Road Bike, Cycling Forums banner
1 - 19 of 19 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a fairly short female, ALMOST 5'3" and I have a 31" inseam so therefore my torso is very short and I've been searching for a road bike and finding it very difficult to find something where I'm not completely stretched out and miserable. Any recommendations?

I need to stick to a budget of $1200 or less so I've tried the following;

Trek 2.1 (WSD)
Specialized Dolce Elite
Scott Contessa Speedster
Novarra Carema Pro

So far the Scott feels like my best bet but if anyone has thoughts on others to try for my asymmetrical build I'm all ears!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,161 Posts
info...

To figure out which bike has the shortest reach, you have to compare the top tube length and the seat tube angle of each one. Steeper (numerically larger) STAs increase the reach by about 8mm per degree in your size range.

If you're doing test rides, you can't judge the reach until the saddle is set to the proper fore/aft position and height. Even then, each model will come with a stock stem length that may be too long for you. Any dealer should be willing to take the time to perform a cursory fitting and change the stem length.

One problem with lower level bikes is the Shimano brake/shifter levers that add about 10mm more reach than those made by Campagnolo, which you will never find on a bike in you price range. Even with short reach handlebars (a must), the extra reach will require a 10mm shorter stem.

Another problem is that the dealers may not have the size you really need and just let you test ride whatever they have, even if it's too big. What size of Trek did you test? With your inseam, it should have been a 47or 50cm.

There not quite enough info on the Novara to judge the true vertical size of the bike (no head tube length) and the size offerings are limited.

http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes/2008/road/2_series/21wsd/
http://www.specialized.com/bc/SBCGeometryPopup.jsp?spid=32301
http://www.scottusa.com/us_en/product/72/824/contessa_speedster
http://www.rei.com/rei/gearshop/sizefinder/Novara08Road.html#caremapro
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
52 Posts
I had the same issue. Any bike store worth it's salt with switch out the stem for you if you buy for better fit and while you are trying the bike on move the seat on its rails forward to see if that helps you. There are Women Specific Design (WSD) bikes out there that come with shorter stems, narrower bars and shorter reach on the controls. Check those out. Almost every manufacturer has them. And some should be in your price range.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,477 Posts
C-40 said:
To figure out which bike has the shortest reach, you have to compare the top tube length and the seat tube angle of each one. Steeper (numerically larger) STAs increase the reach by about 8mm per degree in your size range.
Not to de-rail the thread too much, but just had a question on the above. I'm assuming with the above statement all other lengths/measurements remain the same? So if a bike has a 53cm top tube, adjusting the STA only would provide a longer reach? That makes sense to me. Although when I was originalliy visualizing the shift in STA, I was assuming the TT would be shrinking as STA increased, effectively shortening reach.

Sorry, I just confused and then un-confused myself. Useless post.
 

·
waterproof*
Joined
·
41,745 Posts
It's really more about top tube and stem length than STA.

If you're properly fitted to the bike, your seat position vs the pedals will be determined by your legs. Both height, and fore/aft (since femur lengths differ).

Then, the reach to the bars is set by top tube length and stem length. The challenge is, if you get the TT too short, the front wheel comes back enough to mess with handling and also causes "toe overlap" which is a bigger problem in theory than in practice.

Some makers use steeper STA as a way to prevent toe overlap while still shortening the reach. Steeper (nearer vertical) STA = shorter top tube. As long as the Head Tube Angle stays constant, around 72-73 degrees, it can work.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,161 Posts
not quite right...

Creakyknees said:
It's really more about top tube and stem length than STA.

If you're properly fitted to the bike, your seat position vs the pedals will be determined by your legs. Both height, and fore/aft (since femur lengths differ).

Then, the reach to the bars is set by top tube length and stem length. The challenge is, if you get the TT too short, the front wheel comes back enough to mess with handling and also causes "toe overlap" which is a bigger problem in theory than in practice.

