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  1. #1
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    Sub $1000 Touring Bike for 5' Tall Woman

    No this is not a trade offer. I am in the initial stages a planning our first big tour. We will try some shorter tours first, of course.

    My wife and I are planning to ride the Natchez Trace Parkway in 2014. We are currently casual weekend riders. We both own aluminum road bikes that are not suitable for touring.

    We will be not be camping, it will be more or less a credit care tour. I figure we will both need bikes, but at 6' 2" I am an easy fit. At 5' she is a little harder. I know the Surly LHT is highly and passionately recommended, but I am hoping to keep each of our bikes under a grand.

    So, can anyone recommend a sub $1,000 touring bike that has a frame size small enough for her? Yes we will test ride and yes she will have the final say.

    Thanks for your help.

  2. #2
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    While I have no experience with these, the Windsor Tourist might be an option at $600 and comes with a frame size as small as 43cm with a standover height of 28.5 inches. Another thought is that for a credit card tour with no camping you might not need a fully dedicated touring bike depending on how light you travel.

    Mike

  3. #3
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    Pretty sure a 5' person will need less than 28.5" stand over


    Checkout Specialized Vita Sport
    XS
    http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bik...sport#geometry

    Or

    http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bik...rough#geometry

    Or
    http://www.rei.com/product/826069/no...mens-bike-2013
    Last edited by LeeG; 12-29-12 at 07:53 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member TiBikeGuy's Avatar
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    You could try a Cannondale Adventure 2

    http://www.cannondale.com/2013/bikes...re/adventure-2

  5. #5
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    If you want to add two new things at once, you could purchase a used tandem for about what you would spend on two new touring bikes. My wife and I have enjoyed touring on our tandems much more than we do on our half-bikes. You get to ride twogether no matter what your individual outputs. Here's a link to some used tandems that Zonatandem (Rudy and Kay) put up in the tandem forum: http://www.rtrmag.com/classifieds.htm

    I'm sure there are many more out there. There are always used tandems that are appropriate for touring on the market, likely because that is the type of tandem most people start with before they get seduced by the promise of greater performance and upgrade.

  6. #6
    weirdo
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    20 to 25 year old small non-suspension mountain bike for $50 - $100, plus twice again that much for parts if you do the work yourself (another couple hundred for labor if you pay a shop to do it.) Most expensive scenario, about half your bedget. You can have a dandy rig and plenty of money left over for a couple of trial run weekend trips.

  7. #7
    Senior Member robow's Avatar
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    Hop on down to your local Trek dealer and see the Women Specific Design bikes that will fit her nicely and for less than 7 bills you're set, this one set up for racks and fenders:

    http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes.../fx/7_4_fx_wsd

  8. #8
    Senior Member mulveyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrveloman View Post
    While I have no experience with these, the Windsor Tourist might be an option at $600 and comes with a frame size as small as 43cm with a standover height of 28.5 inches. Another thought is that for a credit card tour with no camping you might not need a fully dedicated touring bike depending on how light you travel.

    Mike
    I have experience with these. ;-) My 12-year-old has a 43cm Windsor Tourist, and it's been great. My review: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/revie...hread_id=66087
    Knows the weight of my bike to the nearest 10 pounds.

  9. #9
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Max Stout View Post
    No this is not a trade offer. I am in the initial stages a planning our first big tour. We will try some shorter tours first, of course.

    My wife and I are planning to ride the Natchez Trace Parkway in 2014. We are currently casual weekend riders. We both own aluminum road bikes that are not suitable for touring.

    We will be not be camping, it will be more or less a credit care tour. I figure we will both need bikes, but at 6' 2" I am an easy fit. At 5' she is a little harder. I know the Surly LHT is highly and passionately recommended, but I am hoping to keep each of our bikes under a grand.

    So, can anyone recommend a sub $1,000 touring bike that has a frame size small enough for her? Yes we will test ride and yes she will have the final say.

    Thanks for your help.
    As you are probably aware, there's not a lot of 'regular' bikes out there that fit all that well. Touring bikes, being a small subset of all bikes, are even tougher to find in small sizes because you are looking at a very small subset of a small subset. The good news is that you can get away with a shorter, less traditional touring frame for a small rider...if you make some adjustments.

