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The best commuter bike for the tiniest commuter person

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The best commuter bike for the tiniest commuter person

Old 04-20-17, 11:30 AM
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There is an old Centurion Ironman model with the Terry design, i.e. 24" front wheel and 700c (~27") rear wheel. A family member who is 5'0" tall has one, and it fits well.

I attended a talk that Terry gave at Bike Expo about three years ago. She's a mechanical engineer. It was really interesting. She said that the design works but not for the reasons she expected. The thinking had been that the ratio of torso to leg length is smaller with women than with men, and the small front wheel allowed the top tube to be shorter. This reduces the distance that the rider reaches forward. That's fine, but it turns out that women, in general, need to reach forward less than men do not because of short torsos but because of low body mass in the upper body. It can be too much work to hold yourself up if your shoulders and back are doing too much work.

New road bikes with 700c wheels made for women achieve a shorter reach by making the head tube angle more shallow. This allows a short top tube and prevents the front wheel from hitting the down tube. Some might argue that a shallow head angle makes a bike ride badly, but this doesn't seem to be a problem.
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Old 04-21-17, 03:41 AM
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I was looking at E-Bay today. These two Cyclocross bikes showed up.

Giant TCX 26 CX junior youth kids cyclocross gravel road bicycle bike | eBay

Custom Novara Pulse 26'' Kids' Road/CX/Cyclocross Bike | eBay

Actually, it looks like the little Giant is $710 new, so I'd offer quite a bit less for the abused one, or buy direct new.
https://www.giant-bicycles.com/us/tcx-espoir-26

Anyway, I think they both use stock 26" tires, so you could mount different tires depending on riding conditions. And 26" tires should be easy to find.

The Giant has disc brakes, so if you could match the hub, you could probably fit a pair of 650c wheels on it for "road" riding in the summer.
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Old 04-21-17, 09:48 AM
  #28  
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Surly Straggler is a 650b bike with frames as small as 38cm. Nice bike, too.
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Old 04-21-17, 09:57 AM
  #29  
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I never stand flat-footed over the top-tube; if I need to, I tilt the bike over.
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Old 04-23-17, 12:05 AM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by thetiniestbike
Hey all,

After years of riding 60-year-old department store children's step-throughs, I'm finally looking to build my first new, adult commuter.
Look, there is a bicycle for you in the Classic subforum.
1989-ish Peugeot Jubilee Mixte

https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...lee-mixte.html

Last edited by Barabaika; 04-23-17 at 12:18 AM.
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Old 04-23-17, 05:30 AM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by thetiniestbike
Hey all,

After years of riding 60-year-old department store children's step-throughs, I'm finally looking to build my first new, adult commuter.
Hey friend! The person above (Barabaika) turned me on to this conversation, I did just acquired a near-mint adult steel mixte frame with 24" tires that might be just what you're looking for. It was really just a purchase of curiosity for me, so if you're interested in buying it I'd give it to you for a really good price.

I don't know if it's cool to do deals in the Commuting forum, but if you're interested you can send me a private message.

You can see photos here: College 3.0 Gallery
I've got new tires and tubes on the way in the mail, so it'll be back to practically brand new condition in a week.

EDIT: After reading your thread more closely, I should caution you that I had a hard time finding the correct tires for this bike (24" x 1-3/8). It seems to be a standard wheelchair tire size, so a lot of the offerings were wheelchair tires. So if you're looking for something with a lot of tire options, the Peugeot might not leave you very happy.

Also, I wanted to mention that I'm 5'4" and I do a lot of city/commute riding... and I don't stand flat footed on my blue bike there in the pictures, I always step forward and straddle the bar if I need to stop and stand. I didn't think I'd like that but I've adapted and now I barely give it a second thought. (barely)

Also also, the Terry designs are way cool and being on the shorter side myself, I'd love to get one if I could afford it! I hope you can find one.

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Old 04-23-17, 10:59 AM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by College3.0
EDIT: After reading your thread more closely, I should caution you that I had a hard time finding the correct tires for this bike (24" x 1-3/8). It seems to be a standard wheelchair tire size, so a lot of the offerings were wheelchair tires. So if you're looking for something with a lot of tire options, the Peugeot might not leave you very happy.

