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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know this is a road bike question, but here goes...

My GF wants a road bike, and we are looking at used bikes. Unfortunately, she has very little experience on road bikes (just a little on mountain bikes), so it is difficult for her to really tell what feels right. Being used to a mountain bike (as well as a town cruiser) with the bars higher than the seat, everything feels too long and low for her.

We did the competitive cyclist calculations, and got an idea of what to look for in seat tube and effective tt lengths for a slightly relaxed, upright fit. We found a 2004 trek 2200 for about $700 in really great shape with measurements that are dead on what the online calculator says we should look for (50cm seat tube, 52cm effective tt). Stand over clearance seems good. I adjusted the seat for the correct height, and went with the knee over pedal to get the fore/aft adjustment. The bars seem in the wrong place, however. There is a 70mm stem on it, and the calculator said we’ed be looking for a ~90-100mm stem. When she sits on it and looks down to the front axle, the bar is well behind it. We measured, and it looks like a 100mm stem would line up the bars and the axle perfectly. So I’m thinking “perfect, just switch the stem) However, she said she did not think she would like the bars any farther away.

So, we went home, and she wanted to see what my bike felt like. I set up the seat for her, and when she got on it, she said it felt perfect, just a little to long (if she grabbed a little behind the hoods it felt perfect) I got out my tape measure and determined the following: The reach she was comfortable with was the same as what the bike we were looking at would be with the 100mm stem (which the fit calculator and the handlebar/axle test had predicted). This seemed to contradict what we found on the bike itself, but then I realized that the difference was that on my bike, (with the seat lowered for her) the bars were a LOT higher relative to the seat (level, actually) than on the other bike. The other bike has quite a few spacers under what look like a 5 degree (positive) x 70mm stem.

I used a stem calculator and I think I could get the bars on the right position for her (same reach, but higher) with a high rise stem, something like a 20 degree x 110mm or thereabouts.

My question is: Is there any reason why this would be a bad idea? It feels like we are having to raise the bars a lot. However, I don’t think we can go any larger on the frame. It seems to me that since the seat collar and top of the head tube are pretty close to even, then in order to get the bars up to the level of the seat is takes a lot of spacers and a high rise stem. It seems it would fit perfectly, just look a little odd. One friend who rides road a lot said that as she rides more, she will likely end up wanting to lower the bar to a more standard position, so we don’t want to get a comfort bike geometry that will hinder her down the road (besides, we already have comfort cruisers). I have also thought about a cyclocross bike with more road like tires as they seem more upright, but she will never take this think off the paved road.

Any suggestions?
 

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more clutter for you

I got this off Seven's website, some good comments on fit. Can you find a shop with a fit bike on the floor maybe? Good luck, Jim

How do the fit needs of men and women differ?

Generalizing too much in this area is dangerous, because women's bodies vary more from woman to woman than men's do from man to man. Nonetheless, here are a few additional elements that Seven takes into account when designing a bicycle for a woman: Pelvic structure: wider, more tilted, and shallower
The ischial tuberosities (perch bones) are farther apart and angled outward more than a man's, thus affecting saddle position and saddle height. Increased tilt affects reach and the center of gravity balance between the wheels, while a shallower pelvis affects saddle position and differential.

Legs: longer
Affects center of gravity and saddle position.

Femurs: longer
Also affects saddle position and overall reach.

Weight distribution: lower and farther back
Affects center of gravity, handling, saddle position, and reach.

Neck: longer, with shorter torso
Affects reach and differential.

Shoulders: narrower
Affects front-end geometry and handling.

Hands: smaller
Affects upper body fatigue.

Common Misconceptions About Women's Fit Needs
"Just shorten the top tube."
This can result in the wheelbase being too short, the front wheel being too far under the rider, and a bad center of gravity. Also, with not enough weight on the rear wheel, handling, traction, and tracking are poor.

"Just shorten the stem."
If the stem is too short, the front end will handle poorly. The bike's front-end weight should be distributed properly on the front wheel. Too short of a stem makes the bike's handling squirrelly.

"Just make the head tube angle slacker so the front end is farther away."
The head tube angle combined with the fork rake produce the bike's trail. Trail determines the handling characteristics of the bike. If the head tube angle is slackened too much, the bike will handle sluggishly. Too little weight on the front wheel means poor traction in cornering.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
JimC. said:
I got this off Seven's website, some good comments on fit. Can you find a shop with a fit bike on the floor maybe? Good luck, Jim

How do the fit needs of men and women differ?

Generalizing too much in this area is dangerous, because women's bodies vary more from woman to woman than men's do from man to man. Nonetheless, here are a few additional elements that Seven takes into account when designing a bicycle for a woman: Pelvic structure: wider, more tilted, and shallower
The ischial tuberosities (perch bones) are farther apart and angled outward more than a man's, thus affecting saddle position and saddle height. Increased tilt affects reach and the center of gravity balance between the wheels, while a shallower pelvis affects saddle position and differential.

Legs: longer
Affects center of gravity and saddle position.

Femurs: longer
Also affects saddle position and overall reach.

Weight distribution: lower and farther back
Affects center of gravity, handling, saddle position, and reach.

Neck: longer, with shorter torso
Affects reach and differential.

Shoulders: narrower
Affects front-end geometry and handling.

Hands: smaller
Affects upper body fatigue.

Common Misconceptions About Women's Fit Needs
"Just shorten the top tube."
This can result in the wheelbase being too short, the front wheel being too far under the rider, and a bad center of gravity. Also, with not enough weight on the rear wheel, handling, traction, and tracking are poor.

"Just shorten the stem."
If the stem is too short, the front end will handle poorly. The bike's front-end weight should be distributed properly on the front wheel. Too short of a stem makes the bike's handling squirrelly.

"Just make the head tube angle slacker so the front end is farther away."
The head tube angle combined with the fork rake produce the bike's trail. Trail determines the handling characteristics of the bike. If the head tube angle is slackened too much, the bike will handle sluggishly. Too little weight on the front wheel means poor traction in cornering.
Thanks for the info. The local shop here will do fittings if you are going to buy something, I think you have to pay for a fitting, and they take it off your bike purchase. In general, though, they are pretty hostile about helping you in any way if you are purchasing something used from a third party.

In terms of fit, she pretty short legged (and long torso) for a woman her height, so she sizes up on bikes like a man.
 

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you're encountering a common problem. Most manufacturers make there bike's geometry more towards racing than touring/comfort. Headtubes have gotten shorter and thus the seat to handlebar drop has increased.

There are a few bikes out there with longer head tubes that make it easier to get in a comfortable position for someone new to the sport, but so many people want the bike that looks fast that they are a little harder to find.

I say get a different stem, or flip the stem (but it sounds like you're already getting max height out of it) and get the bars up.
 

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If your measurements say the bike should fit, I would buy it. Your GF isn't used to riding in the more aero position, after she rides for a while she should get more accustomed to it and may feel the bike fits. If not, you may have to go for a stem that is shorter or sticks up more, or both. But too short a stem is bad. Personally, I like the slightly upright position on my road bike, and have found that it all boils down to stem length/height once the saddle has been properly adjusted over the pedals. If the stem is already short, getting a shorter one will affect handling quite a bit, in that case it needs to be a little longer but stick up higher.
 

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Maybe try an adjustable stem for awhile. Then you can experiment until she's good and comfortable. Once she goes a few months without needing to adjust it, then get a stem that matches that position.
 
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