    The first adjustment you'll need to make is load. Let her carry a lighter load. Clothes, sleeping bag and pad...that's it. If possible, carry the clothes in small front panniers and use a low rider front rack with the sleeping bag on the back. I suggest a front load because a bike with a nontouring geometry will handle a bit better if the front wheel is loaded rather then the rear wheel. Even if you do load the rear wheel, use small panniers. Although heel strike isn't as much of a problem as it is for you...with your size 13 tuna boats...even size 5 feet take some room.

    Get an aluminum bike...the lighter the better. She's not going to put much stress on the frame but she's not got as much strength as you do. Lighten her load as much as possible. That's why you are going to carry all the heavy stuff. But don't make her push around a bike that is heavy too. And spend a little more on her bike than yours to get her as much lightweight bits hanging off the bike as possible. The problem here is that too many of the expensive bikes now come with carbon forks which aren't a good choice putting front racks on.

    You may also have to use flat bars...there are a lot of flat bar bikes out there that would make good touring bikes...or spend money to convert the bike to a drop bar. This adds cost but see if you can work with a shop to make changes to get the bike you need.

    Some good choices would be any of the Trek FX series...the 7.3FX has front eyelets for racks. A Cannondale Quick 5 would be a good frame but the components aren't all that great. A Trek Lexa could be made to work but the compact double isn't the best choice for loaded touring for a smaller person. You could replace components but that gets pricy quickly.

    You might also look at used bikes. Specifically look for a Terry. My 5' tall wife raves about her's. It is steel but it's very light (20lb with racks) and you can often find them on Craigslist for relatively cheap. You can still get new Terry bicycles but they aren't inexpensive. I would suggest, as the spouse of a petite person, that you familiarize yourself with Terry Cycles anyway. Although I've spent thousands of dollars over the years on trying to find the right bike for my wife, I would have saved more money by just biting the bullet and buying the right bike to begin with.

    Good luck.
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  10. #10
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    If you are going to carry a light load between the two of you -- and it sounds like you will be going light on at least this trip -- then the options are greater because your wife isn't limited to dedicated touring bikes. As others have mentioned, the Trek fx series would be an option. Another option would be something like an XS sized Specialized Sirrus Elite. It is in your price range, would have appropriate gearing, could fit fenders and larger tires, has long enough chainstays, and is reasonably light. Bar ends would give more hand positions (as with the fx or similar bike). Our 5'2" daughter is very happy with her Sirrus.

    My 5'2" wife is happy with her Surly LHT, it's a comfortable bike that fits her well, but the only way you'll get that bike under $1000 is to find it used, or to build it up yourself *if* you have a lot of appropriate components lying around (not all that likely). Used LHTs routinely sell in the $700 to $1000 range.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Max Stout View Post
    ...We will be not be camping, it will be more or less a credit care tour. I figure we will both need bikes, but at 6' 2" I am an easy fit. At 5' she is a little harder. I know the Surly LHT is highly and passionately recommended, but I am hoping to keep each of our bikes under a grand.

    So, can anyone recommend a sub $1,000 touring bike that has a frame size small enough for her? Yes we will test ride and yes she will have the final say.

    Thanks for your help.
    If there are no plans to ever expedition tour, there's no reason to limit yourself to a dedicated touring bike. CX bikes can tour at sub expedition levels quite well. A Trek Crossrip, for example, is close to your budget and maybe more readily available in your wife's size than a touring bike. Hybrids are another possibility, my sister will use her Trek Skye on a short tour we're planning. There's no stand over issue and the buy in was attractive to her (she wasn't too sure about a flat bar bike).

    Brad

  12. #12
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    Thanks for all the info. I had thought a touring bike would be the best choice, but will now look at other options, including a tandem. So instead of narrowing my search, you have widened it. Thanks guys.

