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i have rheumatoid arthritis, which affects my fingers, wrists, elbows, shoulders, and neck. other than that, i'm healthy ;-)

finding bikes has always been difficult for me -- i'm a 4'10" woman who weighs approx 100lbs. in the old days, before arthritis, i could get away with riding boys' bikes -- a bit heavy and badly made, but i've always been so light it hasn't mattered. nowadays, i have to be concerned about quality, ease of use, and fit.

my commute will soon be shrinking to 2.5 mi / day -- so driving makes no sense. as a small woman, i need something that allows me to get away quickly (it's about safety). here are my challenges:
  • bike makers usually make bikes for women 5'3" and over -- that's 5 inches more than i have
  • changing gears has to be easy -- my finger strength is limited
  • i cannot put much weight on my wrists -- hurts too much
  • my neighborhood has steep roads -- 20% gradient or higher on my street (no one believes such areas exist in los angeles)
  • i hate feeling like i'm not moving -- so small tires and i don't get along
  • i am so light, most suspension forks don't help, but i'd love to have them
that said, i'm in good shape -- in fact, at 40 i feel better than i did in my 20s. i'm considering:
  • trek 7300 wsd (tho smallest size - 14in - is still a little big for me after my test ride)
  • terry susan b (they make 11in frames!)
  • breezer uptown 8 (the xs can go down to 4'8" peeps -- cool bike although smaller diameter wheels)
  • breezer greenway (the xs can go down to 4'8" peeps)
  • trek lime (it has smaller wheel diameter, but automatic shifting and coasting brakes!).
is there anything else i can consider? your recommendations are appreciated.
 
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