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  1. #1
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    Any short ladies here? What do you ride?

    I'm 5'2", ride a 48 Specialized Dolce, and am having a heck of a time finding a touring-appropriate bike that will fit me. My main issue is I can't test ride anything without putting down a deposit and special-ordering one, which I'm hesitant to do because I think that process encourages one to go with whatever was ordered even if it's not quite right.

    My local shop was pushing me in the direction of the Trek Crossrip, which I can order for free in the smallest size it comes in (49) but I am dubious about the fit. My understanding is you are more likely to have to size down, not up, on a cross-style bike when you are short due to the higher bottom bracket.

    I'm also thinking about the Surly Cross Check but am a little worried about the weight and it feeling clunky (and have to pay to special order the tiny size I'd need on a Surly). The Salsa Vaya has been mentioned but is a little more than I'd want to spend.

    What I want the bike for:
    - daily commute (not far, ~8 mile roundtrip) - would have to lock up outside in weather.
    - around-town
    - occasionally week-long tours on paved road, maybe some gravel trails

    I don't need to be able to front-load the bike - my husband and I have toured successfully before with just rear panniers - which is why I think cross-style bikes will work fine for me.

    I'd like to stay under about $1250 since this bike will be locked up unattended in all sorts of weather. My road bike was only about $950 so I'm having a hard time stomaching how much touring bikes seem to be!

    Any bike suggestions, or just general bike shopping suggestions?

  2. #2
    Senior Member mdilthey's Avatar
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    I would look at 26" touring bikes like the Surly Troll or the Surly 26" LHT. The smaller wheels will make for a slightly better standover height for you.

    It's easier to get a frame that is small, and fit it using a longer stem/seatpost. It is much harder to take a frame that is too big and size it down. For that reason, I am dubious at the idea of going with a 49". That might just be too big. Better to find a 46-48 and start from there.

    Take your time and get this right. You'll regret it later if you don't. Inquire with large bike shops in your area about old stock- extreme sizes like XS and XL are often the last bikes to get sold, so there might be a deal out there on a petite touring bike.


    As for the clunkiness, your touring bike is not going to feel like your road bike, but with some narrow-ish tires and light-ish components, you'll enjoy the ride. Your logic on a cross bike is sound, but I prefer loading 2 panniers up front and having nothing in the back. To each their own, just telling you it's an option that is easy to do with something like a Surly, plenty of mounts on the fork.
    Last edited by mdilthey; 09-23-14 at 04:11 PM.
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    I'm 5'4", and the 46cm Surly LHT is a perfect fit for me. I have a short torso and longer legs, and the LHT's shorter reach felt a lot better to me than the longer reach of the 46 cm Cross Check (I test rode both). The LHT is a weighty beast, but I love the smooth, comfortable ride and and its steady handling on any type of surface.

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    I'm 5'2" and ride the smallest size (17") Trek 520. It's just a teeny bit too big, but that hasn't kept me from putting about 10,000 touring miles on it.
    ...

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by judyomega View Post
    I'm 5'4", and the 46cm Surly LHT is a perfect fit for me. I have a short torso and longer legs, and the LHT's shorter reach felt a lot better to me than the longer reach of the 46 cm Cross Check (I test rode both). The LHT is a weighty beast, but I love the smooth, comfortable ride and and its steady handling on any type of surface.
    Oh this is good to know. I didn't realize the fit of the LHT and the Cross Check was so different.

  6. #6
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by judyomega View Post
    I'm 5'4", and the 46cm Surly LHT is a perfect fit for me. I have a short torso and longer legs, and the LHT's shorter reach felt a lot better to me than the longer reach of the 46 cm Cross Check (I test rode both). The LHT is a weighty beast, but I love the smooth, comfortable ride and and its steady handling on any type of surface.
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  7. #7
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    My GF is 5' even. She has the smallest size LHT. Decent fit and, as noted, can go a lot of places.

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  8. #8
    Senior Member Duane Behrens's Avatar
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    At 5' 3", my wife rides a 49cm Specialized Roubaix with Ultegra components. She wanted the Roubaix for comfort. The only changes made to the bike have been narrower (38cm) bars and a 155mm- wide seat to replace the 143mm it came with. Cheapo Aksium wheels which have actually performed very well. It weighs exactly 18.5 lbs, complete with pedals and bottle cage installed. She's quite happy with it.

