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Really Small Frames

Old 07-06-06, 04:42 AM
  #1  
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Really Small Frames

My girlfriend rides a mountain bike at the moment, or rather, she generally doesn't ride it at all. She learned late - only 2 years ago, is not confident on a bike, and can't get comfortable on the MTB at all, plus it's unnecesarily heavy and has knobbly tires etc.

I picked her up a Raleigh with a 48 cm frame which had been built up with really nice Campag hubs, Mavic rims, flat bars etc by a guy for his wife. Trouble is, it's too big! She can barely touch the floor with her toes when in the saddle, and for someone who is not confident, that's too much to ask.

I'd really like to build her up a nice road bike, so that she can enjoy some more pleasant riding, but what am I going to find that's smaller than 48 cm? It needs to be fairly cheap, and ideally light and purty. Am I going to have to hunt out something with 650c or even 24" wheels? Help!
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Old 07-06-06, 05:25 AM
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Check out the height of the bottom bracket from the ground. This is often really high on small frames , perching the rider way too far from the ground. If you fit short cranks then you can use a much lower BB and retain cornering clearance. It seems common sense but only a few custom builder tweak the BB height enough to make a difference.
You can sometimes get small touring style bikes using MTB wheels, check out Surley. Terry have a good following for their small frames and make a nice 26" flat bar bike.
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Old 07-06-06, 06:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Sammyboy
My girlfriend rides a mountain bike at the moment, or rather, she generally doesn't ride it at all. She learned late - only 2 years ago, is not confident on a bike, and can't get comfortable on the MTB at all, plus it's unnecesarily heavy and has knobbly tires etc.

I picked her up a Raleigh with a 48 cm frame which had been built up with really nice Campag hubs, Mavic rims, flat bars etc by a guy for his wife. Trouble is, it's too big! She can barely touch the floor with her toes when in the saddle, and for someone who is not confident, that's too much to ask.

I'd really like to build her up a nice road bike, so that she can enjoy some more pleasant riding, but what am I going to find that's smaller than 48 cm? It needs to be fairly cheap, and ideally light and purty. Am I going to have to hunt out something with 650c or even 24" wheels? Help!
The mtn bike should be ok if it's a sloped frame and the seat is lowered especially if you got 1.5" - 1.9" road/slick tires for it; which will also give a lower ground clearance.

I ride a mtn bike with continental cross country tires around the city as it is easy to handle, very agile and stable.

There are plenty of women specific bicycles in 44cm with compact/sloped frames and 650c wheels.

How tall is she?
 
Old 07-06-06, 07:23 AM
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Well, the MTB currently has too stretched out and low a riding position for her, which hurts her back, and I'm reluctant to sink much money into something which is fundamentally not designed for street riding.

I'm really after something I can find super-cheap (the Raleigh I picked up for £11! It'll be a big profit once I sell the wheels etc). I have a Mixte frame that I was building up for her, where I reversed the stem to bring the bars (North Road style) really nice and close for a very upright position. It's a low end French bike from the 70's (a Jacques Anquetil), and I'll likely finish that, but it would be nice for her to experience a really nice light roadbike. I definitely can't spring for a new 650c bike.
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Old 07-06-06, 07:41 AM
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I just found a small frame Kia 10 speed 26 X1 3/8 tires . Or I have a Ross 10 speed from around 1981 brand new in the origianl box with pepsi cole logos on it , it was some kind of prize give away. Let me know if your interested
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Old 07-06-06, 08:04 AM
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Felt has been making a 24" wheel model for a while now, try to find one used or look for a vintage model with 24" wheels as there were several companies that made them( I found this mixte for my grand daughter). Another option would be a smaller frame, as she might be more comfortable with that (the Alpine is a 700c wheelsize, 45cm frame I also picked up for same grandchild). Good Luck, Don
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Old 07-06-06, 08:33 AM
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I would think that if you are trying to fit her on a bike so she can have her feet on the ground while sitting on the saddle, she wouldn't have the proper leg extension while peddling.
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Old 07-06-06, 08:38 AM
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2372ighost - I'm not looking for something where she can put her feet flat on the ground - it's more that on the bike I got her, she's teetering on the edge of falling over any time she's on the saddle. She needs to be able to get the ball of her foot on the ground on each side. I'm sure most of us can do this with our bikes!

