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  1. #1
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    Bikes for very short people?

    Anyone have experience with bikes for a very short woman? My wife wants to go riding with me but we can't find a bike small enough (she's 4'11"). When we were in college she rode a Raleigh twenty folder from the 1970s, but it eventually fell apart, and it had crappy brakes when it was working. The new Dahons are a bit too long in the reach. Any suggestions? I've thought of getting a kids' 24" road bike and putting flat bars on it, but that might stretch the budget too far (unless I can find a used one).

  2. #2
    Senior Member skydive69's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rybowen
    Anyone have experience with bikes for a very short woman? My wife wants to go riding with me but we can't find a bike small enough (she's 4'11"). When we were in college she rode a Raleigh twenty folder from the 1970s, but it eventually fell apart, and it had crappy brakes when it was working. The new Dahons are a bit too long in the reach. Any suggestions? I've thought of getting a kids' 24" road bike and putting flat bars on it, but that might stretch the budget too far (unless I can find a used one).
    Look at a Specialized Dolce which a bike designed specifically for women. My fiance who is 5' got a 44 cm one, and is very comfortable.
    www.brokennecktobrokenrecords.com

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    Trek has some mountain bikes and hybrid bikes with 26 inch wheels that were designed in "extra small". Visit a Trek dealer, and take a test ride. Try both the XS men's and women's styles. Some women have torso and arm lengths that fit better on the men's versions.

    One advantage of a 26 inch wheel, compared with a 24 inch wheel is that it is easy to find tires and tubes.

    Dahon makes some seven speed folding bikes that are quite reasonably priced. Twenty inch tires and tubes are also easy to find, compared with 24 inch.

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    Yeah, we tried the Dahon but the reach was too long for her. I've seen older Dahons that appear to be shorter, but I don't know. Thanks for the info RE: Specialized and Trek. I'll check our local dealers.

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    Senior Member oldskoolboarder's Avatar
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    My friend is 4'11" and she got a Redline Conquest w/ the small tires, 26" maybe? She got the smallest frame they make.

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    Well, according to her she doesn't want drop bars, so a hybrid is likely a better choice. I think we'll hit some bike shops and see what we can find.

  7. #7
    By-Tor...or the Snow Dog? hi565's Avatar
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    Get it custom made!

    matters how much you want to spend.

    I garuntee that there is a bike for her, you dont just need to use a womens specific design, try a kids/ mens design also.
    ----------------------------------------------------------

  8. #8
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Go online to Terry Bicycles they specialize in this problem. Bikes for women, small women too. It's what they do. They have a wide selection of all types of bikes. They have different wheel sizes to fit small riders too. They even address short reach and small hands. And special seats for women,

    http://www.terrybicycles.com/
    Last edited by 2manybikes; 02-14-05 at 04:19 PM. Reason: incomplete

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    Senior Member oldskoolboarder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rybowen
    Well, according to her she doesn't want drop bars, so a hybrid is likely a better choice. I think we'll hit some bike shops and see what we can find.
    You can always swap the bars for a flat bar. It's doable. I've seen this small Redline on ebay a few times.

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    I'd rather be riding Noif666's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rybowen
    Anyone have experience with bikes for a very short woman? My wife wants to go riding with me but we can't find a bike small enough (she's 4'11"). When we were in college she rode a Raleigh twenty folder from the 1970s, but it eventually fell apart, and it had crappy brakes when it was working. The new Dahons are a bit too long in the reach. Any suggestions? I've thought of getting a kids' 24" road bike and putting flat bars on it, but that might stretch the budget too far (unless I can find a used one).

    I'm just on 5" and have always had trouble looking for bikes.
    Does your wife want to ride Road or MTB? If road, Alchemy bikes make women specific frames (tall, short, you name it. They also do custom frames but that gets a bit pricey) www.alchemybikes.com
    I rode an alchemy for a while and it was fantastic. Now I ride an XS (extra small) GT Avalanche 2.0 MTB, which I love to bits.
    Keep checking your LBS and look out for 2nd hand bikes, you never know what gem you might end up with. Good luck!

  11. #11
    Senior Member Bruce Rosar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rybowen
    Anyone have experience with bikes for a very short woman? My wife wants to go riding with me but we can't find a bike small enough (she's 4'11").
    My wife and I love cycling together on a tandem (every ride is a "no drop" ride 8-). There are tandems that accomodate smaller riders, such as those that the Bike Friday folks make. For example, their "Family Tandem" adjusts to riders from 4'10" to 6'5" (front) and 36" (w/ the optional child adapter) to 6'2" (rear).
    http://www.bikefriday.com/bikecat99.cfm?cat=16
    Humantransport.org: Advocacy on behalf of humans traveling under their own power

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    What is her leg length, from the floor, up to the pelvis? I am sometimes see "short" women who have surprisingly long legs. Such as the lady who used to "borrow" my jeans, when I was young and slim.

    The Trek Navigator 200 comes with a standover of 23 inches, which would work for 25 inch long legs. Trading the "stock" stem for a short, low stem would reduce the reach to the bars.

