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road bike purchase help please
#1
Hello,

I'm looking to buy a road bike that I can use with a smart trainer at home as well as occasional rides outside. This would be my first road bike ever, and I am a short female at 4feet11inches or 150cm. I was excited about buying an xxs Tommaso Imola bike but my order could not be filled because they sold out (even though they had 5 in stock when I started the process!) and they tell me that they are "having issues with the supply chain due to the virus" so it doesn't seem like they are encouraging me to wait for more bikes being available soon. I am reaching out for other suggestions please, for an inexperienced rider my size. I am on a top floor of an apartment, so I don't want a heavy bike or a set up that would be noisy for the downstairs neighbors. I also live in a hilly area, so I need a good enough bike for that when I finally graduate to riding my bike outside. Looking forward to hearing from you!
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#2
First of all: good luck! The companies don't really cater for the extremes, very tall and quite short people.

Things I would look out for:
Absolutely get a bike with 26 inch wheels. Anything else is stupid, the geometry is stupid, there is lots of toe overlap (shoe can hit the front wheel when turning tight corners), which they try to remove by making the geometry even more stupid. Make sure the brake levers can be adjusted sufficiently inwards, your hands are likely smaller as well. Not all brake levers can be adjusted easily, but a decent bike maker should take care of that. Try to arrange for a test ride with these things in mind.

There are road bikes for younger riders (teenagers) which might fit (heck, my wife does browse the kids section for t shirts and outdoor jackets and stuff). I think a former colleague had a "junior" type bike, she was about your size (lost contact to her, otherwise I would check with her).

Some of the older women's bikes might work, there were some pretty decent mixte (French women's frame style) frames, which I have seen either with stock road bars or as a conversion. I'm talking 70s to 80s bikes, which come with a ton of other issues. So maybe not what you want.

So, yeah, good luck!
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#3
Thanks for your feedback, Joe_W, and for the sympathy too! I wouldn't mind the 70s or 80s women's bikes if they could be a better fit, but I feel that I am too much of a novice to comfortably buy a used bike. I don't mind shopping in the junior section either, but I haven't seen such a section on the bike websites I've visited. Do you happen to know of a particular company that would be good to check out for this?

Thanks for the note on the breaks. My hands are small indeed!

Regarding the 26 inch wheel recommendation: it sounds like the frame has to have been designed for that wheel size only. In other words I can't shop for an xxsmall bike and then ask to swap the wheels for the 26 inch size, correct? I need to learn how to convert units from, say, "700c" to the corresponding number in inches to be able to tell what I've been looking at so far. Do you have any thoughts you would be willing to share on these two bikes:

https://amzn.to/2ZobdPF

and

https://amzn.to/3eZV7m5


I understand that not having seen the bikes (or me!) it would be impossible to offer a concrete judgement, but given my zero knowledge any thoughts you share would be useful to me. The stores near me are out of bikes my size, so I am trying to do the best I can with the online options that I find. Thanks again!
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#4
(06-29-2020, 03:53 PM)Sonia Wrote:  Hello,

I'm looking to buy a road bike that I can use with a smart trainer at home as well as occasional rides outside. This would be my first road bike ever, and I am a short female at 4feet11inches or 150cm.

Hi Sonia, welcome!

You might try and check out Quintana Roo, or Georgena Terry (her company started as a builder for women only, I'm sure some smaller guys didn't mind though). I tried checking the Terry website just to see what they had (I've got an older Terry seat I use, even comfortable for a guy!), but all I saw was a cycling "fashion" site and not any mention of bikes at all. Seems odd for a company that built their own bikes which made her brand famous. I don't know if you are interested in used bikes or just new. I believe Q-Roo still makes fairly small bikes, but you'd have to check, and they are not cheap for the wallet; about $2000-$3000 a pop new. I have an early 100% USA built (made in Taiwan now, assembled in US) Kilo model road racing bike, VERY light Aero alloy frame and aero carbon fork, cool looking Tri-color paint (red, yellow, orange). It's about a 44-45cm frame (seat tube center to center), I'll have to measure it again and get top tube size also. It's going up for sale since I just finished working (really just a "tune-up" was needed) on it last month and it's too small for me; though at 5'7" I did take it for a test ride, very good bike if I wasn't so cramped up on it (I ride 51-53cm). What size Tommaso were you looking at? The bike I have is near mint aesthetically and mechanically; ready to ride! You need to get the pedals and saddle of your choice; pedals I include are Wellgo with cage and strap (great for a trainer stand, but maybe not for the road if you are not familiar with using that style). I can include a saddle if necessary, but I do recommend testing saddles since it can be the biggest factor other than fit for riding a bike comfortably. It has a bullhorn handle bar with carbon aero bars attached (set-up for Triathalon/TT type use); you can put a drop bar on it. It's an "old school" bike 1999, side pull caliper brakes (not set -up to adapt disc brakes, of course much lighter without discs). Shimano 105 groupset, 26" rims. Not a cheap bike when new, and could be readily upgraded with higher end components to primarily reduce weight, since the 105 group was very solid to start with. It is designed for a petit woman. I bought from a woman whose daughter was racing, but was still growing and needed to buy a larger frame, thus the very low miles. Some of the Terry bikes were interesting in that they used 700c rims in the rear, but 26" rims in front (or was it 26" rear, and 24" front?). I'd go online to check things out a bit. The Q-Roo bike I have is going for $275 ($295 with saddle) obo (plus shipping). It is a mid-level bike, and weighs less than a Tommaso, I think the Tomasso uses a steel fork (the "Kilo" name is in reference to its frame weight of 1 kilogram/2.2 lbs). If you're interested let me know via private message here. I will post photos on a thread here so you and others can check it out regardless of what you want to do. I wouldn't be surprised if you found a Tommaso model one year earlier, new-old-stock or barely used somewhere online. I don't know how much the "Imola" models were going for, but I have seen them on Craigslist many times (guys sizes for about $300-$400). Check "CL" in your area. I'm in northern Florida, you can check out my ride if you're in the general vicinity, also I'd save you shipping and deliver myself if you weren't too far out. In reference to bike sizes; you can usually go a little smaller (2-3cm, common for a lot of amateur and pro racers) without to many issues since you can raise the saddle, add longer stem, etc.; but going larger more than 1-2 cm can sometimes create a problem in getting the fit correct. It all depends on your body and position when riding, etc. It is always best to be able to ride new a bike before buying if possible, a lot of money spent if not your size (harder to resell at or near the purchase price). If buying used, at least it's not costing an arm and a leg if it's not want you want (and can probably resell for what you paid for it); but I still recommend test riding if possible.

