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short-ish women: what frame do you have for audax?

Posted: 3 Mar 2018, 5:00pm
by lvabd
hello!

here is my lil first world problem: for the cycling industry, I am short, 1.66m. And female. The later being the biggest problem: according to lbs, and all type of fitting, I should be on 50cm road bikes, with TT around 52cm. Ah. Way to big on long rides (>200km)
I have a old Thorn Brevet, 51.5 cm top tube, just fitted with a 6cm stem (as opposed to 7 last year). will try it out this year, but I suspect this is STILL going to be 1+cm or so too long.

I am interested in other women's experience (or anyone short with short torso and short arms), and the type of bike you got for long rides (I can easily manage a 120-150k on a 52cm TT, but I felt it's too big when hitting 200+)

My two options now are : 650c custom built (yeah, even the very few 650c steel frames on the market are either way too short in terms of seat tube, like 43cm, what a joke, or with stupidly steep seat tubes...!), but then we are talking about >2000£ for a frame... OR an old 26" wheels mtb (drop bar converted), 50 cm TT (I got that in store)... any experience of audaxing with 26" wheels by the way?

thanks a lot!

Re: short-ish women: what frame do you have for audax?

Posted: 4 Mar 2018, 9:45am
by Mavis2016
5’5 isn’t particularly short.

Our 11 year old (5’3 ish) fits the second size up Spa tourer. Ask Colin on here about their Audax frames.

Re: short-ish women: what frame do you have for audax?

Posted: 4 Mar 2018, 10:02am
by pwa
My Missus is about 5'4'' and feels comfy and relaxed on a bike with 700c wheels and drop bars, not stretched out at all. So it is possible without resorting to an unusual wheel size.

My wife's bike wouldn't suit you, being a bit basic, but it does illustrate how a good fit can be achieved. It is a recycled kids bike. An Islabikes Lluath. Worth a quick look to take in the short cranks, very compact and narrow bars, etc that make the bikes fit the small bodies they are intended for.

Are you sure you can't find alternative bars with say 15mm shorter reach?

Re: short-ish women: what frame do you have for audax?

Posted: 4 Mar 2018, 11:25am
by Vorpal
Mini V is 160 cm and rides a Trek FX 7.2. This bike is a hybrid, rather than a road bike, so some may not consider it suitable for Audax, but their road bikes are equally well-designed. So, I would recommend trying some Treks. Find a dealer that has some in your size, and go ride them.

Otherwise, Islabikes, Spa, Thorn, and a number of the custom builders in the UK can help you with a bike that will suit you.

Re: short-ish women: what frame do you have for audax?

Posted: 4 Mar 2018, 11:27am
by fausto copy
I'm only an inch taller than you, so probably not much difference in leg/body lengths.
All my (and Mrs. Copy's) bikes are 26" wheel to alleviate the problems you are encountering.

I actually have a Thorn Brevet, built with 26" wheels a 47cm seat tube and 52cm top tube for long rides.
I'm sure if you could get something along those lines, you'd be fine.

Very occasionally :roll: something in that size does pop up on this forum in the for sale section.

Otherwise, I think you're looking at custom-made and I'd recommend Longstaff Cycles to get you something spot on.
And Spa would be your best bet for an off the peg bike.

Good luck with your search,

fausto.

Re: short-ish women: what frame do you have for audax?

Posted: 4 Mar 2018, 2:42pm
by LollyKat
My daughter is 5'2" and very happy with her Condor Fratello - I can't remember what size it is but it was off-the-peg.. I'm 5'6" and have a Thorn Audax Mk3, size 525, which fits me fine but they also do the extra small 495S. All of these bikes have 700c wheels and no toe overlap so long as you use clipless pedals or toe-clips.

Spa Cycles' smallest Audax frame is 50cm, shown here with dimensions. Note that because Spa use slacker angles (for comfort) the top tube may be longer than the other makes above; however in practice the saddle-to-bars distance is not. Spa also do a 48cm Touring frame for 26" wheels, but you might not think it sporty enough for Audaxing. My daughter has one of these and it is a really nice bike, but much too small for me - I've got a relatively long back and 'normal' arms.

