road bikes for short women
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There are plenty of road bikes for short women

road bikes for short womenIt seems there’s lots of short women who have trouble finding a road bike but they needn’t despair there are actually plenty of road bikes for short women. You might not find them in stock on the retail floor but they do exist and can be ordered. Not so long ago I worked in a bike shop and many short women would ask me whether they should buy a children’s bike! I would always reply that they should buy a bike for grownups, and in most bike types including road, mountain, hybrid and others you’ll find lots of choices.

The focus of this blog is unapologetically on road bikes, and therefore so is this post – you know the type with the drop handlebars which some people mistakenly call race bikes.

I’m a relatively short woman at 160 cm (5 foot 3 inches) but I’ve met lots of female road cyclists who are shorter than me. In fact at my height there are plenty of choices of road bike because I can ride a small or extra small size men’s or unisex road bikes as well as the many options in women’s specific bikes. But even if you are sub-five foot you’ll find plenty of choices.

To give you an idea of the sizing, Specialized produces a sizing chart which suggests that a 44 cm Ruby or Tarmac 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 road bikes for short women 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, Tarmac and Diverge all have a 44 cm in all models. They range from the basic alloy framed Dolce at $1,300 right up to the S-Works Tarmac Disc at $13,500 so there’s something for every short woman.

Trek – Using a selector on Trek’s website I identified two women’s specific road bikes in a range of colours that come in an XS size from a possible 12 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, Synapse and CAAD10 models come in a 44 cm size, although in Australia there’s only four models listed on the website.


Liv Giant – The Liv Giant brand is fully committed to manufacturing bikes for shorter women, although I couldn’t find an easy way to identify which models were available in XS on their website without going through it model-by-model.

Scott – Four Contessa Addict women’s road bikes come in XXS size and five Contessa Speedster bikes come in XXS size. I’m not sure how that size lines up against the other manufacturers’ XS 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 an XS sized women’s bike in stock that you can take for a test ride. There is one women’s bike shop in Sydney – Giant Sydney and the nearby Clarence Street Cyclery has a dedicated women’s section, 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.

You could also try ringing around a few bike shops to see what they have available for a test ride.

Share your experiences of buying road bikes for short women via comments or the Women Who Cycle Facebook page.


  1. Hi – I love your work and I’m 5’1” and at age 55 can honestly say that no toad bike with 700c wheels “fits” – if by “fit” you mean performs and handles as well as a bike with proportionally sized wheels. Imagine if my 5’10” partner hopped on his Roubaix one morming and it had been altered (However modestly to the eye) to accomodate wheels 1” larger in circumference than usual…
    It has been about 10 years since the industry decided to save money and standardize wheel sizes, pretty much eliminating the 650c wheel, leaving sub-5’3” riders with no viable options. Great news though – just this year 2 makers have decided to meet the need! I now own both: CANYON 650b Endurace (Their Ultimate also offers 650b on the 2xs and 3xs) and Ben Serotta is making a carbon disc fork for #559, 26” HED wheels for stock Duetti and custom
    A Modo Mio bikes!!!
    I have photos aplenty and am
    One happy tiny fierce rider now!

  2. Thanks for this post. I’m the same height as you (160 cm/5’3″) and I ride a Liv Avail Advanced carbon road bike (2016 model). It’s an XS, and perfect for me, but Liv also makes an even smaller XXS in this bike. I think the important thing for every woman cyclist is to try out a bike to check the size before buying, since different manufacturers size their bikes differently.

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