bike fit: short female rider- Mtbr.com
Results 1 to 19 of 19
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mack_turtle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    9,912

    bike fit: short female rider

    [edit: we found a bike]

    my wife has taken an interest in riding with me lately. she's 5' tall, has no interest in riding technical trails at the moment, and does not like spending money. good news for me, I never have to worry about her spending "too much money" on bike stuff. the bad news is she's never going to want to spend enough money to buy a decent new bike.

    we are looking at used 27.5" hardtails or maybe a relatively modern 26" hardtail under $500 that will be suitable for bike paths, hardpack trails, and roads. maybe even a gravel race. she's pretty intent on having some sort of front suspension, so most "gravel" bikes are out. I am hoping to find a bike with OK 9-speed stuff that I can convert to 1x9 for simplicity and some gradually lighten it up to make it more manageable. I have years of experience in bike shops, so I am more than comfortable with changing parts. I know that weight isn't everything, but when you're just a bit over 100 pounds, it might count a little more.

    the problem we have having a lack of decent extra-small bikes on the used market. lots more "small" bikes.

    now for the real question: most of the entry-level bikes come with stems that are long by today's standards (70-80mm) and perhaps offset seatposts. what are the chances I can make a bike that is a bit too big for her fit with help from a short stem and sliding the saddle forward.
    Last edited by mack_turtle; 12-24-2019 at 09:34 PM.

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Posts
    881
    There is a huge number of folks on these forums who have pushed the seat way up and used shorter stems----seems very common. I have not ever done this having long limbs but I'd say within reason this would work but you should take her to an LBS to see what fit works----ETT at ride height is what you are largely affecting. For example I know I need about 20.5 inches seat tip to mid bar at ride height to be happy.

    But for sure make sure stand over height works for her as a bike to high tends to make one nervous.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Posts
    2,288
    Most used small bikes from a few years ago would probably be an XS in most sizes these days. I'm 5'6" and used to be able to ride a medium now it depends on the bike.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mack_turtle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    9,912
    good points. we learned the hard way just how unsafe she feels on a bike with insufficient standover. I am used to telling people that standover really doesn't matter, but this whole experience is showing my how oblivious I am to the needs of a "new" cyclist.

    she rode an extra-small Transition Patrol for a bit and it was overwhelming. even though the frame was super short horizontally, the 170mm fork and 160mm coil sprung back end meant the bike allowed her negative standover. there's just no way to make a bike with that must suspension any lower and it was 10X the bike she has any need to ride anyways. she had to lean the bike over to dismount and the whole experience was mostly just terrifying.

    that will be our next goal: throw a leg over some small bikes to check standover, then consider if we can take enough reach out of the front by switching to a smaller stem.

    side note- it's damn annoying to contact flaky people on Craigslist. I am waiting with cash in hand to buy several bikes but the sellers can't be bothered to email me back. I am not new to this either, but it never ceases to be annoying.

  5. #5
    mbtr member
    Reputation: scottzg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    6,103
    Bikes for 5' tall riders tend to be pretty wacky. If you only made it to 5' you don't know how bikes fit normal people.

    They run in to problems we don't even think about----

    -standover height
    -excessive stack
    -toe overlap
    -geo that makes lofting the front impossible
    -hilariously overdamped suspension/ weird kinematics
    -ridiculously overbuilt and stiff

    Production frames tend to scale up a little oddly, and down... horribly.



    When i was in your situation, i built the frame and threw a fair bit of money at getting the build right. She liked to ride (road/gravel), but struggled with the equipment while 100% not giving shit about bikes. She picked the color, knew i was invested in her enjoyment, and let me tweak things those first rides. I never mentioned cost; it was my money and it would have been in her head. It was super effective and by now it was cheap per mile and the bike gets ridden on rides she never would have enjoyed before.

    I have a friend who had the same situation, but his girlfriend was already invested in the sport (mtb), and a solid, if stagnating, rider. They worked together to figure out what would work best for her, and how to hedge their bets wrt fit and handling. It made for fun chatter on boring climbs, and while she hasn't totally taken to the bike (first hardtail, started with FS) from what i've seen its been a good experience for both of them.

    My impression is that for someone like your wife, a progressive 650b XC hardtail (' progressive xc hardtail' can be a big bike when you're 5' tall) should fit her well and cover most of the riding she wants to do. I don't know how that translates to what's on the market, though. And an excessively restrictive budget may make it so there aren't any good options. I'd really consider a custom frame and a BikesDirect 'build kit,' if you think you'll recoup your $$ in miles traveled.

    As an amateur framebuilder whose built a whopping 2 bikes for <5'2 riders... i can design a bike in CAD and select a tube set that's better than any production frame in about 15 minutes. It's not that i'm great, it's that they're terrible.

