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  1. #1
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    Short bike for short person...

    Hello to all. I've been watching this forum for a while and enjoy all the info you've given to people in the past. I've learned alot just by reading. Here's my first post and I hope you can help.

    Here's my problem and I can't fix it. I'm 5 ft 2in tall on a good day. I cannot seem to find a bike for loaded touring that will fit my really short legs (281/2 in inseam). I can't afford to go with a complete custom like a Miyata or Co-motion because I've got three kids, a house with a mortgage, and bills. I bet you can relate.
    Anyway, two years ago I bought a Trek 1000c. It was in my price range and at the time I didn't really know what kind of riding I would be doing. I expected a trip around the block or weekends on a rail trail would be the most of my riding. Well, last summer, I did my first tour and I positively love it! I'm looking to do some more this summer. Maybe the C&O then around Washington DC or maybe around Grand Teton and Yellowstone.....
    OK, OK back to the bike issues, the "c" in 1000c stands for compact but this bike wasn't "compact" enough. I've changed the headset and stem to make the bike as short as I can and the bike is comfortable but not "ride all day" fun. I also changed the crummy gearing to a Shimano XT 22/32/44 but when the front derailleur was installed the seat tube got bent. I'm just not comfortable travelling miles and miles on an aluminum frame with a big dent in it. There have been so many changes on this bike to try to make it fit the only thing that is original are the brakes. I would like to find a bike that I would really like to ride around on for the rest of my life. I've researched this for a long time and every large manufacturer of touring bikes make them way too big. I'm not interested in Terry-- I don't want to go through another component "changeathon" because the larger companies won't lower their gearing for loaded touring.

    The two bikes that I have been able to find that should fit and work for loaded touring are Bruce Gordon's BLTx and the Surly LHT. First, how do I figure out if the components that are on my currrent bike will fit on the LHT? That would be my first choice. Second, how do I know if there will be enough clearance for my heels once the panniers are on? I used a trailer with the current bike and would like to have the option for bags or a trailer depending on the trip. If you have any other ideas, I would really like to hear them too!

    I appreciate any info you all may have. Thanks for your time.

  2. #2
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    Your components should fit, with a few exceptions.

    Bruce Gordon (assuming you buy just the frame & fork, rather than the complete bike) is using a threaded headset, which means that the threadless stem you have on your Trek 1000c won't fit. If you use a stem for 26.0 mm handlebars, you should be able to use yours.

    With either the Bruce Gordon or the LHT, you may need a different front derailleur because the seattube will be smaller than what you have on your 1000c. Your current one won't clamp properly. You may also need a bottom bracket of a different length than what you have right now; no idea about that.

    If they fit, some other touring bikes might be interesting. If you get at them on a good day, many bike shops might be interested in swapping chainrings or the crankset at the time of purchase. However, unless you love toe clip overlap, you should stick with 26" wheels.

    As for heels vs panniers, the common wisdom is that the added 1-2 cm chainstay length should make all the difference. But many people have no problems with panniers on a Trek 1000c (or similar); they simply move them back on the rack.
    Michel Gagnon
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  3. #3
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    Hi Sarah!

    Welcome to the Touring forum - good choice! First of all - with a 28.5" inseam your legs aren't that short at all. In fact, for your height I think you probably have fairly long legs and a shorter torso, hence your fit problem. Many women have trouble with the reach to the bars, so look closely at top tube length relative to the seat tube length (frame size). I am 5'10 and have 31" inseam, and I ride 54cm or 21" bikes and prefer Trek models partly because they seem do not stretch me out too much. I can't imagine that a 17" Trek 520 would not also work well for you, although the benefit of an LHT would be that it has 26" wheels in the smaller frame sizes, which keeps the geometry from getting too weird. It is a really nice bike and there are lots of nice pics of them on this forum. Any good steel bike will also ride better than your Trek 1000 aluminum.

    I'm not sure which components you want to swap over - the crankset? That would be useable on the Trek 520, on an LHT, etc as they can all take a mtn crankset. The BLT will come with that setup. I do not think you will have a problem with heel clearance as most of the touring frames do not diminish the chainstay length much in the smaller sizes. Your feet are undoubtedly smaller so I don't think there will be an issue.

    Good luck and good touring!

    john
    Specialized Roubaix SL4 Disc, Cannondale T2000 (touring), Stumpjumper M5 (Mtn - hardtail), Cannondale Rize4 (Mtn - full susp)

  4. #4
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Huh,
    my wife is 5' 2". She wound up with a Bianchi Strada. Her choice, not mine. I would suggest sticking with 26 inch wheels. You get better geometry.

