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Most important frame measurement for touring bikes?

Old 03-24-18, 05:36 AM
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bikebasket
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Most important frame measurement for touring bikes?

My girlfriend has been out on a bike everyday now and i think she is overcoming her fear of the traffic, so i reckon she will be ok touring on her own bike. Touch wood.

THE one thing i want to make sure of when buying bikes is comfort and fit with regards to the frame. (from previous bad choices)

I keep reading about the longer top tube length on touring bikes, but then think about the lower back when leaning too far forward.

So when looking at bikes suitable for touring what are the most important observations? Should i take a tape measure for the frame?

Thanks

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Old 03-24-18, 07:42 AM
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For me, the weakest link in the comfort chain is the saddle.


Originally Posted by bikebasket View Post
My girlfriend has been out on a bike everyday now and i think she is overcoming her fear of the traffic, so i reckon she will be ok touring on her own bike. Touch wood.

THE one thing i want to make sure of when buying bikes is comfort and fit with regards to the frame. (from previous bad choices)

I keep reading about the longer top tube length on touring bikes, but then think about the lower back when leaning too far forward.

So when looking at bikes suitable for touring what are the most important observations? Should i take a tape measure for the frame?

Thanks
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Old 03-24-18, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by bikebasket View Post
My girlfriend ......So when looking at bikes suitable for touring what are the most important observations? Should i take a tape measure for the frame?
still in cambodia? unless you're going to import something, you're stuck with a very
limited range. playing geometry is pointless. don't take the tape measure; take the girl.


or....road trip! here's an LHT on vietnam craigslist. super awesome dedicated tour bike.
if it fits, will be much, much better than the generic giant/merida/trek carp you'll find in shops. (about $1000)

https://vietnam.craigslist.org/bik/d...?lang=en&cc=us

or a fuji touring in bangkok (under $500):

https://bangkok.craigslist.co.th/bik...527433375.html

or bike touring company in pattaya selling off their stock of marins
in all sizes (under $400):

https://bangkok.craigslist.co.th/bik...509109636.html

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Old 03-24-18, 08:16 AM
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Sorry for being quite brief here but you touched on a topic that probably has a dozen sub topics.

Back in the days when all bikes had horizontal top tubes, standover height was the most important measure. And the part of the frame that had the greatest correlation to that was the seat tube. Thus, seat tube length was the standard way to size a bike. Standover is still important, but with most bikes having a sloped top tube, in general terms that is less critical.

Back then there also was a theory that you should have a fist full of seatpost showing above the frame.

Top tube, longer top tubes favor flat bars, shorter top tubes are better for drop bars or bull horn bars because with these bars your hands are likely pretty far forward of the stem. You said nothing about bar type for your girl friends bike. Two of my touring bikes are from a company that labeles their frames for drop bars with an S for short top tube and L for long, but that company is the only company that I am aware of that sizes bikes for both seat tube length and also top tube lengths for most of their models.

Not only is top tube a determining factor for how steeply you lean forward, but so is stem. Also some drop bars have more reach than others, some of my drop bars have about 35mm less forward reach than others. The way I measure reach is from the middle of the bar where the bar is attached to the stem, and how far forward to the part of the hoods where the part of your hand between index finger and thumb contacts the hood.

Are you shopping for a bike, is that why you asked? Changing stems to get a better fit is quite common if they are threadless stems. That type of stem can be changed in a few minutes.

And some people slide their saddle far forward compared to bottom bracket, others slide it further back. This is personal preference.

So, if you are comparing one bike to another, if both bikes had drop bars, I would focus on how far forward to that part of the brake hoods from the front of the saddle. And that assumes that the saddles on both bikes are set about the same amount in comparison to the bottom bracket. After looking at that, then compare stand over height to make sure it is adequate.

I have most of my bikes set up so that the top of the drop bars is about 10 to 20 mm below top of saddle. (Most people set them the same height.) And I have them set so that the reach forward from the tip of the saddle to the brakes hoods are the same.

But there is an exception, my folding bike did not come in many sizes, that bike has a much shorter reach so I compensate by having my drop bars much lower on that bike. That way I lean about the same amount forward even though the part of the bars where I grip them are quite different in position.

