A good starting point is to measure the inseam and multiply that by 0.65 (Inseam x 0.65). This will give you a rough idea of frame size. Howevevr frame sizes between manufactures vary. A 43cm in a Giant is not necessarily the same size as a Felt 43cm. I would advise you to go too a good bike fitter in your area \m/
For someone around 5'4" a 43cm frame seems rather tiny. I would estimate around 48 to 50cm. You also need to verify how the frame is measured. A sloping frame for example might have a short effective size when in fact its actually a larger frame. Follow this guide carefully to get a good idea of what size you should be looking for. http://www.coloradocyclist.com/bikefit/
That is exaclty what I needed to see. I thought there had to be some baseline calc. that could be used as a general starting place. I am looking for a deal on a used bike (in case she never rides it you know), and this will help get a rough idea of size.
It very much depends on the bike manufacturer, and frame design. Giant makes road bikes with sloping top tubes (the OCRs and maybe TCRs) which are nice and come in many levels from low end components to pricey.
I am 5'4" and I ride a 49cm Jamis Nova. I do have kind of short legs, though. It is a cyclocross bike, not a road bike, but I would ride the same size road bike in Jamis. I have no standover, but the top tube fits. And it has a higher bottom bracket than a road bike. I tested a Giant OCR when I was considering a road bike and I really liked it because of the sloping top tube. It just felt more managable, but still seemed to ride well. I also looked at some Specialized bikes--the roubaix and their wsd road bike. They were nice, but I ended up deciding I wanted a cx bike in case I continue to do cx races. Bianchi also makes some nice smaller framed bicycles.
But all that being said, a 43 cm sounds really really small, and I doubt it would have full size wheels, which I know I really wanted. I would suspect for most companies she would be in the 47-51cm range, depending on leg/torso ratio and bike company specs.
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