    That and your budget makes the LHT a leading candidate. But there may be a problem. You have longish legs for your size. Which means your torso is shorter than typical? I wonder if you are going to be comfy on a 53cm top tube.

    To get a shorter top tube you might have to jump down to 46cm.
    Which might feel small. I suggest trying before buying. Yeah, I know that is prob not possible, but call around. At the very least find a bike with a 53cm top tube and try that.

  5. #5
    The Rock Cycle eofelis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SarahJ
    Hello to all. I've been watching this forum for a while and enjoy all the info you've given to people in the past. I've learned alot just by reading. Here's my first post and I hope you can help.

    Here's my problem and I can't fix it. I'm 5 ft 2in tall on a good day. I cannot seem to find a bike for loaded touring that will fit my really short legs (281/2 in inseam). I can't afford to go with a complete custom like a Miyata or Co-motion because I've got three kids, a house with a mortgage, and bills. I bet you can relate.

    The two bikes that I have been able to find that should fit and work for loaded touring are Bruce Gordon's BLTx and the Surly LHT. First, how do I figure out if the components that are on my currrent bike will fit on the LHT? That would be my first choice. Second, how do I know if there will be enough clearance for my heels once the panniers are on? I used a trailer with the current bike and would like to have the option for bags or a trailer depending on the trip. If you have any other ideas, I would really like to hear them too!

    I appreciate any info you all may have. Thanks for your time.
    I am about your height. I have a 42cm LHT and I'm very happy with it.
    First off, don't worry about heel clearance. The chainstays are very long! I have fenders on my bike, and I can still fit my Road Morph pump behind the seat tube.
    I do have a bit of toe overlap with the front wheel, but it hasn't really been a problem so far and I haven't worried about it.
    I left the steer tube long on my LHT so I have a more upright ride. It's not a lightweight dainty bike, but it doesn't care what you strap on it or where you point it. I have not toured on mine yet, but I have employed it to carry stuff around town.
    Let me know if I can answer any specific questions about my bike, if you have any.
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  6. #6
    The Rock Cycle eofelis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnroads
    Hi Sarah!

    I can't imagine that a 17" Trek 520 would not also work well for you, although the benefit of an LHT would be that it has 26" wheels in the smaller frame sizes, which keeps the geometry from getting too weird. It is a really nice bike and there are lots of nice pics of them on this forum. Any good steel bike will also ride better than your Trek 1000 aluminum.


    Good luck and good touring!

    john
    I went from the 17 in Trek 520 to the 42cm LHT. The standover on both is about the same. The 520 is a longer reach, I like the shorter reach of the LHT, 2cm shorter than the 520. I thought the 520 was a little unwieldy for me when loaded, like a high center of gravity from the 700c wheels. I like the lower feel of the LHT (26" wheels), it feels more proportional.
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  7. #7
    The Rock Cycle eofelis's Avatar
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    Pics of my LHT (and my Pacer)

    http://community.webshots.com/album/82565251NmJWKQ

    My LHT now has XT mtn bike cranks on it instead of the 105 road cranks in the pics. tinker...tinker...
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  8. #8
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eofelis
    Pics of my LHT (and my Pacer)

    http://community.webshots.com/album/82565251NmJWKQ

    My LHT now has XT mtn bike cranks on it instead of the 105 road cranks in the pics. tinker...tinker...
    Nice bikes. Tell me, how do you like the Pacer? I'd like to get my wife on something
    like that.

  9. #9
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    If you are on the short size, then 26" wheels make sense. Short cranks will fit your legs better and will reduce the possibility of toe-clip overlap and pannier-heel interference.

  10. #10
    The Rock Cycle eofelis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by late
    Nice bikes. Tell me, how do you like the Pacer? I'd like to get my wife on something
    like that.
    I love love LOVE! my Pacer. It's not light and fast, but it's such a stable and comfortable ride. I've done many long rides (century), and long climbs. I have 9sp Ult and XT on mine, with a lowest gear of 30-34. We have a few hills here in CO. I like to climb.

    I have another Pacer frame here. I'd tried to sell it, but got no bites. So I decided to build it and ride it, since I like the frame so much. This one will be a commuter-type bike I can lock up. Going to put some stuff we already have on it, plus I'm going to try out some Nashbar brakes and pedals. I have a set of 165mm Sugino trekking cranks on order. I'm going to put on 700x28 tires and fenders, dt shifters, etc.

