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Cyclocross & Commuter Advice for a petite lady

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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Cyclocross & Commuter Advice for a petite lady

Old 03-05-10, 07:02 PM
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Cyclocross & Commuter Advice for a petite lady

Hi There,

I'm considering getting a cyclocross cross bike for my daily commute and potentially to start a few races. I'm on a budget AND I'm only 5'1. Ideally I would spend no more than $500 and I would love to find something used. Any advice on what to look for?
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Old 03-05-10, 08:39 PM
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It's tough to find a good cyclocross bike, even used, for $500. It also might be a little tough to find a good cyclocross bike for someone your size. Bikesdirect.com has some cross bikes in that price range, but determining whether or not their sizes are good for you could be a problem.

I mentioned in another thread that I bought an earlier 90's Specialized Hardrock for my daughter so she could try cyclocross racing. She's about 4'10" and the 13.5" model I got is just a little big. This bike was originally marketed as a mountain bike, but it's got a rigid fork and cantilever brakes. A good bike co-op could help you put drop bars on a bike like this and it would be a great commuter and a decent bike for trying out 'cross racing.
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Old 03-05-10, 09:55 PM
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Hello Jaimeltx welcome to the forum. I agree with Andy on most all points. a used "real" cross bike is hard find and expensise. BikesDirect does have lots of good inexpensive bikes but then you need to have someone build it.

my first suggestion is to go to a bikeshop and see about what size bike you want. depending where you live and the lenght of your commute you might be able to use a older ATB or a road bike. a steel road bike should be able to take a 28 or 30 width tire.

maybe we can find a BFr in your area to help you out.

OH Erika in Noe Valley is selling a nice looking Bianchi ATB https://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/bik/1630711475.html
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Old 03-06-10, 04:32 PM
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Thanks for the great advice. I'm going to test a few models out today and keep my eyes open for a small steel road bike. Maybe I'll end up getting two bikes since I like the idea of converting an old Mtn bike for the cyclocross.
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Old 03-06-10, 11:41 PM
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Didn't catch where you are, but they are out there. I'm in a similar boat without the size restriction. I'm looking for a. Al framed, CF forked, 105 equipped 54cm CX bike. Oh, and I want it for $500 or so. I've come close, just missing on size. Craigslist is the best bet so far, Ebay bikes end up going for higher prices, can't be tried out and shipping adds a lot.
Right now I know of an Ultegra bike in a 61 for $500 and recently have seen 52's and 56's meeting my specs go for $500-600; even a 56 that went for $300 in a hurry.
Most of these will be 3-8 years or so old. Some of the Tiagra/Sora equipped bikes go for the sub $500 range.
Cross season just ended, so hopefully people will be getting rid of bikes and we'll both have new rides soon.
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Old 03-06-10, 11:44 PM
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Originally Posted by jaimeltx
Hi There,

I'm considering getting a cyclocross cross bike for my daily commute and potentially to start a few races. I'm on a budget AND I'm only 5'1. Ideally I would spend no more than $500 and I would love to find something used. Any advice on what to look for?
26" wheels....
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Old 03-08-10, 07:15 PM
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Thoughts on this setup

I found this one on craigslist. Any thoughts?


" New frame and carbon fork built with new and used parts. 44cm frame with 51cm top tube, fits like 48cm road bike, 5'-5'4" more or less. New 9 speed Tiagra (12-25) cassette, 105 chain, 105 front hub on Mavic Open Sport rim, cantilever brakes, cables, housing, cinelli bar tape, Ritchey headset, Bontrager carbon post. Used Shimano Tiagra shifters, Xt rear derailleur, 105 front derailleur, Shimano one-sided clipless pedals, Sugino crank (170mm, 39/50), Shimano sealed bottom bracket, Bontrager saddle, Panaracer cross blaster tires or Continental 700x25 Gatorskins, 3t forgie stem (9cm), Deda 215 bar (42cm), Mavic Cosmos rear wheel. "
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Old 03-08-10, 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by jaimeltx
I found this one on craigslist. Any thoughts?


" New frame and carbon fork built with new and used parts. 44cm frame with 51cm top tube, fits like 48cm road bike, 5'-5'4" more or less. New 9 speed Tiagra (12-25) cassette, 105 chain, 105 front hub on Mavic Open Sport rim, cantilever brakes, cables, housing, cinelli bar tape, Ritchey headset, Bontrager carbon post. Used Shimano Tiagra shifters, Xt rear derailleur, 105 front derailleur, Shimano one-sided clipless pedals, Sugino crank (170mm, 39/50), Shimano sealed bottom bracket, Bontrager saddle, Panaracer cross blaster tires or Continental 700x25 Gatorskins, 3t forgie stem (9cm), Deda 215 bar (42cm), Mavic Cosmos rear wheel. "
No, you're 5'1"... i think that bike maybe be a little big, unless you have longer than average arms. You should just goto a shop, try something to figure out your size. I suggested a 26" wheel bike(harder to locate yes) because when you get into the small sizes and try to use 700c wheels sacrifices have to be made by the designer in regard to handling... also 170mm cranks are too long for your legs, you'll want 165 or less and probably need short-reach brake levers.