I am most certain that others here will disagree with my summary. I am not saying I am more right than they are, but this is a topic with many opinions.
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Old 03-24-18, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Back in the days when all bikes had horizontal top tubes, standover height was the most important measure. And the part of the frame that had the greatest correlation to that was the seat tube. Thus, seat tube length was the standard way to size a bike. Standover is still important, but with most bikes having a sloped top tube, in general terms that is less critical.
People are perennially pooh-poohing standover as a "nonimportant" frame measurement. It's not important until it is. For small people, especially women, it's highly important. Most people never give it a second thought but when you small, there are limits to how short the standover height can be and that makes standover a very important measurement...perhaps the most important measurement.

You can probably even experience it yourself on a "normal" frame. Lots of modern mountain bikes with long travel forks and 29er wheels have higher standovers than they should for a "regular" sized frame. Bailing off in rugged terrain and/or a steep slope can make for some very interesting gymnastics. Imagine doing this every time you stop a bike.

Originally Posted by bikebasket View Post
My girlfriend has been out on a bike everyday now and i think she is overcoming her fear of the traffic, so i reckon she will be ok touring on her own bike. Touch wood.

THE one thing i want to make sure of when buying bikes is comfort and fit with regards to the frame. (from previous bad choices)

I keep reading about the longer top tube length on touring bikes, but then think about the lower back when leaning too far forward.

So when looking at bikes suitable for touring what are the most important observations? Should i take a tape measure for the frame?

Thanks
There are lots and lots of opinions out there and too many of them concentrate on only one measurement as the "best". Someone around here used to advocate that the length of the head tube was "the most important measurement". It's actually the least important and the most like measurement to vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

The problem here is that what works for you (or for me or for anyone else) may not work for your girlfriend. She's small and that means that a lot more compromises have to be made to just construct the bike. There is a limit to how the frame can be built based on the wheel size and the ways that the tubes are connected together. It's a problem that most men never face. It also makes most women turn away from bicycling.

Go read Georgena Terry's blog to get some insight into the various problems that women face when fitting bikes. I've found these videos to be extremely helpful in understanding the problem that women face and how it's not really being addressed properly


My wife went through a lot of bikes...and had to be convinced that her bikes were too big along the way...to arrive at the solutions that Terry offers. She had a Symmetry with 2 wheel sizes and that really opened up her eyes to how a bike should fit. She now has an aluminum Symmetry with the same sized wheels and I would have trouble prying it out of her hands. Unfortunately, they aren't made any more.

In terms of bicycles (assuming that you are of average size), you can pick any bike and it will fit well enough for you to get used to it. Your girlfriend is much more difficult. Look for bikes with smaller wheels like 26" (559mm) or 650C (571mm) as well as smaller frames.

Don't buy a mountain bike that is the same size as a road bike, however. Mountain bikes are 2" to 3" shorter to make room for bailing off in rough terrain. That means that if your girlfriend rides a 43 cm road bike (17"), she will need a mountain bike frame that is 14" or even smaller. Don't get a 17" mountain bike since it is sized from someone who is about 6" taller.

Go a light as possible as well. Again, she is smaller and has less muscle mass. You can probably find a bike that is 30% of your weight but that same weight is 40 to 50% or more of her body weight. It makes for a very unpleasant bicycling experience.
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Old 03-24-18, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
People are perennially pooh-poohing standover as a "nonimportant" frame measurement. It's not important until it is. ....
And when I said "..., then compare stand over height to make sure it is adequate." how did you interpret that to mean that it is (to use your word) nonimportant?
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Old 03-24-18, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
People are perennially pooh-poohing ....
+5 for allliteration
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Old 03-24-18, 10:16 AM
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Standover is really important for mountain biking. Touring, not as big a deal.
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Old 03-24-18, 01:49 PM
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1st...........Top tube length
2nd..........Saddle to bar drop
3rd..........Head Tube length as this will effect the the 2nd

Reach is absolutely everything, and all three of the above affect that as far as geometry goes. Also, the stem that you choose can dial in your fit once the correct frame size(ing) is completed.