    BTW, for folks looking for cranks with 165mm arms, which are hard to find in Shimano, I see that Sugino makes several models in that length. The prices seem reasonable too. I hope they work out nice for me. Anyone have experience with Sugino cranks?
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  11. #11
    Senior Member SteelCommuter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eofelis
    I love love LOVE! my Pacer. It's not light and fast, but it's such a stable and comfortable ride. I've done many long rides (century), and long climbs. I have 9sp Ult and XT on mine, with a lowest gear of 30-34. We have a few hills here in CO. I like to climb.

    I have another Pacer frame here. I'd tried to sell it, but got no bites. So I decided to build it and ride it, since I like the frame so much. This one will be a commuter-type bike I can lock up. Going to put some stuff we already have on it, plus I'm going to try out some Nashbar brakes and pedals. I have a set of 165mm Sugino trekking cranks on order. I'm going to put on 700x28 tires and fenders, dt shifters, etc.

    BTW, for folks looking for cranks with 165mm arms, which are hard to find in Shimano, I see that Sugino makes several models in that length. The prices seem reasonable too. I hope they work out nice for me. Anyone have experience with Sugino cranks?
    First off, great bikes. I think your experience will help Sarah the most. That LHT looks great. As a tall person, I have to pitch in and say someone 5' 2" should definitely not use 700c/622 wheels for touring if they can use 26"/559 instead.

    About Suginos - between my wife and I, we have had 5 Sugino cranksets, and they are great deals. They are also 110/74 BCD, which allows a nice range of chainrings as well. They look good, too, but it's more important that they are dependable and strong.

  12. #12
    I'm Carbon Curious 531phile's Avatar
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    I face a similar problem since my inseam is supa short 27.0in and I'm 5'4. I agree with previous posters that the geometry of a bike with 26in wheels will provide better handling for smaller folks like us

    The problem for me though with 26" wheels is the tire selections.

    I only ride specialized armadillos tires and the smallest width tire is 26 x 1.25". Still too fat for my short distance touring needs. If they made an armadillo at 26 x 1.0 or even thinner, I'll sell all of my 700c bikes and get 26" bikes, but I can't because I'm too use to nice fast and thin 700 x 23s.

    That's why even though I'm short 5'4 and should ride 26" wheel, I'm sticking with 700c tires. I know the original poster said that she wanted to do loading touring which is perfect for fat old 26" tires, but anything faster like credit card touring, I'm going to stay with 700c.

    Quote Originally Posted by avner View Post
    I loled. Twice. Then I cried. Then I rubbed one out and cried again, but thanks for sharing.

  13. #13
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    I have a Sugino crank, nice for the money. I think you'll
    like it. I'd avoid the steel rings because they're so heavy.

  14. #14
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    Greetings and thanks go out to all for your help!

    I'm amazed at the number of replys! It sounds like the votes are going for the LHT. I have to admit hearing you all say I have long legs makes my heart smile just a little bit more. At least something on this short little thing called a body is considered normal! It's also nice to know my problem in bicycle sizing is in the torso.

    Here's what I'm considering and please let me know if it's a good or really bad idea. I would like to go with the 42cm LHT which has an eff TT of 50.5 vs 52.4 for the 1000c (the 46 LHT is too tall and the Trek 520 TT is 54cm).
    Mtnrds you asked what I wanted to swap and the answer is "as much as possible". Everything is basically new so I would really like to use it. I had some one-on-one time with my 1000c bike and made a list of everything that I'd swap if possible. If you're willing to be my guru's I would appreciate the feedback.

    LX crankset 175 (these are listed for MTBs)
    Ultegra Derailleur (sorry I lied about what I thought I had)
    Sora Shifters (it's the one thing I liked with the setup)
    XT Rear derailleur
    11/32 freewheel
    Truvativ hussefelt stem
    bars
    headset

    I want to get new brakes and tires.

    I love the pics of your bike eofelis. I wasn't sure about the sage green color of the HLT but seeing it in the sunshine really makes me like it. Did you order the frame from Surly or from somewhere else? What do you like about it and what do you not like about it? If you got it from Surly, were the people good to work with and how long did it take for it to arrive?

    Thank you again for the help. It's just great to have some info.

    SarahJ

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    Quote Originally Posted by 531phile
    I face a similar problem since my inseam is supa short 27.0in and I'm 5'4. I agree with previous posters that the geometry of a bike with 26in wheels will provide better handling for smaller folks like us

    The problem for me though with 26" wheels is the tire selections.

    I only ride specialized armadillos tires and the smallest width tire is 26 x 1.25". Still too fat for my short distance touring needs. If they made an armadillo at 26 x 1.0 or even thinner, I'll sell all of my 700c bikes and get 26" bikes, but I can't because I'm too use to nice fast and thin 700 x 23s.

