Hello All, My wife has finally given me the green light to get her a bike as she is ready to give it a try. However, in doing research I am having trouble figuring out what size is best for her. She is very petite, 5'2". Any input would be greatly appreciated. It seems that many women this size have trouble finding a road bike that has the right geometry for them. Thanks!
84 pounds lost and counting.
Having just gone bike shopping for the first time last weekend, my friend is 5' 1-1/2" tall and the fram that fit her best was a 15" frame.
I'm 5' 4-1/2" tall and I was between a 17 and 19" frame - ended up going with the 19" frame. The bike shop sales folks were stunned.
Based on my friend, probably a 15" fram would be good for your wife.
Best to talk to a bike shop and best to have her along as well. She should be measured and fitted to make sure whatever bike you (she) get will be right for her. At that size you may be looking at 650 wheels (larger road bikes have 700 wheels) which is ok and tires are easy to come by. Some manufacturers use English measurements (the 17"/19" post above), others metric (probably around a 50cm), and others are XS, S, M, M/L, L, XL or some combination thereof. Sloping top tubes create "equivalent" lengths/sizes. There are also "Women Specific" designs based on the general dimensions of women vs men. But since we are all different, it is best to get to a good bike shop with a respected fitter. Some will discount the professional fitting (as opposed to ballpark, walk in the store general fit) price if you purchase there. Good luck and congrats to her for jumping into cycling.
Go to a bike shop so she can get a fitting where they spend a good deal of time taking her measurements, writing them down, and testing different models and adjusting to fit. She needs to testride many different geometries and models. She may need a longer top tube and shorter seat tube, or the reverse; she may need a very relaxed seat tube angle... how about handlebar size (reach, drop, width?) Short-reach brakes? Saddle (seat) type? Saddle width? Wheel size, Width? Crank-arm size? Etc. Etc. Etc.
Find a shop that will do a fitting and then recommend a particular bike that possibly may work, rather than one that just wants to sell you their floor stock. If you are looking for a less expensive but very well made bike, I suggest a Jamis, they come in many sizes. Specialized makes great bikes too. Kona's are nice, same with Surley. May even try a Terry.
There are many brands, of course. Geometries are different from brand to brand, and even within brands between different models.
But, to reiterate: go to a bike shop!
It may be tempting to buy online, but every bike feels different, and then someone has to assemble it and fit her to the bike, so you would probably end up going to a bike shop and having them do both things at additional cost. If you buy from a shop, those things are normally included in the cost of the bike. So you save money buy going to the LBS (local bike shop).
Research whatever bikes you find in the LBS on the web. Don't impulse buy. Shop around, test many, go to different stores.
Not a bad idea to go to Team Estrogen Forums and post there to get some ideas. Also, google 'bike fit' to get an understanding of the complex process. Injury happens on ill-fitting bikes. Or she just won't ride because it's uncomfortable or painful.
It wouldn't hurt if she did the asking though. Makes more sense, yes? (A lot of guys do post there asking exactly the same thing).
My wife is also 5' 2", and I shopped for a new frame/bicycle about a year ago. I discovered that while there are different size frames available, the critical dimension - the top tube- is stays the same even when you go to smaller frame sizes. This has to do with the geometry of 700cm wheels and the need to avoid toe slap. After researching this topic quite a bit, I came to the realization that a frame with 650cm wheels would be the correct size. My wife is now the happy owner of a Cervelo XS frame 650 wheel combination. An important side benefit is this combination is also less weight. While I agree with going to a bike shop and getting fitted, keep in mind that they have limited inventories and almost never have bikes with 650 wheels. Stick to your guns, and have them special order if necessary. Good luck.
Simply not true. There is a great deal of variance between TT length and size. Both within brands and especially between brands. And I know many women who are 5'2'' who use standard-size wheels, which is best because they are much easier to find.
I've attached a thorough explanation, this program wouldn't let me copy/paste it. I originally typed in word because the internet was 'acting up.'
One thing: when I said:
The sloping 'shoes' theoretical... I meant 'shows,' I did this twice in a row. Sorry about that!
Whle I agree with your basic premise: get to a bike shop for a professional fitting because we are all differently sized; I disagree with some of your analysis. Not too long ago, all bikes (except department store mixtes) had a top tube parallel to the ground. Manufacturers had sizes like 48, 50, 52, etc to 60 plus. Sometimes every other number, sometimes every one. This is the seat tube length from the center of the bottom bracket (crank) to the center of the intersection of the top tube and seat tube. With a standard seat tube angle (usually around 72/73 degrees) a longer seat tube equates to a longer top tube. I contend that manufacturers went to the S/M/L (some with XS and XL) format with sloping top tubes so that they didn't have to make as many bikes in a range of sizes that wouldn't sell and have excess inventory at the end of the season. With S/M/L one only has to make three frame sizes and fit people using a variety of seat posts and handlebar stem lengths. The effective tope tube is NOT measured from the handlebars to the top of the saddle; it is still from the center of head tube to the imaginary intersection of the seat tube and a parallel-to-ground top tube. This helps someone who knows what TT length fit under the "old" system based on their personal torso length. There is a strong correlation between size and top tube length. While time trial/triathlon bike specific bikes have steeper head tube and seat tube angles (around 78 degrees), a standard road bike with 73 degree angles will yield specific top tube lengths depending on the seat tube length.
Now, smaller frame sizes can play with the geometry a bit and crank length to avoid 650 wheels and that's fine as long as it fits. But the over-riding concern with small frames and 700 wheels is toe overlap while turning. It is also difficult to create adequate head tube length to clear 700 wheels (the down tube and top tube might have to intersect prior to head tube) on small frames.
That's fine. I actually agree with you ROB. And center of handlebars is wrong, but frankly it makes more sense to me, thus my own confusion. (Actually, I should have studied that Colnago chart more. I've made that mistake before. But it took a long time to write that.
I didn't address that the top tubes are longer in proportion to seat-tube height. It's easy enough to see that on the charts.
But I'm not a fitting expert, and it does get confusing. Which is the point, really.
I happen to have an 'old school' geometry Miyata 312. It has toe-overlap and 27 1/8 wheels. The toe-lap is irritating to me, and it is definitely best avoided.
I wouldn't want my main road-bike to have odd-size wheels if I could possibly avoid it though. Choices are too limited. And 5'2'' is fairly common with female cyclists.
But that Miyata will never fit anyway, I need a very compact TT, and a longer seat-tube. Ah, well.
One thing, it's true all the top tubes used to be about the same. But that 'not too long ago' is the late 80's, (I think, according to Sheldon Brown) and that's over 20 years ago now.
These are great responses you guys! I think we're getting close. Our local bike shop is great, and they just invested in one of those Retul systems. Just a cool $200 for a state-of-the-art fitting. I hope she sticks with this!
84 pounds lost and counting.