View Full Version : Help shortlisting bike for my wife.

02-17-2005, 01:27 PM
Hello all.

Firstly, sorry for not utilizing the search function... I just don't have time to dig around a lot right now...

In days gone by I used to bike a lot (back in the UK), but I'm pretty out of touch these days, so need some advice. :)

My wife currently has a couple of el-cheapo mtn bikes. She likes biking (on road / paved trails), but on those things its pretty hard work. So... I want to buy her a reasonable entry level road bike as a birthday gift.

I have a reasonable idea what to look for in terms of groupsets etc, but no idea which bikes work - fit and comfort wise - for women.

I notice some manuf. have "female specific" models (e.g. Specialized Dolce etc). Is it just "hype and colors", or do they really have some benefit?

I'd like to have some kind of shortlist before I head into the stores with her.

She is 5'3, 115lb, and fairly fit (skiing, aerobics / kickboxing etc). We'll typically be biking relatively short distances (~50s) at weekends, with some possibility of training for & attempting the STP (Seattle-Portland) or similar at some point. So I want something that won't need replacing/upgrading as she grows into it, but at the same time we're not going to be doing any racing.

Budget - I'd like to stay <= $1000.

Your advice / experience / suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


02-17-2005, 01:35 PM
I know you'll get lots of good comments about bikes as a whole, but one thing you absolutely need to consider is her hand size. Does she have small hands? I'm the same height so I'm guessing so. Shimano makes a short reach or adjustable reach lever (someone here or your LBS will know more about it). Many women-specific bikes will be outfitted with it. This seems to be the most often heard complaint that I hear.

Thanks for asking! This is definitely a group that is generous with their opinions. :D I bet you'll get her fitted out well.

02-17-2005, 02:05 PM
Tom -
Is this going to be a surprise for her birthday? Are you willing to give her a card with a promise of a new road bike instead of having the bike to hand to her? (OK, your post does say you're going to shop together, and that's good.)The reason I ask is that fit is so important - if you have a decent bike shop they should be able to set your wife up to test ride several different bikes. At this point I am riding bikes that were custom-built for me - but when I was riding "regular" bikes I found that a test ride really helped me to identify the best bike for me.
--- Denise

02-17-2005, 02:49 PM
Hi Tom - what a great idea for your wife and how thoughtful. I'd second Sadiekate in saying that small hands need special attention. I have little hands but have Campag groupset which isn't as adjustable as Shimano. Instead I've got some 3T handlebars which are specifically designed for smaller handed people and I find the very comfortable.

Denise also has good advise. There's no substitute for going to the shop and getting measured up, so why not take her along, armed with some of the tips and advise about fit that the good ladies here can provied. :)

02-17-2005, 02:50 PM
Tom -
Is this going to be a surprise for her birthday? Are you willing to give her a card with a promise of a new road bike instead of having the bike to hand to her?
--- Denise

It is a surprise, but yes we'll shop for it together. I'd just like to be fairly well informed / have some particular bikes to look at before that point.


02-17-2005, 04:24 PM

Since your wife is 5'3", yes yes yes to womens-specific design (WSD) bikes (I'm 5'2" and can't ride anything else). Check out Trek and Lemond Cycles also for WSD bikes. Good luck!

Emily in NC

02-19-2005, 01:47 PM
Def. look a WSD but don't stop there. I am 5'4, but I have wide shoulders. Most of the WSD handlebars put a cramp in between my shoulders. Try everything. I got a Bianchi Eros Donna (WSD) and swithced out the bars and stem.

Good luck and have fun.

02-21-2005, 07:13 PM
Hi there, I have posted my bike in other posts, but I thought given the question I would post it here also since you mentioned the Dolce. I have the Specialized Dolce and it fits me perfectly. I am 5'2 and have small hands and fingers. The Specialized Allez would have been ok also, but the Dolce made the fit just more perfect.

I do agree with the others, that test riding is important. People that might be the same height may have different finger length, arm reach etc. Plus some people like a tighter fit where others like the feeling of stretching out a bit. All personal preference.

Great gift idea and I hope she is surprised!!!

02-22-2005, 03:23 AM
Hey Tom! You're gonna be in the running for one of those "great hubby" awards, I can tell.

Just a little something to add to your reseaerch... the April 2005 issue of Bicycling is pretty much dedicated as a buyers guide. It reviews a whole range of bikes. You might want to pick it up at the mag store.

Good luck! And don't forget to get your wife to sign up here on TE.


02-23-2005, 10:05 PM
> You're gonna be in the running for one of those "great hubby" awards, I can tell.

Hmm.... not sure this will be enough to compensate for all my other failings ;)

Thanks, I'll pick that up.

02-24-2005, 01:25 AM
Tom -- First of all, you're an excellent husband :) I highly recommend Terry bikes. You might check out the Classic -- it's a touring bike, so the handlebars are straight vs drops. Very comfortable ride. I have one and LOVE it. The fit is excellent. In addition, Terry's customer service is the best. By the way, there is a review of the Classic in the issue of Bicycling magazine that another poster mentioned.