Production bikes for women

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Anonymous's picture

"My mind has boggled at the excellent, detailed discussion of bikes for women. I am buying my first road bike, and now I have no idea what to do!

I can only afford $1,200-1,700, so it has to be a production bike. I am 5' 6 3/4"", and I was figuring about a 51 cm frame. I am old (49) and weigh plenty.

I was thinking of a Specialized Dolce Elite (steel frame, $1,300) or a Trek 2100WSD (aluminum & carbon seat stays, $1,680), but perhaps neither of them has a good geometry. Both have 700C wheels. I made a geometry chart including the Trek Pilot 2.1 WSD, two bottom of the line Kleins, for comparison, and a Terry, for comparison. I can't reproduce it here, but the seat angles ranged from 73 to 75.3, chainstay lengths from 40.5 to 42.4, and top tubes from 50.6 to 54.7.

Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated!


Anonymous's picture
Carol (not verified)
Best Advice

Go to a local bike shop that's known for doing good women's fit. (I prefer Alan at Sid's on E. 34th St., but others have their own favorites - if you're in New Jersey, try Dave at Bicycle Workshop in Tenafly.) You can still get a production bike, but the shop should be able to advise you which one will fit you best and then tweak it to near perfection. However, now that it's cycling season, don't expect to get personal attention on a weekend. Make an appointment to go in mid-week, then talk to the fit-guy about your riding style and what's comfortable.

Anonymous's picture
anon (not verified)
a girl's view

"This might be heretical advice here, but I would suggest test riding the bikes, rather than going strictly from the geometry (although you should know if you need 51 cm vs. 53 cm, etc).

When I purchased a bike, my criteria to whittle down the choices was what type of frame (e.g., steel vs alum vs carbon vs titanium) and level of components the bike had (although with the latter you can always trade up over time--so go with the best frame you can afford).

But I test rode them all -- and it was quite clear which bike ""fit"" the best after a few loops in the park. And honestly, I have not any aches, pains, saddle sores, etc.

You are tall enough to get a regular (e.g. non WSD frame), which would expand your options greatly (and perhaps get you a better bike for the same price point, as there appears to be some premium built into the wsds). But again you really should test ride to see what feels the best."

Anonymous's picture
Paul (not verified)

"The WSD concept is based on ""typical"" proportions. It may or may not be right for a given individual.

Height alone doesn't determine frame requirements. Your choice should be based on how your height is distributed, the kind of riding you plan to do, and your flexibility.

As a first time road bike buyer, don't let someone recommend a particular bike or ""fit"" based solely on measurements and formulas. Make sure you're comfortable with the way it feels and rides.

Different bikes are sized and proportioned differently, so don't get hung up looking for a particular ""frame size."" Seat tube height will usually take care of itself if everything else is right.

In general, a handlebar position an inch or less below the saddle will be comfortable for a new road rider. Longish chainstays and generous tire clearance are good things.


Anonymous's picture
George Arcarola (not verified)

Never thought of 49 as OLD... just experienced.

The shop I work with has always allowed me to take a small test ride. I would definitely recommend doing this.


Anonymous's picture
Maggie Schwarz (not verified)
What about a Cannondale?

These are very light. Also, I think you'll find the Trek 2100 much lighter in weight than the Dolce Elite.

Anonymous's picture
Cindy Brome (not verified)
Possible bikes

Thanks VERY much to those of you who have offered advice. I definitely will decide based on a test ride, but this is easier said than done. This being Manhattan, most shops don't have every size of every bike built up. I'd rather not ask them to if it'll be a waste of time.

The test ride is also a little problematic, because you can't very well take off for the Park and bring the bike back many hours later with mud on it.

Here's my possible list at the moment: Specialized Dolce Elite, Trek 210 WSD, Trek Pilot 2.1 WSD, Litespeed Vela or Capella, Klein reve v or q-pro v, Felt F60, Cannondale Women's or regular R1000.

I want the bike for club rides and eventually centuries. I have a hybrid for around town and commuting. I've never ridden a road bike before.


Anonymous's picture
Karen (not verified)
Test rides are possible


Some bike shops will indeed allow you to ride in the park. A sunny day would probably be better for you anyway, rather than a rainy, muddy day.

Try Larry & Jeffs on 87th & 2nd, and call other bike shops near Central Park, if that park is the most convenient one for you.

