Still down with this nasty cold & couldn't make it out for Tour de Fat today, so I rode down the street and did a little test riding at the LBS instead.
Was mildly annoyed to discover that WSD bikes fit me better, what with me being built like a person that fits on WSD bikes and all
The nice bike shop man kept showing me aluminum women's road bikes and I kept wandering over to the steel touring bikes...
I rode a Specialized Dolce Comp Compact(57cm), a Trek Lexa SL (56cm), and a Trek 7.5 FX (19"). I especially wanted to try the Salsa Casseroll and the Surly LHT but the guy really didn't want to put me on them. I finally got him to let me try the Salsa Vaya (57cm).
I see his point that the top tube on a non-WSD bike is going to tend to be too long for me in a standard build (his reasoning for me not to want a Casseroll or LHT), but I hardly think it's an insurmountable obstacle.
OK, just checked. Effective top tube length on the WSD bikes I rode was 55.3 - 55.6cm, as opposed to 57cm on the Vaya, which did feel too long. But Casserolls don't come in 57 anyway, and I think a different stem on a 56 could take care of the 4mm difference, yes? (how much fudging IS reasonable, o sage cyclists?)
Surly runs longer, their 56cm frame has an ETT of 57cm, so that could potentially be a problem. OK, maybe no LHT or Cross Check for me.
I did decide that I prefer steel Although I liked being able to toss the aluminum bikes up on my shoulder to walk across the street.
Hmm. Going to have to try riding those Jamis Codas I was looking at next. The 18" WSD is only 54.0 cm and the 19" non-WSD is 57.0 cm.
Math is hard. Riding bikes is fun!
My best advice is to go smaller rather than larger. You can more easily make a bike "bigger" than smaller. A too large bike will cause problems in terms of comfort and handling. If it doesn't immediately feel like your hands want to be on the hoods when riding then you are stretching too far. I found this out the hard way. I highly recommend getting a professional fitting first so you can be told what your ideal frame size is then you can narrow down your choices.
Today was my first time riding drop bars ever. My hands had no clue where they wanted to be!
I did notice what a chore it is to make my bike go compared to the new ones I rode!
I was in my LBS last week and a guy came in who was about 6' 8". Jill was going to try some tricks, but very difficult to get perfect fit without a custom frame!
My (average sized) father was in the shop yesterday and she was working with him on the trainer. He had always resisted, assuming bike fitting was hocus pocus. Now he's a believer! Really, customers should insist on a thorough bike fit session, with time on the trainer and at least a little time watching you ride outside, even with less expensive bikes. You can get to 90 percent of perfect in less than an hour usually, which is way better than what I see a lot of people riding. It's not that hard! A full pro fit can range from 1-4 hours easy, and isn't cheap, but can be extremely helpful for anyone who rides a lot.
Kel, I can't remember how tall you are, but for the last three years I have been riding a 54 cm road bike (non-WSD). I am 5'5 1/2", 30-ish" inseam. From my fitting, I found out that is way too big of a frame for me. I am now on a 51 cm WSD and much happier. It really affects how the bike handles.
I agree that the selection is more limited in WSD frames, especially for touring and cross bikes, but I think I would make fit the paramount consideration. Make sure you specify that you want a bike that can run a rack and fenders (if you want that). That could get most of what you want even if you have a plain vanilla road bike.
I agree about the steel frames. Miss my Jamis Eclipse.
Last edited by eminva; 06-16-2012 at 07:16 PM.
Reason: Metric system is un-Amuricun.
I'm 5'7" and change, PBH is 32.25". felt pretty comfy on the WSD 56 and 57cm bikes and like Graeme Obree on the Vaya (or maybe Rocky the Flying Squirrel).
Yup, I definitely don't want to spend money on a bike that doesn't fit!
It was good to get on a few different bikes today and feel what "too long" and "probably good" felt like. I was a little surprised that the shop had no WSD steel road/touring/hybrid type bikes (think they might have had some cruisers). So perhaps they are not the shop for me, and that is OK.
I called a lot of LBSs ahead of time to make sure they had the frame/size I wanted; I'm super small so the selection was small and this saved me a lot of time. Unfortunately I bought a bike that was one size too big for me, sold it a month later, and got one that fits a lot better. Expensive lesson learned. The difference in frames was only an inch in the horizontal top tube and width of the handlebars. Doesn't sound like much but it does make for a big change when you're only 5' 2.25" tall.
Make sure the handlebar width is no more than your shoulders (handlebars can be easily swapped out if necessary) otherwise you'll have control issues. If you find it difficult to take one hand off the bars to signal then there is a fit problem. This happened on my too big bike - I thought I was just uncoordinated.
If you have a hard time controlling/reaching the brakes when going downhill then there is a fit problem. My hands were always sore on the too big bike and hills were downright scary.
Numbness is also a sure sign of a fit problem but these don't tend to show up right away.
If you have reached middle age and work a desk job, you are probably not as flexible as the 20 somethings. A riser stem helps a lot in this department because it means you can reach the handlebars without bending quite so much.
Also, if you're planning on commuting and carrying lots of stuff, the super light bikes won't be of much use. They are race horses, not pack mules.
You have gone in to Freshbikes, right? I can't stop smiling about how great my bike fits now that Clovis got me all set up. I always thought I needed to be on a 56, but it wasn't until my fit last night that I learned I should actually be on a 54. I'm just shy of 6', but the bike had to have a shorter stem (less stability). He did get it dialed in, but said I should really consider a 54 in the future. I'm sure you can go in and have them size you without going through the entire fit process.
Functional strength training and post-workout stretching can even out the differences a lot. A middle-aged person who keeps fit can easily have better core strength and overall flexibility than a sedentary 20-something. The 20-something will have a higher fitness potential but it requires regular exercise and training to even approach that potential.
Originally Posted by KLizotte
Please take this with all the credit due an anonymous person on the interwebs, but I can't possibly imagine a 5'7" woman fitting a 56cm or 57cm frame. It has to be too big. I'm 5'9" and ride a 54cm, but I could ride a 52cm with a longer stem. Maybe you have very long legs? Even so, an ETT of 55cm is positively huge for someone of your height. Check other shops for a second opinion, see if they put you on trainer and look at your fit. I can't imagine you fit those frames quite right.
Originally Posted by KelOnWheels