    That's why even though I'm short 5'4 and should ride 26" wheel, I'm sticking with 700c tires. I know the original poster said that she wanted to do loading touring which is perfect for fat old 26" tires, but anything faster like credit card touring, I'm going to stay with 700c.
    I've always thought of Armadillos as a terrible riding tire, in any width. Some people have told me that switching from those to another tire made their bike feel much more fun to ride. If I wanted a 26x1" tire, the Ritchey Tom Slick would be my first choice if it was credit card touring. Although if you could go a few measly mm in size, the Avocet Fasgrip 26x1.25 is a pretty darn good tire. I'm using the 700c version of this tire, same width, and it is my favorite tire ever. Pumped up to top pressure or beyond (for a non-loaded bike with a 100-130 pound rider), I can't imagine it would feel slow. The new version of the Panaracer Pasela is also a very good tire.

    You're right, of course. The options are limited. But, personally, I would rather sacrifice super narrow tires first, ideal geometry and fender-toe clearance second, for a touring bike.

  16. #16
    The Rock Cycle eofelis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SarahJ
    Greetings and thanks go out to all for your help!

    I'm amazed at the number of replys! It sounds like the votes are going for the LHT. I have to admit hearing you all say I have long legs makes my heart smile just a little bit more. At least something on this short little thing called a body is considered normal! It's also nice to know my problem in bicycle sizing is in the torso.

    Here's what I'm considering and please let me know if it's a good or really bad idea. I would like to go with the 42cm LHT which has an eff TT of 50.5 vs 52.4 for the 1000c (the 46 LHT is too tall and the Trek 520 TT is 54cm).
    Mtnrds you asked what I wanted to swap and the answer is "as much as possible". Everything is basically new so I would really like to use it. I had some one-on-one time with my 1000c bike and made a list of everything that I'd swap if possible. If you're willing to be my guru's I would appreciate the feedback.

    LX crankset 175 (these are listed for MTBs)
    Ultegra Derailleur (sorry I lied about what I thought I had)
    Sora Shifters (it's the one thing I liked with the setup)
    XT Rear derailleur
    11/32 freewheel
    Truvativ hussefelt stem
    bars
    headset

    I want to get new brakes and tires.

    I love the pics of your bike eofelis. I wasn't sure about the sage green color of the HLT but seeing it in the sunshine really makes me like it. Did you order the frame from Surly or from somewhere else? What do you like about it and what do you not like about it? If you got it from Surly, were the people good to work with and how long did it take for it to arrive?

    Thank you again for the help. It's just great to have some info.

    SarahJ
    As for your selection considering TT length, if it was for me I'd go with the shorter TT as you can always put a longer stem on it

    I put everything but the wheels, headset (520 is 1", LHT is 1 1/8") and the front der from the 520 to the LHT. I don't know a whole lot about just what fits what, but use everything you can.

    I really liked the sage green and I didn't want to wait for the new colors. I got mine from a local bike shop. Any bike shop that orders from Quality Bike Products (most do...?) can get a Surly for you. I've also heard chatter about folks ordering them online from some shop like Spicer Bikes (google search) for a good price. They run around $400 for frame and fork. We have 3 Surly bikes in our family, soon a 4th. A great frame for the money!

    The only thing I though was a bit strange on my LHT was the placement of the water bottle cages. They are placed so high on the frame that I have to use smaller bottles or a side entry cage. Otherwise it's a *very* solid ride. But mind you, it's not a light bike. I think mine weighs more than my mtn bike.
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  17. #17
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    Eofelis,

    If I were in your shoes, I would probably remove the side-entry cage and use a regular cage on the seattube. Just use the bottom bolt braze-on for the top bolt and a zip tie at the bottom end of the cage.
    I had installed such a cage on my daughter's bike, but the bottle didn't survive more than 1 km of potholes.

    Another note: The Trek 520 used a 1" threaded headset until model year 2000 (inclusive), but shifted to 1 1/8" threadless (like your LHT) in 2001.
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  18. #18
    The Rock Cycle eofelis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michel Gagnon
    Eofelis,

    Another note: The Trek 520 used a 1" threaded headset until model year 2000 (inclusive), but shifted to 1 1/8" threadless (like your LHT) in 2001.
    We had 2002 and 2003 year Trek 520s, bought new, both rainforest green, both same component set, in our fleet, both were 1" threadless headsets.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michel Gagnon
    Eofelis,

    If I were in your shoes, I would probably remove the side-entry cage and use a regular cage on the seattube. Just use the bottom bolt braze-on for the top bolt and a zip tie at the bottom end of the cage.
    I had installed such a cage on my daughter's bike, but the bottle didn't survive more than 1 km of potholes.

