The Chainlink

I just gave my girlfriend her Christmas gift last week: I got a 1972 Triumph 3-speed off Craigslist and totally overhauled it, repainted it, new tires, cables, grips, etc.

 

Only it's a bit too big for her!  She's only 5' 3" or 5' 4", and she isn't able to rest her toes on the ground at all while on the seat. (I tried to teach her where you hop off the seat and position your body over the top tube when you stop, but she doesn't want to have to do that.)

 

I've already lowered the seat all the way.  Is there anything else I can do to make the bike fit her better?  Are there low-clearance seats out there I could replace the original with? (The original is a Brooks saddle like this one.)

 

Please help!  I put a lot of hours into this gift, and it would be really sad if she couldn't use it. 

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This doesn't really help much but a lot of bike fits result in a geometry where you can't touch the ground when you're on the saddle.  It's a little disconcerting but beng up that high lets you get a full extension of your leg when pedaling and results in the most efficient use of energy.  As long as you have about an inch or two clearance over the top tube when standing, it should be good.

 


How much lower would the new saddle need to be? The brooks saddle you have looks like it's a bit higher profile than the a racing saddle.  You can also go to a bike store and see if you can find a saddle that is lower profile.  However, the saddle is probably going to be less comfortable.  So ultimately you probably won't be able to get more than a centimeter this way.

smaller wheels ?  that may involve tweaking the breaks though....

S said:

This doesn't really help much but a lot of bike fits result in a geometry where you can't touch the ground when you're on the saddle.  It's a little disconcerting but beng up that high lets you get a full extension of your leg when pedaling and results in the most efficient use of energy.  As long as you have about an inch or two clearance over the top tube when standing, it should be good.

 


How much lower would the new saddle need to be? The brooks saddle you have looks like it's a bit higher profile than the a racing saddle.  You can also go to a bike store and see if you can find a saddle that is lower profile.  However, the saddle is probably going to be less comfortable.  So ultimately you probably won't be able to get more than a centimeter this way.

yeah...what S said.  if she is standing on the ground with her hoohoo just over the top tube...the bike is just right (height wise).  the seat position is for optimum leg extension while riding...not standing.

 

but, there may be hope.  it might be a situation where you get another bike to break her in to the nuances of riding, let her feel more comfortable on a bike in general first, get used to jumping off the saddle.

 

then...when the time comes...she can appreciate the triumph in all its glory.

 

unless you already went through that...then i dont know.

 

sorry i talked about your lady's hoohoo

Is the saddle clamp one of those round ones that clamp around the seat post?  You may be able to install it "upside down" to help lower the seat a little ... as long as the post doesn't slam into the bottom of the seat when the springs compress.

By upside down I mean that the seat rails go through the little groves which would be set at the bottom of the clamp circles, rather than at the top like they usually are (as they are in this picture).  Might give you a little more room.

 

Thanks for the help everyone!  I've definitely got some ideas now for how to make the bike work for her.  (The biggest one being that it really does fit even though her feet don't touch the ground!)

 

Here are the answers to some of the questions you guys asked:

@S 19: The saddle doesn't need to be significantly lower.  I would say even 1/2 an inch would do a lot to make my girlfriend more comfortable on the bike.  I think I'm going to hunt around for a lower profile seat.  Those springs do make the seat more comfy, but hopefully I can find something else that will be ok.

@dan brown:  I didn't think of getting smaller wheels.  But it would be kind of an investment considering the bike is a 3 speed, so I'd have to get a new 3 speed shifting hub too.  A bit cost-prohibitive for me.

@Ed: I'll take a closer look at the saddle construction tonight after work and see if there are any changes I can make there.  If there's a clamp I can flip to get even a few centimeters, it would help a lot.

 

Thanks again everyone!

Ever considered finding a girlfriend that fits the bike? (OK, OK, I'm kiddin' :)))
Hahaha. Well, the bike wouldn't exist as it is without her!  She wanted one that was bright pink and sparkly, so now she has it.  I just wish I had thought to get a smaller one back before I started working on it.

