Exchanging ‘Pleasantries and Information’ on the ChainLink Forum

Background Reading

Summary

It begins with a frame maker inquiring of ‘real people‘ of smaller stature about their ‘druthers‘ for frames:

Frame Design for Smaller Folks
Posted by Legacy Frameworks on July 8, 2013 at 12:04pm

I have had a good number of questions and requests about accommodating smaller cyclists on my bikes. And I am now starting to explore what it would take to make my frame design in a smaller size.

As of now I have had individuals as short as 5’4″ on the frames, but seeing as there is a Under 5 foot 1 inch group, I would appreciate any insight (being 6′ 2″ myself) into the challenges you find – particularly related to a city/commuter bike, such as what I make.

What size wheels, length cranks, components and accessories that do/don’t work.

Thanks for any input.

Levi

owner/builder

Legacy Frameworks

A couple of the males from the forum respond first:

Reply by Skip Montanaro 12mi on July 8, 2013 at 12:20pm
Velocipede Salon framebuilders forum

Reply by notoriousDUG on July 8, 2013 at 12:34pm
Google Terry Bikes and go learn some stuff.

And not to be a dick but are you, as a commercial business who builds bicycle frames, crowd sourcing geometry information from a regional general cycling forum?

Really?

Shouldn’t this be the sort of thing you research and find out for yourself before hanging out a shingle as a frame builder?

OK, maybe that actually was to be a dick but seriously, this is the stuff that you, as a frame builder, should know.

One of these two respondents is not noted for his kindness and affability. I will leave it to the dear reader to guess which.

Reply by Kaz on July 8, 2013 at 12:37pm
5’1″ here and founding member of Tiny Fix Bike Gang. My thoughts:

650c wheels: Some may disagree here but as someone with a proportionally short inseam who doesn’t like mixte/step-through frames, smaller wheels are the only way to get a bike that I can comfortably stand over. I love my 43cm 650c bike the most because it actually fits me, despite the frame geo not really being ideal for my kind of riding.

Beware toe overlap: I also have a 44cm bike with 700c wheels and toe overlap is a major issue, especially if I use toe clips and fenders, which I do.

Accessories: Sometimes certain kinds of rear racks are out because there’s no room on the seat post or the rack can’t be horizontal without hitting the top of the wheel. Fenders made for the radius of a 650 wheel would be rad, mine always look wonky because 700c fenders don’t have the right radius.

Edited to add: as a shorty, I am THRILLED that frame builders are talking to actual short cyclists to find out what works and what doesn’t work. This is good research. I’m not telling him angles and hypotenuses – I don’t know jack about that. But I can tell him “I loved this about this bike and hated that about that bike.” Oh, and Terry bikes are fine but I don’t like the 2 different wheel size versions because then I have to carry 2 tubes with me all the time.

But at least one respondent decides to lay out the welcome mat:

Reply by Apie (10.6) on July 8, 2013 at 12:38pm
Perfectly acceptable to ask “what challenges you may find”.

DUG, you are a classic smug bike shop dick. All stereotypes have essentially been fulfilled. I gave you the benefit of the doubt, you lose.

Carry on

Were I to guess the frame maker is ‘learning the ropes’ and ‘drumming up business’ in the process:

Reply by Legacy Frameworks on July 8, 2013 at 8:00pm

Legacy Draft of 24 in Frame

Legacy Draft of 24 in Frame

Here is my latest shot at this smaller bike, the rider simulated is set at 4′ 10″.

Main consideration was wheel sizes – which I had trouble finding just the right combination of availability, versatility and tire size. 650c were not very available while 26×1.5 are, but neither would not accommodate a broader range of smaller riders. So I ended up with 24″ wheels which allowed a proportional looking bike with a 62cm stand over height (lower range of terry bikes). The only drawback was that the tire width is a bit larger than I would have liked.

Let me know what you think – next is to build it and test it out.

And once again a respondent decides to launch into what they ‘know’ everything about:

Reply by Kaz 3 hours ago
A few things:

  1. The “stigma” against step-throughs is two-fold: one, a lot of us smaller people have been pushed to step-throughs as the solution to our size problems, as if standover height is the only component of bike fit. We all know that’s not true, and the result is a whole lot of small people riding bikes that don’t fit them in one dimension or the other but hey there isn’t a top tube in their crotch so that must mean it fits! Two, very few (maybe no?) bike manufacturers today make true mixte frames with decent road geometry. A friend of mine has a vintage Miyata mixte that has a light, speedy frame with road geometry. But try to find a modern step through or mixte frame that isn’t 30 lbs and super upright.
  2. Tubeless is a terrible idea for commuters because fixing a tubeless flat on the road is basically impossible. I would never in a million years consider tubeless for a city/commuter bike.
  3. 650c is not a dead standard and is basically what people are doing for road or track bikes for smaller people. Road bikes don’t need 38 tires, I run some Vittoria Rubino Pro 23s and they are seriously just as comfy and flat-resistant as the 32s on my other bike but way less rolling resistance. I guess it comes down to deciding if you want to make a quick, light, city bike or a slow, clunky cruiser.

Setting the record straight by someone who knows more than just Urban Cycling:

Reply by william 58 minutes ago

  1. if you need to fix a tubeless puncture, then the tire is toast regardless — that means a serious tire slash that would render any ride over. tubeless is the future. I have a friend who’s been commuting on tubeless for two years now, not a single flat. And the ride is amazing. you realize that mountain bikers out in the middle of nowhere ride tubeless and they have less options than a commuter in a major metropolis that can just hop on a bus or take a cab? Tubeless the mountain world is taking over and for good reason.
  2. if it’s not dead, then 650c is on life support, at least since the early 90s. Whatever rims/wheel systems/tire/tubes are available arent that great. Like I said, I would never in a million years spent thousands on a custom frame built around 650c. 26″ or 650b is the way to go particularly with a commuter.
  3. what kind of 32s do you have?

fat tires do not have to be slow. If you use supple and round/smooth tires that does not have some puncture strip (a Grand Bois Cypres or Hetre, a Challenge L’eroica or Paris-Roubaix, a Vittoria Hyper, a Schwalbe Kojak or Ultremo ZX, a Pacenti Parimoto, etc), they’re probably faster than a skinny tire at high pressure on a bumpy city street + way more comfortable. Plus, they will not likely pinch flat, and are a better tool for the job of negotiating pot hole laden city streets. Try a lighter, supple tire next time — you will be surprised and will change your mind.

TakeAways

Groups this small are full of ‘experts‘ who pontificate on everything from just how truly arduous Urban Cycling is when compared to the Tour de France (honestly Michelle Stenzel tried drawing a Venn diagram to support this buffoonery) to just how impossible it is to ride on tubeless tires or whatever. These ‘experts‘ are working among a limited number of folks whose skill sets are pretty low when it comes to anything technical. And it shows.

If you are looking for solid information be careful. As with all of the blather about Protected Bike Lanes loads of this stuff that gets peddled here is hogwash. Take for instance the notion that in Amsterdam and Copenhagen bike lanes are sacrosanct: