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Searching for a Womens All-Road Bike Frame

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Searching for a Womens All-Road Bike Frame

Old 12-14-16, 01:33 PM
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Searching for a Womens All-Road Bike Frame

My wife is looking to buy a new bike - preferably in the all-road category so she can use it for regular road rides as well as rail trails. She currently has a 44cm Bianchi Volpe from 2006, which SHOULD fit the bill but it doesn't seem to fit her. She's 5'5" with a short torso and long legs. I've tried moving the saddle forward and backward, as well as a selection of stems/heights. No matter what she has way too much pressure on her hands and can't reach the hoods.

We went to an LBS that sells Giant/Liv bikes and had her sit on this one (in size Small):
https://www.liv-cycling.com/us/avail-3
She loved the fit! She finally didn't feel like she was falling forward onto the handlebars. Surprisingly the handlebars were actually farther away on this bike and she was stretched out more but for whatever reason it worked for her. She said that sitting on the saddle upright without touching the handlebars she could still feel the difference.

The problem is that it's kind of a cheap bike with crappy components plus can't fit bigger tires.

In comparing the geometry of the two bikes I can't find much of a difference, the top tube length is similar, as well as the seat and head tube angles. The Liv has a longer top tube but the Bianchi currently has a short/high stem on it.
Bianchi Geometry: Volpe | Bianchi USA

So my question to you: what else is out there that would fit similar to the Liv Avail? We have several bike's worth of high quality parts so we're open to either a full bike or a frame. But I'm pretty unfamiliar with the Womens-specific bike market so I don't know which brands have a specially-designed frame and which just use a small men's frame with narrow handlebars, etc.

Thanks!
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Old 12-14-16, 02:06 PM
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Specialized makes a number of women specific bikes. How does this look?

https://www.specialized.com/us/en/wo...omp-evo/126244
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Old 12-14-16, 02:28 PM
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The Avail comes in a few models with different configurations (Tiagra, 105 and up), though only the base model comes with rim brakes.
https://www.liv-cycling.com/us/bikes/on-road/endurance

There's also the Liv Invite Comax which fits up to 32-35 tyres, IIRC.
https://www.liv-cycling.com/us/bikes-invite-comax
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Old 12-14-16, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by kuroba View Post
The Avail comes in a few models with different configurations (Tiagra, 105 and up), though only the base model comes with rim brakes.
https://www.liv-cycling.com/us/bikes/on-road/endurance

There's also the Liv Invite Comax which fits up to 32-35 tyres, IIRC.
https://www.liv-cycling.com/us/bikes-invite-comax
Do you know if the Avail can accommodate wider tires (in the 32-35 range)? I'm not worried about rim vs. disc but the tire clearance is a deal breaker.
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Old 12-14-16, 04:01 PM
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Most "road" bikes aren't going to accommodate tires larger than 28c, so you would probably be better off looking at the gravel/adventure category. Liv has the Invite adventure bike in a couple different trims, the better of which kuroba linked above. It comes with 32c tires and seems to be what you're looking for unless you're specifically looking for higher spec components.
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Old 12-14-16, 04:08 PM
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Falling onto the handlebars? Did you check saddle tilt?
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Old 12-14-16, 05:20 PM
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Can't beat this for $600 + tax



Create New Customer Account

Fork DBR Podium Airformed Disc Alloy, 1.5" Taper Alloy Steerer
Cranks Shimano FC-RS500 Compact, 50/34T
Bottom Bracket Shimano Outboard Bearing
Front Derailleur Shimano 105 FD-5800, 31.8
Rear Derailleur Shimano 105 RD-5800
Shifter Shimano 105 ST-5800, Dual Control 11spd
Brake Levers Shimano 105 ST-5800, Dual Control 11spd
Brakes Avid BB5 Road Disc 160/140mm Rotors
Cogset Shimano CS-5800 105 11spd (11-32t)
Rims HED Flanders C2+ Disc, 24h/24h
Tires Michelin Dynamic Sport 700x28c
Pedals Wellgo Alloy Road
Handlebar DBR Drop Bar Road 31.8
Stem DB Devine Series Road, +/-7° Rise 31.8
Seatpost DB Devine series, Alloy Micro Adjust 27.2mm
Seat DB Devine Performance Womens Road
Headset FSA C-40 Sealed 1-1/8"/1.5" ACB Integrated
Chain KMC X11L
Front Hub Alloy 24h, 6-Bolt Disc
Rear Hub Alloy 24h, 6-Bolt Disc Cassette
Spokes 14g Stainless Steel
Grips DBR Race Tape w/Gel
Extras Owner’s Manual
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Old 12-14-16, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Elvo View Post
Can't beat this for $600 + tax



