Touring bike for a small woman

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
Aramisactive
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Touring bike for a small woman

Postby Aramisactive » 16 Apr 2020, 12:26pm

Hi all,

My girlfriend and I are planning a cycle tour in a year or so. We will be cycling 40-60 miles per day for a month or so and we will be carrying camping gear with us.

She is a complete beginner in cycling (which is another completely different challenge) so she doesn't own a bike.

She is 5ft3 (1.61m) and quite slim.

There are quite a lot and confusing information with regards to women specific bikes, men specific bikes that are suitable for women, unisex bikes and equally as much information on sizing for bike frames.

We considered the Dawes Galaxy and Karakum to start with (mainly because i have a Galaxy and I'm very happy with it). However, I'm not sure if it will be suitable for her; the frame shape, the dropped handlebars may be an issue as a first bike as her confidence isn't great etc.

Her budget is around the £700 mark, excluding extras such as helmet, lights, panniers etc.

Does anyone have any advice on suitable bikes and/or frame sizes for this situation? Or any further advice in general?

She seems very excited about getting into cycling so i don't want her put off from cycling because of an unsuitable bike.

Thank you all for your advice in advance.

Aram

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honesty
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Re: Touring bike for a small woman

Postby honesty » 16 Apr 2020, 12:35pm

Have a look at the Spa Cycles steel tourer. Its a bit more than you were looking to spend but if you wanted to go up to £900 its a good buy. - https://www.spacycles.co.uk/m1b0s225p0/Bikes/Touring

They do drop bar or flat bar versions as well.

Psamathe
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Re: Touring bike for a small woman

Postby Psamathe » 16 Apr 2020, 12:49pm

I don't have the experience to offer specific advice beyond:

1. I found manufacturers quite helpful providing guidance on their bike sizes. e-mail height, (maybe weight), inside leg and (ones I checked) e-mail back their thoughts (though don't buy on that but you can at least check local shops for a trial ride)

2. I don't like the idea of carbon forks on a touring bike (some people seem to think they are fine, others don't and although I've never had any, my bias is for steel (frame material). And when I was looking a lot of Dawes touring bikes came with carbon forks.

Ian

Freddie
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Re: Touring bike for a small woman

Postby Freddie » 16 Apr 2020, 1:11pm

Aramisactive wrote:Hi all,

My girlfriend and I are planning a cycle tour in a year or so. We will be cycling 40-60 miles per day for a month or so and we will be carrying camping gear with us.

She is a complete beginner in cycling (which is another completely different challenge) so she doesn't own a bike.
Perhaps the first thing to do would be to get her a reasonable bike for the moment, to see if she enjoys cycling and get her ready for riding those distances. I think to start from no/almost no miles to 40-60 miles a day may make her not enjoy it, whereas she could enjoy it had she built up slowly to those miles.

Aramisactive wrote:Does anyone have any advice on suitable bikes and/or frame sizes for this situation? Or any further advice in general?

She seems very excited about getting into cycling so i don't want her put off from cycling because of an unsuitable bike.
Indeed. I'd say spend £300 (or less, if a decent secondhand bike is available) on a reasonably decent bike now and see if she takes to cycling. I don't think you want to spend much less, at least on a new bike, because quality seems to fall rapidly below a certain point and a BSO (bike shaped object) might put her off unduly.

slowster
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Re: Touring bike for a small woman

Postby slowster » 16 Apr 2020, 1:41pm

I too would recommend that you look at Spa's bikes.

1. They have a wide range of touring bikes, not just their own brand (see here).

2. Their steel touring frame can be built up with whatever specification she wants. The standard drop bar specification is £985, but they also offer a flat bar 8 speed specification for only £700, as well as a flat bar 9 speed specification for £945.

3. They have numerous demonstrator bikes, so she should be able to arrange test rides which will allow her to compare the flat bar version with the drop bar version.

4. Being able to get the bike built up with exactly what components she wants will potentially save money compared with most mainstream off the peg bikes where a customer might end up changing various parts after purchase because they are not quite right.

5. There are only a small number of bike shops which cater specifically to the touring market, e.g. SJS Cycles in Bridgewater with their Thorn brand bikes and Hewitt Cycles. Spa probably has the best range and choice of touring bikes out of those retailers. In contrast most other bike shops will probably have only one or two touring bikes which their particular brand offers, e.g. Trek, Specialized etc., and many will not have them in stock to test and would need to order them. Similarly those shops will not have the range of various touring bike components and accessories that Spa offer, e.g. racks, luggage, dynamos (including with charging options for phones etc. while on tour).
Last edited by slowster on 16 Apr 2020, 4:13pm, edited 1 time in total.

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TrevA
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Re: Touring bike for a small woman

Postby TrevA » 16 Apr 2020, 4:08pm

Dawes do, or at least did, a 43cm version of their Galaxy touring bike, which should suit her height wise. My wife is 5 ft 5 and has the 49cm version (the next size up). The only problem being that the top tube might be too long for her, making her a bit too stretched out. Perhaps a 26 inch wheeled tourer in a small size might suit, as the smaller wheel size works better with smaller frame. It might also be worth considering an Islabike. These are made for children With scaled down frames and components, but they also suit small adults.
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531colin
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Re: Touring bike for a small woman

Postby 531colin » 16 Apr 2020, 5:05pm

Assuming "normal" body proportions and a sensible bike design, somebody 5'3" can relatively easily be fitted with a "normal" sort of bike, ie standard components such as 700c wheels.
This photo is my friend riding the smallest prototype Spa Wayfarer; she is "five feet nothing" and right on the limit for drop bars and 700c wheels.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/52358536@N06/24796957129/in/album-72157647432027543/
A brand-new full-on touring bike is a considerable investment for somebody who doesn't cycle (yet).
Have you got something like this near you?https://www.resurrectionbikes.org.uk/ You won't just get a cheap bike, you will meet real enthusiasts at places like this, and they aren't looking to sell you something. To get a start, something like a hybrid or mountain bike with flat bars is easier to fit a small person, and confidence inspiring to ride.

