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Gravel/cross bike recommendations for short rider

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Gravel/cross bike recommendations for short rider

Old 11-14-19, 01:24 AM
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sanspm
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Gravel/cross bike recommendations for short rider

I'm short (5'2) with short legs (720cm inseam) and I'm really struggling to find a gravel or cross bike model that works for me. Even the smallest frames tend to have insufficient standover.

I currently ride a Kona Major Jake size 48cm and I have no standover clearance which affects my confidence on the trails. I'm looking for a model that will give me a bit more clearance and can serve as my winter road bike, take me on gravel/fire roads, and have to option to do some cross races. I want something that has wide gearing ratios (wider than my Jake) and I'm considering a 1x set up. I'd like the option to put 28mm tires for winter riding and 40mm tires for gravel grinding. I'd like the option to put 28mm tires for winter riding and 40mm tires for gravel grinding.

Any suggestions for models I should look at? I'm looking to spend <$2000

Last edited by sanspm; 11-14-19 at 11:35 PM. Reason: add more detail
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Old 11-14-19, 05:46 AM
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https://99spokes.com/bikes?brakeKind...erial=aluminum

Standover was set at 700mm max.
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Old 11-14-19, 03:51 PM
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Personally I would look at a brand that has 650 wheels for the smaller sizes in order to keep the handling the same (and reduce toe overlap). Small bikes on 700c wheels need kinda wonky geometry.
Example: Canyon Grail has 650 wheels and is about 2K for the Aluminum version (with the normal handlebar).
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Old 11-16-19, 08:37 PM
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Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
Personally I would look at a brand that has 650 wheels for the smaller sizes in order to keep the handling the same (and reduce toe overlap). Small bikes on 700c wheels need kinda wonky geometry.
Example: Canyon Grail has 650 wheels and is about 2K for the Aluminum version (with the normal handlebar).
Yeah, this makes sense. Maybe a Salsa Journeymay at aroutd $1100, or a small Jamis Renegade (uses either wheelset)? Your sise is not the smallest, and you should be able to find end of season closeouts of your size rigt now when all of teh 56 & 58 sizes are long gone.
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Old 11-19-19, 01:27 AM
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I'm 5'5", and I found standover to be challenge on many bikes, especially those with horizontal top tubes. I ended up with a 52cm Salsa Vaya, which uses 700c wheels. There is a tiny bit of toe overlap using 43mm tires, but it has not been an issue in two years of riding. The sloping top tube helps a lot with standover. I recently put a dropper post on it, and while I did it to get lower on steep gravel descents, it is also quite helpful for just stopping and starting.
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Old 11-21-19, 10:34 PM
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I’m 5’5” and ride a Niner RLT 9 RDO with a 50cm frame and 650 wheels. I am able to stand flat footed with this setup.
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Old 12-09-19, 11:16 PM
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Thanks for the great suggestions! The website 99spokes was especially useful to compare bikes. I have found, however, that there is a great variation in the standover height the manufacturer claims and what it actually is when you throw a leg over the bike, so it seems that manufacturers measure the SO at different spots along the sloping top tube.

I've tried out a Specialized Diverge, Norco Search, Kona Rove, Salsa Journeyman, Cannondale Topstone, and a Trek Checkpoint. The main issue is that while shops usually have a 52 or 54 in stock, it's less common to have anything smaller especially in the mid-level range. I'm pretty reluctant to buy a bike sight unseen so I'm somewhat limited to the "usual" brands found in my area. At least I've determined that I need to have hydraulic brakes because of my short fingers, (affordable) steel is too heavy, and that a 1x drivetrain probably won't be the ideal option for winter riding.

Second follow up question: The Norco Search comes with 650b wheels in the 48 and 700 wheels in the 50.5. The 48 would be a special order but I tried the 50.5 and have sufficient standover and it felt good riding, though it felt better when they put a slightly shorter stem on it. Any thoughts on how a smaller bike with 650b wheels would ride differently from a larger bike with 700 wheels? I'm a weak hill climber, and I'm not really comfortable above 100 rpm for any length of time (I tend to push heavier gears at a lower cadence), and on bikes with a 700 wheel I seem to prefer a crank arm length of 165 (170 feels like too big a circle for my legs), if that makes any difference.