  13. #13
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    I like the old mountain bike idea, but there is also the Nashbar steel touring bike that comes in her size for $749 right now.
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  14. #14
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    Why get her a new bike? You didn't outline what she's riding today other than an Al road bike. I imagine it's suitable for touring with the right wheel set. Since you're credit card touring, the heavy bits are tools which you can carry. Have her use a frame pack, handlebar bag and/or an inexpensive seat post rack that can hold a trunk bag. Better if it can also clamp to the seat stays. As mentioned above, have her pack light and make sure you both enjoy it first.

    My wife is also 5' and I completely agree with @cyccommute that Terry is a good option provided you can find a used one to keep the cost down. We've also embraced the tandem lifestyle though a good tandem (even used) can be a little pricey.

  15. #15
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    I am a 5'2" woman and I tour on a Specialized Vita Elite. I love my Bike. I have the small size frame, so I think your wife would need the XS frame. My bike has everything needed for fenders and racks to attach. It was very affordable, much cheaper than a touring bike. I did add end bars so I could have more hand positions than the flat bar gave me. It has a 48/36/26 crank which is just about right for me.

    I would like to know what she is riding now, maybe she could just adapt that bike to the need.

  16. #16
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    Bike friday solves fit problems with 20" wheels, and several different top tube lengths.
    A lot of happy touring riders set off around the globe..

    and a + it's easier to get to the trip start folding and packing the bike into a Suitcase.
    [their actual suitcase trailer is pricy, but the smaller box can easily be found
    for returns of 'open jaw' trips.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 01-02-13 at 10:53 PM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    My wife's "little" road bike with aluminum frame and carbon fork. Loaded with canping gear and clothes for a 3 week tour. The only modification that I did was to put 25mm tires on it and change the rear cassette to a 11-34 which required a Deore or Shimano LX rear derailleur. My bike in background is set up similar to her bike. We have "real" touring bikes, but for fast, light trips this setup works well. Actually, I think on this trip we still had the stock road bike setup, 11/26 rear cassette. This trip may have been the catalyst for making gearing changes. I would use my road bike for credit card tours, if it had any provisions at all for attaching a rack.

    Last edited by Doug64; 01-03-13 at 11:55 AM.

  18. #18
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    Well, she can might be able to make it work. Her bike is a 2003 Specialized Sequoia Sport. It should work for our needs. However, the frame size is described as 47 cm (XS), with a stand over height of 696 mm/27.4 inches. She can't stand over it, and has had several falls when stopping. We weren't fully informed consumers at the time of purchase. I think the frame is too big.

    The tires are 700 x 25. The gears are 30/42/52 in front and 12-25 in the rear. One of the reasons I first posted is because I was under the impression the road gears might not be low enough, and the tires too narrow. We are in our mid 50s, and I was thinking a 26", wider tire might be better for her. We are more interested in comfort than speed.

    I am restoring my Raleigh M80 mountain bike (aluminum, alas) and think I will be able to make it work.

    I love the idea of a couple of old steel hard tails, but I need a large, she needs a small, which are hard to find, and the people in this area (Memphis) seem to think any bike with gears is worth $300. I don't do eBay.

    Lot of things to think about here. Fortunately I've got time. Once again, all the input is appreciated.

  19. #19
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    Max, an LHT would be total overkill for credit card touring and her size. The REI Novara Express can take 32mm tires with 26" stand over. The Specialized Vita Step Through has 24"

    If she's as light as her height would indicate 32mm tires would be plenty comfy. There would be other reasons for 26" wheels but there's no reason to go to anything bigger than 1.5" for asphalt.
    Last edited by LeeG; 01-04-13 at 02:51 AM.

  20. #20
    Senior Member xilios's Avatar
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    My wife rides the FX7.2wsd for fully loaded touring since 2006 without any problems. Even though she uses it only for touring I'm sure this bike would be great for everyday commutes to work, shopping, etc...

  21. #21
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    I just completed this list of bicycle parts for the mountain bike forum so although it looks inappropriate, it's to show you what you can do if you find things on sale. Here's a frame that's available in 42cm and 47cm: http://bike-x-perts.com/intec-t7-rahmen.html
    and a more complete list of other frames: http://bike-x-perts.com/frames/trekking-frames.html
    For those who are wondering, the Nashbar touring frame starts at 50cm (they also have same color fork).

