More women's bike frame info

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Anonymous's picture

"Rivendell Bicycles has graciously allowed us to post an article that appeared in their members-only ""Rivendell Reader"" explaining in detail many of the theories and fallacies of building bike frames for women. This topic came up just in the last week or two, not for the first time and almost certainly not for the last. Now with the help of Peter O'Reilly and Tim McCarthy the Rivendell article can be viewed here, complete with diagrams to help explain this thorny problem:

Again, many thanks to Rivendell for allowing us to post this article.


Anonymous's picture
Evan Marks (not verified)
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Anonymous's picture
Goon Koch (not verified)
Small frames

This is a great article, and I'm glad it's finally available online.

It is worth pointing out that most of the issues discussed in this piece apply to all smaller riders, not just women.

It is also worth noting that the bike proposed by this article is not currently in production. Rivendell is planning to bring a line of small bikes to production toward the end of this year.

Trek's small WSD bikes and Cannondale's feminine line is a step in the right direction, but falls short because the seat tubes are too steep and the bottom bracket too high. This is a shame because the same goals could be achieved with 650c wheels, albeit without quite the tire and fender clearance that is a core value of Rivendell.

Will the big bike makers heed the sage advice put forth in this article by Grant Petersen? Let's hope so . . .

Anonymous's picture
Mordecai Silver (not verified)
Rivendell Reader Article

"This is a good article, and the diagrams are very helpful in understanding the merits and drawbacks of each design.

I'd like to make a correction. Georgena Terry was not the first to conceive of a bicycle with a small front wheel. Bill Boston was already designing bicycles with a 24"" front wheel and a 27"" rear wheel for small riders ten years before Terry, in 1975. His idea was also used by Proteus (in College Park, Md.) soon afterwards. It was Terry who popularized this design, but she didn't invent it.

In the early 1980's there was a review by John Schubert in Bicycling magazine of 7 bicycles for small riders (47-49 cm). I remember that one of them was a Proteus. Another was a Mariposa, built by Mike Barry of Toronto, with 650b wheels and fenders, a thing of beauty. A third was built by Angel Rodriguez, with a slightly sloping top tube, also beautiful. So there were already many people thinking about the design of small frames when Terry founded her company.

The article asks, ""Why not use a 24-inch rear wheel, to balance the look? Because the smaller rear wheel would have required huge chainrings to achieve the same gearing."" That's not quite true. With the availability of 12-tooth and even 11-tooth cogs, a 53x11 (assuming 165 mm cranks) gives a 106 inch gear, and a 53x12 gives a 97 inch gear. I'd be surprised if Grant Petersen didn't think that high enough for a petite woman!"

Anonymous's picture
Sandy Gold (not verified)
Women's bikes/frames

I'd been directed to a web site to check out its very good measuring information and was so intigued by the women's specific bike they sell, that I wound up getting one.
The site is and the bike is the WASP. It rides like a dream. Although I wasn't able to try one out before ordering, I test rode enough other womens specific bikes to know that this would fit. What I didn't know was that it would fit like a glove.
Sandy Gold

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