Also, I wanted to mention that I'm 5'4" and I do a lot of city/commute riding... and I don't stand flat footed on my blue bike there in the pictures, I always step forward and straddle the bar if I need to stop and stand. I didn't think I'd like that but I've adapted and now I barely give it a second thought. (barely)
I see quite a few 24" tires: https://www.niagaracycle.com/categor...tubes/tires/24
This Michelin tire should be made for such a bike https://www.niagaracycle.com/categor...1-75-wire-bead

You should be happy because almost each older mixte frame was offered in the 49-51cm size range that should fit you wonderfully.

Last edited by Barabaika; 04-23-17 at 11:08 AM.
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Old 04-23-17, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Barabaika
I see quite a few 24" tires: https://www.niagaracycle.com/categor...tubes/tires/24
This Michelin tire should be made for such a bike https://www.niagaracycle.com/categor...1-75-wire-bead

You should be happy because almost each older mixte frame was offered in the 49-51cm size range that should fit you wonderfully.

Yeah, there is an adequate selection of 24" tires, but this bike requires 24x1-3/8, which based on three days of online shopping doesn't seem to be as common. I guess maybe you could get a slightly larger wheel that uses a more commonly available tire size, but I don't know much about bikes to comment on how feasible that is.
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Old 04-23-17, 11:19 PM
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ETRTO 540 is the wheelchair one and 507 is the kid's mountain bike one
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Old 04-24-17, 12:39 AM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by College3.0
Yeah, there is an adequate selection of 24" tires, but this bike requires 24x1-3/8, which based on three days of online shopping doesn't seem to be as common. I guess maybe you could get a slightly larger wheel that uses a more commonly available tire size, but I don't know much about bikes to comment on how feasible that is.
Michelin Country J is 24"x1.75" = 24x1 3/8
A French tire on a French bike, one good and cheap tire should be enough.



24" tires are used for BMX bicycles too:
https://www.universalcycles.com/shop...?category=3307

Last edited by Barabaika; 04-24-17 at 12:46 AM.
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Old 04-24-17, 07:25 AM
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Originally Posted by thetiniestbike
Are there other frames on the market now that I should be considering, that meet the needs stated above? Thanks!

Hey OP,

Sorry for derailing your thread. I hope you find something that's exactly what you're looking for. I'm sure I speak for everyone here when I say we'd love for you to get a comfortable ride soon and we'd love to see pictures!

Regards,
Jessica
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Old 04-24-17, 07:41 AM
  #37  
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Just another suggestion. This might be out of your price range but the dollar is in your favor and no GST. Here in Australia this company "Vivente" has been around for a time and specialize in touring/commuting bikes. I cannot give enough praise to the company owner Noel who goes out of his way to ensure his bikes are well suited and well made. I can say they are beautiful and likely to attract some attention which was one of the OP's requirements not to. But they do make these in an XS size.

https://viventebikes.com/our-bikes/
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Old 04-24-17, 05:07 PM
  #38  
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Your height does provide some challenges when looking for a commuting bike. My recommendation is the Soma Buena Vista 42 cm. because it comes with 26" wheels. That is the largest wheel that I would recommend for your height. Others have suggested the Surly series with 26" wheels and if you can straddle the top tube they might be a contender.

Someone else suggested a folding bike and I have to concur on this one. A Bike Friday or Brompton would work quite nicely and the theft issue can become moot. My wife owns a Brompton, though a little taller than you but it is easy to accommodate different heights.

I am a big fan of Rivendell and again my wife owns a Betty Foy but they are pricey and with the 25% currency difference doesn't add to the appeal. Even their bikes say from 5' and up so you don't quite hit the mark. They did make one model, Betty Foy 47 cm, that used 26" wheels but they are rare as hen's teeth. I don't think they would last long on the streets of Montreal.

