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The wifey wants a new bike so that she can ride with me. She's got a hybrid right now that doesn't get much use because, while comfortable enough, it's really heavy and not fun to haul up a hill. We're considering a few models of road bikes that are women-specific: the Specialized Dolce, Trek Pilot entry-level model, and the Trek WSD 1000. Riding comfort is the most important thing, especially position-wise. She would be a total newb, so we're not concerned about components or (excessive) weight.

Any informal reviews of these rides from the forum ladies in a similar situation as my wife? Thx.
 

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size matters

jpv said:
The wifey wants a new bike so that she can ride with me. She's got a hybrid right now that doesn't get much use because, while comfortable enough, it's really heavy and not fun to haul up a hill. We're considering a few models of road bikes that are women-specific: the Specialized Dolce, Trek Pilot entry-level model, and the Trek WSD 1000. Riding comfort is the most important thing, especially position-wise. She would be a total newb, so we're not concerned about components or (excessive) weight.

Any informal reviews of these rides from the forum ladies in a similar situation as my wife? Thx.
Go to your LBS with your wife and have a bicycle measured for her physique. Then,
get a woman's saddle. There is a difference: see "Bicycling" magazine Feb. 1997
page 34 "Women's Cycling" (Love Your Butt) Glutes can be a girl's best friend. Here's
how to get stronger and more comfortable in the saddle. by Delaine Fragnoli.
 

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Not all women find a "women's" saddle the most comfortable. WSD bikes are cool but some women fit better on small men's models.

Have your wife ride the bikes and see which ones can fit her and most importantly which one she likes the feel of.
 

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If her legs are long relative to her torso (common with women) a WSD is probably the better choice.
If she is 5'3" or smaller a bike built on 650 wheels will probably be best. 650 wheels allow for a shorter top tube.

Al
 

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Just did that...couple of suggestions.

We just did that a couple of weeks ago, when my wife decided she needed a new road bike to replace the all-but-unridden, mold-flash-still-on-the-tires Bridgestone she got when Bstone left the U.S..
I'm glad she's interested again, and it's a thing we can do together (one of the reasons I married her is that I like doing stuff with her)...but unless your situation, and wife, are different from mine, don't expect a big change, and consider buying a bike that will allow her to ride the way she wants, not the way you want her to.
My wife's at least as fit as I am and has a higher power-to-weight ratio, but she's a slow rider. We've done many running events together, from 10k to marathon distance, and I had to bust my butt to stay with her. On the bike, she loses focus and meanders along, as she says, "looking at the cows." She COULD keep up with me anywhere, but over the road she's at least 5mph slower, because she has no testosterone/doesn't care/enjoys riding for different reasons. Her new bike (K2 Tradewinds, not that I necessarily recommend it) is suited to her style (slightly upright position, room for bigger tires, triple crank) but is fast enough that if she ever decides to MOVE IT!!, she can.
 

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My buddy bought a Trek1000 for his wife and they had to upgrade inside of a year. The wheels were heavy and the frame was not the best either.

My suggestion is to get her something with 105 level components. If she likes it, those parts are plenty durable and function well. The frame and wheels will likely be an upgrade over a low level bike too, so it will ride better. If she doesn't like it, it will be easier to sell because it's a better bike overall. This may cost a little more up front, but the money you don't have to spend in maintenance and upgrades will be well worth it. You can get a lot of bang for your buck moving to 105 from Tiagra or Sora.
 

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ok. I'm going to chime in with my two sense. I don't know your wife's dimensions, so I don't know how WSD would fit. I'm 5'2 and I bought a Men's cannondale size 48 and it fit very well. I wouldn't complain about it at all. As I got a little better, I wanted something carbon with better components. I bought a Giant TCR Limited in size XS last season and I love it. It fits me like a glove, the handlebar width is smaller and I can reach the shifters on it a little easier than on the Cannondale. The Giant is not advertised as WSD, but they seem to do well with paying attention the fit and components on their smaller bikes.

That said your wife should test ride all sorts of bikes. I know that where I live it can be almost impossible to find a lot of variety in small bikes. I ordered the Giant unseen and not test ridden. I don't think I could of found one in 200 miles in my size to test ride. I went by the geometry they had on their site and really lucked out.

