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Bike Fitting Question--Newbie

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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

Bike Fitting Question--Newbie

Old 02-09-13, 01:55 PM
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Mickey Demian
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Bike Fitting Question--Newbie

Hello All:
I'm a newbie to the forum and am impressed with the inormation presented here. My son is into road biking and he wishes to buy his wife a bike so she may accompany him. As a gift I was wanted to suprise them both and get her a bicycle. She is a petite 5'4" person and my question is on bike size. I realize it would be best to take her to a LBS and test fit her, but I was wondering if anyone had any standard rules of thumb to go by. I'm torn between either a 50cm or 52 cm road bicycle for her size. I'm looking at Specialized Allez models that are not woman specific design. Any opinions on standards of height verus bike size?
Thank You for any input: Mickey Demian
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Old 02-09-13, 01:59 PM
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seymour1910
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More to it than just height. She may have long legs and a short torso which would change her reach. The best you will be able to get without her getting on the bike is a ballpark answer. Don't let that discourage you, once you buy it, you will have the option of then taking it in for them to fit it to her. Maybe all that will be needed is seat adjustment and maybe a different size stem. At 5'4" a 50 should be fine...others will offer more.
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Old 02-09-13, 02:20 PM
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I say either get a gift certificate or purchase form a store that will allow you to make an exchange for a different size (make sure the store has both sizes in stock first).
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Old 02-09-13, 02:25 PM
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NMBuff
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Typically women tend to have shorter torsos than men, but longer legs, proportionally speaking.

Find a LBS with a good return policy and go from there. I've found when purchasing expensive items for people that it's best to buy it without them there so they don't feel guilty into getting something of lesser quality due to price. Spend what you wish and if they return it to get a more expensive bike then that can do that or save their money for the crap ton of accessories (or even color of the initial bike).

50 would probably be better for her. I'm a 5'6" man and I ride a 51. Things like the handlebars may be a bit too wide if you get her a "man's" bike, but that depends on that specific model. There's a lot to consider when sizing.

Find out if the shop you bought the bike does professional fittings ($100-$200) and spring for that as part of the purchase or wait to see if she gets hooked (e.g. buys clipless, etc...) and then purchase it. A basic fitting should be standard with the purchase from any reputable bike shop.

I just had a professional fitting done and even though they only moved the seat up a bit, changed the position of my cleats on my shoes, lowered my handlebars and changed the angle it feels like a completely different bike now than when I first got it. It took 3 hours to assess everything, but it was definitely worth the $130 I paid for it. Luckily in my case the fitter didn't feel that I needed a new seat, a different stem or wider/shorter handlebars. He took a before--well not really before, but half-way through--and an after shot and there was a noticeable difference.
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Old 02-09-13, 04:29 PM
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rebel1916
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52 would probably be big.
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Old 02-09-13, 04:39 PM
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I'm 5'2" and ride a 47 and a 48. 52 is too big. 50 may also be too big. Make sure you can exchange it for one that fits!
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Old 02-09-13, 05:18 PM
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robbyville
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Hi Mickey,

What a wonderful gift! I think you've gotten some useful advice here, I do think it adds to the gift to have the bike there and would agree to make sure to use a shop that will do a fitting and returns for sizing. I would personally suggest that you stick with the 50cm (I've sold a lot of bikes in my previous careers), it would most probably be a better jumping off point. And lastly, women have very different dimensions from men, I really think you should consider a woman's version if offered from the various companies, they tend to need fewer adjustments, saddle changes, etc.

good luck!
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Old 02-09-13, 06:04 PM
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no1mad 
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Originally Posted by Mickey Demian View Post
Hello All:
I'm a newbie to the forum and am impressed with the inormation presented here. My son is into road biking and he wishes to buy his wife a bike so she may accompany him. As a gift I was wanted to suprise them both and get her a bicycle. She is a petite 5'4" person and my question is on bike size. I realize it would be best to take her to a LBS and test fit her, but I was wondering if anyone had any standard rules of thumb to go by. I'm torn between either a 50cm or 52 cm road bicycle for her size. I'm looking at Specialized Allez models that are not woman specific design. Any opinions on standards of height verus bike size?
Thank You for any input: Mickey Demian
No offense, but does she know about this? Also, just because your keen on the Allez doesn't mean she will like it... can't tell you the number of bikes I liked on paper/monitor but then changed my mind after laying hands on/test rides.
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Old 02-09-13, 07:26 PM
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I wanted to buy my wife a bike for her birthday (I knew she wanted one). But rather than buying it for her, I took her around to the good LBS and had her test ride bikes. It's a good thing that I did because the bike that I thought she'd like did not interest her much. She went for a racier model instead. I was glad that I had not bought a bike without having her test ride it.

I know you want to do something nice, but it's only nice if she really wants to ride, and if you luck out and get a bike that suits what she wants.
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Old 02-09-13, 07:44 PM
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valygrl
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Yeah actually someone bought me a custom bike that did not fit once. That was horrible. I rode that too-big MTb for two years.
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Old 02-09-13, 10:56 PM
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Will Goes Boing
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I work at a bike shop and can tell you from personal experience that purchasing a bike for her based on her height alone is a bad idea. Sometimes it's hard enough to find the right fit when the customer is there to actually try them out.

The problem is that depending on the brand, the frame geometry will vary thus making the bike feel very different even though they're the same size. A 54 in a men's bike would be WAY too big for her. That's what I ride and I'm 5'10 w/ a 32" inseam.

I would stick with a women's specific bike, and I know you want to surprise them with an actual bike but it'll be much better for her to actually be at your LBS to get fitted and go on test rides.
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Old 02-10-13, 12:07 AM
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Color. Women are all about color. Good luck picking the right color:-)
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Old 02-11-13, 07:04 AM
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Mickey Demian
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Thank You All for your input. I see its not as simpe as i thought--which is just about how life is in general.
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Old 02-11-13, 12:27 PM
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I'll second looking at womens specific designs for a newbie. The seat will be wider and the geometry tuned to the "average" woman.In the specialized line that would be the Dolce in aluminum and the Ruby in carbon and of course within those there are close to half a dozen choices each depending on component level. I see plenty of experienced women on a mens bike but for a newbie I'd want to do all I could to enhance her experience.
Good luck!
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