    Hopefully there's something useful here.
    "Things that are complex are not useful, Things that are useful are simple."
    Mikhail Kalashnikov

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mack_turtle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    9,912
    Good stuff Scott, thanks! My money = her money, as we're a team. (If we were keeping score based on income, it's mostly her money.) She is absolutely 100% against spending one cent more than $500 on a bicycle, so a custom frame is in another Galaxy for her.

    She's not interested in something hardcore that will allow her to crush everything. She just wants something that does not suck to ride on hardpack beginner trails and gravel bike paths. There is a massive chasm of suck in which most bikes for small people fall.

    Unfortunately, most production the "entry level" bikes that can be found USED for under $500 (we found a few in pawn shops and Craigslist) suffer the issues you mentioned: toe overlap, massive stack that makes them fit like a beach cruiser, heavy and overbuilt frames, pogo stick forks, etc. We'll keep looking and I'll plan to spend some time tweaking the fit. Other than that, I can't convince her that a worthwhile bike costs money, so I've stopped trying. Either she'll get that or she'll stick to the stationary bike at the gym.

    We found a Liv hardtail XS with Shimano brakes and a 2x9 drivetrain and tubeless ready wheels and we're working on negotiating the price. Might be the ticket, but I think she might enjoy bargaining more than she likes riding.

  7. #7
    slow
    Reputation: sgltrak's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    6,397
    My 5'0" wife has grown more timid in recent years. While her tiny XS Santa Cruz Julianna has good standover, we have decided that adding a dropper will put her more at ease on the trails. Since most droppers have no offset, this will probably also improve the reach on her bike. We did recently put a shorter stem on to make her more comfortable, as well. If you can find a bike that is close, the shorter stem and straight post should help. Maybe even add a dropper.

  8. #8
    mbtr member
    Reputation: scottzg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    6,103
    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    what are the chances I can make a bike that is a bit too big for her fit with help from a short stem and sliding the saddle forward.
    Makes sense to me, and it might make for a better bike than how it was intended.

    I'm not certain, but i think you see a lot of those setback seat posts on budget bikes because 1 bolt clamps are cheaper to produce.

    500$ used is a tricky price point. Everyone wants a 500$ bike, and sellers think their 10 year old bike is worth 500$ because that's what they spent and didn't use it. Lotsa goofy stuff on CL at that price.

    Trek used to have a line of really nice lightweight 26" aluminum hardtails that came in 13" and fit small riders well. 7000 or 8000, i forget. Anyway, they're fairly easy to find used and in good condition. It doesn't seem like an older bike is really a bad thing for her needs; rim brakes and those awful old RS forks can be preferable to modern stuff when you're 100lbs and riding casually.

    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    but I think she might enjoy bargaining more than she likes riding.
    hahahaha
    "Things that are complex are not useful, Things that are useful are simple."
    Mikhail Kalashnikov

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    220
    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    my wife has taken an interest in riding with me lately. she's 5' tall, has no interest in riding technical trails at the moment, and does not like spending money. good news for me, I never have to worry about her spending "too much money" on bike stuff. the bad news is she's never going to want to spend enough money to buy a decent new bike.

    we are looking at used 27.5" hardtails or maybe a relatively modern 26" hardtail under $500 that will be suitable for bike paths, hardpack trails, and roads. maybe even a gravel race. she's pretty intent on having some sort of front suspension, so most "gravel" bikes are out. I am hoping to find a bike with OK 9-speed stuff that I can convert to 1x9 for simplicity and some gradually lighten it up to make it more manageable. I have years of experience in bike shops, so I am more than comfortable with changing parts. I know that weight isn't everything, but when you're just a bit over 100 pounds, it might count a little more.

    the problem we have having a lack of decent extra-small bikes on the used market. lots more "small" bikes.

    now for the real question: most of the entry-level bikes come with stems that are long by today's standards (70-80mm) and perhaps offset seatposts. what are the chances I can make a bike that is a bit too big for her fit with help from a short stem and sliding the saddle forward.
    Try a Salsa Timberjack in XS. My girlfriend is the same height and doesn’t do technical. She loves her TJ.

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mack_turtle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    9,912
    Quote Originally Posted by hwcn View Post
    Try a Salsa Timberjack in XS. My girlfriend is the same height and doesn’t do technical. She loves her TJ.
    $500 Timberjack? Is that possible?

  11. #11
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Posts
    485
    Look for a norco fluid xs. Its sized down to 26” wheels and a nice 67 degree head angle. Perfect entry bike imo

  12. #12
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mack_turtle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    9,912
    Quote Originally Posted by Fuse6F View Post
    Look for a norco fluid xs. Its sized down to 26” wheels and a nice 67 degree head angle. Perfect entry bike imo
    $2000 bike is "entry level"? I have to BEG her to expand her budget to $500. I'll have to see how far back that model goes on the used market.