Another thing is 650c wheels. I think unless your really short, and I mean short for a women, like almost child sized, they are 100% unnecessary. All the small women I know don't ride them. A women who is 4'11 had 650c wheels, she got a new bike with 700c wheels and said that she is much more happier with the larger wheels. I personally would never ride them. It seems that the only people suggest that you get them are men. I'm sorry but you don't have first hand knowledge of what a woman needs. I'm sure many of you will argue with me, but I think your wrong.

Good luck and if you can have her ride all the bikes she can get her hands on!
Sarah
 

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Pick her bike exactly the same way you would pick your own bike, assuming you didn't already know your precise geometry needs. Get the best frame and components you can for the money. Then make sure she has a chance to sit on it and ride it around a little. WSD may not be necessary.

Like sarah, I'm 5'2". My first road bike was a Giant 49", fit perfectly. My current bike is a Litespeed Ghisallo (compact geometry) in a 51". I bought it sight unseen because of the price I got, and so it took some work to get it small enough in the cockpit (short stem, no-setback seatpost, girlie bars). My MTB isn't WSD either.

Also like sarah, I would drop dead before I'd ride 650 wheels.

Have you looked on Ebay? I think the best thing for a beginner is a nice used bike. She won't be worried about having the lastest model, and you can get her a lightweight bike w/ a frame that is worthy of upgrades as she gets more experience and wants to tweak certain things.
 

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feminine view here too.

Agree with most of the last two posters. I too and a short woman (5' 1.75", just couldn't make that last quater inch!) but I have long legs for my height and very good flexibility. Therefore I don't find is hard to fit onto a "men's" bike. My current road bike is a 50 cm (CT) Gunnar Roadie with 700 wheels. It was made before Gunnar went to a more sloping top tube, so the geometry is pretty standard racing type. I have a little bit of toe overlap, but it's not an issue unless I am doing slow speed turns in a parking lot, pretty rare. I too would never ride 650 wheels, but the few women I know who do tend to be REALLY short or have short legs for their height. Some women feel the 650's give them better control and therefore more confidence in riding, not something to be discounted. And hey, Miss M rides them so they must be cool, right?

My experience test riding WSD bikes was not good. The quality tended to be bad and in general they were built up with at least one level down in components relative to the same standard bike. They just felt rattley. This was about four years ago, so maybe bike manufacturers are putting out a better product now.
 

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Don't get too into the WSD -- just because she's a woman doesn't mean it will fit her. I second all the others who suggested she should just test ride a wide variety of bikes.
I originally had a 51 Dolce Comp (my first road bike, a WSD) -- when the LBS set me up it looked like a perfect fit. However as my training and level quickly improved and I began to need a more aggressive position (started racing), there was no way that bike was ever going to fit. With my dimensions, that bike fit great if all I was to do were leisurely rides.
The main issue was that it wound up my femurs were longer than the "average" woman. Of course we had no idea about this beforehand. So when I tried to get the bike in a more power-position, it was just way too small. And mainly because of the "women's specific" dimensions.
So your wife should really consider what kind of training she wants the bike for, as well.

I now race a 52 S-works E5 which fits me perfectly. But I would not suggest it as a beginner's bike, for sure!
 

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True but she really doesn't know or care much about the mechanics of bikes.

theBreeze said:
And hey, Miss M rides them so they must be cool, right?
She just likes to ride and she doesn't really care what anyone else thinks. In other words wheel size means nothing to her.

There are a lot of reasons Miss M rides 650c wheel bikes but none of them have to do with what a new rider needs.

Some of the reasons I put her on 650c wheel bikes.

She is very light and IMO light riders ought to ride light stuff (you put a 100lb person on a 20lb bike and that is similar to a 150lb person on a 30 lb bike or a 200lb person on a 40lb bike and we know that isn't happening). You have to search a little bit but there are some really strong and light 650c wheels available. She needs strong only because she rides so much.