Anonymous's picture
Heath (not verified)
Test Rides

When I purchased my road bike, I took it to the park. I figured that if I was going to spend all that money, I wanted to get in a good test ride. Toga didn't seem to mind, or atleast they did not say anything to me. Although I wasn't out for hours. Once I narrowed down my selection, I took the bike out for about 30 minutes.

At this time of year, unless you are asking for some odd custom build, if they do not sell the bike to you, they will sell it to someone else.

But please don't ask a shop to build up several bikes for you and then buy the bike somewhere else for cheaper. It is a good idea to have a local shop that knows your name.

Anonymous's picture
Katie (not verified)
My experience

"Hi Cindy,

I'm about in the same place you are (looking for my first road bike, but don't want a super entry level model), so I thought I'd throw in my experience - definitely not expert advice. I tried a few bikes at Toga last weekend, and they were totally fine w/my 20-30 minute rides. I haven't found the bike I love yet, so I didn't want to ride longer, but I didn't get the feeling they would mind at all if I had been out longer.

I wanted to try the Specialized Dolce Elite as well, so they were putting one together for me to try this weekend. I didn't make it over there yet, so there may be one ready for you to try if you want. I'm 5'6"" as well, but they measured me and suggest a 54"" frame. It may not work for you, but if you're in that neighborhood, the salesman I met there (Anthony) was very helpful.

The best bike I tried there was the Giant OCR composite. From what I can tell, it's the bargain basement composite frame, but I really, really liked how it felt. If you do try some of those on your list, I'd love to know what you think of them. Maybe it would help me narrow things down too. Good luck shopping."

Anonymous's picture
Heath (not verified)
Giant bikes

"Giant is the bargain basement in price only, not in quality. Giant makes very high quality frames, but they have reduced the costs by cutting out the middle man.

It was just released that Colnago's lower end bikes or maybe cervelo, not sure, (which still cost more than any bike I own) are being made in tawain. If you can live with the fact that your bicycle says ""Made in Tawain"" on it, you can get a really great bike that costs less than a bike that says ""Made in the USA, or Italy, etc...)

I found the article about Colnago.

Here is an article about Giant going from an OEM company to creating a brand name."

Anonymous's picture
April (not verified)

"If you can get past the name, Giant has pretty good value for the bike they offer. On the other hand, some people don't like the ""dead"" feeling of carbon frames. Giant happens to be more ""dead"" than others I've tried. In short, Giant bikes are light and fast for their price. But it doesn't always FEEL that fast.

I found the best way to test ride bikes is going up and down the same hill on different bikes. That should tell you how it climbs, by noting down which gear you climb the same hill with each bike. And if there's any issue with the handing of the bike, the downhill part will show you all. So, I simply ask the shop where's the nearest hill.

At 5'6, if you're already looking at the TREK 2100 WSD, you should try the ""regular"" 2100. Same goes for the Pilot, etc.


Anonymous's picture
Cindy Brome (not verified)
Got a bike

"I got a Bianchi Giro from Alan at Sid's Bike Shop. It isn't a special womens' design. He measured me and said I didn't need one. I'd already done a test ride of a Specialized Dolce at another shop, and I was going to try a Trek 2100 at Bicycle Habitat, but they didn't have one. At Sid's, I tried the Bianchi and a Cannondale R700, also a very nice bike.

The test rides, however, were absolutely terrifying -- up 1st Ave. to the UN, then down 2nd Ave. I've never ridden a road bike before, and giant trucks and buses speeding by with 6"" of clearance really got my adrenaline going!

Alan was really great. Patient, knowledgeable, not at all pushy. He was very much in tune with what women need in a bike. He sold me a bike that cost at the low end of the range I gave him. I'd recommend him to anyone buying a bike.

Anyway, I'm very happy with the Bianchi and am eager to learn to ride it. First job is to get used to the clipless pedals without crashing or falling over.

Thank you VERY MUCH to all of you who gave me advice. It was all useful and helped me a lot.


Anonymous's picture
"Chainwheel" (not verified)

"""I got a Bianchi Giro from Alan at Sid's Bike Shop.""

Gold or Celeste?


Anonymous's picture
Cindy Brome (not verified)

2004 silver. Would have liked celeste, but they didn't have it.


Anonymous's picture
Debbi (not verified)

I hope after all that -- you are doing the C SIG! See you on the road!

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