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  1. #1
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    Older, short and not very agile, what to get?

    Hello,

    This is another "help me choose" thread. I am a 40 something, 4'11" woman with 2 school age kids. I didn't really learn to ride until I was in my twenties and I have never been particularly agile in the bike, but during my 30's I commuted with a bike. I stopped riding for about 6-7 years and I used to ride a Trek 730 (a hybrid from the 90's). In 2009 I injured badly my neck (not bike related) and now I am much better but now I am afraid of falling. I have a lovely Specialized Myka (mountain) that handles really well but I find myself putting the seat ridiculously low to feel safe.

    So someone suggested an Electra townie. I went to see them and though not exactly my style (I like more sporty than stylish and femenine) I tried it and loved it. The problem is that with my height, even with the seat at it's lowest I hardly touch the ground tiptoeing which is supposed to be the point of getting this bike. If I have to mount/dismount, I'm better off with my Myka. So the salesperson suggested a smaller Townie. There's one that comes in a 24" wheel. They are bringing it tomorrow to the store for me to try out. Is a 24" a good idea? Isn't it going to be super slow?

    The uses would be short commuting with my kids around my neighborhood (which happens to be a pretty flat seaside community). Stuff like taking them to school, going shopping nearby, nothing longer than 4-5 miles.

    Is the smaller townie OK? Are there other options?

    Thank you
    Diana

  2. #2
    Senior Member koolerb's Avatar
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    The Kona Dew and Jamis Coda come to mind for solid all rounders. They're both sportier looking than a beach cruiser style bike. There are a lot of choices out there. And, I see X-Small adult frames marked way, way, down all the time on-line. But if your worried about fit a bike shop is the place to go. Ride before you buy.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Lanovran's Avatar
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    Cruiser style bikes like Townies will often have a sort of "one size fits all" geometry (sort of). A smaller wheel size might be the way to go with a Townie, but it's hard to say. With other bikes, you'd likely want to look for a 13" or 14" frame size, or "extra small," depending on which brand you're looking at. As for the issue of feet on the ground, you'll typically find with most kinds of bikes that if the saddle is adjusted to the correct height, then you will have only tiptoes touching when you're seated (you then come forward off the saddle to stand over the frame when you come to a stop). That being said, bikes like Townies, or Trek's Pure line for example, have more laid-back geometries which shift your feet farther forward, making it easier to plant them on the ground when you want to. Here's some info on those:

    Electra's "Flat Foot Technology" - Flat Foot Technology | Electra Bikes
    Trek's Pure bikes, with "Feet First" geometry - Pure - Trek Bicycle

    Best of luck to you!

  4. #4
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    The only issue with 24" tires is a weaker selection of tires. Get good tires and smaller wheels won't hold you back.

    You can consider recumbent bikes (or trikes) as well. Even more fun. Even more costly.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member delcrossv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cplager View Post
    You can consider recumbent bikes (or trikes) as well. Even more fun. Even more costly.
    Really. How low do you want to go???

    Lightning P-38 / M5 M-Racer/Ryan Vanguard

  6. #6
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by delcrossv View Post
    Really. How low do you want to go???


    Now that ​ is a chainring!
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  7. #7
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    406, 20" wheels are more abundant, and A well sized Bike Friday can be bought, Made in USA for $900ish
    direct from the company ..

    the one big oval tube is low and so its easy to get on and off the bike.

  8. #8
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    Hello,

    Thanks for your suggestions. I know in a regular bike you have to mount/dismount the saddle when stopping. I know how to do that, it's just that I have become pretty afraid of doing it, thus the need for a "flat foot" bike. I went and tried the smaller electra. To my dismay, even though it is pretty much the exact bike but with smaller wheels, and the 24" fit me perfecty, the 24" somehow felt less stable than the 26". The 26" felt steadier, the 24" a little wobblier, but there was a definite difference in the handling of both bikes. The 26" is big by just a bit but enough to make it impossible to reach the ground from the saddle when the ground was uneven. The person in the bike store told me through the clerk (not the mechanic directly) that given the size of the wheel, it was easier to turn so it was going to feel different but that I would get used to it. I didn't buy the bike, I want more information on this. Maybe I can ask in the cruiser forum.

    thanks

    Diana

  9. #9
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    crank forward bikes like Trek Pure are made , In 26" wheel .

  10. #10
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    I am your height. I have tried some of the "flat foot," crank forward bikes and they generally are too large and too heavy for my taste, unless you get into the expensive bikes like the Rans. But given how flat and short your rides are maybe the 24 inch wheeled Townie would work. I'd try it out anyway. Even if it is heavy and slow it will help you get stronger and faster and maybe more confident.

    The other option is to work on slowly raising your seat on your Myka and see if you can get comfortable over time with the seat at a proper height. If so, you can more to a more standard hybrid with an xs or 13 inch frame. Maybe try just a half an inch a week.

