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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, this is going to be my first bike purchase as I want to do a triathlon next year. As I have been researching, I am overwhelmed with decisions!! I am 5'10" with a 33" inseam and shoulder to shoulder is 17 inches. When I went to our LBS, he recommended 56cm women's. My price point was $1000 including pedals cleats and necessary equipment to start but as I get into it, that is a very low budget! I have been searching craigslist and ebay for some used bikes but there are plenty more mens than women's bikes so that is my question....would that hinder my riding in a mens bike? And, for just getting started and training for a triathlon, does anyone have any suggestions on a bike that would be good for me? I am willing to go up to $1500 if it is something that would benefit me. There are so many brands and different models that are for different styles of riding, it is overwhelming to a newbie!!
Thank you so much for all of your help!!! It is greatly appreciated!!!
 

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Adorable Furry Hombre
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Whether you "need" a women's bike comes down to you.

Being taller with the inseam you have, you may well be able to use any old bike. "Women's" bikes tend, across the same sizes compared to men's frames:

A) To run slightly narrower bars
B) Tend to have shorter frame reach (top tube length is shorter, be it real or virtual)
C) Have a shorter stem
D) The stock saddle. Different shape. (admittedly almost no one ever likes stock saddles for serious volume mileage anyway)
E) Get the pastel and flowery paint jobs

Because women, tend to on average, have shorter torsos/arms than men. Now, depending on your body proportions (beyond just inseam)-none of the above may be beneficial to you. Not seeing you on a bike over the internet, there's no way of knowing for certain.
 
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Marc pretty much summed it up..

As for tri training clip on aerobars are a budget way to approximate a tri-bike setup on a roadbike. It does take a bit of practice, but certainly very doable fairly quickly by a novice. Its what I use, since I ride road mostly and only do a couple Tri/TT events per year, it didn't make sense to buy a tri bike for me.
 

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Cycling induced anoesis
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I agree with both Marc and dave. I wouldn't attempt to size you over the internet, but your proportions suggest you'd be ok trying out men's bikes.

Also agree that unless your main discipline is going to be tri's avoid buying such a specific use bike. A drop bar road bike would be far more versatile the remainder of the time. And group rides generally don't allow aero bars.

As to your budget, with a little searching, I think you could buy new. Except for a helmet, saddle beg, flat repair kit, accessories can be purchased piecemeal. And many shops offer discounts on them with bike purchases.

Remember, buying new you'll get sizing/ fit assistance and a warranty. Buying used, you DIY or pay for a fitting - and get no warranty.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you for the quick response. I know it is so difficult to know without seeing my proportion but I guess I do agree I need to just go down to the bike shop and get sized. They were busy when I stopped in so they didn't have time to test some bikes out. The problem was my budget was low and a lot of the women's sized bikes in my price range weren't available. I guess they are getting ready for the new models to come out. We didn't look to see if they had some mens bikes in my price range that may be able to fit me with some minor adjustments. They initially were talking to me about Trex and Specialiized. Any other brands or models that you think would be good for a new rider?
 

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There are several quality brands. Giant, Fuji, Jamis, Raleigh, Felt (among others) carry a wide range of road bikes.

Shop for shops along with shopping for bikes. Pick the one that listens to your criteria (budget), emphasizes the importance of fit and promotes test rides.
 

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Buy the "pedals cleats and necessary equipment" then your budget becomes the cash balance.

It is not necessary for a woman to buy a woman's bike. While women's bikes may have geometries and components reputedly to better fit women, many women do fine on men's (read: unisex) bikes. In fact, I'd wager more women are riding unisex sized bikes than women's specific bikes. Considering your inseam and height, I'd be willing to bet you'd fit a 56cm frame just fine.

You're right in that your $1k budget is really restrictive. If you have a bicycle knowledgeable friend, then Craigslist or eBay are great places to find your ideal starter bike.

Something like the Specialized Allez E5 is a decent starter bike at $750. You're going to be learning a whole lot about cycling, and how you fit on a bike. Buying an expensive bike first time out is never wise in my book. You'll want to get all your crashes and mechanical blunders out of the way early; better to do so on a less expensive machine.

Cycling success is so much more the rider than the bike that I wouldn't worry that you would be handicapped with a lower tiered bike.
 

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A lot of women pros ride men's bikes, so buy what fits.
 