    FRAME:
    Sette Reken $120
    http://www.pricepoint.com/detail/225...tail-Frame.htm
    WHEELSET:
    Shimano Deore LX with Rhyno Lite rims $100
    http://www.cambriabike.com/shopexd.asp?id=163415
    SUSPENSION FORK:
    RockShox XC28 $125
    http://www.ebikestop.com/rockshox_xc...nti-FK6776.php
    CRANKSET:
    Shimano Deore LX FC-M570 $43
    http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/M...?ModelID=86411
    SHIFTER/BRAKE LEVER COMBO:
    Shimano Deore LX M580 $30
    http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/M...x?ModelID=6077
    BRAKES:
    Shimano Deore pair $45
    http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/M...?ModelID=39004
    CASSETTE:
    Sram PG950 $23
    http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/M...x?ModelID=5045
    CHAIN:
    KMC X9 $20
    http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/M...?ModelID=25423
    BOTTOM BRACKET:
    (my research shows FC-M570 is square taper and sizing I'm guessing 68x113mm)
    Shimano BB-UN55 $25
    http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/M...?ModelID=71369
    PEDALS:
    Dimension Translucent Blue Town pedals $13
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=721824
    STEM:
    Dimension 80mm $20
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=732667
    HEADSET:
    FSA "The Pig" $25
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...oducts_id=1786
    SPACERS:
    Avenir $6
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=433780
    HANDLEBARS:
    Origin8 Urban MX $22
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=447724
    SEATPOST CLAMP:
    Origin8 $6
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=431889
    SADDLE:
    WTB Speed V $24
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=428984
    GRIPS:
    Sunlite Classic blue $4
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=509356
    TIRES:
    Michelin Tracker 26x1.95 pair $50
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=712205
    TUBES:
    Michelin Protek Max pair $17
    (pretty sure the Rhyno Lite rims are Shraeder valve)
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=720350
    RIM STRIP:
    Schwalbe (I'm guessing it's x2) $6
    http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/M...?ModelID=36337
    SEATPOST:
    Kalloy 400mm $16
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=417996
    REAR DERAILLEUR:
    Shimano Deore $45
    http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/M...?ModelID=40543
    FRONT DERAILLEUR:
    Shimano LX 570 top pull $15
    http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/M...px?ModelID=446
    CHAINSTAY PROTECTOR:
    Wheels Manufacturing $5
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=437965
    FENDERS:
    Zefal $17
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=449289
    SPOKE PROTECTOR:
    Dimension $3
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=419814
    LOCKING SKEWERS:
    Sunlite $12
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=507604
    FRONT REFLECTOR:
    Sunlite $3
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...oducts_id=5775
    REAR REFLECTOR:
    Sunlite $2
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...oducts_id=5776
    WHEEL REFLECTORS:
    Sunlite $3
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...oducts_id=5777
    BELL:
    Pyramid $4
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ducts_id=31336
    Total: $850
    suggested retail price for bike with Shimano Deore LX on it: $1200?
     
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  22. #22
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    This is kind of changing the topic, but this has been a nice civil discussion, and I want to keep ii amongst just us. Shhh. So...

    Aluminum vs steel. The literature leans toward steel being better for longer rides, with aluminum getting harsh. The new bikes recommended above are aluminum. After fifty miles or so, is there still a difference between aluminum and steel, or is that one of those things that used to be true but won't go away?

    I'd love to check out a Jamis Coda, but the nearest dealer is 101 miles away. Far as I can tell, they are the only people that make a steel competitor to the aluminum Treks, Specialized and such listed above.

    Anyway, aluminum is okay for 60 miles, correct?

  23. #23
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    Max, aluminum or steel doesn't matter, what matters is if it fits and is built for her use. Tires, geometry and tubing size can matter more than whether it's aluminum or steel.
    Don't worry about Al or steel.

  24. #24
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    +1. Don't worry. Right fit, right geometry will make all the difference.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Max Stout View Post
    No this is not a trade offer. I am in the initial stages a planning our first big tour. We will try some shorter tours first, of course.

    My wife and I are planning to ride the Natchez Trace Parkway in 2014. We are currently casual weekend riders. We both own aluminum road bikes that are not suitable for touring.