Tolfan - I might be, but I'm in the UK. I suspect you're in the States - am I right? Thanks all, however, you've given me some hope that I might find something.
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Old 07-06-06, 08:45 AM
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She needs to be able to get the ball of her foot on the ground on each side. I'm sure most of us can do this with our bikes!
I have to lean my bike in order to get one foot down while in the saddle.
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Old 07-06-06, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by silversmith
I have to lean my bike in order to get one foot down while in the saddle.
Exactly right.

I am much taller but if I try to touch the ground while sitting on the seat only my toes will touch unless I lean the bicycle over. The same for mounting as I lean bicycle to mount. I believe it's a fundamental skill when learning to ride a bicycle.

This is normal on a conventional bicycle that is adjusted properly to give the necessary leg extension while riding/pedaling.
 
Old 07-06-06, 09:56 AM
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Well, that's pretty much how my roadie is adjusted, but it certainly isn't how I ride my commuter! If I try to get her riding in that situation, she just won't do it. At 25 years old, if she can't even got on the thing on the grass outside her house without falling over, she will simply walk away from it. If I get her a size smaller, then later, maybe, I can push it up a bit. It's all about the practicality of getting her actually riding.
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Old 07-06-06, 09:59 AM
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I agree with the above, there's no way you're going to get the balls of your feet on the ground, while on the saddle, of most any bike that's got a saddle that's adjusted to the proper height for pedaling. The key is to learn to come off the saddle when you come to a stop, so you can "stand over" the bike's top tube with your feet flat on the ground. That's a very basic skill, and having a frame that allows you to do this (have adequate standover clearance over the top tube) is one of the key factors in whether a frame fits you or not. Trying to fit a frame so that you can put the balls of your feet on the ground while in the saddle is incorrect, and if you can do this it indicates your saddle is too low for proper leg extension when pedaling.............Electra bikes, I've noticed, is making some bikes these days that address this issue. The "Townie" models put the rider in a sort of semi-recumbent position, so that a rider's feet can be planted firmly on the ground while in the saddle. It's very unconventional frame geometry, however, and the bikes are a few hundred bucks, and are intended for very casual riding such as "coffee shop runs" or bike path cruising. Nothing wrong with that, but if you want to do more, the "Townie" is not the bike for you.
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Old 07-06-06, 11:16 AM
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I agree with the above about position. My girlfriend is 5'5" and I had a hard time finding a bike to fit her and she can't comfortably stand over her 52cm frame but she WANTED to ride and is now very comfortable on her bike. I explained to her that she shouldn't be able to put her feet on the ground and she got used to it. If your GF is too scared to really go for it maybe cycling isn't for her?
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Old 07-06-06, 12:51 PM
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I am 5' tall. I have a 44cm Specialized Dolce Elite WSD. I have short legs. I can't touch both my feet on the ground when I come to a stop if I try to stay in the saddle. I can, however, do a proper stand-over on my bicycle. It has 700 x 23 wheels, and no, I have never, in the year I've had my DE, had any problems getting my toes caught in the front wheel whilst taking a turn.

Now, this is in the Classic & Vintage Forum. My DE is not (yet) a classic or vintage bicycle, nor do I think it comes under the heading of 'cheap', but this is just to reiterate what others have posted--it's necessary to get used to it, and it's like learning to use clipless pedals--take it slow and easy.

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Old 07-06-06, 02:50 PM
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How about this? If you are willing to drop the cash.

45cm frame on eBay
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Old 07-06-06, 04:45 PM
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I just put this tiny Terry-like bike on eBay.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...MESE%3AIT&rd=1

I apologize if posting something like this is frowned upon, but it'd be nice if this found a good home. It's nothing fancy, but it's cheaper than the Terry's etc. and it looks like it wasn't ridden very much. It's 40cm c-c/44cm c-t. Oh, and the toptube is 50cm c-c.