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Because women, tend to on average, have shorter torsos/arms than men. Now, depending on your body proportions (beyond just inseam)-none of the above may be beneficial to you. Not seeing you on a bike over the internet, there's no way of knowing for certain.
He just wants you to post a picture :)

All joking aside, everything said about womens spec bikes has already been said. But each person is a different dimension. I would say ignore gender, and just go to the bike store, find a bike in your price range that seems to fit, and ask if you can go for a 10 or 15 mile ride (ride around the parking lot is not really going to cut it). I know most LBS's will do their best to accommodate your needs.

My wife is 6'1, she rode a regular mens large cyclecross (Jamis brand) bike for ages.
 

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Also, keep in mind, when you typically buy new from an LBS (at least my LBS here in MD.. free pitch for Family Bike Store in Crofton :) ), they usually include free lifetime basic tune ups and adjustments. They also offer courses in basic maintenance, and some even have women specific events (because sometimes guys can be misogynists and *******s in this sport).
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hello my biking friends! Thank you for all of your help and knowledge. I went back to the bike shop and they had a leftover MENS 54cm Raleigh revino 1.0 2015 that had a tag on it of $680. They said they would tie $70 off of it but I didn't think that was a lot considering it is almost 2 years old. It seemed a good fit (not that I know what's good or bad) but I went over where they had women's bikes and they had a 56cm Trek Emonda ALR 4 for $1309 on the floor. He said that I would almost definitely be a 56cm women's and was happy that the mens 54cm fit good. After thinking about it last night, I thought the ALR4 may be better being its a women's bike and there are so many more better components so my thought was to buck up and go better.
Well now, I have to call them cause when I researched, it seems that they don't carry that model in women's so it must have been a mens and the salesmen wasn't aware of it. Also, Trek's website, they have a Emonda ALR 5 closeout for $1379 and they have a 54cm which on the Raleigh fit me well.
I know I don't really have a question there but I guess I'm just throwing it out there...would I be stupid to spend the extra money on a mens ALR? Would that be a much better bike and maybe allow me to enjoy biking more with a better built bike?
 

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Some thoughts...

Since there are no industry standards for measuring frame size, don't be misled into thinking a 54 in brand A is a 54 in brand B. It *may* be, but it may not be. This is why it's good to shop for shops along with bikes. Pick the shop that listens to your wants/ needs (budget, intended uses) and directs you to their offerings.

A reputable shop will fit you to bikes before test rides - not extensive, but enough that you're relatively comfortable - and promotes test rides.

As to the bikes, for a first bike, I see no reason to tread into the $1300+ category. Sure, nice things are nice to have, but being a first bike, you'll learn as you gain experience what you like/ dislike in bikes. And if you stick with this, there'll be that 'next bike'.

Up to you, but I suggest branching out a bit and looking at different brands at different shops. Researching is important, but getting out and test riding some bikes helps a lot to whittle the field.. at least in my experience.

Good luck to you. Let us know how it goes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thank you detailed information everyone. I will definitely keep you informed. This is a very reputable bike shop and the person previously spoke to, I liked better. I tried to call him today but was unable to get him so I will keep on this and keep you all posted on my progress. When I do get my bike, I'm sure I will be needing you help on tips and tricks to help my cycling future!
Thanks again everyone!!
 

