for me - I absolutely love riding off road and even in mtb territory that's way beyond gravel with this bike with no fear of it breaking. I will check out some of these bikes you wrote about - thanks. Liv (Giant) has a better model than the Invite though I can't speak about it - but plan to check that out too.
    Cool BNB. Keep us updated. Love to see good options continually added to this thread.

  24. #24
    Ride First, Work Later!!! af2nr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dirt Neck View Post
    In the end we settled on the Specialized Crux Elite EVO.
    This is what I ended up with also. I looked at several of the options you did also. Mine was extremely hard to find in a 56 but well worth the wait! I have two sets of wheels, one set up with Triggers and one set up with Roubaix Pros.

    Curious, were all of her "specs" correct? Mine came equipped with the wrong saddle and it also had the Trigger Sport instead of the Trigger Pro 2Bliss. The saddle was swapped out during my fit for a Toupe Expert which was an upgrade over the Sport it was supposed to have had. The Trigger Sports were swapped out for Trigger Pros in 33 until Specialized gets more 38's in. 33's have worked well enough so far but I will be glad to get the 38's.
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the exam first, the lesson afterwards.
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    Quote Originally Posted by af2nr View Post
    Curious, were all of her "specs" correct? Mine came equipped with the wrong saddle and it also had the Trigger Sport instead of the Trigger Pro 2Bliss. The saddle was swapped out during my fit for a Toupe Expert which was an upgrade over the Sport it was supposed to have had. The Trigger Sports were swapped out for Trigger Pros in 33 until Specialized gets more 38's in. 33's have worked well enough so far but I will be glad to get the 38's.
    Our's came with the Riva saddle instead of the Toupe Sport. I can't even find any reference to the Riva on the Specialized website (not that I looked particularly hard). Maybe a previous incarnation of the Toupe? Either way, i'm fairly sure it's the same saddle.

    We also got the Trigger Sport instead of the Trigger Pro (38's). From a performance point of view I don't really mind, they're very similar models. From a customer/value point of view I find it fairly annoying and wish they would not do this with "soft Goods" such as tires. Based on the retail cost of those two models that's $40 worth of tire I expected and didn't get. I realize that with all the parts that go into a bike the companies need a little wiggle room, but do it with some other part. I spend a lot of money on tires over the course of a year and I'd rather know what I'm getting when buying a new bike.

    Anyway, otherwise we're very happy so far.

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