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I have had a good number of questions and requests about accommodating smaller cyclists on my bikes. And I am now starting to explore what it would take to make my frame design in a smaller size.

As of now I have had individuals as short as 5'4" on the frames, but seeing as there is a Under 5 foot 1 inch group, I would appreciate any insight (being 6' 2" myself) into the challenges you find - particularly related to a city/commuter bike, such as what I make. 

What size wheels, length cranks, components and accessories that do/don't work.

Thanks for any input.

Levi

owner/builder

Legacy Frameworks 

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Google Terry Bikes and go learn some stuff.

And not to be a dick but are you, as a commercial business who builds bicycle frames, crowd sourcing geometry information from a regional general cycling forum?

Really?

Shouldn't this be the sort of thing you research and find out for yourself before hanging out a shingle as a frame builder?

OK, maybe that actually was to be a dick but seriously, this is the stuff that you, as a frame builder, should know.

5'1" here and founding member of Tiny Fix Bike Gang. My thoughts:

650c wheels: Some may disagree here but as someone with a proportionally short inseam who doesn't like mixte/step-through frames, smaller wheels are the only way to get a bike that I can comfortably stand over. I love my 43cm 650c bike the most because it actually fits me, despite the frame geo not really being ideal for my kind of riding. 

Beware toe overlap: I also have a 44cm bike with 700c wheels and toe overlap is a major issue, especially if I use toe clips and fenders, which I do. 

Accessories: Sometimes certain kinds of rear racks are out because there's no room on the seat post or the rack can't be horizontal without hitting the top of the wheel. Fenders made for the radius of a 650 wheel would be rad, mine always look wonky because 700c fenders don't have the right radius.

Edited to add: as a shorty, I am THRILLED that frame builders are talking to actual short cyclists to find out what works and what doesn't work. This is good research. I'm not telling him angles and hypotenuses - I don't know jack about that. But I can tell him "I loved this about this bike and hated that about that bike." Oh, and Terry bikes are fine but I don't like the 2 different wheel size versions because then I have to carry 2 tubes with me all the time. 

Perfectly acceptable to ask "what challenges you may find".

 

DUG, you are a classic smug bike shop dick.  All stereotypes have essentially been fulfilled.  I gave you the benefit of the doubt, you lose. 

 

Carry on

I'm actually very nice to people who come into the shop with questions about all form of bike stuff; that is what bike shops are there for.

I am less friendly to industry professionals asking how to do their job.

Apie (10.6) said:

Perfectly acceptable to ask "what challenges you may find".

 

DUG, you are a classic smug bike shop dick.  All stereotypes have essentially been fulfilled.  I gave you the benefit of the doubt, you lose. 

 

Carry on

I've never successfully test rode a road bike for this very reason.  I am 5'2" and pretty much stuck with step throughs and mixtes.  Even then, the smallest sizes are rarely comfortable even if I have standover clearance.  For example, Linus mixte's top tube is very long.  I can reach the handlebars, but it's uncomfortable.  On their Dutch model, I feel like I'm riding a chopper because the the stem is set really high and I feel like my hands are at my chin pratically. 

+1 on the rear rack fit.  I bought a Pletscher rack for my vintage Schwinn and wasn't able to to fit it perfectly horizontal to my wheel.  Very little room to fiddle with my seatpost since it is set at one inch above the lowest setting.  I love my smaller vintage wheels, lots of fender clearance.  Also what's up with modern racks not being long enough to cover the top of the whole back wheel??  My crate dangles off half the rack just so I can have enough room to sit back.  I've seen vintage racks that are much longer and it just looks nicer. 

Kaz pretty much hit all the good points in her input.  Just want to add, that you could look to vintage bikes for inspiration.  They are smaller and the fit is pretty decent.  I do not know if they can be translated to road bike geometry.

Kaz said:

5'1" here and founding member of Tiny Fix Bike Gang. My thoughts:

650c wheels: Some may disagree here but as someone with a proportionally short inseam who doesn't like mixte/step-through frames, smaller wheels are the only way to get a bike that I can comfortably stand over. I love my 43cm 650c bike the most because it actually fits me, despite the frame geo not really being ideal for my kind of riding. 

Beware toe overlap: I also have a 44cm bike with 700c wheels and toe overlap is a major issue, especially if I use toe clips and fenders, which I do. 

Accessories: Sometimes certain kinds of rear racks are out because there's no room on the seat post or the rack can't be horizontal without hitting the top of the wheel. Fenders made for the radius of a 650 wheel would be rad, mine always look wonky because 700c fenders don't have the right radius.

Edited to add: as a shorty, I am THRILLED that frame builders are talking to actual short cyclists to find out what works and what doesn't work. This is good research. I'm not telling him angles and hypotenuses - I don't know jack about that. But I can tell him "I loved this about this bike and hated that about that bike." 

Thanks Doug, I am well aware of Terry bikes and Georgina's influence on bike design. My questions regarded real life experience and nothing about geometry, which I don't believe I mentioned. Maybe my post tile was a little ambiguous - sorry to confuse you.


notoriousDUG said:

Google Terry Bikes and go learn some stuff.

