I'm planning a tour this summer with my girlfriend. She's a normal height but has a long-in-the-torso look to her. When we broke out the tape measure for the bike hunt we found:
Height: 5' 5" (165cm)
Inseam: 28" (71cm)
Two questions I guess:
1- If we find a bike with a horizontal top tube she can actually clear, will that fit?
Seems like she wants a 5'7" person's top tube with a 4'11" person's seat tube. The smallest 17"(43cm) Trek 520 gives her .5" of clearance but has a 21.3"(54cm) top tube. Is that cool? Should we be looking for a 19-20"(48-51cm) mixte?
2- Can anyone suggest models to keep an eye out for, even if they seem non-traditional?
We're college students and don't have $1000+ to drop on a new bike. I know the names of touring bikes from the 70s through now, but never seem to find any on Ebay/Craigslist with sufficient standover. Any mixte touring models out there? Should we give up on road bikes and go for a mtb or hybrid?
I have one that would fit, but wife is riding it. It's a Cannondale ST700, what's called 'Silk Tour', with a 16'' frame, 700c wheels, 13-34 rear cassette, 53-39-30 triple, STI brifters and Headshock front 'suspension'.
Maybe the answer is not a road bike but a mountain bike like this:
It's a Cannondale M700 with a standard fork. Those frames are very durable and stiff and can take a fully loaded tour easily. You can install some trekking bars, convert to drop bars or whatever else works for you.
I had a customer with about your same requirements. The Size 46 Surly LHT worked great for him.
Anything over 28.5" standover is too tall for me--46cm Surly does work for me, but if you can find a Terry Symmetry in the 17.5" size, or an older Miyata 610 in the 45cm size, or a 17" Trek 520 that should work as well. My wife has an even shorter standover, so we converted an early 80s Univega Mixte to a triple crank with a wide cluster in the back & it works fine for her.
Take a look at the Rocky Mountain Sherpa 30. I'm 5'9.5" with a 30" inseam. I ride the 52 cm Sherpa 30 which has a 31.3" standover height. The top tube is sloping upward from the seat tube to the head tube so I'm not exactly sure where they take the "standover height" measurement but, it hasn't been a problem at all for me. The smallest frame they make is a 46.5 cm. with a 29.3" standover height. Then again, I guess it depends on where they take the measurement from but based on where I actually stand over the bike I bet the actual height would be close to 28 or 28.5.
The specs and geometry are shown at www.bikes.com. I think the 2007 is exactly the same as the 2008 (at least the frame is.) Once you are at the website use the 2007 bikejump and go all the way to the bottom. I really love my Sherpa 30!