Good luck on what ever you chose.
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Old 05-02-17, 04:49 PM
  #39  
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I second the Bike Friday and Bromptons, little more to pay but good value. My wife is 4 foot twelve and shrinking, I recently built a nice Soma Buena Vista in 42 cm, beautiful blue and best of all it uses 26" wheels. She absolutely loves it! Fits her very nicely. I built it as a 1X9. The New Albion is a pretty nice runner up to the Buena Vista. I feel your pain, finding the right size bike with sensible sized wheels helps. All my bikes use 700 wheels but I'm a big fan of 20" and 26" wheels, easier to find tires for in my opinion. Definitely shop around and gather info from all the usefull Forums here.
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Old 05-02-17, 04:59 PM
  #40  
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I need to add that The New Albion Cycles Starling is the "mixte" style frame similar to the Soma Buena Vista.
Hope this helps.
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Old 05-02-17, 05:46 PM
  #41  
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I will also endorse the Bike Friday/Brompton suggestion. I ride a Bike Friday, actually sold off all my other bikes once I had it a while, because I never ever rode them. The 20" wheels are bombproof, incredibly nimble yet stable in city traffic, super easy to dismount/remount at busy intersections, and the Bike Friday rides and fits like a fine touring bike (built to size). If you know what size is right, you can also find some very good deals on used ones in great condition (I did) to save some money and then tweak it as you will. Bike Friday also sells "pre-loved" bikes that they fully recondition and warranty.
I couldn't get comfortable on a Brompton but many people love them and the fold is absolutely fantastic. There are plenty of shops where you can go try one. To try a Bike Friday, it's best to call them and they will put you in touch with a local shop or owner.
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Old 05-03-17, 08:32 AM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by TenSpeedV2
I just sort of half sit on the top tube of the bike with my right foot still clipped in while waiting at a light. OP - don't give up the frame that you like/want because you can't stand flat footed at a light. I would learn to track stand before giving up a frame/bike that I fell in love with so I could rest at a light.
I have no idea how tall you are but riding a frame that you have to "half sit on the top tube" indicates a frame that is far too large for you. The problem isn't just standover...which is far more important than most people believe...but the other proportions on the bike are wrong as well. That leads to discomfort for the rider and, eventually, to the rider not wanting to ride anymore.

I've fought the fight of finding the right frame for a small woman (my wife) for most of my life and a very large part of the battle has been trying to convince her that the 23" Sears "normal" sized frame that she grew up on was not the right size. Once she found the properly sized bike...after 30+ years of searching...she suddenly found riding to be much more enjoyable.

Originally Posted by jimmie65
I'm very short legged (6' tall with a 32" inseam). I ride a large frame on most bikes including my commuter, the Giant Escape, and the standover height is so that I am on my tiptoes when I stop. It's not a big deal once you get used to it.
I wouldn't call you "short legged". You are just about average. My question, however, is how you define "standover" height. Are you defining it as standing flatfooted with both feet on the ground or are you sitting in the saddle? If you have to stand on tiptoe over the frame with both feet on the ground, the frame you have is way, way, way too large. I can stand flat footed, uncomfortably, over a 62 cm frame and I have a 32" inseam. I would never ride such a frame, no matter how much I "loved" the frame, however.

However, if you are talking about standing on your tiptoes when seated in the saddle, that's not "standover" height. Frankly, my feet can't reach the ground from a seated position on any of my bikes because I couldn't get the proper leg extension if I could. When I stop, I come off the saddle (unless trackstanding) and put one foot on the ground. The saddle hits me just above my tailbone when I do that.

A "large" frame can also have many different measurements depending on the manufacturer. An actually number might be a better indicator.

Originally Posted by Hub Spanner
+1

Top tube clearance is over rated. I tilt my bike slightly at stoplights and have been doing so for years. No biggie.

The mixte suggestion is also a very good one. You may want an LBS mechanic to really dial it in for you, maybe with a few modern conveniences...if you like modern conveniences.

You can get a brand new mixte from Rivendell but it might be more than you want to pay and it may be attractive to thieves...but it would be a delightful bike.
I find that people who say that "standover clearance is overrated" have never had to deal with the problem of finding a bike that is the proper size. If you really want to experience the challenges people like thetiniestbike experience try riding a bike that is way out of proportion to what you normally ride. For me to experience the problem my wife has experienced, I would need to ride a bike that is a 66 cm...I ride a 58cm road bike. I've test ridden 62cm bikes after working on them and they were damned uncomfortable. I'm not sure I would want to live with one 2 sizes bigger than that.
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Old 05-03-17, 08:51 AM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by thetiniestbike
Also: thanks to everyone who's mentioned Georgena Terry. I hadn't heard of her before, and I'm finding her bikes beautiful and fascinating. I don't see me getting one right away, just due to availability (eBay would be my only option right now), but they're definitely a consideration if that changes.
Frankly, I would counsel against a mixte. It seems like a good idea but the effective top tube is longer on many of them than a "normal" bike. The video that blackieoneshot linked to gives the reason for this. They push the headtube forward give the larger wheel more clearance. We've been down that route and it's not that good of a solution. They also tend to be heavier than a "normal" bike because of the extra tubing and the steel frame.