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    You seem to want something you can tour with, however, so you'll probably never be on carbon. I'll join the Surly advocates here for that purpose, for one primary reason: I owned a Cross-Check for years. I'm done touring and ride carbon and steel in racing trim now. But I've never experienced a smoother, quieter, more dependable or more enjoyable cycling experience than I did with that Surly. Those folks know how to build a bike. I gave that Surly to my son and he's still riding the snot out of it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ladyroadie View Post
    Oh this is good to know. I didn't realize the fit of the LHT and the Cross Check was so different.
    You can check out the frame geometries at Surly's website. The other thing that bothered me about the CC was the 700cc wheels (likely why the reach on the CC has to be longer than on the 26" wheeled LHT). I experienced a little toe overlap on a turn (not much, but enough to bug me) with the larger wheels.

    I was very lucky in that both bikes were in stock and I was able to test ride them both on the same day. It's tough to make a decision knowing that you need to special order it. I assume that there is a full-refund period available (I think Surly and/or the LBS offered 15 days) so you can really get out and ride, and then return it if it's not working out. Good luck! I hope you find something that works for you!

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    Quote Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
    Awesome! That's exactly how I feel about the LHT!

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    Salsa Vaya will be a little more nimble around town while still handling short tours nicely.

  12. #12
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    Check out Bike Fridays .. they are a Touring Bike that will pack into a Suitcase to get you to where you want to go tour.

    they can build a perfectly fitting bike.. no geometry compromises just to cope with a bigger wheel ..
    406- 20" wheels super rugged EZ to find tires.

  13. #13
    djb
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    Quote Originally Posted by edthesped View Post
    Salsa Vaya will be a little more nimble around town while still handling short tours nicely.
    I would agree that a more nimble bike will be more fun all around for your commutes and such. Mind you, you do have a road bike so perhaps the difference between the two (road bike and a light tourer) would not be that much. Guess it depends on how much you will use the "tourer".

    I personally replaced my 1990 or 91 tourer with a "light tourer", a Specialized Tricross, going the route of a light tourer vs a dedicated full on tourer like a LHT. I knew that the majority of its life would be used with rear panniers only, and I liked the idea of having sti shifters, "brifters" (as opposed to bar end shifters like on a Trek 520 or Surly LHT) for faster riding (plus I ride in the city a lot, so appreciated shifting without moving hands from brake hoods)

    Most bikes will handle well with rear panniers only, and you seem to indicate that you would most likely be using rear only.

    Gearing--for me this should be your biggest concern, that whatever bike you look at has a triple crankset, and a rear derailleur (long cage) that can handle larger cassettes like a 32 tooth or more. Even with rear panniers only, its easy to have 20lbs on your bike, and with long, steep hills, or short steep hills, having lower gearing will always make your riding more enjoyable.

    In my experience, store employees are chronically optimistic about saying "oh the gearing on this bike is really low, it will be fine for touring"--either they havent toured, full of malarky, are 22 yrs old and full of piss and vinegar, or just dont give a hoot and want to sell the bike....often, a combination of all of these!

    What I have noticed is that a lot of bikes nowadays come only with double cranks up front, but throw 20-25lbs on a bike and a triple will get you lower gearing (especially if you change out the small chainring to a smaller one, easily done usually) and in any case, the vast majority of riding on the flats will be in the middle chainring, so better for not having to shift back and forth between a double cranks 50t and the 34t, and not "cross chaining" a lot.

    Visits to various bike stores and test riding bikes is always the best so you can actually feel how a bike feels for you.

    ps, the Crossrip two base models appear to come with 8 speed, triple 50/39/30 and a 11-28 rear cassette, not low enough gearing in my opinion. Dont know if a larger cassette can be put on, but I suspect the largest "might" be a 32, tops. Even then, the gearing isnt that low. My experience is that a 30 front , 32 rear isnt low enough for touring. Other young or just full of p+v will disagree. Unless you have taken an interest in gearing and know what your bike in the past has had when you toured with your husband, you won't know for yourself until you experience it yourself.

    Re actual "touring" bikes, off the shelf they will tend to have lower gearing than most of the "cross bikes" , but I could be wrong. I bought the Tricross specifically because it had the 50/39/30 and a 11-32 (and then changed the 30 front small chainring to a 26t for touring with 40lbs of load as I knew from experience I needed that as a minimun)

    good searching.

    throw out other bike models if you hear of others or see them in stores in your area.