Headset wear. A lot of folks don't think about this but for big mile riders headsets wear out really fast on short head tube bikes (with the 2 bearing races close together on short frames there is a lot more deflection and bearing wear). Miss M rides a lot, even worse for the headset a lot of our miles are on dirt or bad roads with always the chance of rain. Since 650c wheeled bikes have a lot longer head tubes there is actually a lot less wear on the headsets since the cups are a lot further apart (I bet you never knew that).

Her frames are all custom built exactly for her (I'm thinking her Rivendell is the only one they ever made with 753 tubing) so you don't end up with those funky 650c wheel production bikes that weigh just as much as the 700c wheel models from the same company.

Toe clip overlap-to avoid it (or at least reduce it) small 700c wheel bikes have really unusual frame angles that really change the handling (steep seat tubes and shallow headtubes that would never be used on any other size). Sure riders get used to it but her comfort and speed going down hills really picked up when we got rid of all of her 700c wheeled bikes.

Gearing-again IMHO modern bikes have stupid hard gearing with lousy transitions from ring to ring and it is way too hard to get sensible low gears with standard road groups. 650c wheels solve all those problems by in effect making all the chain rings smaller. She can run production drive trains and get all the gear range she will ever need. I OTOH am running some very non-stock drive trains combining MTB, road and NOS stuff to get something that works for what we do.

Finally I like 650c wheel bikes for small riders because when seen from the side the bike and rider look just like any other cyclist with well balanced proportions-you can't actually tell that they are small folks on small bikes until another rider is next to them.

Again these are my opinions and decisions not hers and what I have done only works because all her frames are custom; everything changes with stock frames. She is happy with what she is riding but she really does not think about any of this stuff at all.

Now see what you started, I'm going to go on forever on this stuff......:rolleyes:
 

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Proportions?

My girlfriend is 5'7", with fairly long arms for a woman her height, so does fine on a standard, non-compact 54cm bike with a 95mm stem. She got set up with about 2cm of drop between the saddle and the bars, and likes that a lot, spending a lot of time in the drops.

She, and several women in my area, give big props to the Fizik Vitesse saddle. Tried and hated "cut-out" wimmin's ones.
 

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jpv said:
Any informal reviews of these rides from the forum ladies in a similar situation as my wife?
I know you're not looking at Cannondale, but I have about 1,000miles on a Cannondale R1000 Feminine and I love it so I thought I'd throw that out there. The fit of the men's version was fine (the women's version has more standover height), but I liked the women's color better. That's kind of stupid, but it does matter. Also, as has been mentioned already, I'm 5'3 and I ride 700c wheels.
 

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For the record

On my bike (with 700c wheels) I have no toe overlap. The bike handles remarkable well. My wheels also wiegh 1400g. Very light. My bike weighs about 15lbs. So it is very light.

I hate to go on about this, your wife should get what she wants. Let HER decide, she is the one that will be riding the bike.

Sarah
 

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Word of caution

Having gone through this scenario with an ex-girlfriend, allow me this word of caution: Don't break the bank on this purchase unless you really, really, really know that your wife is going to like riding her new bike. And take a long, hard look at the situation and be certain that you're not interjecting your own desire that she like riding as much as you.

I, of course, learned that lesson the hard way. I agree with the previous poster who suggested a used bike. We all know and appreciate the difference good equipment can make in cycling but your wife doesn't know the difference yet. Let her start with something functional and safe but low-level and inexpensive. If she's really into it, put the beater bike on eBay and go get something good. If the beater bike spends more time in the garage than on the road then you just saved a lot of money and aggravation.
 

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It's a catch-22. CRM is right, I think the scenario of buying the SO in bike with high hopes that are soon dashed has a lot to do with why there are such nice bikes for sale on Ebay. But on the other hand, a heavy "beater" bike is not going to make someone fall in love w/ the sport.

For instance, about 8 years ago I (foolishly) bought my parents bikes for xmas. They were early sixties and had not ridden since beach bikes when I was a kid. I was riding with my Dad (Mom went the house to cry...i swear to God) ...he's been on his bike about 10 minutes and he says "If you're so fast, why don't you switch bikes w/ me and YOU ride the heavy one up the hill?" Point being, it doesn't take a racer to figure out that riding a heavy bike is hard.
 
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