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Please Help This Wannabe Rider <5 Ft Tall!

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Please Help This Wannabe Rider <5 Ft Tall!

Old 04-17-19, 07:35 AM
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velocipedia
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Please Help This Wannabe Rider <5 Ft Tall! (Liv Bliss?)

Hi, everyone! I'm in the market for a small bike for roads, light trails, paths, etc. Essentially a comfortable bike with reasonably upright geometry for all types of recreational riding. I live in the mountains, so even our roads are rough.

I'm short, just under 5 ft, and middle-aged. Haven't really ridden since I was a teenager because I've never found a bike that fits me well. I did a longer thread a while ago on outfitting my Surly LHT (42cm), and she went from a lovely drop bar touring setup with 38c tires to a nice upright city setup with 1.95" tires, and she is still not comfortable for me. After about $2000 on this bike, I'm (sadly) ready to sell.

So I'm in the market for a bike with hydro discs, comfortable geometry, possible front suspension (though I like the clean look and lighter weight of a rigid fork, comfort is key, as is correct fit), and a decent drivetrain. My budget is up to $1000 IF it's a near-perfect bike. I've gone from a big, heavy Diamondback comfort bike to a slim, light Trek FX 7.3 (which I liked, but it was too big; 15 yrs ago they didn't have 13" frames), to my heavy-ish Surly, which I cannot get to work for me (and I've stopped trying).

I've been testing out lots of bikes in women's XS (if available) and S (if not): Cannondale Althea; Specialized Ariel and low-entry Roll; Trek DS, FX, and Verve; Liv Rove and Bliss.

The Althea and Ariel had me too stretched out and weren't as comfy as I'd like.
The Roll was super comfy, but feels SO BIG for me, like riding a refrigerator. Big tubes, big saddle, wide bars.
The Trek DS was okay, but again, felt big. And I don't like its looks at all. The FX was light and spright, but not comfy. The Verve was pretty good, though I don't like the look of step-throughs...hate to say it, but looks are important to me! I barely fit the men's small, though (I like the looks better), and my stretched out feeling could be remedied by the adjustable quill stem. A big plus is the 2020s now have hydro discs, woo hoo!
The Liv Rove is great-looking and upright, but standover is too high; I'm right on the top tube. Plus I didn't feel the front suspension helps much with the thinner tires. The Bliss felt good, lots of standover and the suspension was nice, though I'm not as upright, but...the components are so low-end; even the Bliss 1 has only mechanical discs and Tourney/Altus front/rear derailleurs. And there's no internal cable routing or any higher-end features. The equivalent Giant versions are higher end for the same $$, I think.

Do any of you have suggestions or advice for me? I've struggled to find a small enough bike for decades now and since I've spent so much on ill-fitting bikes or bikes that don't feel right, I want my next purchase to be The One. I wonder if the Rove can be outfitted with 26" tires, which gets me lower to the ground and better proportioned to my size. (On 700c, I feel I'm on stilts and don't feel stable; I have 26" wheels on my Surly, but the ride is too rough, and the cantis stink!)

I like the 26/2.1" tires on the Bliss, and it's a small bike that's proportional to me. It just seems so low end, but I suppose I could ride it and switch out components later on. Having to swap things out and sink more $$ into it to get it the way I (think I ) want it reminds me of trying to get my Surly done right. What if it doesn't work? I'd just like a bike that works without a major overhaul from the get-go!

Thank you for any help/advice/insight you can give this wanna-be rider! ����

Last edited by velocipedia; 04-17-19 at 02:14 PM.
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Old 04-17-19, 07:54 AM
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If this was me and I had spent the amount of time and money on bikes that you have I would have a frame custom made and have the components/mechanicals I wanted. That way there are no compromises and you know it is exactly what fits you and your needs. Hope you find something but I have my doubts it will be anything off the rack.
Good luck, Frank.
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Old 04-17-19, 08:11 AM
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Junior bikes from the bike store are usually pretty dire. Parents don't want to spend on a bike that might not get used at all, and even if it does, will be outgrown soon. But there are some nice junior mountain bikes available now, especially by mail order. Cleary has recently tried marketing their bikes to people of small stature, and they have good mountain bikes with 24 inch and 26 inch tires. Frog Bikes is another candidate. Unfortunately Islabikes checked out of the US market last year or I'd point you at them, too. Spawn are more expensive. Some of the bike store brands have a higher model that a shop might have in stock. I know there are a few really nice bike-store brand bikes but I'm blanking right now, maybe it was Haro or Kona?
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Old 04-17-19, 09:25 AM
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I'd bite the bullet and have a chat with Georgena Terry; she's been custom making women's bikes since the '70s, and specializes in building for shorter women. Better to buy the right bike and cry only once.
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Old 04-17-19, 09:30 AM
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To the OP, have you looked at a folding bike? Bike Friday builds the bike to your specs. Check out their website bikefriday.com This may or may not be your solution. Also, check out the folding bike forum on this site....
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Old 04-17-19, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by velocipedia View Post
Hi, everyone! I'm in the market for a small bike for roads, light trails, paths, etc. Essentially a comfortable bike with reasonably upright geometry for all types of recreational riding. I live in the mountains, so even our roads are rough.