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    My wife is 5'2". She rides a 42cm LHT with flat bars. With a long, high-rise stem and plenty of spacers under the stem, the bars are a couple of inches higher than the saddle. That's her preference. The LHT is great because it comes with 26" wheels. However the shallow head tube angle and high trail make the front end really floppy. It's pretty much impossible to keep the handlebars and front wheel straight when trying to attach the rear panniers, or to do anything while the bike isn't moving. It's just wants to flop. To that end, my wife has been eyeing the Velo Orange Camargue, which has mid trail geometry and far less flop factor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by djb View Post
    ps, the Crossrip two base models appear to come with 8 speed, triple 50/39/30 and a 11-28 rear cassette, not low enough gearing in my opinion. Dont know if a larger cassette can be put on, but I suspect the largest "might" be a 32, tops. Even then, the gearing isnt that low. My experience is that a 30 front , 32 rear isnt low enough for touring. Other young or just full of p+v will disagree. Unless you have taken an interest in gearing and know what your bike in the past has had when you toured with your husband, you won't know for yourself until you experience it yourself.

    Re actual "touring" bikes, off the shelf they will tend to have lower gearing than most of the "cross bikes" , but I could be wrong. I bought the Tricross specifically because it had the 50/39/30 and a 11-32 (and then changed the 30 front small chainring to a 26t for touring with 40lbs of load as I knew from experience I needed that as a minimun)

    I don't know much about gearing so this is one of my concerns. My road bike has a compact up front, I think a 26 in the back -- maybe 28? -- which is definitely undergeared for touring and often undergeared for the hills in our area on my legs! The hybrid I'm trying to replace has a triple and a pretty generous granny gear. However -- the shop guy said I could always put a mountain bike derailleur on the back -- is that not actually an option on the Crossrip? The shop actually went ahead and ordered the Crossrip for me so I'm going to test ride this weekend but am trying to keep myself from buying!

    I should talk to my husband about all this, he is more the 'gear head.'

    Someone mentioned the Salsa Vaya, they're a little too far out of my pricerange. Bianchi Volpe is more in the range but shops here don't seem to carry them. Maybe I'll see if I can special order for free. My husband recently suggested the Kona Jake, which I don't know much about.

    To the person who test rode both the LHT and the Cross Check -- did the LHT feel much heavier/tankish?

  16. #16
    djb
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    Putting mtn bike rear derailleurs on bikes is fairly common, which will allow a much larger rear cassette. How much lower you actually need is not a black and white answer, so many variables-how much weight you might have on bike, steepness of hills etc.
    Have you ever ridden the hybrid with your touring load? If so and you can tell me the gearing it has, front and back, and wheel - tire size, I can give you an exact number that its lowest gear is (in "gear inches") that you would have at least as a reference of what you know vs bikes you are interested in.

    Look up " Sheldon browns gear calculator " if you want to figure out the gear inches of the gears of your present bikes on your own, its fairly intuitive, just set the one parameter to "gear inches" and fill in the other stuff.
    Cheers

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    Quote Originally Posted by djb View Post

    Gearing--for me this should be your biggest concern, that whatever bike you look at has a triple crankset, and a rear derailleur (long cage) that can handle larger cassettes like a 32 tooth or more. Even with rear panniers only, its easy to have 20lbs on your bike, and with long, steep hills, or short steep hills, having lower gearing will always make your riding more enjoyable.

    In my experience, store employees are chronically optimistic about saying "oh the gearing on this bike is really low, it will be fine for touring"--either they havent toured, full of malarky, are 22 yrs old and full of piss and vinegar, or just dont give a hoot and want to sell the bike....often, a combination of all of these!

    What I have noticed is that a lot of bikes nowadays come only with double cranks up front, but throw 20-25lbs on a bike and a triple will get you lower gearing (especially if you change out the small chainring to a smaller one, easily done usually) and in any case, the vast majority of riding on the flats will be in the middle chainring, so better for not having to shift back and forth between a double cranks 50t and the 34t, and not "cross chaining" a lot.
    I wasn't aware of the following possibility when I was looking for a new bike but one place where the Vaya 2 also may have an advantage is that it appears one can easily put a 24t granny ring on the 105 front triple it comes with. At some point I'd like to get my hands on a 105 triple and try it with a granny as there are times I'd like a little more than 44 on the high side.