Third follow up question: on something like the Checkpoint, is it possible to have one 700 wheelset (for the road) and a 650b wheelset (for gravel) or do other things have to change when you change wheel sizes so it wouldn't be practical?
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Old 12-10-19, 08:02 AM
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Have you checked one of these out in a XS? https://www.giant-bicycles.com/us/re...dvanced-3-2020
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Old 12-10-19, 09:56 AM
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I'm 5' with 730mm inseam. I currently ride a 42cm x 50cm custom steel gravel bike but I've been looking at getting a 'better' bike and I'm considering these in my size:

- Niner RLT 47cms
- Salsa Vaya 49.5cm
- Breezer Radar 46cms

I prefer 700c wheels, but brands like Surly and All City specially carry gravel/adventure bikes with smaller wheels. On smaller wheels you have less chance of toe overlap (wich TBH I've noticed twice since getting my bike in 2016).
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Old 12-10-19, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by sanspm View Post

Third follow up question: on something like the Checkpoint, is it possible to have one 700 wheelset (for the road) and a 650b wheelset (for gravel) or do other things have to change when you change wheel sizes so it wouldn't be practical?

Many bikes do all allow/facilitate multiple wheel sets. The checkpoint does but cannot run the fattest 650b tires (maybe up to 45 mm).
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Old 12-10-19, 06:21 PM
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I'm a little taller than some of you folks at 5'6.5", but I'm totally sold on the 650B size. Love it for the dirt, and I like it just fine for the road too. I just play around with tire pressure accordingly. And no toe overlap on my 50cm Rove ST. On my 50cm Cross Check with 700 wheels I get toe overlap.

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Old 12-11-19, 10:17 PM
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@hefeweizen the Giant does seem like it might check all my boxes, unfortunately the local Giant shop here doesn't have that model in XS or S

@kuroba and @pbass Good to hear your experiences with the smaller wheels. I guess I must also have short feet (I do!) because I've never had an issue with toe overlap on my 48cm road bikes. Of course, I'm usually just going in a pretty straight line through!

@Cpn_Dunsel I don't think I see myself going any bigger than 40mm on either wheel size. I'm seeing the 650b wheelset as an option to get little more standover rather than a way to get bigger tires. And if I'm already getting a second wheelset to avoid the hassle of constantly switching tires when I go from road to gravel rides, then I thought why not get a set of 650b. So if I understand correctly, I wouldn't need to change anything to any of the bike components (e.g. brakes) and I could just easily swap 700s and 650s whenever I wanted, right?
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Old 12-12-19, 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by sanspm View Post

@Cpn_Dunsel I don't think I see myself going any bigger than 40mm on either wheel size. I'm seeing the 650b wheelset as an option to get little more standover rather than a way to get bigger tires. And if I'm already getting a second wheelset to avoid the hassle of constantly switching tires when I go from road to gravel rides, then I thought why not get a set of 650b. So if I understand correctly, I wouldn't need to change anything to any of the bike components (e.g. brakes) and I could just easily swap 700s and 650s whenever I wanted, right?
Just make sure the cassette on both rear wheels is compatible with the derailleur and you should be all good.

Some bikes like the Salsa Journeyman run the same geometry (exact same frame) for their 650b and 700 bikes. I suspect bikes with the geometry for a fat 650b would create the most options when it can run a 700 wheel. Seems to be more choices in this direction than when converting the other way. On a bike such a Trek Checkpoint ( comes standard 700 wheel set), it seems different models are able to run different width 650b but on all of them the bottom bracket becomes a limiting factor and for me, makes it a less than optimal set-up (a lot of pedal strike potential running the 650b.) If you are substantially lowering your standover than you are also lowering the BB and that might be something for which to be careful.
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