Just a guess.
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Old 03-09-10, 06:10 AM
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My wife raced her first season of cross on a vintage Trek 8000 with aluminum frame and steel fork that I got off eBay for $250 (if memory serves). Great bike, she also raced MTB on it, and now it's converted to singlespeed. You can find mtb, road, and cross tires for 26".
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Old 03-09-10, 08:42 AM
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this is probably out of your price point, but surly makes a cross check frame in a 42 and a 46?? It's a pretty versatile frame that you can use for touring,cyclocross, ss, fixed, etc.. I would spend the $$ on a frame that fits then start with lower components thatyou can find on craigs...then make your way up as time/$$ becomes available. How many gears are you tryingto build it into? 18, 20, 1x9, 1X8. How hilly is your commute?
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Old 03-16-10, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by bluenote157
this is probably out of your price point, but surly makes a cross check frame in a 42 and a 46?? It's a pretty versatile frame that you can use for touring,cyclocross, ss, fixed, etc.. I would spend the $$ on a frame that fits then start with lower components thatyou can find on craigs...then make your way up as time/$$ becomes available. How many gears are you tryingto build it into? 18, 20, 1x9, 1X8. How hilly is your commute?

I found a 42 surly cross check on craigslist with shimano deore in the back and tiagra in the front. That is just about the only information the seller provides. She is firm at $600 and I wanted to get your thoughts on this price. I would rather find something a little cheaper, but I know the surly is a nice bike. Any thoughts are much appreciated.
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Old 03-16-10, 03:45 PM
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Most likely that Cross Check will have bar-end shifters. That's the way they typically come in complete bike builds. If it's in good shape and it fits you and you don't mind bar end shifters, it's a good buy at $600.
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Old 03-16-10, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by jaimeltx
I found a 42 surly cross check on craigslist with shimano deore in the back and tiagra in the front. That is just about the only information the seller provides. She is firm at $600 and I wanted to get your thoughts on this price. I would rather find something a little cheaper, but I know the surly is a nice bike. Any thoughts are much appreciated.
Sounds ok(maybe high if it's over a few years old), but if she is firm maybe you can take it to a shop for an inspection to get the info on it's condition/wear... i think the 42cm come with 26" wheel wheels is good.
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Old 03-20-10, 11:57 AM
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I'm a short guy at 5'4 and I'm happy with my 42 cm Cross Check. I think I could have gone with a 46 cm, because the compact frame gives plenty of standover and seatpost adjustability. OP, it might be worth trying out the 42 cm. Another frame with an even shorter top tube was the Redline Conquest, which has a 510 mm effective top tube length (compared to 522 for the Surly). Before I decided on the Surly, I test rode a women's bike, the Novara Carema at REI. The small size has similar geometry to the 42 cm Cross Check. There's even an XS size on that model, so that may be another good lead. If you wait for the 20% off sale in May, it will go for about $680.

Originally Posted by electrik
i think the 42cm come with 26" wheel wheels is good.
Nope. All Cross Check sizes come with 700c wheels, and the cantilever brake mounts wouldn't allow you to use 26" wheels. Additionally, the bottom bracket height is only 11" or so with 700x28 tires, so putting on a 26" wheel and tire would put it in the range of 10" or so.
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Old 03-22-10, 11:28 AM
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She was firm so I let this one pass. After going to the bike stores, I need a 47 if its a WSD. All the men's bikes get me on the standover.

I did manage to pick up an old Bianchi Project 5 with 650c wheels and good working cantilever brakes, and grip shifts. It fits perfect and is in great condition. After reading up on these bikes, I think I'm going to try and work with the Project 5 until I find a nicer bike which fits my specs. IMHO It's a pretty cool little bike. Thanks for all these suggestions, and now I'll most certainly be asking opinions as I start working on the Project 5.
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Old 03-27-10, 06:47 PM
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Kind of in the same boat

my 13 yr old step daughter thinks that CX races might be fun. Problem is that I'm both unable and unwilling to drop the $ on a dedicated CX rig. We hit all but one LBS in town today. She likes the hardtail mtb's and performance hybrids. And she doesn't particularly care for WSD (prefers more masculine styling).

One guy at one LBS said that we could use a Giant Boulder SE (13") or Felt X-City6 (has to check sizing). Going to check on the availability of Marin Muirwoods as well.

3 different kinds of bikes, but she likes them. Change out the tires and she would be good to go?
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Old 04-04-10, 01:18 AM
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I'm 5'7" and I ride a Bianchi San Jose 52cm. I did need to get the stem up to get a more upright riding position but I'm happy with it.
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