I've been biking to work everyday for the past year on my comfy little 7 speed cruiser and it's workd fine for me(and fits me). However, I'd like to enter the racing atmosphere and have already registered to part-take in the Seacoast Tri-State Century Ride, which I'm really pumped to ride. I've been ooging roadbikes since I've started riding to work last year but have never really persued the idea until now. I've ridden a few bikes at bike shops, but most of the shops I visited didn't have any WSD bikes in my size(I think I may fit in a 44-46cm range). Right now I'm thinking about a 44cm Mercier Elle 2010 (it's less than $600 and in a size small enough) anyone have any good input for searching for small, affordable, WSD bikes?
Suggest you go to Team Estrogen Forums and post this question there. You'll get a bunch of suggestions from other women plus a lot of other info.
As for the Mercier, it has some good points. I looked at one myself when I got back into riding a couple of years ago. For one, it's steel. Steel is the smoothest, most comfortable ride available. Plus it lasts forever. The downside: I believe you can't get one from a LBS (local bike shop), so you have no one to help you adjust fit perfectly. That's very important. Also, when you buy from a LBS there is generally a great deal of service involved in the future as well.
If you order online, you'll have to bring it to a LBS and pay a couple hundred dollars to have it assembled properly, then you'll have to pay separately for a fitting. The fitting involves taking your measurements, putting you on the bike, and watching you pedal on an indoor trainer. That should take a couple of hours if they do it properly. They can adjust the bars, saddle (seat) and a bunch of other stuff to make certain you pedal most efficiently and safely. A bike that is not fit properly can cause you pain and injury. You may need different handle bars, different small parts to make certain the handle bars are the correct distance from you so you aren't too scrunched or stretched out, (In other words, a new stem), etc etc. Much cheaper for you if that is done where the bike is purchased.
Any maintenance in the future will probably cost more money as well. A shop will often give discounts to those that purchase a bike.
With all that, I still think the Mercier it's a pretty good bike. It has 105 components too, as I remember it. Very nice. Steel is real;)
My advice is to go to a LBS and tell them what you are looking for and your price-range, see what they suggest, and see if they are receptive to assembling that bike for you and helping you maintain it in the future. Some places will bend over backwards to help you. Some won't.
See if they have any suggestions comparable in price.
Make sure you find a place that can take care of everything, one way or the other.
But it may cost less altogether to buy from that shop.
Try a Trek bike in their 43cm frame. It has 650c tires and the lowest standover height of a non-custom bike. The 1.2 series bike costs under $1000 for a quality, upgradeable road bike.
Unfortunately, Trek has discontinued this small frame in all WSD bikes except the expensive Madone 4.7 ($2,500 up). You can, however, still find new 2009 and 2010 bikes in the other models.
I just bought a Giant Avail 3, and absolutely love it. I had been doing triathlons on a 12 year old hybrid, and anyone who says you can do a triathlon on a hybrid is lying. I am 5'0", and learned that Giant is the only brand that makes WSD's for petite women. The Avail 3 is an entry level road bike, and I got the 44 cm size and it fits me perfectly. Cost was $750. Hope this helps.
I ride the 44 cm Bianchi Eros Donna - I'm quite happy with it and bought it as a beginner road bike. It's quite a bit more expensive (about $1,200), but you get what you pay for. Bianchi currently has a women's bike called the Dama Bianca that is under $1,000 that I would recommend trying.
I would recommend against buying any bicycle with 650 cc tires -- the tubes are just too hard to find in a pinch, and you can never borrow one from anyone else. I have a friend who is less than 5 feet who has 650s on her bike and she seriously regrets it.
I've also ridden the Specialized Ruby, which is a great bike, but definitely not priced for entry-level. I was considering the Specialized Dolce at the time I bought my Bianchi. The Dolce starts around $900.
I would definitely recommend going to a good LBS with a good bike fitter. I am short because my legs are short, but my torso is normal length. That creates quite a fitting quandary.
I'm just a little taller by one inch and recently purchased the Trek LEXA SLX 47cm it's WDS - love it! Smooth ride - great range of gears - couldn't be happier with my purchase. It sounds like it may be out of your price range, but if you plan on cycling - this would make a great choice. I have lots of friends for advice and for the price - this came highly recommended by all. Good luck!
I would also lend my vote for the Treks. I've had mine for 7+ years here in Chicago. It's seen all kinds of weather and abuse and has only needed minor maintenance. No breakdowns!
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