Happy hunting!
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Old 07-06-06, 04:59 PM
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Most beginners want to be able to have both feet flat on the ground while sitting on the saddle. They also end up pedalling with the arches of their feet. (I've always wondered why unicyclists in circuses pedal with their arches.) I don't know about the rest of you, but I learned to ride as a kid on a borrowed adult ladies bike. I know kids who learned on mens bikes by stepping through the frame. There is no way we could even sit on the seat, let alone put our feet on the grownd while seated. I guess by the time one is 25 years old, learning to ride a bike and falling off would be a lot more difficult and embarassing that it would be for a kid, same as learning to dance or swim.
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Old 07-07-06, 01:45 AM
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Originally Posted by cyclotoine
If your GF is too scared to really go for it maybe cycling isn't for her?
I wonder that too, but I'm not so sure for two reasons. Most of us learned to ride when we were what, 4? 5? At that age, our parents can make us keep trying, plus, falling off, having a tantrum, kicking the bike, saying you're never going to ride again, and running off hiding behind the fence to cry are all considered normal parts of learning to ride a bike. An adult trying to ride for the first time often experiences the same feelings, but instead of being able to react that way, they have to choke it down, and just feel terribly embarrased that they fell off a stationary bike at 25 years old. I think it's reasonable to go to a little more trouble to get her over the hump.

Secondly, driving didn't come easily to her either. When we got together, she had had a driving license for 6 years, but had never driven in that time, and was deathly scared of it. I went through a lot of riding around with her, dealing with it when she lost her temper because she didn't know what to do, or it was too hard, or she was scared. It took months before the prospect of driving somewhere didn't make her scared, but she won, and now drives wherever with no problems. I'm sure cycling can be the same, but I need to help her learn and get her confidence on a bike that allows her to do it. It's cool that some people can just be told (it's supposed to be like that), and get on with it, but not everyone is the same.

In a way, she doesn't want to ride, but in another way she does. It's a big hobby for me, my son loves it too, and she doesn't want to be on the outside. She didn't want to drive either, but she sure is glad she can now.
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Old 07-07-06, 06:17 AM
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I too still fear driving. Maybe it's a heightened awareness that causes the fear but since years of driving I have confidence and now fear has become respect for automobiles and driving; which I believe makes me a better driver.

I also remember learning to ride a bicycle as it were yesterday. The bicycle was way too big for me as I had to climb a small wall and hold onto a fence to mount and dismount. I fell some, mostly from testing the limits when turning. I learned to ride mostly in an open school yard so when I got going it was smooth riding without obstacles. The feeling of freedom when riding a bicycle is indescribable for me. I love it.

It was personal determination to learn to drive and ride that over came my fear.

Today at 10:00 am I am going on about a 30 mile bicycle ride and I am just as excited as I was as a kid riding in the school yard.

 
Old 07-07-06, 07:03 AM
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Maybe she'd be more comfortable on a mixte. I just bought this one for my wife:

http://community.webshots.com/photo/...68014369WZYNih

The seat tube is very short, like on a modern compact frame. You could lower the seat to her comfort level and gradually raise it to where it should be as she gains confidence.

Just a thought.
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Old 07-07-06, 07:15 AM
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I do have a mixte which I was building up for her, and I guess my answer is to finish that. It's not as light as I could like, but it'll be better overall than her mtb. It's a bit of a Frankenbike, having started with the remains of a low end 70's Jacques Anquetil that I pulled out of a hedge. It still has the original deralleiurs (we'll see how long those last!), and centrepulls, but I've replace the stem, and the new one I've installed backwards, bringing the bars closer instead of further away, and also put on north road type bars. It's also got an odd mix of wheels from other bikes (the ones on it had been kicked to crap) and a nice wide saddle. It may suit her, but I still have a hankering to put her on a really sexy bike!
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Old 07-07-06, 07:22 AM
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I'd like to butt in for a quick question: where did you all find your tiny mixte frames? I've been looking around here for over a month, and it's been a total bust so far. My friend really wants a nice, small bike (she's 5' tall).
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Old 07-07-06, 07:51 AM
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I think this one is kind of sexy:

http://tinyurl.com/pnegj
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Old 07-07-06, 09:45 AM
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Ooooh, that one is lovely dirtdrop! Peripatetic, the Mixte I have would be too big for her - Gill is 5"2 or 3, and it's just ok for her.
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Old 07-07-06, 11:06 AM
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I got mine on eBay. The seller says it's a 49cm. I haven't checked it.
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