    We will be not be camping, it will be more or less a credit care tour. I figure we will both need bikes, but at 6' 2" I am an easy fit. At 5' she is a little harder. I know the Surly LHT is highly and passionately recommended, but I am hoping to keep each of our bikes under a grand.

    So, can anyone recommend a sub $1,000 touring bike that has a frame size small enough for her? Yes we will test ride and yes she will have the final say.

    Thanks for your help.
    Max,

    If both of you only credit card tour, then your road bike is fine as long as you have the correct rack for it or even a rear bag system. You really don't need a touring bike. In fact, when the touring fad first started in the early 70s, a lot of people tour with rando style road bikes! Only when people start carrying a whole kitchen sink when it's start to get heavy. A heavy load causes fish tailing and some instability and hence the birth of the touring bike with oversized tubing, longer chainstays and braze-on for racks was designed specifically to address these issues. Other than that you DO NOT need a touring bike for a credit card tour. In fact, I would recommend using a road bike.

    Next. You need to consider a luggage system that you can carry your clothes. There are 2 choices. Choice one is to use a rack system like the Tubus Fly, Axiom Streamliner and the Old Man Mountain Sherpa. All of these racks are axle mount based which means, the rear axle is used to secure the rack and the stays are used to anchor the rack for moving forward and backward. This system is very secure, especially the Old Man Mountain Sherpa. You can turn ANY carbon, titanium and even an aluminum bike into a light touring bike no problem. In fact, My OMM Sherpa is on my Trek carbon bike which I use for hotel touring. Very light, fast and swift. In fact, on my last year tours with my friends who have Soma Sagas and LHTs, they were struggling up the hill, slower than us who ride on carbon bikes and overall much slower. Why be slow and inefficient if you are just carrying less than 15lbs of clothes and other stuff?!? You can use small panniers with this up to 25 to 32L.

    Choice 2 is to use a system that attaches to your seatpost like the Carradice bags. The Carradice SQR Tour which you can buy from Peter White Cycles is a 16 litre waterproof bag that goes on to your seatpost. With 16 litre, you can hold a lot of stuff and still be light. Add a big handle bar bag and you can literally tour hotel to hotel no problem. With this setup, you can literally have up to 24L of storage and still be light.

    Gearing...
    Most road bikes come with a 52/42/30 with say a 11-26 or 11-28 9 or 10 speed at the back. You can modify this setup and replace the 30T to a 26T or 24T on the front smallest chain ring and then an 11-32 or 11-34 at the rear, but you need to replace your current rear derailleur with a long cage mountain bike version. A word of warning. If your shifter is a Shimano 10 speed and you want to replace with a 11-34XT or 11-36SLX rear, you NEED TO USE a 9 speed rear long cage derailleur (Deore or LX is fine). Do not use a 10 speed rear derailleur or it won't work. Typically, a less than $1000 road bike will have a 10 speed Tiagra rear mated to a 11-30 10 speed Tiagra cassette.
    Those modifications aren't expensive to change on your current bikes anyhow. That's what I did to my CX bike which is now my dedicated loaded touring bike and is lighter than a comparable LHT setup.

    Fitting..
    I guess the most important aspect of a touring bike is "fitting" because that's what you're going to be doing. Sitting on the saddle and riding for long hours. If it's not comfortable, then you won't ride long on it right?!?
    So fitting is really important. But why buy a new bike? Because if it's fitting that your wife is having problems with, you can swap the frame with a smaller frame and move the parts over. First determine your wife's inseam in cm and then multiply this by about 0.67 and you should get the frame size. Then, you need to determine her torso length which then dictates the length of the virtual top tube necessary to get a good cockpit. I suspect that the bike she has is sized for a men of similar height, so it may be a tad bit bigger than it should be.

    This link should help you understand bike sizing..

    http://www.evanscycles.com/help/bike-sizing#road
    Last edited by pacificcyclist; 01-06-13 at 05:12 PM.
    Trek 5000 carbon road bike
    Masi Speciale CX touring bike
    Dahon Mu SL (performance hybrid road bike)
    Dahon Speed Duo (slow poker shopper or coffee getter bike)

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