Bonefishblues
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Re: Touring bike for a small woman

Postby Bonefishblues » 16 Apr 2020, 5:55pm

531colin wrote:Assuming "normal" body proportions and a sensible bike design, somebody 5'3" can relatively easily be fitted with a "normal" sort of bike, ie standard components such as 700c wheels.
This photo is my friend riding the smallest prototype Spa Wayfarer; she is "five feet nothing" and right on the limit for drop bars and 700c wheels.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/52358536@N06/24796957129/in/album-72157647432027543/
A brand-new full-on touring bike is a considerable investment for somebody who doesn't cycle (yet).
Have you got something like this near you?https://www.resurrectionbikes.org.uk/ You won't just get a cheap bike, you will meet real enthusiasts at places like this, and they aren't looking to sell you something. To get a start, something like a hybrid or mountain bike with flat bars is easier to fit a small person, and confidence inspiring to ride.

To that end (and very sensible advice, as always) a couple of Evans cycles 'own brand' hybrids that might fit the bill, and tour very happily. Other brands are available, but these designs come from the mountain bike end of the spectrum, and have good, low gears for touring.

https://www.evanscycles.com/pinnacle-li ... e-EV339942
https://www.evanscycles.com/pinnacle-li ... e-EV339943

Aramisactive
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Re: Touring bike for a small woman

Postby Aramisactive » 16 Apr 2020, 6:54pm

HI all,

Thank you for your responses.

I agree that a full on touring bike for someone who's not really into cycling is a big investment. Rest assured, we are looking into buying a second hand bike for now before we spend a significant amount of money on a new bike (and of course we will be starting with rides around the block instead of 40 mile rides).

Saying that, if she does end up liking it, the question of which touring bike to go for in the long, run still remains. :) I like the idea of a more mountain bike style bike. I guess it will also give a bit more confidence with the straight bar. I like the look of the two pinnacle bikes suggested. I'm assuming they are strong enough to carry load with panniers?

Bonefishblues
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Re: Touring bike for a small woman

Postby Bonefishblues » 16 Apr 2020, 7:15pm

Very much so. Just check that with rack and panniers there's sufficient heel clearance to pedal without heel strike - the length of the chainstays says yes it'll be fine, but just a prudent check.

dc
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Re: Touring bike for a small woman

Postby dc » 16 Apr 2020, 8:12pm

I have a twenty and a half inch Mercian touring bike suitable for a girl. If you are interested send me your email address I will send you photographs and details. Regards DC

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geomannie
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Re: Touring bike for a small woman

Postby geomannie » 16 Apr 2020, 8:58pm

You could try Temple Cycles, a bit above your price point but worth a look. My wife is a similar size to your girl friend and the small lady's frame Adventure Tour fits her well. It's a classic old school tourer and my wife is very pleased with it.

https://www.templecycles.co.uk/pages/adventure-tour

I had a few concerns about quality control issues but these while irritating were easily fixed.
geomannie

slowster
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Re: Touring bike for a small woman

Postby slowster » 16 Apr 2020, 9:01pm

Aramisactive wrote:I like the idea of a more mountain bike style bike.

Make sure that you take into account that your girlfriend is a novice and may not be as fit as you (or at least as well conditioned to spending multiple days in the saddle). Moreover at 5' 3" she probably weighs significantly less than you. If you weigh 75kg and she weighs 50kg and if you have similar power to weight ratios, she will have a lower power output, and she is therefore likely to need a proportionately lighter bike and/or luggage for the two of you to be evenly matched.

Even if I were fairly evenly matched with a touring partner in terms of fitness and weight, I would not want to ride an MTB on tour if they were riding a Galaxy, because in general IME a good fitting, purpose designed, drop barred tourer like the Galaxy will be more comfortable and less tiring to tour on than an MTB. Obviously you can mitigate this to varying extent by choosing an MTB/hybrid which is light and has light wheels with similar width tyres to your Galaxy (and the tyres should be good quality ones with low rolling resistance, e.g. Schwalbe Marathon Supreme), but even so I think both of you need to be prepared for you to carry more of the luggage than her, at least until her fitness and stamina have developed.

I would strongly second 531Colin's suggestion about getting her a bike from one of the numerous charity bike recyclers: not only should it be cheap, it should also be in good condition and probably better serviced than many new bikes bought from some very large bike retailers. If you bought an MTB or hybrid from such a place, it should enable her to determine after a while whether she can comfortably keep up with you on your Galaxy, or whether she feels she would be better off with a touring bike more like your Galaxy.

hoppy58
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Re: Touring bike for a small woman

Postby hoppy58 » 17 Apr 2020, 2:00pm

There’s a very nice xs Surly Troll in the classifieds. Bombproof Tourer/utility bike

viewtopic.php?f=40&t=136167

Good reviews here:

https://bikepacking.com/gear/gins-surly ... -bikepack/

http://www.whileoutriding.com/gear-revi ... -dirt-road

Bonefishblues
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Re: Touring bike for a small woman

Postby Bonefishblues » 17 Apr 2020, 2:52pm

Good call