Re: short-ish women: what frame do you have for audax?

Posted: 5 Mar 2018, 7:50am
by Norman H
Plenty of people of your height and smaller ride 700c bikes, myself included, but individual variation with regard to leg length in relation to Torso and arm length can cause this sort of problem. It can usually be sorted with a suitable stem but it's also worth considering the bars.

Are you currently riding compact drops?

There's quite a variety in bar shapes available with regard to how far forward they place the hoods, it might be worth measuring yours and seeing if you can find a pair with less forward projection.

Re: short-ish women: what frame do you have for audax?

Posted: 5 Mar 2018, 11:10am
by Flinders
I'm 5' and short in the leg and long in the back proportionally even within that, but I have a frame that allows me to have 700 wheels, though the saddle has to be as low as it can go. You just have to find the right frame. Mine is a Ridley 'Triton T', size XXS, Alu frame, carbon forks, enough clearance for mudguards- I'd say winter training or audax in design, so your sort of thing, but I understand they are no longer made. They may make something that looks similar, the Fenix A Tiagra looks like a modern replacement, and they do it in XXS, though not sure about mudguard clearances. Mina thing is they still do seem to do smaller frames.

Interestingly, the XXS on that frame has a slightly longer reach than the XS. that would be no problem for me, as I have to have a long stem on my current frame because of my long back, but it might be a problem for some small people.

Link tot he frame I looked at:
https://www.ridley-bikes.com/project/fenix-a-tiagra/

Re: short-ish women: what frame do you have for audax?

Posted: 6 Mar 2018, 5:52pm
by eileithyia
Hello and welcome, as 5'2" woman who started cycling life on b/f's spare bike... have never ridden anything other than small framed bikes, starting with a Dawes Super Galaxy, and last off the peg bike was a small Dolan Prefissio... I just adjust the reach via the length of stem.

Re: short-ish women: what frame do you have for audax?

Posted: 6 Mar 2018, 8:16pm
by 531colin
The best thing to do is to sort out your riding position using your existing bike. There is no need to stop at a 60mm stem, google "Deda Cortissimo" and ignore the tripe about it being a stem for fixed-wheel bikes, its just an Ahead stem about 45mm length. If your bike uses a quill stem, you will need a quill/ahead adapter, and you will need a handlebar shim if your bars are less than 31.8mm.
All these bike fit systems that recommend bike dimensions based on body dimensions times a magic number are simply trying to force you, the rider, into some kind of "average" riding position.......I think that's backwards, I think the bike should be adjusted to fit the rider.
Have a read of my DIY bike fitting article linked below my signature. Its possible that your discomfort comes from having too much weight on your hands, rather than from the reach itself......and the way to reduce the weight on your hands is to move the saddle back....but if a rider already thinks their reach is too long, its uphill work to convince the rider to move the saddle back, specially if you can't at the same time offer a shorter stem. You may even find that having moved the saddle back and reduced the weight on your hands you are suddenly comfortable with a longer reach.
But please try it.......its pretty cheap to buy the odd stem/shim/adapter, and unless you know exactly what riding position is comfortable you could end up with a shiny new bike that you still can't get comfortable on.

Re: short-ish women: what frame do you have for audax?

Posted: 6 Mar 2018, 10:58pm
by Flinders
I would recommend anyone interested in bike fitting to read 531colin's article. It's really excellent.

Re: short-ish women: what frame do you have for audax?

Posted: 7 Mar 2018, 10:22am
by lvabd
531colin wrote:The best thing to do is to sort out your riding position using your existing bike. There is no need to stop at a 60mm stem, google "Deda Cortissimo" and ignore the tripe about it being a stem for fixed-wheel bikes, its just an Ahead stem about 45mm length. If your bike uses a quill stem, you will need a quill/ahead adapter, and you will need a handlebar shim if your bars are less than 31.8mm.
All these bike fit systems that recommend bike dimensions based on body dimensions times a magic number are simply trying to force you, the rider, into some kind of "average" riding position.......I think that's backwards, I think the bike should be adjusted to fit the rider.
Have a read of my DIY bike fitting article linked below my signature. Its possible that your discomfort comes from having too much weight on your hands, rather than from the reach itself......and the way to reduce the weight on your hands is to move the saddle back....but if a rider already thinks their reach is too long, its uphill work to convince the rider to move the saddle back, specially if you can't at the same time offer a shorter stem. You may even find that having moved the saddle back and reduced the weight on your hands you are suddenly comfortable with a longer reach.
But please try it.......its pretty cheap to buy the odd stem/shim/adapter, and unless you know exactly what riding position is comfortable you could end up with a shiny new bike that you still can't get comfortable on.


first of all, thanks a lot for your answer!