I'm short, just under 5 ft, and middle-aged. Haven't really ridden since I was a teenager because I've never found a bike that fits me well. I did a longer thread a while ago on outfitting my Surly LHT (42cm), and she went from a lovely drop bar touring setup with 38c tires to a nice upright city setup with 1.95" tires, and she is still not comfortable for me. After about $2000 on this bike, I'm (sadly) ready to sell.

So I'm in the market for a bike with hydro discs, comfortable geometry, possible front suspension (though I like the clean look and lighter weight of a rigid fork, comfort is key, as is correct fit), and a decent drivetrain. My budget is up to $1000 IF it's a near-perfect bike. I've gone from a big, heavy Diamondback comfort bike to a slim, light Trek FX 7.3 (which I liked, but it was too big; 15 yrs ago they didn't have 13" frames), to my heavy-ish Surly, which I cannot get to work for me (and I've stopped trying).

I've been testing out lots of bikes in women's XS (if available) and S (if not): Cannondale Althea; Specialized Ariel and low-entry Roll; Trek DS, FX, and Verve; Liv Rove and Bliss.

The Althea and Ariel had me too stretched out and weren't as comfy as I'd like.
The Roll was super comfy, but feels SO BIG for me, like riding a refrigerator. Big tubes, big saddle, wide bars.
The Trek DS was okay, but again, felt big. And I don't like its looks at all. The FX was light and spright, but not comfy. The Verve was pretty good, though I don't like the look of step-throughs...hate to say it, but looks are important to me! I barely fit the men's small, though (I like the looks better), and my stretched out feeling could be remedied by the adjustable quill stem. A big plus is the 2020s now have hydro discs, woo hoo!
The Liv Rove is great-looking and upright, but standover is too high; I'm right on the top tube. Plus I didn't feel the front suspension helps much with the thinner tires. The Bliss felt good, lots of standover and the suspension was nice, though I'm not as upright, but...the components are so low-end; even the Bliss 1 has only mechanical discs and Tourney/Altus front/rear derailleurs. And there's no internal cable routing or any higher-end features. The equivalent Giant versions are higher end for the same $$, I think.

Do any of you have suggestions or advice for me? I've struggled to find a small enough bike for decades now and since I've spent so much on ill-fitting bikes or bikes that don't feel right, I want my next purchase to be The One. I wonder if the Rove can be outfitted with 26" tires, which gets me lower to the ground and better proportioned to my size. (On 700c, I feel I'm on stilts and don't feel stable; I have 26" wheels on my Surly, but the ride is too rough, and the cantis stink!)

I like the 26/2.1" tires on the Bliss, and it's a small bike that's proportional to me. But it just seems so low end. Having to swap things out and sink more $$ into it to get it the way I (think I ) want it reminds me of trying to get my Surly done right. What if it doesn't work? I'd just like a bike that works without a major overhaul from the get-go!

Thank you for any help/advice/insight you can give this wanna-be rider! 👍🙏
Hi. I would agree with your idea of 26" wheels. The good news is that vintage MTBs are cheap, and short+tall stems are easy to get.

Look at something like a Cannondale Delta V from the early 90s, or a Barracuda who sponsored a women's' team and made very small 13" frames. Keep in mind that a fully rigid bike can have a much lower front end. 13" bikes were not that uncommon.


My wife is 5-4 and I fixed up a 99 Cannondale for her to ride on roads, paths, and light trails. In the end, I spent very little money and ended up with a <22lb bike with modern quality parts. Anything past '99 will likely have disk tabs if high end.

I do understand that sub 5' is a different deal, my college girlfriend was 4-10. FWIW I took an old Columbia 20" bike and added a springer fork to make it into a chopper for her campus putzer.