Create New Customer Account

Fork DBR Podium Airformed Disc Alloy, 1.5" Taper Alloy Steerer
Cranks Shimano FC-RS500 Compact, 50/34T
Bottom Bracket Shimano Outboard Bearing
Front Derailleur Shimano 105 FD-5800, 31.8
Rear Derailleur Shimano 105 RD-5800
Shifter Shimano 105 ST-5800, Dual Control 11spd
Brake Levers Shimano 105 ST-5800, Dual Control 11spd
Brakes Avid BB5 Road Disc 160/140mm Rotors
Cogset Shimano CS-5800 105 11spd (11-32t)
Rims HED Flanders C2+ Disc, 24h/24h
Tires Michelin Dynamic Sport 700x28c
Pedals Wellgo Alloy Road
Handlebar DBR Drop Bar Road 31.8
Stem DB Devine Series Road, +/-7° Rise 31.8
Seatpost DB Devine series, Alloy Micro Adjust 27.2mm
Seat DB Devine Performance Womens Road
Headset FSA C-40 Sealed 1-1/8"/1.5" ACB Integrated
Chain KMC X11L
Front Hub Alloy 24h, 6-Bolt Disc
Rear Hub Alloy 24h, 6-Bolt Disc Cassette
Spokes 14g Stainless Steel
Grips DBR Race Tape w/Gel
Extras Owner’s Manual
$600? You sure? With the exception of the fork, that looks like the women's equivalent of my DB Haanjo Comp, which retailed for $1600.
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Old 12-14-16, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
$600? You sure? With the exception of the fork, that looks like the women's equivalent of my DB Haanjo Comp, which retailed for $1600.
AIREN 1
LIST PRICE $1,400.00
PRICE $599.99

Limited sizes though
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Old 12-14-16, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Elvo View Post
AIREN 1
LIST PRICE $1,400.00
PRICE $599.99

Limited sizes though
Okay, gotcha. Yeah, that'd be tough to beat if the right size is available (I got mine for $550 from REI as a buyer's remorse return, FWIW).
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Old 12-14-16, 07:59 PM
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There's nothing magic about a women's specific frame. I'm a woman, also 5'5", and I have four bikes, only one of which is a WSD (my mountain bike).

The deal with women's specific bikes is often the entire package makes more sense for women, less components need to be swapped out. The WSD bikes come with narrower bars, a woman's saddle, sometimes shorter cranks, sometimes smaller hoods. So a WSD can save women $ but they don't necessarily fit better. They might. But many men's bikes will also fit and including them on your shopping list will very much broaden your options.

Are you sure that Bianchi is the right size for her? My BMC GF01 is a 51cm and my Trek Madone is a 52 cm. Those are relaxed road bike fits. My TT bike is a 49 cm and typically a TT bike is a bit undersized compared to a road bike. It might be that she is on too small of a frame right now.
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Old 12-14-16, 08:54 PM
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Originally Posted by xg5a View Post
My wife is looking to buy a new bike - preferably in the all-road category so she can use it for regular road rides as well as rail trails. She currently has a 44cm Bianchi Volpe from 2006, which SHOULD fit the bill but it doesn't seem to fit her. She's 5'5" with a short torso and long legs. I've tried moving the saddle forward and backward, as well as a selection of stems/heights. No matter what she has way too much pressure on her hands and can't reach the hoods.

