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How to select a womens frame

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How to select a womens frame

Old 07-11-08, 04:59 PM
  #1  
bklein
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How to select a womens frame

My wife finally wants to start riding with me. She is 5'2" (on a good day). The problem is finding a any sort of selection for her in bike shops. They all tell us that women's bikes are special order. I want to find her a comfortable light weight bike. How do women get into cycling if they test ride them first.
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Old 07-11-08, 05:37 PM
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I am starting to think this whole "women specific frame" thing is a bunch of B-S. All men are not the same. Some have longer torsos, shorter legs, shorter torsos, longer legs.... why should it be any different for women? Would'nt you just fit them to the frame like you would a man with the same proportions?
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Old 07-11-08, 05:54 PM
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Don't get hung up on finding a "selection" of bikes for your wife to try. If you find just ONE bike to vaguely fit her you will have performed a miracle. WSD is really just a marketing ploy. Small guys like myself have the same issues as small women and I'm riding a custom, 650c wheeled bike. The only off the shelf bikes that come close to properly fitting someone our height is juvenile racing bikes with 24" wheels. Even off the shelf 650c bikes are too big for me although I am setting high standards here. I would not be buying a 700c wheeled bike for your wife. I know many do and they are what's most commonly available but they don't come close to fitting. The seat tube angles are too steep in an effort to compensate for top tube lengths that are too long at correct seat tube angles caused by wheels that are too big and cranks that are too long.

Often it comes down to this is what the manufacturers will make so it's what you can buy.

Here's my custom 650c wheeled bike with short cranks,



Ohh well thats my usual rant. Honestly, start by looking at juvenile racer bikes or bikes with wheels no larger than 650c. The key problem you will face finding a bike that fits is seat tube angles that are too steep which places too much weight on her hands/shoulders making it quite uncomfortable and tiring to ride any sort of distance and cranks that are too long forcing her knees to rise up high.

Regards, Anthony
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Old 07-11-08, 05:57 PM
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My Girlfriend is having the same problem, though she's 4'11. She fits on "about" a 42cm frame
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Old 07-11-08, 07:26 PM
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Woman's fit is not a marketing ploy if done properly. Some companies take small sizes and put a baby blue paint job on it and call it woman's. No one does woman's specific better than Specialized I believe. The head of the woman's division is quess what a woman. Ask your wife if she has ever used a product supposedly designed for woman that the moment she tried it she knew it had to be designed by a man. If you take a normally porportioned man and woman that are the same height regardless of what their height actually is the woman will have longer legs than the man and the man will have longer torso and arms than the woman. Woman's specific sizing is real. For a woman that is 5'2" a woman's specific Specialized Ruby or Dolce in 48cm would be a good start. Go to Specialized's website there is a section specific to woman's bikes with a ton of information.
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Old 07-11-08, 07:39 PM
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It seems to me that WSD bikes might be especially useful for shorter woman - and even for shorter men. You can find a frame and make it fit, but if you want a bike that not only fits, but which already has shorter cranks, shorter reach handlebar with short reach brake levers, appropriate gearing, a woman's design saddle, look for WSD. These seemingly little details make a huge difference. I just went through this with my daugther (who is even shorter than I am). These are pretty nice ready-made packages, despite what the naysayers say. Most naysayers probably have not had to deal with the problems that shorter people face when buying a road bike.

That being said, I can tell you right now that knowing she is 5'2" is not enough information. It's leg length that matters, and I know for a fact there are many people who are 5'2" or thereabouts who can easily ride a bike with 700c wheels. It's going to be tough finding a decent bike if she has to order one sight unseen though. Like the previous poster mentioned, I liked the Specialized Dolce for my daughter, and that' what she is riding now.

It becomes more difficult if the rider is going to be racing and needs to have the handlebars way lower than the saddle, but for the vast majority of women, this would not be a comfortable set up anyway. Quite often, woman tend to have thighs which are longer compared to the rest of them. This puts them further back on the frame, which requires handlebars which are closer to seat level to avoid excessive and back-breaking bend at the waist.

Last edited by Longfemur; 07-11-08 at 07:44 PM.
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Old 07-11-08, 08:13 PM
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AnthonyG
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The reason why I and a few others say that WSD is a marketing ploy is not because it doesn't provide benefits for women, its just that those same design changes benefit men of the same height too. Its NOT a sex thing, its just size.

I think the fundamental flaw in logic starts when people just assume that the manufacturers wouldn't build a bike if it didn't fit anyone at all and since regular small bikes don't fit women who are most of the people who would look at buying them then in fact they must be designed to fit small men.

WRONG!

They don't fit small men either.

When your talking manufacturing economics then the average rider fits on a medium or large and so most of the parts are designed to be right for a medium or a large. A small or extra small just has the same parts thrown on it as a larger size bike but just with some minor tinkering to the frame geometry. Nothing that costs a lot of money.

Now the reason why small men don't complain about ill fitting bikes is Machismo. I was one of them once. I rode a bike that was WAY too big but I just got on with riding it. I wasn't comfortable and I didn't perform as well as I could but machismo kept me going.

Anyway WSD is an attempt to correct some of the problems of ill fitting bikes for small riders and its a start but usually they still don't address the core problem of cranks that are too long and then they make compensations to correct for this such as steep seat tube angles that just create their own problems. When it comes down to it WSD designs work better for small men to so its NOT a difference of the sexes.

OK, so where were we?

Regards, Anthony

Last edited by AnthonyG; 07-11-08 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 07-11-08, 08:26 PM
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The Giant OCR W series goes down to 43cm with 700C wheels, and they also have a 41cm with 650C's.

