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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Minneapolis, Minnesota
    Posts
    502

    $1700 budget, tall(er) gal...what to buy?

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    So, I'm ready to buy my first road bike. I got a hybrid last year and rode it all summer, but have discovered it's not going to take me far enough, fast enough. So, I've been following threads here and researching online. I like the price, componentry and looks of the Bianchi Dama Biancas, but what I'm hearing from a few LBS's is that they typically wouldn't fit me for a women's bike, since I'm 5'8". And, they really talked up steel, since I want to do longer recreational rides.

    So...I'm putting aside my girliness (gosh, those Damas are pretty...I know it's about fit though.). In that price range, what would you recommend? Any taller ladies out there? The Dama Elle comes with Ultegra. That was very attractive to me.

    Some of the recommendations I heard were the Lemond Chambery or the Bianchi Vigorelli.

    Help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    I'm the only one allowed to whine
    Posts
    10,557
    I'm 5'8". I still have a woman's proportions, even though I'm as tall as a small man.

    Did the bike shops even let you try some of the "women's" bikes? I was under the impression that most WSD came in sizes that would fit women even taller than you and I. Does the bike shop just not carry any that tall?

    If you can't get ahold of a WSD in your size, maybe try a couple bikes with cyclocross geometry? It tends to be friendly to a woman's legs/arms/torso proportions. Both my bikes (utility and road) have cyclocross geometry.

    Frame material is often a matter of personal taste. I prefer steel. My lugged steel bike weighs 21.5 lbs, which really isn't bad. (it's less than my aluminum bike). If you can, take bikes of each material that appeals to you out for a longish ride. (make sure each bike fits you first!) Go back and re-ride them until you feel there is a definite winner. You can change components and adjust fit, but you can't change the frame material!
    Last edited by KnottedYet; 03-29-2007 at 09:21 AM.
    "If Americans want to live the American Dream, they should go to Denmark." - Richard Wilkinson

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Allentown, PA
    Posts
    587
    I like Bianchis.

    That said, I'm a tad under 5'6" and I ride a Litespeed Capella that I like a lot. But my first road bike was Bianchi Brava.

    AllezGirl is about your height (a bit taller I believe) and she rides ... you guessed it ... a Specialized Allez. But according to her bike shop guy who measured me, her bike and mine have the same top tube length.

    You're bike shopping -- test ride a ton of 'em!

    If you can find one in your area, you might consider having a professional bike fitting done. They can take all your measurements and point you toward bikes that fit your body best. The cost for the fitting can be around $100.
    Last edited by Offthegrid; 03-29-2007 at 09:44 AM.
    ~ Susie

    "Keep plugging along. The finish line is getting closer with every step. When you see it, you won't remember that you are hurting, that anything has gone wrong, or just how slow or fast you are.
    You will just know that you are going to finish and that was what you set out to do."
    -- Michael Pate, "When Big Boys Tri"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    6,043
    Northstar, regardless of size, your choices of steel frames is limited--I know because I went through this same process last year. I ended up with a 50 cm Bianchi Eros Donna. Admittedly, I don't have much to compare it to, but I've been happy with the bike. I've upgraded a few things along the way, but it's serving my needs very well. I, too, like long rides and glad (given my budget) that I went with steel.

    For some reason, Bianchi's WSD bikes don't come bigger than 50 cm, so your bike shop is correct that you're limited in that regard. If you opt for steel, I think the Vigorelli is a good choice if it otherwise fits you. It's a nicely speced bike, although I would note that it comes with a "compact double" cassette. Depending on what you want with respect to gearing, that might not be the best choice for you. You might also check to see if they can get their hands on a 2006 Bianchi Veloce. It's similar to the Vigorelli but comes with Campy Veloce components instead. If it had fit me, that's the bike that I would have purchased. I'm a Campy girl and, for mostly emotional reasons, prefer the bikes Bianchi offers with Campy.

    There are, of course, other manufacturers that have a wider selection of WSD bikes--mostly aluminium and carbon. LeMond's line really changed for 2007, but you might look at their bikes. They have only one steel frame--the Sarthe--on offer now, although it does not come in a WSD model. Their WSD bikes go up to 53cm. Depending on your proportions, I suppose that could work for you. The Chambery or Alpe d'Huez look like good choices (the latter also comes in a WSD). I was with a friend when she test drove the WSD Alpe d'Huez. She ended getting the full-carbon Versailles, but she otherwise liked the bike and thought it rode better than her all-aluminum Giant.

    You're right that fit is the most important thing, not a bike's designation as WSD. That said, if you buy a men's bike, you may have to modify a few things to optimize fit. For instance, the bars might be too wide or you might have trouble reaching the brake levers. I would suggest finding the right frame first and then seeing what your LBS can do to tweak it. Don't be afraid to haggle a bit.

    Remember to factor in the other things you're going to need/want to get in figuring out your bike budget. It's sad to say but my bike was cheap compared to all the stuff I've purchased to go with her!

