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groovyjen's picture
Joined: Jun 11 2008
Posts: 676
Road bike suggestions for a short (5'2") woman? Newbie here

This is a beginner question, but about gear, so I wasn't sure which forum would be the best.

So, did my first sprint recently on essentially a mountain bike. Definitely thinking I could be less pitifully slow on something lighter.

Any suggestions for shorties? I'd love to do used if possible, more bang for the buck and all that.

I tried out a Giant OCR 1w at the bike shop and really liked that. Borrowed a friend's Trek. Seemed like a nice ride, but the frame is way big for me on this particular bike (54 cm, I think?). From my decidedly limited bike experience, I think I might benefit from a women specific design, given my height.

Planning to stick with the sprint distance, as that is plenty hard core for me.

Appreciate any suggestions for this newbie!

StephenPDennis's picture
Joined: May 18 2008
Posts: 493
Well, off the bat unless you

Well, off the bat unless you have a rather... unique... leg to torso ratio 54cm is definitely way to big for you. I'm 5'11" with longer than average legs and ride a 54cm myself (although they all tell me to ride 56cm)
Since I just went through the whole ordeal I'll give you some rules of thumb that I went by when looking at bikes but keep in mind that test rides at your Local bike shop will help you more than some guy you don't know in an internet forum.

Budget - I found it easy to be swayed by a $2500 tribike that would never have fit into my budget. I told myself $1500 was the max and I ended up finding a great Scott for $1200. If the newest model doesn't work, try used, try e-bay or craig's list, or (if you can wait) next winter. Around February/March bike sellers have huuuge sales.

Component Set - Shimano is the standard for low-middle price tag bikes. Tiagra and 105 are less expensive alternatives to the higher grade ultegra and dura-ace but with each set up the price ladder the parts go up quality. Keep in mind that buy a 105 or Ultegra equipped bike is much cheaper than upgrading down the road. Much cheaper.

Online Recs - Almost got talked into buying a bike that was $400 discounted. Sounded good. Until I checked online that that year's model was infamous for the disintegrating carbon forks. Uhh, no thanks.

Sex Appeal - C'mon, you don't just want a bike. You want a sexy bike. There are enough options out there that you can always find something you like - remember, you have to enjoy riding to be motivated to ride.

Hope this helps! But what do I know?! Get thee to a bike shop and take test drives. You know what you like more than I!

SueR's picture
Joined: Apr 8 2008
Posts: 512
I am your height and ride a

I am your height and ride a 48 Opus. I find the fit is better for me as I have shorter legs and a longer torso. Giant has a nice frame fit for shorter women. I haven't yet found a women specific that was better. My mountain bike is women specific and I actually don't like or don't notice the modifications that they made. The trick is to ride lots of bikes~
You can buy my Opus when I get the seatpost out...
Good luck

Tamara's picture
Joined: Apr 18 2005
Posts: 814
Jen ~ I'm 5'4", and

Jen ~ I'm 5'4", and guarantee that with my next road bike I will go with a women's specific design. I have a Giant TCR and do really like it, but we've adjusted it with a shorter stem and Specialized women's handlebars to help it fit me better. If I knew then what I know now, I would not have bought this bike.

Point being, not sure where you live, but there are so many women's specific models at all price points out there now, it would frankly not make sense for someone of your size not to take advantage of it. Off the top of my head Specialized, Trek, Orbea, Scott, and Giant all have women's lines.

You can find good deals on used options via ebay, Craigslist or even your local tri club. BUT, make sure you've test ridden it first, otherwise you may have saved money on a bike that doesn't fit. As Stephen said, your pricepoint will determine the quality of the components. As a beginner doing only sprints, you'll do just fine with Shimano 105...IMHO I wouldn't drop $5K to have a top of the line all carbon Dura-Ace bike right now, unless you've got that kind of loose change lying around.

Welcome to Trifuel.

kylie's picture
Joined: Jun 1 2004
Posts: 5521
Women's specific is based on

Women's specific is based on some not so scientific or true facts. However, where it could help you is that they often come in even smaller sizes, so it might be worth looking into.

If there was a bike you really like, that is the bike for you. Fit comes first (are you comfortable, in the right position for steering, if a tri bike can you get in a good aerodynamic position), and then it's really just up to what is most important: weight of the bike, looks, etc.

I'd say go to a couple bike shops, and ride everything you can find in your size and price range. Then the one you keep daydreaming about is for you ;)

Oh and welcome!

fpugsley's picture
Joined: Mar 7 2006
Posts: 330
I recently bought my

I recently bought my girlfriend a bike. She is 5'2. I got her a Trek 1500 WSD. It is a 47 and fits her perfectly. Craigslist $700. About half of retail.

I would also recommend looking for something with 650 wheels for someone your height. It just makes the bike more manageable.

As far as WSD goes, try it and try regular geometry, and just get what feels the best. Not everyones body fits the same mold.

groovyjen's picture
Joined: Jun 11 2008
Posts: 676
Thanks all for your

Thanks all for your suggestions!

kona_expat's picture
Joined: Nov 18 2004
Posts: 478
A good bike shop will do

A good bike shop will do your fit measurements and then work with you to identify stock frames from assorted manufacturers that will fit you. I'm only 5'3", and when I wanted a new road bike, that's what I did, and while there were many bikes I liked, not all of them made frames small enough for me.

A good bike fit will yield your maximum top tube length, and most frame specs include that so you can tell which are really for you. It may or may not be a women-specific frame. And then even once you choose it, you'll still need to be fitted to get the stem and saddle height correct.

Hint: If the bike shop insists you buy a specific frame that they CARRY, then you are at the wrong bike shop.

TriOnLife's picture
Joined: Dec 7 2006
Posts: 201
I'm 5'2" and ride a 48cm

I'm 5'2" and ride a 48cm Specialized Ruby Comp. It was a couple grand. They also make the Dolce which is women's specific and way cheaper and it is a great bike. I love my Specialized bike - love it! But I would say you need a 48 and nothing bigger.

groovyjen's picture
Joined: Jun 11 2008
Posts: 676
So, update to say I am full

So, update to say I am full of it - re: get a used, etc.

I just got a 48cm Specialized Dolce and I love it! It was just a great fit and I love the seat (I was thinking I'd end up having to swap out whatever I got).

And I had them put on the SPD pedals in the shop, so I'm all ready to go.

Thanks all for your suggestions!

Yippee! Can't wait to hop on my new ride.

kylie's picture
Joined: Jun 1 2004
Posts: 5521
Those are very nice looking

Those are very nice looking bikes... enjoy :)

TriOnLife's picture
Joined: Dec 7 2006
Posts: 201
Excellent choice! I have

Excellent choice! I have another friend who just bought one of those and she lurves it!

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