The OCR3 is $750 with 2220.
And the OCR1 is $1175 with 105 (Shimano ST-R700 for the womans)

Giant seems to have a good range of sizes and prices. The Womens and Mens Giants are very different frames size for size as well. I don't know how much being a woman or a man effects seat and head angles... but I guess it does.


Last edited by monkeyevil; 07-11-08 at 08:33 PM.
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Old 07-11-08, 08:37 PM
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At 5' myself I test rode both a trek 1600 in the wsd and the men's. The geometry of them were in fact different, and the wsd had 650 wheels as opposed to 700. It just happened the womens' fit me better. Its all about the proportion of your wife in relation to the bike, they may fit differently across different brands and models.

Are you from a small town? Do you have several bike shops in the area to check out? It should not be an issue to test ride a bike. My lbs had 4 in stock that I rode, and they brought in another 3 from one of their other shops in the area within two days. My advice: fine if they have to special order for whatever reason, but you should not have to buy until you ride.
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Old 07-11-08, 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Brian6751 View Post
I am starting to think this whole "women specific frame" thing is a bunch of B-S. All men are not the same. Some have longer torsos, shorter legs, shorter torsos, longer legs.... why should it be any different for women? Would'nt you just fit them to the frame like you would a man with the same proportions?
It's not BS. There usually isn't anything different about the frame other than the color scheme, but what is different is the associated components. Men's bikes will typically come with certain size stems, bars, cranks, saddles, etc. depending on the frame size. For any given frame size, women will typically need narrower bars, shorter reach, etc. And of course what makes a good saddle is typically different for men and women. Of course you can change that stuff out in a fit, but a) not everyone gets a fit done (or done well), and b) why not start as close to a likely setup as possible?
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Old 07-11-08, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by monkeyevil View Post
The Giant OCR W series goes down to 43cm with 700C wheels, and they also have a 41cm with 650C's.

The OCR3 is $750 with 2220.
And the OCR1 is $1175 with 105 (Shimano ST-R700 for the womans)

Giant seems to have a good range of sizes and prices. The Womens and Mens Giants are very different frames size for size as well. I don't know how much being a woman or a man effects seat and head angles... but I guess it does.

I just bought a Giant OCR1W, and after riding both men's and WSD, I chose the OCR1W. I am 5'4" and 115, and this bike fit me perfectly.

I think the fit is key, regardless of the 'gender' of the bike. Go with what works and fits well.
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Old 07-11-08, 09:28 PM
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My wife is also "about 5' 2" on a good day" and I kinda swear by the 650C wheel thing. I know there's arguments for and against, but it sure makes for a more comfortable ride that just "looks" right. I just built up this bike for her and she LOVES it - being new to cycling I kind of knew I had to get it right the first time if she was going to get into it and it's been great. Get small wheels


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Old 07-11-08, 09:57 PM
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Go to a reputable high-end bike shop and get a professional bike fit from trained fitter. Armed with that information, you can start narrowing down your selection in your price range with appropriate geometries. I find that effective top tube is the crucial measurement. Then find nearest dealers, make phone calls, go for test rides. A close fit can be fixed with a different stem.

Drive or fly somewhere with a testable selection, and work with the shop to have them bring in test bikes. It's worth it.

I'm 5'2", ride a women's specific 48cm Wylder w/700c wheels (they're out of business, wish they hadn't folded). I test rode the size smaller which had 650c wheels, and didn't like the handling. I also ride a 17" Trek 520 (not WSD), with a 60mm aftermarket stem. My 5'2" identical twin sister rides a men's Orbea Orca, and used to ride a Cannondale Caad 5.

We both have toe-overlap, but you can live with that. Narrow bars and shorter cranks are important, and saddles are person-specific, so no matter what expect to replace the stock saddle.

Good luck with the search - be patient.
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Old 07-11-08, 10:00 PM
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I ride a Specialized Dolce Vita and I like it a lot.
While women generally have slightly longer legs and shorter torsos proportionately, we have more flexibility to make up for that, and ride "men's" frames comfortably. But our shoulders are significantly more narrow, requiring narrower handlebars. Also smaller hands, requiring shorter reach to the brakes. We also will be carrying more weight on our hands because of our boobies, and often want more padding under the bar tape.
As far as the frame, it doesn't need to be much different for men or women. Not nearly as different as a frame needs to be if you are asian vs. white. Shorter asians will mostly be those needing the jr. bikes, as they have the shortest legs proportionately, regardless of gender. One asian woman I know has basically one bike for her to choose without going custom, even though she is probably 5'1" or 5'2", as she wants to ride 700cs.
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Old 07-11-08, 10:33 PM
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A friend of mine is 5'1" and she rides Specialized Ruby 48cm. It has the benefit of 700c wheels, so there is a wider selection and it's easier to swap wheels with other bikes as well. She loves the bike, rode it through centuries and other long distance rides with no problem. It is quite spendy, though.
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Old 07-11-08, 10:35 PM
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Also, if you tell us where you are at, someone may be able to recommend a store for you.
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Old 07-12-08, 05:50 PM
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We're in Miami
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Old 07-12-08, 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by .Jared View Post
My Girlfriend is having the same problem, though she's 4'11. She fits on "about" a 42cm frame
********** 42 center to top with sloping geometry??? 700c wheels?
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Old 07-12-08, 09:04 PM
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The Giant OCR W series goes down to 43cm with 700C wheels********************

Thats not a 43 cms bike my friend... thats a 50!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Compact Geometry is measured by its lenght, Companies can make the seat tube as short as they wanted to be (tenchically speaking) but they cant go shorter than a 48/50 cms in the TOP TUBE using 700c wheels for obviouses reasons. The 41 cms frame u mention for sure has a tt lenght 46/7 cms, thats the reason because the had to put 650 wheels in that thing. Technically speaking the 41 is like 47.

Good luck.
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