This is something that most people don't (or won't) point out. Weight matters a whole lot, especially for a small person. Your muscle mass is smaller so it's difficult to push around a lot of extra weight. For example, a 30 lb bike is about 14% of my weight. I can push it around okay but lighter would be better. Assuming that you weigh in at around 100 lbs, a 30 lb bike is 30% of your weight and you have less muscle mass to begin with.

I would suggest looking at this bike (if they still have them). My wife has exactly this bike in a 44cm. They appear to have the 42cm which would be right in your size range. Stock, it's around 22 to 25 lb. The 42cm has a standover to just over 26". It's a great "little" (figuratively and literally) bike and the price is very good. It's at least worth a look. It's at least worth giving them a call or sending them an e-mail.
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Old 05-03-17, 10:16 AM
  #44  
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That bike that @cyccommute looks great. List price is $1,100, and the sale price is $400. That's insane. If it fits your body and your needs, you'd be crazy not to buy it or at least consider it. Thanks, cyccommute!

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Old 05-03-17, 10:30 AM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by thetiniestbike
Also: thanks to everyone who's mentioned Georgena Terry. I hadn't heard of her before, and I'm finding her bikes beautiful and fascinating. I don't see me getting one right away, just due to availability (eBay would be my only option right now), but they're definitely a consideration if that changes.
Just to add one more possibility to the list of already-excellent suggestions: There's a shop in Kansas City called Velo Plus; there's a framebuilder there named Julie Ann Pedalino who is: a) smaller and b) fairly new in framebuilding. She won an award at NAHBS a couple years ago, though, and I've seen her frames in person and there's some quality stuff going on. Anyway, point is she might be a little more affordable & less of a waiting list than some custom builders, and I know from her instagram posts she's been dabbling in 650c bikes lately so she's probably pretty knowledgeable about small bike sizing issues.
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Old 05-03-17, 10:37 AM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by noglider
That bike that @cyccommute looks great. List price is $1,100, and the sale price is $400. That's insane. If it fits your body and your needs, you'd be crazy not to buy it or at least consider it. Thanks, cyccommute!

Indeed, Agreed.
Very Nice Bike for the $$$.
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Old 05-03-17, 11:10 AM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by noglider
That bike that @cyccommute looks great. List price is $1,100, and the sale price is $400. That's insane. If it fits your body and your needs, you'd be crazy not to buy it or at least consider it. Thanks, cyccommute!
Agreed. In my experience, Bike Island's "new with scuffs on cranks and dropouts" is code for "may have been shipped to a buyer, assembled, and returned". But when they list a whole pile of bikes like that, it's just unsold stock from an old model (from bikesdirect), totally new, quite probably never shipped or assembled.

I bought a bike from a listing like that, and it was so great, my wife stole it from me, so I bought two more. I kept one, and made a 'profit' (rather, subsidized the first one) parting the other one out. They're all sold now, but this was the bike; the original I bought for $750, the other two for $700 ea.
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Old 05-03-17, 11:25 AM
  #48  
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That's a good find cyco, I wondered if there was any stock of those around back when my wife was bike shopping (though she ultimately chose a back-of-the-RV type bike)
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Old 05-03-17, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty
That's a good find cyco, I wondered if there was any stock of those around back when my wife was bike shopping (though she ultimately chose a back-of-the-RV type bike)
If they had my wife's size, I'd buy another one. Hers was stolen about a year ago. Luckily we had another one...and really good home owners insurance.
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Old 05-03-17, 01:01 PM
  #50  
gsa103
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Originally Posted by thetiniestbike
In your experience, how important is standover height for a city commute? Particularly in wintry conditions? Should I consider the Straggler 650b in 38cm, and just suck it up when it comes to tire variety? Are there other frames on the market now that I should be considering, that meet the needs stated above? Thanks!
Standover seems very important. What you need is a 29er MTB frame, with a sloping top tube.
Something like a Giant Anyroad (ok, it's Al-frame, but otherwise perfect).
The Surly Troll or Ogre are basically the same but with a top-tube without clearance issues.

I have short legs for my height, and any bike with a horizontal top tube is non-starter.
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