Road bikes for short women

My dream bike - S-Works Amira comes in a 44 cm size
My dream bike – S-Works Amira comes in a 44 cm size

I’m a relatively short woman at 160 cm (5 foot 3 inches) but I’ve met quite a few female road cyclists who are shorter than me and one of them mentioned to me that she and other short stature women have trouble finding bikes to ‘fit’.

A lot of people are dubious about the whole women’s specific bike concept and question whether it’s just marketing hype but I’m a real believer in the philosophy. Read my past posts on this subject and make up your own mind. From my perspective the women’s specific bike becomes more important the shorter you are, so women who measure in at 5 foot or below should really consider a women’s specific bike. Thankfully plenty of bike manufacturers have responded to the short end of the market and many produce 44 cm bikes.

To give you an idea of the sizing Specialized produces a sizing chart which suggests that a 44 cm Dolce, Ruby or Amira (the women’s specific road bike models) will suit a women who is 143-152 cm or 4”8’ to 5”0’.

I’ve done a bit of research and here’s a list of women’s specific bikes I’ve found in this nice compact size. This list is not exhaustive but will give you an idea of the bike manufacturers who are committed to making bikes for shorter women.

Specialized – all Specialized women’s road bike ranges including the Dolce, Ruby & Amira all have a 44 cm in all models

Trek – Using a selector on Trek’s website I identified seven women’s specific road bikes that come in a 44 cm size from a possible 18 women’s road bikes in the range

Cannondale – Cannondale obviously values its short female customers. All its women’s road bikes including the Supersix Evo, Supersix and CAAD10 models come in a 44 cm size.

Avanti – all Avanti women’s road bikes in the Vitale and Questa ranges come in an XS size.

Giant – Giant is also committed to manufacturing bikes for shorter women. Its Avail Advanced SL, Avail Advanced and Avail Composite come in a 43 cm/XS size. The Avail 1 which is Giant’s entry level women’s road bike also comes in a 39.5 cm/XXS size.

Felt – Felt isn’t so committed to the women’s concept. Its ZW 5 women’s road bike comes in a size called Petite. Other models only come in larger sizes.

Bianchi – Bianchi also has a range of 44 cm framed bikes, although I found the Bianchi website very confusing so I was unable to discern which models were specifically designed for women.

Scott – Seven Contessa women’s road bikes come in XXS size or 47 cm. I’m not sure how that size lines up against the other manufacturers 44 cm frames but I would assume it’s similar.

Once you’ve drawn up your own shortlist the hardest part will be finding a bike shop with a 44 cm women’s bike in stock that you can take for a test ride. There are two women’s bike shops in Sydney – Giant Sydney and Clarence Street Cyclery, both in Clarence Street in the CBD and they’d be a good place to start if you live in Sydney. You could also keep a look out for ride test days that a number of manufacturers run like Specialized, Trek and Giant. They usually have a range of bikes and sizes for potential buyers to test. Specialized is actually running it’s Test the Best program in Sydney’s Centennial Park on Saturday, 2 March 2013 and they will have the S-Works Amira and the Specialized Pro Ruby in a 44 cm size available to test ride.

You could also try ringing around a few bike shops to see what they have available for a test ride. For example, the bike shop where I work – Ashfield Cycles currently has a 44 cm women’s Specialized Dolce on the shop floor. You never know your luck.

Thanks Angie for the idea for this post.

4 comments

  1. Don’t dismiss men’s bikes though. You have to do a lot more homework when it comes to finding out the geometry but it can be worth it. My first two bikes were both female specific frames but now both my commuter and my road bike are men’s frames. (I’ve only had my road bike for a few weeks and he’s just gorgeous! But I never would’ve bought him without getting my commuter first.)

    It really was a case of doing the research, seriously studying the geometry and making a call on what I thought would fit. The key difference between women specific frames and male frames is usually the length of the top bar. The average woman has a shorter torso then the average guy so there’s the need need shorter top bars.

    It’s funny though… I have pretty much the same length legs as my partner but he rides a 55cm frame and mine is 50cm. Our saddles are at the same height but he has a about two inches on me in his torso so he can get away with a bigger frame.

  2. I found Planet Cycles in Brisbane stock a great range of women’s bikes in a great range of sizes. It was definitely worth getting a bike to suit my height (or lack thereof…) Makes me feel so much safer out on the road or the dirt.

  3. I have a men’s bike (our team gets them sponsored) and it fits me, however, I had to change out the stem, the bars, the saddle, the seat post all to make it fit.

    Personally, with a high end bike, I’d rather it fitted me straight off the bat and I could enjoy the fit benefits of that setback seat-post and longer stem that would come on a womens bike. Not to mention the costs savings involved in replacing carbon bars, seat posts etc!

    Womens bikes are also usually lighter and sometimes cheaper (Cannondale EVO supersix with dura-ace is a good US$1500 cheaper in womens version) as the manufacturer doesn’t need to use as much material to achieve the same stiffness and response, based on the fact that women are lighter. When I buy my own bike it will definitely be a women’s specific bike!

    Gone is the pink and shrink mentality – women’s bikes are looking pretty awesome these days 🙂

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