Best bike for short woman just getting back into biking?
I am approaching my 40th birthday and want to give myself a birthday present of a new bike. My last bike was (I think) a shogun road bike with the ram style handlebars (which I converted to flat eventually) and always felt too tall/unsteady. I got rid of it a few years ago. I have three boys, 7,5 and 2 and want to start riding in my neighborhood with my 7-year-old in the evenings. Eventually I envision family bike rides and maybe solo rides around my neighborhood for excercise. Where I live there are gradual hills (not too steep) and it is pretty much all pavement riding.
I am also 5'2", overweight and haven't been on a bike in 15 years. My LBS's have steered me to look at comfort or hybrid styles and I am considering the Giant Suede, Raleigh Venture, Specialized Globe and Gary Fisher Tiburon. I looked at the Electra Townie because I hear such great things, but I was told there is only one size to the frame and it was too tall for me -- nowhere near the "flat foot" technology in my case!
So far I have only gotten to test ride the Specialized Globe. With the seat lowered so I could reach comfortably to the ground my knees were almost to my elbows when pedalling. But I was informed it should be a higher seat and tip-toe reach and I should come off the seat to stop. I don't want to have to do that, if possible. I do want to be able to feel steady and like the flat (or nearly so) foot idea, especially as I get more into it and might want to add a baby seat.
I plan to test ride more but my LBS didn't have my size in stock in the Raleigh and I need to go when I don't have the kids with me, limiting my ability to do research in person. I also like the look/ease of the women's style step-through frames.
Any suggestions? Am I missing any to consider? I want to stay in the $300-$450 range, but am willing to stretch a BIT if I really like something. I want to like this bike and I want to be comfortable and be able to have fun when I ride.
What the bike store employee told you was right. You are not going to find very many (if any) bikes that will allow you to put your feet flat on the ground while seated. It's not how bicycles are designed. You should just ride the bike around and learn how to stop and start safely. To do so, read this. If you learn this (and it's not hard) you will be more confident on the bike. That Specialized seems like a solid bike for the money.
To stop flat-footed while staying seated, you want to look at a crank-forward bike (a 'regular' diamond-frame bike has the pedal cranks at the base of the seat tube, a crank-forward one has the pedals in front of the base of the seat-tube) like the Electra Townie:
Originally Posted by musikat
For what its worth my future wife is 5'2 and we just got her a Trek 7000 it is a step though frame and it was the only bike she didn't feel like she was going to tip over on. It didn't have a flat foot stop though, but it was easier than the FX and Navigator she tried for what ever reason, she also tried small framed mens versions and the 7000 WSD was the most stable for her.
Most of the advice you have so far is good, but I'm surprised you're having trouble finding a bike in the right size. My wife is 5'1", and she bought a new bike last year to replace a 20-year-old Bridgestone on which she's done several centuries and countless rides in the 50-or-so-mile range. We found stuff to fit her everywhere we went (the problem is fitting ME, at 6'4").
If there's an REI store near you, you might check there. She finally wound up with a flat-bar road bike (like a roadie, but with mountain bike handlebar and twist shifters) from them, and she loves it. Also, see if one of the bike shops in your area specializes in family cycling rather than racers and wannabes. Reno, Nev., where I live, probably has more bike shops than it needs. A few years ago one of them pretty much quit carrying expensive bikes and focused on good-quality but not extravagant bikes suitable for the kind of riding you've described. He's fixing people up for $350-$500, and he's doing great when the high-end shops are struggling.