    Good luck and keep us posted on your decision.
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

    --Mary Anne Radmacher

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Central Virginia
    Posts
    245
    I am a little over 5'7" and have never had a WSD bike, but that does not mean I would not choose a WSD bike if I found one that I liked and it fit. I have had a steel Bianchi -- Veloce frame -- that I built by hand-picking the parts to put on frame, thus not having to worry about it fitting from the shop. Of course the frame had to fit first. I have found, being 5'7", that a 52 cm - 53 cm toptube is a good "frame range", assuming standover works with my inseam (I have fairly long legs) and seat/head angles work with the toptube length. Knowing your "general fit range" will help you decide which frames to look at -- both WSD and unisex/men frames. I feel you find your frame size will be within a certain range, no matter if it is WSD or not, but the big question will be what components and how the bike fits overall. However, if you find a frame you like, than a good LBS will work with you on swapping out stems, handlebars, saddles, and the like to make the bike fit you. So, feel good about being tall ... it really helps in giving you more choices, as long as you are careful about picking your "frame range". With $1700 budget, there are a LOT of great bikes you can buy! Good luck!
    BAT
    Satisfaction lies in the effort not the attainment. Full effort is full victory.
    -- Mahatma Gandhi

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Central Virginia
    Posts
    245
    oh, one other thought on frame materials -- Steel is GREAT for long rides and today's steel bikes can be as light weight, or lighter, than other materials! However, do not limit your choice to JUST STEEL because titanium is super for long rides, along with higher end aluminum or alloy mixes, and even carbon ... steel is a great choice, just don't limit your options, especially since you are new to market, it would be best to try EVERYTHING!
    BAT
    Satisfaction lies in the effort not the attainment. Full effort is full victory.
    -- Mahatma Gandhi

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Minneapolis, Minnesota
    Posts
    502
    Thanks, ladies!

    I really don't have my heart set on material at this point...I will hopefully be able to get an idea of what feels best to me when I test ride. At this point, I've just called around to a few shops to see what they carry, etc. My main thing is that the componentry is quality and the fit is right. I want to get the most bike for my $$, you know?

    The compact double is not right for me...good catch on that one. I need the triple. (sigh...) Give me a few years.

    Should I be surprised that one of the shops didn't stock any of the Bianchi women's bikes this season? That kind of surprised me. It made me wonder how much effort they make to do business with women. (Of course, not that all women really need the WSD.)

    I'm on Spring Break next week, so I am envisioning lots of time in local shops.

    I appreciate the feedback and I will keep you posted!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    1,764
    I'm 5'11" and have an Orbea Marmolada. My other (older) bike is a Bianchi Alloro that was always too big for me.

    I share your love for the steel frame and was seriously looking at Colnagos for the longest time!!! The Orbea, to me, was the best bike for the money at the time.

    Have fun -- I think you'll know when you find The One! It's so exciting!!!!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    1,011
    I'm 5'8" and have 2 bikes:
    aluminum Trek 1000 size 58cm
    carbon Trek Madone 5.0 size 58 cm

    neither is WSD. The only mod to get a good fit for me was to shorten the stem from 110 mm to 90 mm.

    I have long legs and an average body. My inseam is 33/34 inches. I had a bike shop guy insist that I could only ride a WSD once. Very frustrating since I feel very comfy on my non-WSD bike.

    but the geometry on every bike is different.

    Oh, I ride longer rides too. I rode 80 miles today on the 1000. But I don't think that I really understand how steel would compare with aluminum and carbon. I've never ridden a steel one.
    "Being retired from Biking...isn't that kinda like being retired from recess?" Stephen Colbert asked of Lance Armstrong

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Walnut Creek, CA
    Posts
    44
    I am a new rider, but I did spend a good deal of time trying out several bikes. This forum is great for info.
    I am 5'7" with long legs (inseam 34") and ended up with a Bianchi Eros 56 cm (it has a triple and Campy). My budget was set lower than yours,and I did try both the bikes you mentioned and liked both of them very much. I just got a good deal on the Eros.
    I will add two points to the other great advice already given. Ride the bikes for at least 5 miles and try a hill. My LBS recommended, when seeing me on the bike, that I go with a 56 even though it seemed by measuring me that I needed the lower size. They were right. The 56 definitely felt better when I took it out for a "test drive."
    Good luck!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Allentown, PA
    Posts
    587
    Lots of great responses here. As you can see, there is no one single bike that is THE bike for taller women. Have fun and ride a bunch. Let us know what you end up picking and then post lots of pictures of your new beauty.
    ~ Susie

    "Keep plugging along. The finish line is getting closer with every step. When you see it, you won't remember that you are hurting, that anything has gone wrong, or just how slow or fast you are.
    You will just know that you are going to finish and that was what you set out to do."
    -- Michael Pate, "When Big Boys Tri"

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Minneapolis, Minnesota
    Posts
    502

    And the winner is...

    I just came home with my new Trek 5000. The guy at the shop I worked with was fantastic. I rode tons of bikes and he switched stems, saddles, etc. until I found "the one." It wound up being a 54" WSD...It feels amazing!

    Thanks for all the input! It was very helpful!

 

 

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