    EDIT: I see you did try the Townie and weren't happy. I would try the strategy of slowly moving your seat up on the Myka, which you already like. You also might try a step through design bike, that might help your confidence in mounting and dismounting. Like the step through Trek FX. Most of the major brands have them and have them in 13 inch or extra small frames. Otherwise, if you want feet flat on the ground I am only aware of the Rans having bikes that will fit us very short folks. They are nice. They cost a lot.
    Last edited by goldfinch; 03-17-14 at 12:51 AM.

  11. #11
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    Thanks. The smaller Townie wasn't bad, I was just surprised to see it less easy to handle than the larger one. In the meantime I am doing what you suggest. I don't have problem riding the Myka in trails where there are no cars and basically no need to be stopping all the time. Maybe if I make a point of practising the mounting/dismounting I will feel more confident.

    EDIT: I would get the smaller townie if I could get one used. I see it as a temporal "stepping stone" while I gain confidence but I cannot justify spending close to $500 to get a bike for "relearning". But used 26" townies are rare, 24" are nonexistent.

    Quote Originally Posted by goldfinch View Post
    I am your height. I have tried some of the "flat foot," crank forward bikes and they generally are too large and too heavy for my taste, unless you get into the expensive bikes like the Rans. But given how flat and short your rides are maybe the 24 inch wheeled Townie would work. I'd try it out anyway. Even if it is heavy and slow it will help you get stronger and faster and maybe more confident.

    The other option is to work on slowly raising your seat on your Myka and see if you can get comfortable over time with the seat at a proper height. If so, you can more to a more standard hybrid with an xs or 13 inch frame. Maybe try just a half an inch a week.

    EDIT: I see you did try the Townie and weren't happy. I would try the strategy of slowly moving your seat up on the Myka, which you already like. You also might try a step through design bike, that might help your confidence in mounting and dismounting. Like the step through Trek FX. Most of the major brands have them and have them in 13 inch or extra small frames. Otherwise, if you want feet flat on the ground I am only aware of the Rans having bikes that will fit us very short folks. They are nice. They cost a lot.
    Last edited by ocelotito; 03-17-14 at 10:53 AM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    crank forward bikes like Trek Pure are made , In 26" wheel .
    I am going to try that one too. I am not very hopeful as I have heard it is virtually identical to the 26" electra. But I think that a difference as small as 1 or 2 inches would be enough(that is, if the saddle is slightly closer to the ground) . I actually reach the ground with the 26" electra but only tip toeing.

  13. #13
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    the seat is well back from the pedals so though its closer to the ground , the actual leg extension

    is adjusted so you get the extension you need for the act of turning the crank-pedals.

  14. #14
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    I found another possible option. A bike called Fuji Barnebey 7. It is a bit less expensive (they have it on sale at $399 when the electra and the trek pure are around $470) and though it is funny looking, I actually like the look of it better. Are fuji bikes good?

  15. #15
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ocelotito View Post
    I found another possible option. A bike called Fuji Barnebey 7. It is a bit less expensive (they have it on sale at $399 when the electra and the trek pure are around $470) and though it is funny looking, I actually like the look of it better. Are fuji bikes good?
    Crank forward bikes are, well, funny looking. But it is what you described you wanted.

    As far as whether Fuji bikes are any good, the frame (I'm sure) will be fine and it's a question of components and they seem (at a very quick glance) comparable if not a bit lower than Townie Electra 7 (I wouldn't get the $400 bike because it's cheaper; I'd get it because it fits you better).
    http://Charles.Plager.net
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  16. #16
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    Thank you. I will end up buying whatever feels best. That is why I want to try other bikes (like the trek and the fuji). I was very dissappointed on the difference in handling of the smaller electra (as compared to the dreamy handling of the bigger electra), though it is the one that fits me best, in terms of size. I know this price range is not considered "high end" at all but it is really a lot of money. I am not in a hurry, especially when neither of these bikes are on a very discounted sale. However, if I found a 24" used electra on craigslist, I'd buy it right away.

    Quote Originally Posted by cplager View Post
    Crank forward bikes are, well, funny looking. But it is what you described you wanted.

    As far as whether Fuji bikes are any good, the frame (I'm sure) will be fine and it's a question of components and they seem (at a very quick glance) comparable if not a bit lower than Townie Electra 7 (I wouldn't get the $400 bike because it's cheaper; I'd get it because it fits you better).

  17. #17
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    Our LBS that carries Fuji didn't have the crank forward model and more surprisingly, none of the gigantic local Trek stores had the pure. They all promised to bring it if I payed for it first. SO they are out of the question. I have been riding my MTB a bit daily and trying to get over the nonsense of having to reach the ground from the seat. I have been using daily my MTB and regaining confidence but my hands and wrists get numb. I am considering trying a bike called "Trek shift" that seems to be something in between the MTB I have and the Electra I wanted. A somewhat more relaxed position but not as extreme as the Electra. And those come in several sizes.

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