  13. #13
    mtbr member
    Reputation: PVP-SS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Posts
    21
    Mack, Just throwing this out there as an alternative. My buddy bought one of these for his daughter (she sometimes rides with us but mostly with her mom on rails to trails).

    https://www.specialized.com/US/en/hotrock-24/p/171139

    Things you and your wife might not like: 24" wheels, linear pulls, 8 speed with low end components. I'm fairly sure these are not a big seller, probably you can find a leftover at a discount, that might make the wife even happier.

  14. #14
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mack_turtle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    9,912
    we have actually considered some kids bikes. There are some nicer ones out there with disc brakes and air forks, and you can often find them used, un-abused, and rather cheap because, surprise! kids grow. in the end, the all end up being just a bit too small though. probably fine for short rides but will be cramped and uncomfortable over a few miles.

    We would be interested in Frog bikes. These are well-designed kids bikes! The Frog 69 (unfortunate name!) has a 1x9 drivetrain, 26" wheels 544mm ETT, disc brakes, and an air fork.

    best of all, it's actually designed for petite people. if you look carefully at many modern bike manufacturers, their adult bikes are designed to support a 300+ pound rider. when you weigh 1/3 of that, you have to push around a lot of extra bike. Frogs seem pretty darn light with the intension of skinny kids zipping around on them.

    anyway, we have found a few decent bikes on the used market. they just keep getting snatched up before we can get them. we have a line on one particular bike that might work out just after Christmas. I'll report back if that is a success.

  15. #15
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Posts
    485
    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    $2000 bike is "entry level"? I have to BEG her to expand her budget to $500. I'll have to see how far back that model goes on the used market.
    Just upgraded my wife to a new bike. So her hardly used 2017 fluid ht may be up for sale. But im not sure where you are at locally?

    What model was $2000

  16. #16
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mack_turtle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    9,912
    I was worried that it would be too difficult to find a decent used bike for under $500 but a few have popped up. what do you think?

    2011 Cannondale Trail 4, women's extra-small. 3x9 with XTR rear derailleur, upgraded Manitou air fork, BB5 brakes with FR7 levers, Thudbuster post (might be able to sell to fund a brake or 1x upgrade) $350

    2014? Specialized Jett Comp 29, women's small (the smallest), Rockshox XC32 air fork, 2x10 drivetrain with clutch, not sure about the brakes. $500

    I think those bikes will come out in the wash as far as price. the question might be, for a 5' tall rider, 26 or 29?

  17. #17
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Posts
    217
    The 2011 Trail sounds interesting if it's 26" and in good shape. The Manitou fork is probably unserviceable at this point, so if it starts to go, would need a replacement.
    Definitely don't get 29" wheels for someone small who is not already a gung-ho rider, and who worries about standover. For my 5'1" ex wife a few years ago, we ended up with a 2016 XS Kona Tika. The XS comes with 26" wheels. Great fit. If you were in SoCal I would sell it to you cheap. Looks like the Kona Lanai is the rough equivalent in the 2019 and 2020 lineup, still with 26" wheels for the XS. If there's a Kona dealer nearby, you might be able to get a 2019 closeout for $500 or better. 100 mm Suntour XCT fork and Tektro Auriga or Aries brakes don't sound sexy, but they're perfectly functional for a light rider.



    Other options we considered were some GTs and Diamondbacks at the low end.

  18. #18
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mack_turtle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    9,912
    Found a bike! Smallest size of a Specialized Jett 29er. Probably just needs a women's saddle and maybe some saddle & stem adjustments to make it for right. XC32 air fork, hydraulic brakes, 2x10 drivetrain with a clutch derailleur, tubeless. $500!

    bike fit: short female rider-20191224_204015.jpg

  19. #19
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Posts
    217
    Sounds like a great find. Hope the 29er works out. If not, you can always sell it for similar to what you paid and try a smaller wheeled bike.

Similar Threads

  1. Tiny 27.5 bike for very short female rider?
    By TinyBiker in forum 27.5
    Replies: 27
    Last Post: 09-27-2018, 12:56 PM
  2. '12 Trek Fuel EX9 or '13 Cannondale Scalper Alloy 3 for a short female rider
    By stephenkchang in forum Bike and Frame discussion
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 10-15-2013, 07:24 AM
  3. Female looking for other female riders
    By bikeman1243 in forum Arizona
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 07-04-2008, 04:38 PM
  4. Replies: 50
    Last Post: 06-04-2008, 12:32 PM
  5. Fit...Fit...Fit questions (bike fit, that is!)
    By Alan in forum General Discussion
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 04-02-2007, 07:06 AM

Members who have read this thread: 69

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

THE SITE

ABOUT MTBR

VISIT US AT

© Copyright 2020 VerticalScope Inc. All rights reserved.