The folding bike idea is good also. Or mini velos?
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Old 04-17-19, 10:58 AM
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Thank you, everyone, for your suggestions! I thought about folding bikes, but they wouldn't be a good idea for where I live, out in the country on long, hilly rides. I checked out Terry's site...omg! Her bikes are awesome, but just too spendy and I honestly haven't ridden enough to know exactly what type of bike I'll want long term, whether front suspension makes sense or I can get away with a rigid fork and wide tires. Still too new yet to commit to such a price. And youth bikes I did check out, but their specs are super low, even more so than the Bliss.

The Bliss was the closest I've gotten so far to a frame and tire size that feel right. Yes, the 26" wheels make a difference, and I'm no speed demon, so they'd be fine for me. Thanks for the links and photos, you guys. I kind of narrowed it down to the Bliss, the Verve, and the Rove, unless there's something I'm missing. There's also the Bliss Lite (w/rigid fork), which is better spec'd than the regular (w/suspension), but nobody carries it, and I'm not going to special order w/o trying it out.

I've been checking craigslist because there are a ton of barely used bikes for great prices. I'd just have to be patient and hit it right. I don't know...with a Tourney/Altus setup (3x8), and mechanical discs, at $475, does a Bliss 1 make sense? I'd love a better transmission, hydro discs, and more modern and cleaner internal cabling, but at my size, maybe you can't have everything?
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Old 04-17-19, 11:20 PM
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Right now in mountain bikes, the junior tire size is still 24" tires and a 12-13 inch frame but the adult XS size, if there is one, is usually 27.5" with a 14 inch frame and that's awkward for an XXS adult. But there are still some 26ers around. I know this is back to junior bikes, but I found these:

https://www.clearybikes.com/products/scout-26-10-speed

https://www.trailcraftcycles.com/product/big-mesa-26/
https://www.trailcraftcycles.com/product/timber-26/

https://www.whyteusa.bike/collection...roducts/405-20

https://www.konaworld.com/fire_mountain.cfm XS is a 26er

Finally - you had a Surly before so that's a known quantity. The Surly Troll is a 26er and it comes in XS with a 13" frame. You could build it from the frame up however you like, possibly moving wheels and other parts over from your LHT
https://surlybikes.com/bikes/troll

Edit: one more https://www.chainreactioncycles.com/.../rp-prod173139
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Old 04-18-19, 04:41 AM
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Parts are replaceable. Shop for a frame that fits and disregard the logos

Shops will swap parts, talk to them
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Old 04-18-19, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
Right now in mountain bikes, the junior tire size is still 24" tires and a 12-13 inch frame but the adult XS size, if there is one, is usually 27.5" with a 14 inch frame and that's awkward for an XXS adult. But there are still some 26ers around. I know this is back to junior bikes, but I found these:

https://www.clearybikes.com/products/scout-26-10-speed

https://www.trailcraftcycles.com/product/big-mesa-26/
https://www.trailcraftcycles.com/product/timber-26/

https://www.whyteusa.bike/collection...roducts/405-20

https://www.konaworld.com/fire_mountain.cfm XS is a 26er

Finally - you had a Surly before so that's a known quantity. The Surly Troll is a 26er and it comes in XS with a 13" frame. You could build it from the frame up however you like, possibly moving wheels and other parts over from your LHT
https://surlybikes.com/bikes/troll

Edit: one more https://www.chainreactioncycles.com/.../rp-prod173139
Darth, thank you for all these links...I've never heard of any of these brands except Kona, but all the bikes looks great. I can research the dealers and see if any of them are around me. Some are too spendy for me, but the more-affordable ones' specs are as good as (if not better than) some of the adult versions I've looked at. I really appreciate your time and effort in showing me that there are other possibilities out there for someone my size.
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Old 04-18-19, 10:58 AM
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Mini Velos are a Thing .. small wheels so short length for fit, has no toe and front wheel overlap.. issues ..

And they sell well in Asia Where they are made.. so can be reasonably priced ... they do not fold ..

so weight of hinge structures are not added ,....

[ discussion of them is in the folding bike sub forum, nonetheless ]








.....

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Old 04-18-19, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by DorkDisk View Post
Parts are replaceable. Shop for a frame that fits and disregard the logos

Shops will swap parts, talk to them
Thanks, DorkDisk...I talked to the guys at the Giant/Liv shop, and they said it'd cost $170 to switch from mechanical to hydro disks; maybe $50 to upgrade the rear derailleur from Tourney or Altus to Acera, but said I'm limited with the Bliss. He said that in order to do all I want, it'd cost $1000...the implication being, why don't I just go for a better bike. If they made a better bike with a 26" wheel, I would! Now that MTBs are all 27.5" or 29", I'm just too small for them and don't actually need bigger wheels because I'm not going crazy offroad. I just want a comfortable, stable, safe ride on rutted roads, grass, dirt/gravel paths, and some light trails.