    Another note: The Trek 520 used a 1" threaded headset until model year 2000 (inclusive), but shifted to 1 1/8" threadless (like your LHT) in 2001.
    Alternatively, use a Camel Bak. I know lots of people have issues with sweaty backs but they have advantages. Since they are easier to reach, you drink more often. They have a much larger capacity than 2 or 3 bottles, assuming regular 20 oz. bottles. They can be packed with ice in the morning and you can still have ice water in the afternoon (5 to 7 hours later) even when it is very hot (103 F)! Trust me a cold drink of water is great when the temperature is that high. And you are less likely to drop the Camel Bak and not miss it for 20 or 30 miles. Been there, done that.
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  20. #20
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SarahJ
    you asked what I wanted to swap and the answer is "as much as possible". Everything is basically new so I would really like to use it. I had some one-on-one time with my 1000c bike and made a list of everything that I'd swap if possible. If you're willing to be my guru's I would appreciate the feedback.

    LX crankset 175 (these are listed for MTBs)
    Ultegra Derailleur (sorry I lied about what I thought I had)
    Sora Shifters (it's the one thing I liked with the setup)
    XT Rear derailleur
    11/32 freewheel
    Truvativ hussefelt stem
    bars
    headset
    As others have said, go with a 26" wheel. It really helps with standover height for the vertically challenged (my wife is 5' tall). There really isn't too much issue with swapping stuff from the 1000 to another bike except where the diameters of frame tubes are different. The cassette, rear derailer, stem, bars and possibly headset should fit. The shifters don't care what size bike they are on as long as you match the front shifter with a road front derailer. Mountain (LX, XT, etc.) bike front derailers won't work with the Sora.

    Some things to consider as you work on building the bike.

    1. A crank that is 175 mm long is properly sized for me, a 6' tall man, to ride for mountain biking where leverage is needed at low rpm, high torque situations. In lower torque, higher rpm riding, a 170 mm long crank is better for me. For you, a 175 mm crank makes no sense whatsoever. If you can replace it with a 165 mm crank (160 would be better but nearly impossible to find).

    2. Think about new bars, unless the ones you currently have are narrow. Most bike come with bars that are too wide for your shoulders. A narrow bar for a narrow shouldered woman may be more comfortable. I ride a 44 cm bar. You might try a 38 cm bar.

    3. Stem. The stem you have is for DH mountain biking. You probably have it because it's one of the shorter ones you could find but it is way overbuilt (heavy) for what you are using it for. Look for a lighter weight short stem. Truvativ makes some road stems (and mountain bike stems) that are 60mm long. There are others but they may be hard to find.

    4. Headset. Go with threadless if you can. They are easier to set up and, if you what to change stems and/or bars to find the right size, they are easier to change. Also cut the fork extra long since you can always take some off the stem but it's tough to add it back on

    5. Local bike shop. Last but not least, find a local shop that you can develop a relationship with. For people of your size, bike parts that fit properly aren't usually carried in stock. The parts are available but you will probably never find them in the bargain bin at your local shop. This means that you will probably never get to buy parts on sale, especially critical parts to make the bike fit better. You can do the work yourself but getting the parts is going to be tough!

    Good luck.
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

  21. #21
    In planning
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    I'm a 5'4" short ass guy I've always apart from a few bikes gone for custom frame as you'll always struggle to get a frame that fits. The thing that bugs me with off the peg frames is who at my hieght has almost the same reach as some one 5'7" apart from a monkey, I've aways wonder why i need a 52 cm or even as long as 53 cm top tube when I've always found a 50 cm is more like it, and just about every one that's about my hieght that has ridden my bikes comment on how comfortabile the reach is and how well the ride. Custom frame needn't be expensive as you can have them made out of matrial at your budget,also keep an eye open for us vertically challenge ones selling our bikes off. If your not sure what size frame you need find a freindly bike builder (don't go to you local bike shop who sell off the peg frames as they'll try to sell you anything to make a sale, unless they're a true specialist shop) and ask him to measure you up for a frame even if you don't intend buying offer him some money for his time, and if you like the service go back later when you've got some cash and buy a bike from him.

  22. #22
    Year-round cyclist
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    Apr 2002
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    Montréal (Québec)
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    Quote Originally Posted by eofelis
    We had 2002 and 2003 year Trek 520s, bought new, both rainforest green, both same component set, in our fleet, both were 1" threadless headsets.

    Sorry Madam, I must have missed one "generation" of threadless headsets.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

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