Take care,
Jesper
"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
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#5
(07-01-2020, 03:32 AM)Jesper Wrote:  Georgena Terry

+1
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#6
quote='Sonia' pid='38949' dateline='1593547550']
....Do you have any thoughts you would be willing to share on these two bikes:

https://amzn.to/2ZobdPF

and

https://amzn.to/3eZV7m5


I understand that not having seen the bikes (or me!) it would be impossible to offer a concrete judgement, but given my zero knowledge any thoughts you share would be useful to me....
[/quote]
Wow Sonia,
Some tough stuff to deal with given you are starting from scratch regarding road bikes in general, and also taking into consideration size, fit, etc.
Let's start with more than just your height; what is your inseam measurement? This is in regards to standover height; not as big a deal with newer bikes which have top tubes sloping downward nearer to the seat post.
The 2 bikes you linked to, although small frames (Tommaso 44cm, Cinelli 46cm) are completely different bikes excluding their prices. The Tommaso is definitely a "road bike", while the Cinelli is more of an "all terrain bike". Consider the tire sizes: Tommaso 700x25mm (approx. 27.5x1"); Cinelli 29x2.25" (approx. 737x57cm). You can go many places (but slower, with more effort, and less stable for straight up road riding/cornering) with those Cinelli equipped tires; but the Tommaso set-up is strictly road/ hard packed "smooth" dirt trail designed. You need to know exactly what you plan to use a bike for and the general speed you plan on riding at, whether now or in the near future, and the primary terrain/roads it will be used on; also, distance/time in the saddle. Tommaso: aluminum alloy frame with carbon fork; Cinelli "CroMo" frame and fork. If the Cinelli was the exact same size and price bike as the Tommaso; I'd recommend the Tommaso since you only stated wanting a road bike. Being that you are a novice road bike user there are many factors to consider after size/fit: saddle, pedals, bars, etc. Given that the women's bike I have is in your size range just like the Tommaso and Cinelli, you'd still have to consider handlebar types: bullhorn styles, drop styles, etc.; pedal types: "clipless" (road, mountain, hybrid), cage and strap, "rat trap", flat/platform; hybrid ("clipless" and flat), etc.; saddles: hard, soft, comfort, racing, cruiser, etc. You really need to get to a bike shop near you that may have a couple of used bikes at or near your size and get some test rides (30 min. or more) under your belt utilizing if you can different saddles, pedals and bar set-ups. It can be overwhelming, but if you plan on investing $500 or more you want make sure you can derive physical and psychological pleasure from it. Just a note: carefully read what comes with the bike (why l mentioned pedals and saddle regarding my bike); the Cinelli comes without pedals (a $50-$150 or more expense, not including shoes), the Tommaso comes with "flat" pedals, which are more than likely fairly inexpensive since they fully expect a buyer to be fitting their own specific choice either upon purchasing ( you already have some you've been using on another frame), or shortly thereafter. Also, realize certain pedals require a specialized shoe ($75-$200 or more), many which are not appropriate for casual walking around in ("clipless" primarily, but not exclusively).
I recommend you at least somehow manage to get your butt on a road bike somewhat close to your size (doesn't need to be perfect) and get some riding time in. If you were a friend looking to start road biking, I'd have you take my bike out for a couple days just to see the difference between riding a road bike and whatever else you've previously ridden, while letting you try it with different set-ups to "dial in" your comfort range. That would at least give you an idea of what you might be looking to buy regarding frame size and component build. It is DEFINITELY NOT like those TV ads you see of guys and gals pumping away on their "Peloton". Many of those folks probably never have or will ride a road bike; using your road bike on a trainer is closer to the real road experience since you can get on the road and have the same feel of the bike concerning your posture pedalling and more. Granted you won't experience how the bike will handle on the road, but you will get to know how your body feels after riding in or out of the drops or on aero bars. Try finding something, anything road worthy to burn out a couple miles and see how things feel braking, changing gears, climbing, etc.

Take care,
Jesper

PS. Or do like I did, found a new bike I could standover without a possible male related injury. Buy it, ride it, love it. I ended up taking that same bike on a 1500 mile solo tour about a year and a half later without making a change. Sometimes you just adapt to what is available at the time. Decades later I'm still doing the same thing with everything l get my hands on. I certainly have no experience with a "bag of bones", 1936 French road bike l'm building; l bought it, will build it, will ride it, and l already know I'll love it; but that's me!
"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
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