Question: If you strip away everything from the Bliss frame, could I build up a better bike? Hydro brakes, 3x8/9 or 2x9 (or whatever), better fork, saddle, bar, etc.? Or is the frame itself not quality enough for that kind of upgrade? IOW, is this aluminum frame any worse than any other comparable (Trek, Specialized, Cannondale, etc.) aluminum frame?

https://www.liv-cycling.com/us/bliss-2-2018
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Old 04-18-19, 11:36 AM
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I found myself buying the cable operated Hydraulic disc calipers by TRP
for a little less I could get an entry level full hydraulic brake & lever made by Magura ..
Germany. (via a LBS supplier)



but the Caliper swap was simpler , I am the Mechanic have done so for decades.. in a few different shops..






....

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Old 04-18-19, 11:50 AM
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In reality you get a better value in buying a bike outfitters at the factory with the components you seek, or a majority of them

because they buy huge shipments of components , at the local level you are paying retail ..
the bike shop pays more than the factory, too..

20' container full, Pallet of cartons, a single carton of them, or one .. price per unit is different ..
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Old 04-18-19, 12:21 PM
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Rodriguez & Erickson Cycles
All bikes come with 26" or 700c as a standard option. Custom geometry is usually nominal for either wheel or rider requirements.
They have 20 different "standard" sizes & can make any size you need.

Frame & fork is pretty reasonable prices. You can then load it up with any component selection you desire. That's if you desire any components from them at all.

Logan is their custom projects guy & Smiley is their fitter that figures out what dimensions the customer is so they can make a frame to fit. Give them a call. This sort of thing is their specialty.
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Old 04-18-19, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by velocipedia View Post
Darth, thank you for all these links...I've never heard of any of these brands except Kona, but all the bikes looks great. I can research the dealers and see if any of them are around me. Some are too spendy for me, but the more-affordable ones' specs are as good as (if not better than) some of the adult versions I've looked at. I really appreciate your time and effort in showing me that there are other possibilities out there for someone my size.
You know, I just bought a '92 Specialized Rockhopper for $75, and promptly spent quite a bit less than your budget (including labor) to have her built up into a very nice road/off-road/cruiser/day-tripper with North Road bars and big, plush tires. I'm 5' 4" and am in love with 26" wheels; finally it feels proportional! It does have rim brakes, but if you get Kool Stop pads, it'll definitely stop.

You might check CraigsList and eBay for old mountain bikes; find a frame that fits, and build it up to the kind of bike you want. Our local bike kitchen recently recycled an awesome old Trek Antelope that might have been just your size. Tragic.
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Old 04-20-19, 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Korina View Post
You know, I just bought a '92 Specialized Rockhopper for $75, and promptly spent quite a bit less than your budget (including labor) to have her built up into a very nice road/off-road/cruiser/day-tripper with North Road bars and big, plush tires. I'm 5' 4" and am in love with 26" wheels; finally it feels proportional! It does have rim brakes, but if you get Kool Stop pads, it'll definitely stop.

You might check CraigsList and eBay for old mountain bikes; find a frame that fits, and build it up to the kind of bike you want. Our local bike kitchen recently recycled an awesome old Trek Antelope that might have been just your size. Tragic.
Hi, Korina...that's a nice deal with the Spec Rockhopper! Yeah, I love 26" wheels. Tired of feeling like I'm on stilts with 700c wheels. They're just so tall, though they do roll nicely. I'm definitely checking CL, for there are tons of "barely used" and "nearly new" bikes out there. Finding 13" or 14" sizes is tricky, but they're out there.

I've heard of Kool Stops, and people rave about them. If I wind up with rim brakes, I'll get them. Thanks so much for the tips!
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Old 04-21-19, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by velocipedia View Post
Thanks, DorkDisk...I talked to the guys at the Giant/Liv shop, and they said it'd cost $170 to switch from mechanical to hydro disks; maybe $50 to upgrade the rear derailleur from Tourney or Altus to Acera, but said I'm limited with the Bliss. He said that in order to do all I want, it'd cost $1000...the implication being, why don't I just go for a better bike. If they made a better bike with a 26" wheel, I would! Now that MTBs are all 27.5" or 29", I'm just too small for them and don't actually need bigger wheels because I'm not going crazy offroad. I just want a comfortable, stable, safe ride on rutted roads, grass, dirt/gravel paths, and some light trails.