Last.......................Standover

No one that I have ever seen rides a touring bike sitting on the top tube. As long as you have clearance when standing, you are quite fine. And if you properly fit yourself with the top 3 above, you will very very rarely have an issue with standover if a bike's geometry is designed correctly.
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Old 03-25-18, 02:29 AM
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Cheers for the help people.

Went in a couple of bike shops today. The friendly guy in one took us around his shop and town house. It was packed with bikes and frames from top to bottom on all 3 floors! You couldn't move for bikes. He must sleep with them. Quite a few decent looking Giants, but aluminium frames and steep sloping top tube downhill MTB stylie. The aluminium frames puts me off abit, but could possibly do for the short ass girlfriend as i'm thinking she wont take any bags/load on her bike. Anything with what looks a downhill type MTB frame reminds me of touring and waking up in the night in my tent and feeling like my legs were seized up/didn't want to straighten.

I told him i was interested in steel frames (oooh, steel very heavy, she tired, he said), and i had a look around but the steel bike frames looked either abit too cheap, or abit too small for me. Like nasty cheap.
I toured all around NZ on a cheap Giant steel frame and steel forks with no problems whatsoever. But not that cheap.
Whenever i look at the Surly Long Haul Trucker frame it's like being time warped to the 80's or 90's or something. They built MTB's longer then i guess. I believe the Surly frame is just built with off the shelf 4130 cro mo steel. Nothing fancy. How often do you hear about broken frames on tours?

I found this touring bike sizing page : https://www.backroads.com/why/great_...ng-bike-sizing
Can i just use that for the both of us?
Might give the shop owner some info written down on a sheet of paper on what we want measurements etc, to see if he can dig us something out of the ceiling high piled bike stacks?

The other bike shops didn't seem interested in talking. One came across as almost xenophobic, although he might have just lost interest when he realized i wasn't interested in his road bikes out the front and was looking at the frames.

I quite like the look of these Diamondback Ascent's that keep on popping up on Ebay : https://www.ebay.com/itm/21-034-Diam...p2047675.l2557

Any opinion on them for touring ?

Thank again.
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Old 03-25-18, 03:02 AM
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don't worry about frame material.
aluminium is fine for touring.

most important is fit. more likely to find a
suitable small frame mtb for the little lady.
sloping top tube be good for short arse gf's.
did you take your hunny to try the fit?

mtb's w/rigid forks make nice touring bikes.
put on thinner road tyres.....26x1.5's.
lighter, faster, may even lower standover a bit.

got an address for that 3-storey townhouse full o'bikes?
take any cellphone pics?
i might wanna do some shopping......
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Old 03-25-18, 05:59 AM
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This is just my opinion and others will not agree, but I find that I much prefer to keep the same posture on my touring bike as on my road bike. That includes a seat to bar drop in the 3-5" range. I do not find sitting more upright to be easier on the back once well conditioned to the lower bars. Sitting more upright means road shocks go right up the spine.

You may like slacker angles and a longer wheel base, but I suggest keeping posture on the bike close to the same on all your bikes.
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Old 03-25-18, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
And when I said "..., then compare stand over height to make sure it is adequate." how did you interpret that to mean that it is (to use your word) nonimportant?
Just to be clear I wasn't picking on you alone. My comments were aimed more at others who I knew were going to say that standover is totally unimportant. But you made it sound unimportant. You weren't as dismissive as others are but you put it way down on the list of considerations.You say to consider other fit considerations first and then make sure that the standover is "adequate".

Standover, especially for smaller riders is the very first thing that people notice when they straddle a bike. Would you accept a bike that was about to split you in two when you first throw a leg over it? For far too many years, bicycles for smaller riders have been limited to a kind of a "and others" sizing. Up until the late to early 2000s, bicycles the smallest bicycle around was a 19" and small riders were told just "lean the bike over on stops". And that was on bikes that had 700C wheels. That's hardly a good fit for small riders.