We went to an LBS that sells Giant/Liv bikes and had her sit on this one (in size Small):
https://www.liv-cycling.com/us/avail-3
She loved the fit! She finally didn't feel like she was falling forward onto the handlebars. Surprisingly the handlebars were actually farther away on this bike and she was stretched out more but for whatever reason it worked for her. She said that sitting on the saddle upright without touching the handlebars she could still feel the difference.

The problem is that it's kind of a cheap bike with crappy components plus can't fit bigger tires.

In comparing the geometry of the two bikes I can't find much of a difference, the top tube length is similar, as well as the seat and head tube angles. The Liv has a longer top tube but the Bianchi currently has a short/high stem on it.
Bianchi Geometry: Volpe | Bianchi USA

So my question to you: what else is out there that would fit similar to the Liv Avail? We have several bike's worth of high quality parts so we're open to either a full bike or a frame. But I'm pretty unfamiliar with the Womens-specific bike market so I don't know which brands have a specially-designed frame and which just use a small men's frame with narrow handlebars, etc.

Thanks!
Saddle angle, shape, and setback
Her reaction to the fit might be related to a different saddle setback from her current bike. The correct front to back tilt and the distance from her seatbones to the crank could affect the weight on her hands. And even the saddle height to the pedals could affect the feel. (Saddle can have different nose lengths, so it's somewhat hard to measure between different saddles. But you could estimate the seatbones location on the saddle and measure the distance to a vertical plumb line to the crank axle.)

And the bars size and shape can make a big difference, too. "Shallow drop" bars are pretty common now, and work well for many riders.

Comparing
I used Stack and Reach to compare my old bike to some new ones I was interested in. The remaining measure is where the saddle is located, but there's a lot of flexibility on saddle position with different setback seatposts.

There's a limit on how many 10mm spacers can be put under the stem. Usually 30 to 40mm is the maximum.

That Avail 3 in size Small is 550mm stack, and 372mm reach.

The Specialized Dolce mentioned above in size 48cm is 532mm stack, and 370mm reach. So, these bars would be 18mm lower, about two 10mm spacers. And the reach is essentially the same. (But, since the rider is bent over more, that also affects the distance to the bars.)
In size 51cm it's 548mm stack, and again 370mm reach. Oh, very close, within 2mm of the Avail 3.

The Diamondback Airen-1 (fixed the link)
In XS/50cm is 535mm stack, 366mm reach.
In S/52cm is 558mm stack, 370mm reach. This is very close to the Avail 3, only 8mm taller stack. Just dropping one 10mm spacer (I'm assuming the Avail 3 had a couple of spacers on the demo bike) would essentially duplicate the Avail 3.

Stack and Reach:
Center to center from the crank axle to the the center of the frame headset. It's quite easy to measure your current bike (within a few mm accuracy) with a weighted string and a level.Convert inches to mm on google search, like this: 15 3/16 inches in mm


Last edited by rm -rf; 12-14-16 at 09:26 PM.
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Old 12-15-16, 05:26 AM
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Originally Posted by xg5a View Post
Do you know if the Avail can accommodate wider tires (in the 32-35 range)? I'm not worried about rim vs. disc but the tire clearance is a deal breaker.
I haven't seen the bike in person, but according to this Bike Radar review clearance is for 28mm but you could probably fit a 30mm tire there.

If you want larger tires you probably need to look into "adventure road" bikes, like the Invite or the Specialized Dolce Evo (the women's Diverge).
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Old 12-15-16, 06:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Heathpack View Post
There's nothing magic about a women's specific frame. I'm a woman, also 5'5", and I have four bikes, only one of which is a WSD (my mountain bike).
.
This is true.

Statistically speaking, women are proportionately the same as men, but are smaller overall.

So you might look at non-woman-specific frames too.

I've built up three bikes from non-woman-specific frames for the women in my life and they work great.
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Old 12-15-16, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by rm -rf View Post
Saddle angle, shape, and setback
Her reaction to the fit might be related to a different saddle setback from her current bike. The correct front to back tilt and the distance from her seatbones to the crank could affect the weight on her hands. And even the saddle height to the pedals could affect the feel. (Saddle can have different nose lengths, so it's somewhat hard to measure between different saddles. But you could estimate the seatbones location on the saddle and measure the distance to a vertical plumb line to the crank axle.)