Question: If you strip away everything from the Bliss frame, could I build up a better bike? Hydro brakes, 3x8/9 or 2x9 (or whatever), better fork, saddle, bar, etc.? Or is the frame itself not quality enough for that kind of upgrade? IOW, is this aluminum frame any worse than any other comparable (Trek, Specialized, Cannondale, etc.) aluminum frame?

https://www.liv-cycling.com/us/bliss-2-2018
Out of that list of brands, G is the only one that owns a factory. Considering they make high quality frames for other companies, their own brand consistently delivers high quality frames at all pricepoints.

I think all 3 Blisses have the same frame so you can either get the cheapest one, pick your favorite color, or get the one with hydraulic brakes and rigid fork. Its not a bad idea to just buy one for sizing and dialing in the fit first. There's nothing about those frames that make them tough to upgrade, but so are post 2000 MTBs. And there are many high end barely used ones for sale for cheap.

Buying the Bliss for the frame is a tough sell for me personally, but I know old 26ers and how to fix them. That does not mean that it's a bad choice for you. Finding a used bike takes patience, which is why a new bike could be a better option.

Looking through my bike pr0n stash, I found this beautiful tiny Kona, which is remarkably similar to my slightly larger 16" petite Cannondale.

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Old 04-21-19, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by DorkDisk View Post
Out of that list of brands, G is the only one that owns a factory. Considering they make high quality frames for other companies, their own brand consistently delivers high quality frames at all pricepoints.

I think all 3 Blisses have the same frame so you can either get the cheapest one, pick your favorite color, or get the one with hydraulic brakes and rigid fork. Its not a bad idea to just buy one for sizing and dialing in the fit first. There's nothing about those frames that make them tough to upgrade, but so are post 2000 MTBs. And there are many high end barely used ones for sale for cheap.

Buying the Bliss for the frame is a tough sell for me personally, but I know old 26ers and how to fix them. That does not mean that it's a bad choice for you. Finding a used bike takes patience, which is why a new bike could be a better option.

Looking through my bike pr0n stash, I found this beautiful tiny Kona, which is remarkably similar to my slightly larger 16" petite Cannondale.

Well isn't that an adorable bike!! I love Kona. Too bad I don't have a dealer within a reasonable drive, and even though I've called a couple places, nobody has an XS in any model I'm interested in.

I've been checking CL for used bikes for a few weeks. Tiny frames aren't common, but they're out there. I'm picky, though, on condition and color. Good to know that Giant is a good brand. I'm more familiar with Trek, Spec, Cannondale, etc. I love the Liv line, though. I really wanted to try the Bliss Lite (rigid fork), but nobody has them to test ride. They say they're not a good seller.

Thanks again for your feedback; I really appreciate it!
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Old 04-27-19, 07:02 PM
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@velocipedia, any luck? Also, have you seen this Giant?

Oh, and keep an eye out for Isla Bikes; they made good quality kids' bikes until the company went out of business a few months ago.

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Old 04-28-19, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Korina View Post
@velocipedia, any luck? Also, have you seen this Giant?

Oh, and keep an eye out for Isla Bikes; they made good quality kids' bikes until the company went out of business a few months ago.
Hi, Korina...I was close to deciding on either a Liv Bliss or Tempt (which I hadn't yet tried), but have had some previous nerve injuries flare up, which have sidelined me from getting on a bike any time soon. :-( Trying to keep perspective, but am pretty discouraged. Thank you, though, for showing me that little Giant: It's adorable and would likely fit. If I am fortunate enough to get back in the saddle again at some point, I will add that one to the list. Unless other options come available, Liv/Giant would be my choice. The bike shop also is the best I've encountered so far, and they're a small business, so I would love to give them my business. Again, thank you for checking in and helping me out. I hope I'll be able to write again with a photo of my new purchase...we'll see. Meantime, happy (and safe) riding!
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Old 04-29-19, 12:45 AM
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@velocipedia, I'm so sorry! That sucks hard. I hope you heal quickly so you can find your bike and never stop riding.
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Old 04-29-19, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Korina View Post
@velocipedia, I'm so sorry! That sucks hard. I hope you heal quickly so you can find your bike and never stop riding.
Korina, thank you so much for your encouragement and good thoughts. I hope this is just temporary and that I can ride again at some point. I'm not giving up on the dream just yet!
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Old 04-29-19, 10:23 AM
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I just saw a YouTube video about Cycle Kids bikes:

https://www.cyclekids.bike/

The 26" model (https://www.cyclekids.bike/products/...ids-bike-26-in) may meet many of your needs. They look like quality bikes. They appear to be a new direct-to-consumer brand.
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