I do have a 45mm stem, and did ride 200k+ with it. I felt the bike was handling very poorly especially in fast downhills. Almost scary actually. now I have a stem with a steep angle and relatively short: 35 degrees, 9cm, so a horizontal extent of 6 cm or so. I did have the problem of too much weight on my hands, and did move the saddle backwards. it's now quite behind the "middle" of the rails, but my hands are now fine.
The pain is mostly in my shoulders on long rides. Between my shoulder blades, and in the muscle that links with the neck on top of the shoulder blade.
How much credibility do you give to the general ideal of a 90 degrees between the arm and the torso (line between hips and shoulder/arm joint)? if that's of any relevance, the angle for me, on the current setup of my bike, is close to 95 degrees. I believe this is way too "open". what would you say?

Re: short-ish women: what frame do you have for audax?

Posted: 7 Mar 2018, 10:24am
by lvabd
Norman H wrote:Plenty of people of your height and smaller ride 700c bikes, myself included, but individual variation with regard to leg length in relation to Torso and arm length can cause this sort of problem. It can usually be sorted with a suitable stem but it's also worth considering the bars.

Are you currently riding compact drops?

There's quite a variety in bar shapes available with regard to how far forward they place the hoods, it might be worth measuring yours and seeing if you can find a pair with less forward projection.



thanks for your answer!

Yes I am the specialized women short reach bars, 36cm wide. that's pretty much as compact, short, and narrow as it can be...!

Re: short-ish women: what frame do you have for audax?

Posted: 7 Mar 2018, 10:28am
by lvabd
LollyKat wrote:My daughter is 5'2" and very happy with her Condor Fratello - I can't remember what size it is but it was off-the-peg.. I'm 5'6" and have a Thorn Audax Mk3, size 525, which fits me fine but they also do the extra small 495S. All of these bikes have 700c wheels and no toe overlap so long as you use clipless pedals or toe-clips.

Spa Cycles' smallest Audax frame is 50cm, shown here with dimensions. Note that because Spa use slacker angles (for comfort) the top tube may be longer than the other makes above; however in practice the saddle-to-bars distance is not. Spa also do a 48cm Touring frame for 26" wheels, but you might not think it sporty enough for Audaxing. My daughter has one of these and it is a really nice bike, but much too small for me - I've got a relatively long back and 'normal' arms.


thanks for your answer! Yes my Brevet is the exact old version of the MK3 495S (I was in touch with SJS, they confirmed that), same geometry as the new version. No problem with toe overlap either.

How comes a long effective top tube does not result in long saddle to bars distance?

Re: short-ish women: what frame do you have for audax?

Posted: 7 Mar 2018, 10:29am
by lvabd
fausto copy wrote:I'm only an inch taller than you, so probably not much difference in leg/body lengths.
All my (and Mrs. Copy's) bikes are 26" wheel to alleviate the problems you are encountering.

I actually have a Thorn Brevet, built with 26" wheels a 47cm seat tube and 52cm top tube for long rides.
I'm sure if you could get something along those lines, you'd be fine.

Very occasionally :roll: something in that size does pop up on this forum in the for sale section.

Otherwise, I think you're looking at custom-made and I'd recommend Longstaff Cycles to get you something spot on.
And Spa would be your best bet for an off the peg bike.

Good luck with your search,

fausto.


thanks Fausto! actually my Brevet is even shorter than yours (with 700c): 51.5cm effective top tube.. :/
All Spa audax bikes I checked were longer than my brevet... but I will have a look at longstaff, thanks a lot!