Some makers use steeper STA as a way to prevent toe overlap while still shortening the reach. Steeper (nearer vertical) STA = shorter top tube. As long as the Head Tube Angle stays constant, around 72-73 degrees, it can work.
There are a lot of errors in your statement. A given rider should have one proper position relative to the BB. If the STA is made steeper, then the saddle must be moved back to produce that same position and the reach gets longer, not shorter.

My usual example is two LOOK frames I owned. One had the traditional 72.5 degree STA with a 54cm TT, while the other had a steep 74.5 degree STA and 52.5cm TT. By your thinking, the later frame with it's steep STA and shorter TT would have less reach. In reality, the first frame has about 2mm less reach, with the saddle in the SAME position and using the same stem length. The front-center and wheelbase of both bikes was also nearly identical, so the steep STA did not reduce toe overlap.
 

·
haole from the mainland
Joined
·
5,966 Posts
I agree with C-40 that STA actually matters quite a lot on these small women's bikes (and I posted a very similar response to madge's post over in the wimmin's).

Take an example. Trek & Cervelo both post stack & reach in their geometry tables. The Cervelo is able to have a 73 STA because it uses 650c wheels, while the Trek inexplicably (for the bike's size) uses 700c wheels.

Bike STA HTA TT length Stack Reach
2.1 WSD (47cm) 75 71.7 51.1 53.6 36.8
RS (XS) 73 72 51.5 52.0 35.5
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Wow, lots of great info. Thanks!
I've seen the Orbea but at this point I don't have that kind of cash to dole out---along with the LOOK's too, and learning about the 650c wheels is new to me so I'll have to look into that.

I've had a few other females rec. the Orbea so I may have to suck it up and look at it---but if I'm thinking logically rather than impulsively I'll just take all the info on the STA and TT sizes spend more time investigating something that will fit and won't hurt my bank account as much!
 

·
duh...
Joined
·
9,749 Posts
Creakyknees said:
Some makers use steeper STA as a way to prevent toe overlap while still shortening the reach. Steeper (nearer vertical) STA = shorter top tube. As long as the Head Tube Angle stays constant, around 72-73 degrees, it can work.


how would STA affect toe overlap/lengthen the front-center when the BB remains in the same place???
 

·
waterproof*
Joined
·
41,745 Posts
C-40 said:
A given rider should have one proper position relative to the BB. If the STA is made steeper, then the saddle must be moved back to produce that same position
I agree. Nothing I said disputes that.

C-40 said:
and the reach gets longer, not shorter.
Assuming you don't change the stem, yes

C-40 said:
My usual example is two LOOK frames I owned. One had the traditional 72.5 degree STA with a 54cm TT, while the other had a steep 74.5 degree STA and 52.5cm TT. By your thinking, the later frame with it's steep STA and shorter TT would have less reach.
And all else being equal, it would.

C-40 said:
In reality, the first frame has about 2mm less reach, with the saddle in the SAME position and using the same stem length. The front-center and wheelbase of both bikes was also nearly identical, so the steep STA did not reduce toe overlap.
Key words being "about" and "nearly," and leaving out some measurements you'd need to prove your point, since millimeters count in this context.

This is easier to explain if you draw simple frame diagrams.
- parallel head and seat tubes, let's say 73/73
- steep STA, normal HTA, let's say 78/73 just for exaggeration of the effect.
Both of these with equal TT length. Equal total reach from seat to bars. But un-equal stem length b/c you need to slide the saddle back on the steep one. Where's the front wheel w/ relation to the BB? It's farther apart on the steeper STA bike. So, less toe overlap.

Note I'm not advocating steep STA bikes, just noting that they exist.

The effect of the steeper STA is to slide the BB backwards, in a manner of speaking. Or you could say that the seat tube pivots around the seat cluster, sliding the BB back a bit.

In my diagram you end up with more toe clearance; for the OP the TT could then theoretically be shortened a bit to make the reach a bit easier.
 

·
Frog Whisperer
Joined
·
41,515 Posts
Madge.....Take a look at Bianchi....I am 5' 5" with a 31 standover and ride one...when I was test riding bikes, I found "mediterranean" bikes to fit me best....