    Chainrings

  18. #18
    djb
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    Just so its clear, if your bike has a double, you can't just put on a triple, you would have to change the front derailleur and shifter. Not sure if that's what you were referring to.
    Often true touring bikes come stock with triple cranks smaller than road bikes, such as 48/36/26 or thereabouts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by djb View Post
    Just so its clear, if your bike has a double, you can't just put on a triple, you would have to change the front derailleur and shifter. Not sure if that's what you were referring to.
    Often true touring bikes come stock with triple cranks smaller than road bikes, such as 48/36/26 or thereabouts.
    The Vaya 2 comes stock with a 105 triple

  20. #20
    djb
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    Righto, wasnt sure if we were talking about the same thing.

    BTW, through a poster here on bf, I saw it was no problem going down to a 26t from the 30, and with the tiagara FD it worked without any adjustment (did have to shim out the 26 with some washers on each bolt but I think that's a specific chainring profile issue)

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    Quote Originally Posted by ladyroadie View Post
    To the person who test rode both the LHT and the Cross Check -- did the LHT feel much heavier/tankish?
    I didn't notice a big difference in the weight (neither one is a lightweight), but I did notice a difference in the ride. The LHT seemed much smoother and stable to me, as well as more comfortable. The CC is likely faster and more nimble, though, with the larger wheels and shorter wheelbase. The other thing that sold me on the LHT is the granny gear. The CC doesn't have the low gears that the LHT has (at least not on the stock models).

    Regarding weight: my other bike is an older Terry Classic, which weighs about 20 pounds, and yet I hardly notice any difference in how hard I have to work to propel the Trucker vs the Terry (my commute takes about the same length of time regardless of which bike I ride). The Trucker seems to have more momentum once it gets going and will glide farther on flats and downhills (which would make sense since mass is part of that equation), so perhaps that's why. The Terry is more "nimble", but not nearly as stable, and for touring, I prefer stable and comfortable to fast and nimble. My Terry is like a sports car, My LHT is like a Cadillac. My Terry would struggle mightily if I took her off-road, while the Trucker has no issues with that. I've even taken the Trucker on a single track MTB trail, and it handled it just fine (though I imagine the Cross Check would have no trouble with off-road conditions as well).

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by djb View Post
    Just so its clear, if your bike has a double, you can't just put on a triple, you would have to change the front derailleur and shifter. Not sure if that's what you were referring to.
    Often true touring bikes come stock with triple cranks smaller than road bikes, such as 48/36/26 or thereabouts.
    According to the folks at Surly, with bar ends you would not have to change the shifter to add a third a third chain ring (which the Cross Check crank is already set up to accept), but you would have to change the FD. According to one shop, the same is true for my '11 LHT if you want to drop from a 26t to a 24t. Don't know if that's true.
    "I've wanted you to succeed, but watching you find excuse after excuse after excuse and then laugh it off as the loveable, quirky, chubby guy is getting old."--Ill.Clyde

  23. #23
    djb
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    I was specifically thinking of brifter bikes, as they are made for doubles or triples. I find that hard to believe that going from a 26 to a 24 would necessitate a FD change. I went down 4 teeth and didn't have to touch a thing (as mentioned, with a tiagra FD)

  24. #24
    The Rock Cycle eofelis's Avatar
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    I am 5'2" also.
    I used to have a 42cm LHT. I did like the fit. I only sold it because I got a 50cm Salsa Vaya Ti. I also like the fit on that.
    The main numbers I look for for my fit are that I like 50-52cm effective top tube and no more than 70cm standover.

    I had a 17" Trek 520 many years ago and I did think it was a bit too big for me. I went to the LHT from that.
    I have a 42cm Cross Check equivalent (the Motobecane Fantom CXX from Bikesdirect) and I like it but the toe overlap is pretty tight on that one. BD has some other crossbikes that might fit your needs and might be priced low enough so that you don't mind locking it up.
    I have a 44cm 2007 Specialized Ruby road bike that I like the fit on a lot.
    I have two mid-90s REI Novara Randonee touring bike frames in XS size. They made those small ones with 26" wheel size back then. They have a nice low standover. I wish they were still available.
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