Serge Lubomudrov said:
Ever considered finding a girlfriend that fits the bike? (OK, OK, I'm kiddin' :)))


Becca said:

Here are the answers to some of the questions you guys asked:

@S 19: The saddle doesn't need to be significantly lower.  I would say even 1/2 an inch would do a lot to make my girlfriend more comfortable on the bike.  I think I'm going to hunt around for a lower profile seat.  Those springs do make the seat more comfy, but hopefully I can find something else that will be ok.

 

@dan brown:  I didn't think of getting smaller wheels.  But it would be kind of an investment considering the bike is a 3 speed, so I'd have to get a new 3 speed shifting hub too.  A bit cost-prohibitive for me.

@Ed: I'll take a closer look at the saddle construction tonight after work and see if there are any changes I can make there.  If there's a clamp I can flip to get even a few centimeters, it would help a lot.

 

Thanks again everyone!

 

 

Keep in mind that lower profile saddles aren't necessarily uncomfortable.  I've been riding on a racing saddle for 3-4 hours straight before and haven't felt uncomfortable even though my saddle doesn't have much padding on it.  It's more a matter of finding a saddle that fits properly.  Terry makes some nice women's specific saddles from what I've been told.  Also, the lower profile saddles tend to be rigid so they won't sag much, if at all, making Ed's suggestion more workable.

 

I'd keep the option of swapping out wheel as a final option.  You can reuse the hubs and get new rims but aside from going to 650cc wheels, I don't think there are many other commonly used options.  Plus it'd cost a bunch to get new smaller rims and then pay someone to take apart your current wheels and re-lace your hubs to the new rims.  You'd probably also need to get long-reach brakes or something similar in order to get the brake pads to go on the rim of the smaller wheels.  All-in-all, it'd be a fairly expensive change.  Especially given that the bike might fit your girlfriend fine right now.

 

 

Working Bikes Co-op at 2435 S. Western open Wed.12-7 Sat. 10-5 has tons of used seats of different sizes and lots of different sized seat clamps. Used seat are about $5-$10 bucks.You might want to stop by and search.

Honestly the best long term solution is just to convince her that getting off her rear end at stop lights is just how cycling works. Is she willing to read any begineer cyclist articles?

 

http://sheldonbrown.com/starting.html

"Do not try to sit on the saddle while the bike is stopped, this is not usually possible if your saddle is properly adjusted."

 

http://sheldonbrown.com/saddles.html#adjustment

"

A common reason for keeping the saddle set too low is that most bicyclists have never learned the proper technique for mounting and dismounting, so they find it convenient to be able to put a foot down to steady the bicycle while they are stopped. With older bicycles, it was sometimes possible to put a toe down at a stop with the saddle properly adjusted, especially for riders with large feet. Due to the higher bottom brackets common on newer bicycles, especially mountain bikes, it is no longer possible to do this. If you ride a mountain bike, and are able to balance it while stopped and seated, it is a sure sign that your saddle is too low. This is also true of most hybrids.

Having the saddle too low makes it harder to carry much of your weight on your legs, so you will sit with more weight on the saddle. This, in itself, is likely to increase saddle discomfort."


Becca said:

Thanks for the help everyone!  I've definitely got some ideas now for how to make the bike work for her.  (The biggest one being that it really does fit even though her feet don't touch the ground!)

 

Here are the answers to some of the questions you guys asked:

@S 19: The saddle doesn't need to be significantly lower.  I would say even 1/2 an inch would do a lot to make my girlfriend more comfortable on the bike.  I think I'm going to hunt around for a lower profile seat.  Those springs do make the seat more comfy, but hopefully I can find something else that will be ok.

@dan brown:  I didn't think of getting smaller wheels.  But it would be kind of an investment considering the bike is a 3 speed, so I'd have to get a new 3 speed shifting hub too.  A bit cost-prohibitive for me.

@Ed: I'll take a closer look at the saddle construction tonight after work and see if there are any changes I can make there.  If there's a clamp I can flip to get even a few centimeters, it would help a lot.

 

Thanks again everyone!

I have the same problem, my legs are too short. The bike itself feels good. I feel too high and hard to balance knowing I cant really stop in a hurry.  I have to jump off and I think the seat is too long at the front also.  Even if I could just tippy toe I would feel safer.  I used to be able to jump on bikes and go. 

Although standard bikes dont allow you to put a foot down when properly fitted, many Electra bikes use a semi-recumbent geometry ("Flat foot technology") that allows you to do this.

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