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Recently my lady and I started mountain biking. Since most of the activities I am involved in she tries twice and decides its not for her, I had her start on a cheaper bike. Right now she has a >33 pound older trek 14" 3700 wsd, and she has been quite the trooper. On our first group ride, another lady was kind enough to let her demo a bike (IronHorse MKIII) if I recall correctly. Although she took it only for a short climb it was enough to appreciate the difference.

We are now looking for something new (or used as she prefers) that will be a bit easier on the climbs and more comfortable. The difficulty I have is she does not place a lot of interest on finding the perfect bike. She pretty much relegated me and said she just wants something "better". When we demoed bikes everyone fit fine, so I am having a hard time zeroing in.

She is 4'11 and her budget is around $800, she prefers getting something used and sounds like she wants a bike that will first and foremost climb better. She has no idea if she wants full suspension or hard tail. We ride mainly Southern Califonia, somewhat rough single track.

Here are a couple of bikes that seem to be promising, is a womens necessary or would a Xsmall mens bike suffice?

http://www.jensonusa.com/store/produ...t+Bike+08.aspx
http://www.jensonusa.com/store/produ...p+Bike+09.aspx
Without a doubt leaning to the hard tail, and at around 27 lbs I am sure she would feel the difference.

thanks!
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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Both of those links got mangled.

I wouldn't worry about a women's bike if you can find a sufficiently small men's bike. WSD bikes are often "WSD" because they have a shorter top tube relative to the seat tube and head tube lengths. Sooner or later, frames hit a minimum head tube length, and I think that has already happened by the sizes you're looking at. So get the effective top tube right and you're about as close as you're going to get. That may still require buying WSD just because men's and unisex bikes may not come small enough.

If you can find used in the right size, awesome. There are a couple things that are important to climbing well - a reasonably lightweight bike, especially for a smaller rider, and efficient suspension. You don't really get either of those for $800 on a new bike, but could get them both on a pre-loved one. I was going to say something about upgrading, but everything on the 3700 would need to be upgraded, and that's usually not as efficient as just starting over.

Does her current bike fit her? If so, you can use it as a reference to figure out what you're doing with buying a new one, from geometry charts. If not, she needs to be more participant in this process. It's a lot like buying ski boots, in some ways.
 

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my girlfriend is 5 foot even and I ran into the same issues your having. I ended up with a small giant NSR full suspension that she seems to fit ok. I had to put a small 40mm stem and riser bars to get the fit right but after that she seems to be ok on it. Stand over is alittle high for her, 1/2" lower it would be pefect. I found it used for $500 and it was 5 years old when I got it.

I was also looking at specalized hardrock as they were making them in 13" frames that would have fit her good too. Those are hard tails and aren't that expensive too. I was going to buy just the frame and build the bike but found this used giant that fit her. Small bikes are out there but they are harder to find.
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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It needs to fit her right. So she should participate at least as far as coming with you to look at it, and take it for a spin.
 

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For example look here lots of womans bikes and if she is so small you don't need to worry to much about upgrading parts because she wont go through them as fast as some 180 to 200lb man. If you want a FS bike you will need to spend some more cash and you will need a xs most likely.
http://www.treefortbikes.com/#navbar=cat___1__.5__.31__.823___9___0

But this jenson bike looks great for her good parts perfect for her at that price

http://www.jensonusa.com/store/product/BI272A06-Jamis+Dakota+Comp+Femme+Bike+09.aspx
 
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