Would you, for example, choose to ride a bike that is 4" to 6" or more taller than you would "normally" ride? I certainly wouldn't and, yet, we asked small people to do that for a very long time. Even now it's not perfect with smaller bikes being relegated to the "kids" category in many respects.

Originally Posted by alan s View Post
Standover is really important for mountain biking. Touring, not as big a deal.
Originally Posted by fixedweasel View Post
1st...........Top tube length
2nd..........Saddle to bar drop
3rd..........Head Tube length as this will effect the the 2nd

Reach is absolutely everything, and all three of the above affect that as far as geometry goes. Also, the stem that you choose can dial in your fit once the correct frame size(ing) is completed.





Last.......................Standover
Really? Of all the measurements on a bike, the saddle to handlebar drop is the very least important, especially for touring cyclists. It may be an important parameter for racing but for touring, most people are going to have a relatively even saddle to handlebar height. We aren't racing, we are out to see the countryside.

It's fairly evident that you've never dealt with fitting bikes to people of small stature. The saddle to handlebar height and the (mostly useless) head tube length are seldom something that can even be considered. Small bikes can't have large saddle to handlebar drops because the head tube is limited in how low it can possibly go. Even a very small bikes, there still needs to be some head tube and when you have a bike that has a sloping top tube by default, those aren't even considerations.

Originally Posted by fixedweasel View Post
No one that I have ever seen rides a touring bike sitting on the top tube. As long as you have clearance when standing, you are quite fine. And if you properly fit yourself with the top 3 above, you will very very rarely have an issue with standover if a bike's geometry is designed correctly.
You...and many others...make the mistake of thinking that a bike will fit in all categories other than standover so you should check those parameters first. Is that really how you test fit a bike? Do you walk into a shop and measure all the top tubes (or head tubes or handlebar drop), pull the bike off the rack and walk to the register?

Every bike shop I've ever been in starts with the salesperson eyeballing the customer and/or asking about height. Then they pull out a bike and have the person straddle the frame. Then they asks about standover. Only after all those preliminaries do they start looking at how the person fits to the frame in terms of reach.

That's how I fit frames to myself. If the bike has too high a standover...i.e. the dangly bits are too close to the top tube...I know instantly that the bike is too big and not worth further investigation.
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Old 03-25-18, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by bikebasket View Post
Whenever i look at the Surly Long Haul Trucker frame it's like being time warped to the 80's or 90's or something. They built MTB's longer then i guess. I believe the Surly frame is just built with off the shelf 4130 cro mo steel. Nothing fancy. How often do you hear about broken frames on tours?
Never. Read far more bad things about the Trek 920 than the LHT.

You know what I'm sayin', people?
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Old 03-25-18, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
....bad things about the Trek 920......?
remember Op's ladyfriend is only 5' tall, so guesstimate about 90 pounds,
and she won't be carrying any gear.

even a carptastic 920 with bontrager 28 wheels should hold up for a
short tour....assuming they stay on smooth asphalt the entire time and
doesn't load down with too many water bottles.
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Old 03-25-18, 01:16 PM
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28h wheels are faster - you can go 10.1 mph instead of 10.0 mph! You'll save 2-3 minutes a day on tour, time you can use to learn about wheels, so that you are better prepared to make an unplanned costly purchase at a strange LBS.
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Old 03-25-18, 08:42 PM
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I noticed that on the touring bike frame sizing link below that on all sizes of rider/frame size from XS to XXL, that the chain-stay lengths are all the same at 425 mm. Also the seat tube and head tube angles are all pretty close.

This makes me think that CS length, seat tube length and stand over height, are the most important as i'm guessing chain-stay to seat tube angles are also pretty similar across the board?

https://www.backroads.com/why/great_...ng-bike-sizing
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Old 03-25-18, 08:49 PM
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I agree that REACH is very important. I rely more on frame reach more than TT length because its more reliable. Saddle to Bar drop is important too. This DOES NOT MEAN there is drop from saddle to the handlebar. Many bikes, even road have a negative drop. Any new road or touring rider should have the option of a bar above saddle height.