And not to be a dick but are you, as a commercial business who builds bicycle frames, crowd sourcing geometry information from a regional general cycling forum?

Really?

Shouldn't this be the sort of thing you research and find out for yourself before hanging out a shingle as a frame builder?

OK, maybe that actually was to be a dick but seriously, this is the stuff that you, as a frame builder, should know.

I would definitely use a smaller wheel - shrinking the whole bike overall rather than cramming in regular sized stuff. This will also help with fender clearance and toe overlap.

I haven't seen much 650C stuff so I will look it up. 

Kaz said:

5'1" here and founding member of Tiny Fix Bike Gang. My thoughts:

650c wheels: Some may disagree here but as someone with a proportionally short inseam who doesn't like mixte/step-through frames, smaller wheels are the only way to get a bike that I can comfortably stand over. I love my 43cm 650c bike the most because it actually fits me, despite the frame geo not really being ideal for my kind of riding. 

Beware toe overlap: I also have a 44cm bike with 700c wheels and toe overlap is a major issue, especially if I use toe clips and fenders, which I do. 

Accessories: Sometimes certain kinds of rear racks are out because there's no room on the seat post or the rack can't be horizontal without hitting the top of the wheel. Fenders made for the radius of a 650 wheel would be rad, mine always look wonky because 700c fenders don't have the right radius.

Edited to add: as a shorty, I am THRILLED that frame builders are talking to actual short cyclists to find out what works and what doesn't work. This is good research. I'm not telling him angles and hypotenuses - I don't know jack about that. But I can tell him "I loved this about this bike and hated that about that bike." Oh, and Terry bikes are fine but I don't like the 2 different wheel size versions because then I have to carry 2 tubes with me all the time. 

650c wheels seem the most common for tiny road or track bikes. My bike is a Fuji Track Classic (not sure if the 43cm still comes with 650c but it did a few years ago).

I loooooove the Wabi Classic in 42cm with 650c wheels. It's my next bike unless -ahem- a local framebuilder comes up with something similar or better. ;)


Legacy Frameworks said:

I would definitely use a smaller wheel - shrinking the whole bike overall rather than cramming in regular sized stuff. This will also help with fender clearance and toe overlap.

I haven't seen much 650C stuff so I will look it up. 

Kaz said:

5'1" here and founding member of Tiny Fix Bike Gang. My thoughts:

650c wheels: Some may disagree here but as someone with a proportionally short inseam who doesn't like mixte/step-through frames, smaller wheels are the only way to get a bike that I can comfortably stand over. I love my 43cm 650c bike the most because it actually fits me, despite the frame geo not really being ideal for my kind of riding. 

Beware toe overlap: I also have a 44cm bike with 700c wheels and toe overlap is a major issue, especially if I use toe clips and fenders, which I do. 

Accessories: Sometimes certain kinds of rear racks are out because there's no room on the seat post or the rack can't be horizontal without hitting the top of the wheel. Fenders made for the radius of a 650 wheel would be rad, mine always look wonky because 700c fenders don't have the right radius.

Edited to add: as a shorty, I am THRILLED that frame builders are talking to actual short cyclists to find out what works and what doesn't work. This is good research. I'm not telling him angles and hypotenuses - I don't know jack about that. But I can tell him "I loved this about this bike and hated that about that bike." Oh, and Terry bikes are fine but I don't like the 2 different wheel size versions because then I have to carry 2 tubes with me all the time. 

Not sure of this helps, but I'm 5 foot 3 and I found this frame that works awesomely for me! The bend in the rear really shrinks the entire frame and allows me to use 700c tires (that geometry change you talked about). It's a really comfortable size for me, and I have great control if the bike because of the size.

Amanda
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Thats interesting Amanda, Im no expert in track bikes but I have heard that they curve the seat tube to make the wheelbase smaller and to cut down on wind resistance (http://classiccycleus.com/home/?p=3555) . A shorter wheelbase makes it more responsive - and is, along with the track geometry, probably the reason you feel more control.

The ultra-short head tube and stem are also contributing to a good fit for a smaller rider. 

Thanks for sharing!



Amanda said:

Not sure of this helps, but I'm 5 foot 3 and I found this frame that works awesomely for me! The bend in the rear really shrinks the entire frame and allows me to use 700c tires (that geometry change you talked about). It's a really comfortable size for me, and I have great control if the bike because of the size.

Amanda

Here is my latest shot at this smaller bike, the rider simulated is set at 4' 10".

Main consideration was wheel sizes - which I had trouble finding just the right combination of availability, versatility and tire size. 650c were not very available while 26x1.5 are, but neither would not accommodate a broader range of smaller riders. So I ended up with 24" wheels which allowed a proportional looking bike with a 62cm stand over height (lower range of terry bikes). The only drawback was that the tire width is a bit larger than I would have liked.  

Let me know what you think - next is to build it and test it out.

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