women’s road (sorry!) bike advice

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  • women’s road (sorry!) bike advice
  • Sue_W
    Member

    OK, now that I have slightly knackered my knees communting on the road on my old hardtail, I’ve decided it’s time to get a road bike.

    I’ve searched widely with some fairly specific requirement, and not found what I need. So, any advice from the collective wisdom of STW? What bikes would meet the following criteria:
    – fit a 5 ft woman (I’ve got a ‘female’ build, so would need a women’s specific bike)
    – lightweight, but robust enough to cope with uber-shonky tarmac rural back roads (and possibly a wee bit of gravel path?)
    – option to take rear panniers
    – small bars, short reach levers
    – 165 cranks (to avoid toe overlap)

    And I’m struggling to fit 700 wheels into the frame size I’d need – so should I go for:
    – 650 wheels with drop bars
    – or, 700 wheels with flat bars
    If it helps I have no intention of racing, and will be riding on the road mainly for commuting with hopefully a few day rides and light touring.

    So, what bike do I need????

    Premier Icon rOcKeTdOg
    Subscriber

    my GF has a specialized dolce and she seems to love it, female geom 43cm but with full size wheels, drops and 165 cranks, not sure about the panniers though

    davedodd
    Member

    Sue,

    I would just recommend going to a good road shop and getting someone to look at your fit on a bike.

    My wife and I went to Rourkes in Stoke to see Brian. We were originally looking at a Spec Dolce, but the shape just wasn’t right for her. Brian tried her on loads of different models, and we eventually left with a men’s Spec Allez, which she’s been delighted with ever since.

    Just my thoughts, but it worked for us. Good luck.

    Dave

    mrsflash
    Member

    I would just recommend going to a good road shop and getting someone to look at your fit on a bike.

    I second this – I got mine from Ribble where they have a fitting jig and can play about and see what suits your shape.

    london_lady
    Member

    There are a number of women specific bikes out there – trek, bianchi, specialized, pinarello, cinelli, orbea, lemond, wilier etc etc but whether you will be able to get one with mudguard and pannier mounts is a different matter.
    I am 5ft 3″ and opted for a custom built 725 touring bike from Andy Thompson so I was able to specify exactly what I wanted (mudguards and rack for touring) and what spec I wanted – in my case campag chorus (I have quite small hands and personally find campag suits my small hands), TA 165mm cranks and 3T Eva ladies bars (cinelli also do the littlewing ladies bars). Mine ended up being a 48cm frame with 700 wheels – if you go down the 650 wheels then you are somewhat limited in tyre choice. The 725 frame isn’t the lightest but it does ride light and the price of a 725 frame won’t break the bank account. You may be able to get some cross bikes that have mudguard/rack mounts but again finding one that fits you will be difficult – it was hard enough to find one small enough myself. What is your budget?

    Sue_W
    Member

    Cheers all. Those of you who went for a custom build / fit – what sort of qustions do they ask? I’ve had mountain bikes for several years, but I’ve never had a road bike before. A lot of questions seem to be based on your ‘existing’ bike (which I obviously don’t have!). But I do have a clear idea as to the type of riding I will be doing, and my overall riding style (more sit and enjoy the view than a bum in the air racing position!)

    mmm … it would appear that a custom build might be the best option. My budget is not ‘fixed’ yet, but I’d rather pay more for a proper fit than less for bike that will hurt if I start racking up the miles. London-lady – approx how much did yours cost? (if that isn’t too intrusive a question!) Also, does anyone have some recommended bike builders?

    Premier Icon crazy-legs
    Subscriber

    Sue W, whereabouts are you based?
    Can probably recommend a good roadie shop with a frame-fit jig if you tell us where you are.
    In the meantime frame builders worth googling are Chas Roberts, Terry Dolan, Bob Jackson and it may be worth having a look at Thorn as well, they do a range of custom bikes through SJS Cycles.

    I’d have a look at the Dolce range as well, it always sold really well and seemed (at least when I was working in a shop) to be better specced than it’s nearest rivals. Fitting a rack isn’t usually a problem, you can get P-clips which clamp direct to the frame (a rubber coated thin steel band) and the rack bolts to this, it’s just as strong/reliable as proper mounts.

    Try a few local shops as well, they may have something in in more or less your size and a sales person who knows his/her stuff to talk through it with you.

    Sue_W
    Member

    Crazy-legs – I’m based in Snowdonia. I’ve been to the Specialized Concept store in Chester to try the Dolce a wee while ago. Was interested in the bike, but wasn’t impressed with the advice in the store as they tried to persuade me to get frame size that was too large, probably becuase it was the only size they had in and as it was just before the 09 bikes came out it might have been that there wasn’t an 08 dolce in my tiny size left.

    I travel quite a bit – especially Cardiff and London if you know of anywhere down there. And I’d be more than happy to come back up to Calderdale for some combined bike fitting and riding 🙂

    london_lady
    Member

    Sorry but I did get mine about 10 years ago for about £1500-ish.
    If you go to a decent frame builder you will probably sit down with them and dicuss what you want from your bike, what you will be using it for and then you will get measured in order to get the correct frame size – it doesn’t matter if you don’t know your size, they should offer a measuring service anyway.
    don’t forget it is your money and don’t agree to anything unless you are happy with it – if you go down the custom route then you want this bike to fit and last for years.
    Look here for frame builders in the uk….
    http://www.framebuilding.com/custom_uk_bicycle_framebuilders.htm
    Dave Yates, bob Jackson, Corrado, Argos – one of these is who I would look at.
    I reckon/think you should be looking at about £700-ish for a 725 frame.

    london_lady
    Member

    In that case – next time you are in London pop into Condors on Greys Inn Road and I bet you leave with a bike 🙂

    karnali
    Member

    the tricross may suit your riding and what you want, it also has a shorter top tube than a standard road bike

    Premier Icon crazy-legs
    Subscriber

    London, try Brixton Cycles, just by the skatepark in Brixton. Bit of a cluttered shop and you may have to wait a while to be served (especially if you go in first thing) but it’s worth it, great shop, sound people and good advice.
    Much as I’ll get flamed for this, it’s worth trying Evans Cycles on The Cut in Waterloo, they’re the main road bike branch of Evans and often have lots of sizes in stock, you can at least get to try bikes even if you don’t buy there.
    Personally speaking I’ve had nothing but bad experience from Condor but equally I know other people who think they’re the best shop in London.

    Not sure about Cardiff, it’s been ages since I was there! Althoguh if you’re down that way there’s another Specialized concept store in Bristol as well as Mud Dock Cycles (which seems to get mixed reviews on here…)

    Good luck with it and yes, if you’re over Calderdale/Peak District way give us a shout.

    aP
    Member

    You might do worse than contact Isla Rowntree (islabikes) and ask her opinion as she certainly used to be very involved in women specific design in the early mid 90s and should be able to give you some valuable info.
    She’s SW of Wolverhampton so relatively easy to get to for you.

    Sue_W
    Member

    thanks for all the suggestions … now have a whole new load of bikes to check out 🙂

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