Keep in mind as stated above, if the OP is five foot. Its unlikely she will be able to get the bar down to saddle height if she has 700c wheels.....so unlikely she will experience a "racers position"

Absolutely bring rider not tape measure...as stated above.
Lastly, I would hate to ride a bike that is 25% of my body weight. I hope they don't put her on some 30# boat anchor Surly LHT.

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Old 03-25-18, 08:56 PM
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So what i'm saying is - if chain-stay lengths are 425mm regardless of rider height, and seat tube angles are all pretty similar regardless of rider height, then generally speaking on a near horizontal top tube steel touring frame type set up, the top tube length will just follow whatever the above is?
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Old 03-26-18, 05:59 AM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
even a carptastic 920 with bontrager 28 wheels should hold up for a
short tour....assuming they stay on smooth asphalt the entire time
Or the Katy Trail.
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Old 03-26-18, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by bikebasket View Post
So what i'm saying is - if chain-stay lengths are 425mm regardless of rider height, and seat tube angles are all pretty similar regardless of rider height, then generally speaking on a near horizontal top tube steel touring frame type set up, the top tube length will just follow whatever the above is?
The radius of my 700c wheel with a 37mm tire is about 350mm. It would be pretty hard to make a chainstay much less than 425mm on a 700c bike. On a 650b or 26 inch bike, you could shorten it up a bit but still not a huge amount.

My rando bike has a chainstay of 435mm. When I went to install a rear derailleur between the seat tube and the fender, I found there was too little clearance to install the front derailleur that I had for it. I had to go shopping for a front derailleur that would fit in a tighter spot.

My point is that chainstay length has a lot more to do with wheel size than with anything else.
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Old 03-26-18, 09:43 PM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by SEAJAYBIKE View Post
I agree that REACH is very important. I rely more on frame reach more than TT length because its more reliable. Saddle to Bar drop is important too. This DOES NOT MEAN there is drop from saddle to the handlebar. Many bikes, even road have a negative drop. Any new road or touring rider should have the option of a bar above saddle height.

Keep in mind as stated above, if the OP is five foot. Its unlikely she will be able to get the bar down to saddle height if she has 700c wheels.....so unlikely she will experience a "racers position"

Absolutely bring rider not tape measure...as stated above.
Lastly, I would hate to ride a bike that is 25% of my body weight. I hope they don't put her on some 30# boat anchor Surly LHT.
My 4' 11" daughter rides a 42 cm LHT, and my other 5' 4" daughter rides a 50 cm LHT; and they have done several long self-supported tours in the U.S. and B.C. that were very hilly. They did just fine Standover height is important.

Last edited by Doug64; 03-26-18 at 09:50 PM.
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Old 03-26-18, 10:33 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
My 4' 11" daughter rides a 42 cm LHT, and my other 5' 4" daughter rides a 50 cm LHT; and they have done several long self-supported tours in the U.S. and B.C. that were very hilly. They did just fine Standover height is important.
Neat, though it looks like your crew has the longer arms & forward-lean riding style that work best with LHT. I'm similar but can see how the long top tube might not be comfortable for many folks. I was a bit surprised that I needed to leave a lot of steer-tube length plus use an angled stem.

The Diamondback Ascent looks pretty reasonable for light touring. Alu frames save weight but can give a harsh ride. When buying a new bike one can use measurements of current bike & then extrapolate.
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Old 03-27-18, 07:42 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
remember Op's ladyfriend is only 5' tall, so guesstimate about 90 pounds,
and she won't be carrying any gear.

even a carptastic 920 with bontrager 28 wheels should hold up for a
short tour....assuming they stay on smooth asphalt the entire time and
doesn't load down with too many water bottles.
Except that the smallest 920 is likely 5 to 6cm too tall for a 5' tall person. And given the bike's high front end, it's likely more than even that.

A Trek FX in a 13" or 15" would likely be a better bike. The 15" was a bit tall for my 5' tall wife and she has longish legs.
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Old 03-27-18, 07:57 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Except that the smallest 920 is likely 5 to 6cm too tall for a 5' tall person. ....
nope. sorry. gots to be the 920 if ya wanna slay khmer zombies.
and the front rack will easily transport a traditional "roneat aek."
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