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Know my way around the rocky trails, but looking into road biking too now - keeping in mind i'm not looking to race, what recommendations do you experienced folks have - should i look at women specfic or all types?
 

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Go to a few good bike shops in your area, and try a bunch of bikes. WSD designs may or may not wind up fitting you the best. It depends on your proportions. My wife is 5'4 with a short torso and has gotten good fit on small "men's" frames. The women's handlebars (shorter reach, narrower) and levers (shorter reach) are pretty cool. Specialized makes some spacers to turn regular Shimano levers into short reach levers; I put those on my wife's bike. You may or may not like "women's" saddles. It depends on how far apart your sit bones are. Expect to go through a few saddles before you find a good one.

For current bikes my wife thinks the Specialized Ruby is pretty cool.
 

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Although most women don't specifically need a WSD frame, in my experience the smaller you are the more likely it is that you'll really benefit from a women's specific setup. At 5'3" you'll be looking at bikes in the 47cm size range (I say range... there's no magic formula for sizing folks based on height alone) and there will be a lot of factors to consider.

For example, at 47 cm and under, you'll want to consider the benefits of 650cc wheels (smaller than regular road wheels) to avoid odd bike geometry or toe overlap. All things being equal, I prefer 700cc wheels because it is easier to find (or borrow) a tube, etc. but ultimately you should get what fits best. You'll probably have narrower shoulders and smaller hands than most men's bikes assume.

I think you'd definitely benefit from going to a good local bike shop and talking to folks and riding a few different things.

As for saddles, it is truly a preference thing but the Terry Butterfly has a HUGE proportion of the recreational women's market for good reason... it is a very quality saddle, not too heavy, and fits a wide range of women. I'd certainly start there (or the Terry Liberator if she insists on more cushiness).
 

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I'm a 5' 3.5" man and I'm a Giant size small, Cervelo 51cm, Kestrel 52 cm, Raleigh 50cm.

A Giant OCR WSD would be fine for you, and they look so cute in their femme colors. And I think you can put panniers on them. My OCR 1 has pannier and I use it for commuting and shopping.
 

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Go visit your LBS, ask them if they can do a proper fitting for a roadbike. Let them know you're planning on spending some time finding the bike you want (thier shop and others)and ask how much they charge for the fitting when you don't buy a bike from them right then. Get fitted. Go ride everything you can find. Poke around on the internet too, to get ideas; GVHbikes.com has several smaller frames.
 

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donsdom said:
Know my way around the rocky trails, but looking into road biking too now - keeping in mind i'm not looking to race, what recommendations do you experienced folks have - should i look at women specfic or all types?

5'3 isn't that small of a person. go out and visit the shops. after mesauring your proportions, they should be able to tell you what to do.
 

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specialized allez elite

depending how much you want to spend... if it's around $1000, the specialized allez elite's a great bike. my girlfriend, now fiance, got one (i went with her). she's 5' 3" and got the size XS (roughly 50-51cm). it fits her perfectly with a 90mm stem...we could probably put on a 100mm stem now that she's less worried about being upright.

she tried the specialized women's model but, quite honestly, she preferred the all silver color of the allez elite to the more "feminine" colors of the dolce's. fit-wise, women's models tend to have shorter top tubes (less of a reach). we just had her stem angled up and that worked out fine for her.

650cc sized frames are good if you indeed need a really small frame.

john
 

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donsdom said:
Know my way around the rocky trails, but looking into road biking too now - keeping in mind i'm not looking to race, what recommendations do you experienced folks have - should i look at women specfic or all types?
Having managed a bike shop, plus helping other friends out, I have never gone wrong telling someone to look at the Giant OCR line. They are a great bike at a nice price to get you started.
 
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