Bianchi seems to have a shorter top tube compared to the seat tube
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,161 Posts
beware of reach...

jorgy said:
I agree with C-40 that STA actually matters quite a lot on these small women's bikes (and I posted a very similar response to madge's post over in the wimmin's).

Take an example. Trek & Cervelo both post stack & reach in their geometry tables. The Cervelo is able to have a 73 STA because it uses 650c wheels, while the Trek inexplicably (for the bike's size) uses 700c wheels.

Bike STA HTA TT length Stack Reach
2.1 WSD (47cm) 75 71.7 51.1 53.6 36.8
RS (XS) 73 72 51.5 52.0 35.5
Yours is an example of an improper comparison. If you want to compare the reach, it must be done at the same stack height. To get the comparable reach you need to adjust the reach on the RS by subtracting 3mm per cm, or 5mm, so the comparable reach on the RS is only 35cm.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,020 Posts
I am 6'1" and have a 36" inseam, so we are relatively identical in our proportion (or distortion!?. I ended up going with custom bikes for both my mtb and road bikes. For the road bike I went to a pro fitter. He put me on a size-o-matic bike thingy and came up with the exact specs for the frame. He changed it several times during the fitting and tweaked everything to where it was the perfect blend of performance and comfort. The final product fits me like a glove, literally! I was overwhelmed by the fit of the bike on my first ride. By the way, the fitter was Zac Daab at Cascade Bicycle Studio in Seattle. James Bleakley at Black Sheep Bikes built the frame.

Even though you may not want to have a custom bike made, you can still benefit from a pro sizing session. In the end, it was WELL worth it to me.

Good luck.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
233 Posts
We've got a couple of women riders on Orbea as well who like their bikes, and more than one on Specialized...Maybe look for a used one before you start your addiction full throttle.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
tyro said:
I am 6'1" and have a 36" inseam, so we are relatively identical in our proportion (or distortion!?. I ended up going with custom bikes for both my mtb and road bikes. For the road bike I went to a pro fitter. He put me on a size-o-matic bike thingy and came up with the exact specs for the frame. He changed it several times during the fitting and tweaked everything to where it was the perfect blend of performance and comfort. The final product fits me like a glove, literally! I was overwhelmed by the fit of the bike on my first ride. By the way, the fitter was Zac Daab at Cascade Bicycle Studio in Seattle. James Bleakley at Black Sheep Bikes built the frame.

Even though you may not want to have a custom bike made, you can still benefit from a pro sizing session. In the end, it was WELL worth it to me.

Good luck.
I'm about 6'0" with a cycling inseam slightly longer than 36". I am in Seattle occaisonally. How much was the fitting? Just out of curiosity can you share some of the frame dimensions you ended up with? I don't have a custom frame but have accommodated my dimensions somewhat with set forward seat post and stem. If I take some approximate measurements of what frame would put saddle and bars in the same position I come up with about 76 deg STA, 65 cm seat tube and 55 or 56 top tube. Is this anywhere close to what you ended up with? Thanks
 

·
haole from the mainland
Joined
·
5,966 Posts
C-40 said:
Yours is an example of an improper comparison. If you want to compare the reach, it must be done at the same stack height. To get the comparable reach you need to adjust the reach on the RS by subtracting 3mm per cm, or 5mm, so the comparable reach on the RS is only 35cm.
Them's just the published values of Trek and Cervelo's websites, respectively. There's nothing "improper" going on.

If you want to get really technical, to compare the reach at the same stack, well you have to figure out that you need 1.68cm of 'angled stack' at 72 degrees to create 1.6cm of vertical stack (to equilibrate the Trek and Cervelo). You get 1.68cm by taking 1.6cm and dividing it by the sin of 72. Then to get the change in reach you take the cosine of 72 and multiply it by 1.68 and you get 0.52cm. So, technically the comparable reach becomes 34.98.

But I really didn't list the geometry info to get into a pissing contest.
 

·
Domokun!
Joined
·
476 Posts
My wife just got a new Cannondale six13 womens model. She has about the same measurements as you, They also have a synapse? model that is pretty nice for the cash, if you don't need all the zoot.

Good luck on your search. ours took a looooonnnnng time!!!
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top