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Hello, this is going to be my first bike purchase as I want to do a triathlon next year. As I have been researching, I am overwhelmed with decisions!! I am 5'10" with a 33" inseam and shoulder to shoulder is 17 inches. When I went to our LBS, he recommended 56cm women's. My price point was $1000 including pedals cleats and necessary equipment to start but as I get into it, that is a very low budget! I have been searching craigslist and ebay for some used bikes but there are plenty more mens than women's bikes so that is my question....would that hinder my riding in a mens bike? And, for just getting started and training for a triathlon, does anyone have any suggestions on a bike that would be good for me? I am willing to go up to $1500 if it is something that would benefit me. There are so many brands and different models that are for different styles of riding, it is overwhelming to a newbie!!
Thank you so much for all of your help!!! It is greatly appreciated!!!
In short, usually. Long answer, not necessarily in your case. Because you are taller it's generally unlikely you will absolutely need a women's bike. Women's bike is a carry-over term from the 1800s. Technically, with a short stem and correcting-position, you can be fitted(at your height especially) to almost any bike you want. If speed and performance are wanted, especially safe control with steering etc., women's bikes help. At 5'10'' I'd look into a 56 men's or a 58 women's with a 56cm or shorter top tube. With some 1990s and earlier men's bikes, top tubes were square with seat tube lengths, now it's all over the place. Getting out there to ride a given geometry is critical, with a $1000 budget, you should be able to get a bike for $800 and everything else, then if brand new from a decent bike shop they should allow you to return the bicycle for its entire value if it doesn't feel right. That's key, because especially as a woman, beginners have not been around the circle, which means used bikes aren't a great idea. 50 mph sometimes becomes unsettling, even in the best fits, so having gear that matches your body is crucial. Here is a couple absolute differences between men and women and why women's bicycles are made with varying geometry. #1, with heals and butt touching a wall, men can't touch their toes, but women can. #2, women's armspands are just like men's, roughly equal to height, yet, their shoulders wipth is typically smaller, meaning women make up some of that space with their upper arms but have smaller shoulders. #3, women indeed have weaker shoulders for their weight. #4 women have wider hips than men for their height. #5, overall, women tend to have longer legs for their height. What this means is typically on a woman the same height as a man, your body balance through turns etc. on one bike is not the same as the mans' would be. However what sex comes from is the amount of testosterone present in your body, which will largely change your proportions. Your index finger may even be shorter than your ring finger, in which case a
men's bike is probably alright, as other trates have followed suit. One key to understand (oh and men this means you too) is that normally sized handlebars, stem, seat post, seat position four/aft. and crank are what you should try to have on your bike, and if two or more of these things has to be changed to fit you to the frame, you probably need a different frame because ultimately the bicycle won't handle well. And I know there will be naysayers, but smaller is better than too big. Period. as it's true $1500 is more realistic for hobbyists, this budget pushing sounds like bs. $1000 should be plenty unless you're athletic, and expect 10,000 miles of cycling per year to become a legitimate possibility for you.
 

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Thank you for the quick response. I know it is so difficult to know without seeing my proportion but I guess I do agree I need to just go down to the bike shop and get sized. They were busy when I stopped in so they didn't have time to test some bikes out. The problem was my budget was low and a lot of the women's sized bikes in my price range weren't available. I guess they are getting ready for the new models to come out. We didn't look to see if they had some mens bikes in my price range that may be able to fit me with some minor adjustments. They initially were talking to me about Trex and Specialiized. Any other brands or models that you think would be good for a new rider?
for this question, I'd address that most bike shops disappointingly carry limited brands to push the profits up. Any brand will work well but pay close attention to "lifetime warranty" and "year warranty" claims. Ironically, year warranty bike companies really mean zero warranty, and lifetime will really only mean about one year. So find real brands with lifetime frame warranties. This way if your frame snaps you can get a replacement, but it probably won't snap because the company is confident in their workmanship. Buy from the best and often most expensive shop in your city, and you'll have that warranty backed. Otherwise ride what feels good. If you're totally new to road biking, you should ride what feels least like the mountain bike/cruiser/bmx bike you've ridden before. If you want to win the triathlon or even be competitive, you'll need to buy a used carbon or at least sub 20 lb. triathlon bike with what's called tri-bars, which are even longer than time trial handle bars.
 

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In general, women have proportionally longer legs and shorter torsos than men. Other than cosmetic differences, women's bike frames will have a proportionally longer seat tube, head tube and stack and a shorter top tube and reach.

However, plenty of men and women do not fit these general guidelines. I know women who fit better on men's frames. I am male, 5'10", have around a 32 inseam and take a 56cm men's frame in both Cannondale and Trek. Your inseam is an inch longer so you may very well benefit from a women's frame. From your inseam measurement, my gut feeling is that a 54 men's would be too small for you, though that can vary from brand to brand.

As others have said, a local bike shop can fit you properly. But make sure you find a good reputable bike shop that is willing to take time to fit you correctly, rather than one that just wants to sell you what they have in stock. In other words, shop for your bike shop first and your bike second.

As far as brands, there are many good brands out there including the ones you mentioned as well as Cannondale, Giant, GT, Scott and Focus just to name a few.
 

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As many have mentioned, you do not need a women's bike but depending on your shoulders, you may want to budget for a handlebars that fit you. However, unless you are average in a every way, you should budget for handlebars and stems that fit. Also, don't worry so much about seat tube length because you can always raise your seat. You want to get a bike with the appropriate top tube length. If you get a men's bike in the size based on your inseam, the top tube may be too long for you.
 
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