And the bars size and shape can make a big difference, too. "Shallow drop" bars are pretty common now, and work well for many riders.

Comparing
I used Stack and Reach to compare my old bike to some new ones I was interested in. The remaining measure is where the saddle is located, but there's a lot of flexibility on saddle position with different setback seatposts.

There's a limit on how many 10mm spacers can be put under the stem. Usually 30 to 40mm is the maximum.

That Avail 3 in size Small is 550mm stack, and 372mm reach.

The Specialized Dolce mentioned above in size 48cm is 532mm stack, and 370mm reach. So, these bars would be 18mm lower, about two 10mm spacers. And the reach is essentially the same. (But, since the rider is bent over more, that also affects the distance to the bars.)
In size 51cm it's 548mm stack, and again 370mm reach. Oh, very close, within 2mm of the Avail 3.

The Diamondback Airen-1 (fixed the link)
In XS/50cm is 535mm stack, 366mm reach.
In S/52cm is 558mm stack, 370mm reach. This is very close to the Avail 3, only 8mm taller stack. Just dropping one 10mm spacer (I'm assuming the Avail 3 had a couple of spacers on the demo bike) would essentially duplicate the Avail 3.

Stack and Reach:
Center to center from the crank axle to the the center of the frame headset. It's quite easy to measure your current bike (within a few mm accuracy) with a weighted string and a level.Convert inches to mm on google search, like this: 15 3/16 inches in mm

I think the stack/reach is the exact right way to go - makes total sense to me. She's actually going for a bike fitting next week, which should establish the saddle to pedals distance (which like you said is easy to match on a bike). Then she'll get pedals to handlebar coordinates too, which can be extrapolated back to stack/reach given a certain handlebar/stem combo.

And then the 2nd part of the whole thing: I've read that when they slacken the headtube of small frames to make the reach shorter/eliminate toe overlap, that can increase the trail and wheel flop a lot and make handling strange. I found this article which seems really good
The Problem with Women - Slowtwitch.com
A lot of the bikes suggested on here keep the same fork throughout the sizes, and they do slacken the HT as the size gets smaller. So, what's a reasonable trail number for a bike like this? Do you think bikes like the Dolce or the Invite will have strange handling compared to a bigger bike?
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Old 12-15-16, 01:51 PM
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I would fit her up on this Cannondale. Get an appropriate stem (length and height) and she will have a comfy, and cutting edge all road bike.
Happy wife, happy life!

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Old 12-15-16, 02:30 PM
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If she liked the Liv, why not look at the Liv Brava: https://www.liv-cycling.com/us/bikes-brava-slr.

I'll add, my wife has four bikes, two road, one cross and one MTB. Her MTB and one of her road bikes are WSD. The other two are not. She likes them all the same.
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Old 12-17-16, 07:02 AM
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Jamis Xenith Endura Femme, has pretty much the same stack and reach as the 50cm Airen-1.

Supposedly it fits 32c tires front and rear.
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Old 12-17-16, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by xg5a View Post
My wife is looking to buy a new bike - preferably in the all-road category so she can use it for regular road rides as well as rail trails. She currently has a 44cm Bianchi Volpe from 2006, which SHOULD fit the bill but it doesn't seem to fit her. She's 5'5" with a short torso and long legs. I've tried moving the saddle forward and backward, as well as a selection of stems/heights. No matter what she has way too much pressure on her hands and can't reach the hoods.

We went to an LBS that sells Giant/Liv bikes and had her sit on this one (in size Small):
https://www.liv-cycling.com/us/avail-3
She loved the fit! She finally didn't feel like she was falling forward onto the handlebars. Surprisingly the handlebars were actually farther away on this bike and she was stretched out more but for whatever reason it worked for her. She said that sitting on the saddle upright without touching the handlebars she could still feel the difference.
So I didn't do any geometry comparisons, but if you want an all-road bike, why aren't you looking at the Liv all-road category bikes?
https://www.liv-cycling.com/us/bikes/x-road/adventure
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