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    26 inches...

  14. #14
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    Try a Brompton if you wnat her to use it for regular use. No great hills etc. There is a certain addiction which goes with them.

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    This shouldn't be hard. My wife is just 5 feet, and she wants to start riding again after eight or 10 years off the bike. I've cannibalized her old Bridgestone for one thing or another, and it's not exactly what she needs anyway, so we've been looking around. Our local bike shops have ALL had frames to fit her, if not in stock, then on very short order.
    If I wanted to spend more money than I want to spend, I'd look at a Terry or something from Rivendell, www.rivbike.com. An Atlantis or Rambouillet would be perfect for her (I ride an Atlantis). And I'd try to get her to rethink the drop bars. If you set them high, about level with the saddle, she can ride on the tops most of the time, but still have other hand positions and get down and aero when she wants to. The reason many people don't like drops is that they're very often set racer-low, so it's painful to reach down there.
    One more suggestion: Get something that will fit AT LEAST 700x32 tires. They're much more stable and comfortable than 23mm skinnies, and there are no drawbacks for casual riding.

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    I have a Fuji 450Sl that is designed for shorter riders. I has two different sized wheels much like Terry's bikes. If you are interested in this I would be happy to get in touch with you to give details. stuknodd@yahoo.com

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    I think a custom anything is out of the question pricewise. I stopped by our LBS after work yesterday and they have some promising lower-end Trek hybrids. I will bring her there this weekend probably.

    Thanks for all of the suggestions.

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    Large 700c wheels can be a real handfull on smaller bikes, they make the whole bike big and clumsy for small riders and the frame geometry has to be bodged to fit them inside the small frame. Stick to 26" MTB sized wheels.

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    Felt and Cannondale make the best fitting 650c (narrow 26") wheel bikes for women that I've seen, the main reason is the steep seat tubes which are what's needed for low powered proportionally longer legged people (women).

    No attempt at PC just trying to show reason.

  20. #20
    I couldn't car less. jeff williams's Avatar
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    Mtb..put some slick tires on. The top tube on agressive mtb design is so low = and the bikes center of gavity.
    Younger people ride jumps + small bikes = even 24 inch wheel.
    Nice bikes, just put skinny tires on. Road bikes can't be as 'customed' to a riders fit or body position.

    Also 170mm crank arms may be too long. I'm 5.9 and measure 168.?.mm crank arms..I ride 170. Try 165.
    Last edited by jeff williams; 02-23-05 at 02:00 AM.

  21. #21
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rybowen
    26 inches...
    The short people in my life don't usually have problems with finding a bike that has enough standover height (although now that mountain bikes have to have such tall head tubes this may be an issue). Reach is far more often the deal killer. My wife is 5' and my daughters are both shorter than 5'3" and they all have problems reaching the handlebars. That is fairly usual and the reason most small women don't like drop bars. They are already reaching for the bar and then to extend the brake levers evern further out makes them very uncomfortable indeed. To get an idea of how they feel, push off the back of the bike until your arms are straight on the top of the bars and the reach for the brakes without moving forward. It's not a great feeling.

    Bikes: My wife has a Trek 8000 WSD which she really likes. It required some modifications (came with 175mm cranks - way too long for a small person) and the bar was too wide. She still has problems with the shifters, especially the front one since it takes a lot of strength to shift. We looked at several others when she bought her bike but nothing really worked. The Terry's are interesting but she thought they looked too "weird" with a 24" wheel in front and they tend to be expensive for what they are.

    She tried a Specialized Sirrus in a 44 cm and was very impressed. The low end models are very reasonable and could be used for loaded touring, if you wish. It's not perfect but then again, nothing she has ever had was.

    Stuart Black

  22. #22
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    Take a look at Bikefriday which custom makes folding bikes.

    http://www.bikefriday.com/

    Regards,

    Gary

  23. #23
    Senior Member fofa's Avatar
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    How about a Sun EZ-1 or Sport?

  24. #24
    Senior Member Dchiefransom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rybowen
    Well, according to her she doesn't want drop bars, so a hybrid is likely a better choice. I think we'll hit some bike shops and see what we can find.
    I was a at shop today, and saw a Giant FCR. They are a "Fitness Road Bike", but looked like a larger tired hybrid. The FCR3 had 700X35 tires, and looked great for either starting out, or doing a metric century. They are the "FCR" line. I was looking at the FCR3. I think they have that in "XS" size.

  25. #25
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    Bike friday will custom make bikes to your size it won't be cheap .It will fit and be light and foldable and worth it.Koffee Brown has a petite bike friday.Not that anyone is a midget here ( I do not wish to offend) but they I.E bike friday makes bikes for midgets as well as regular sized people.Bike fridays are good bikes.Bike friday also sells used bikes ( reconditioned of course ) if you cannot afford a custom bike perhaps a small framed used BF might be an option.
    Last edited by james Haury; 02-26-05 at 09:38 AM.

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