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Bike purchase advice ...

Specialized NeedsSpecialized Needs Posts: 802
edited November 2009 in Commuting chat
I value the opinions of those in this forum (even if I won't always agree), and wanted a variety of impartial views on the following, if any of you are willing to share. I want to see whether I am being biased/too involved. Sorry if this is a bit long.

My wife is able to get a new bike on the scheme. 14 months ago she started riding to work (10 miles each way SE London to Croydon) on a heavyish hybrid - a Ridgeback Velocity. She felt more confident on it at the time, but she was always aware that she might want to get a lighter/more 'exciting' bike, probably with drop bars (something she has never used before), once she was sure she wanted to continue cycling to work and had got used to rush hour traffic.

Well, she caught the bug. She is irritable when she misses a cycle commute opportunity :roll:; cycles a sedate 40 miles on Saturdays with a group; and always wants to take the bike when we go away!

I suggested to her that a Tricross might be a good option at this point. Not only is it set up for rack and guards (she uses a rack pack and, sometimes, a pannier), suitable for all-condition commuting; but it also can have wider tyres for some light off-road (the Saturday jaunts sometimes venture onto bridlepaths or shingle roads) or coping with the odd pothole in London. It has the frog-leg brake interrupters for additional security in traffic. It would also replace her BSO mountain bike (which she hasn't used in 18 months).

We visited the Specialized Concept store in Ruislip at the weekend. They seemed intent on pushing her to the Dolce (the 'Design for Women' version of the Allez) when she mentioned moving from a hybrid to a drop bar, possibly a Tricross (I stood back, to avoid the sales staff bypassing her). The Dolce seems to have some braze-ons at the top of the seatstays, so they said that it could cope with a rack, and they promoted the new Cruds as mudguards. They also pushed the whole 'D4W' thing (longer legs to body ratio, smaller grip, wider sitbones). They spent 45 mins with her and sized her up on a Roubaix on a turbo for top tube length and are getting in an appropriate size Dolce for her to try out.

Now, I'm not convinced about their reasoning. I'm not 100% convinced about the Cruds for her, as she often transports her bike, front wheel off, in a hatchback. They may survive, but presumably will often need adjusting at the start - I may be biased, but SKS seem a better idea? Also, will the Dolce be suitable enough for light off-road. I know it will survive the punishment, but is it a more appropriate compromise than using a Tricross (with skinnier than the stock tyres) for commuting? As for the D4W thing - cannot brake reach and grips be adjusted? Saddles changed? Bizzarely, the seat tube on the Dolce is shorter than the same(ish) top tubed Tricross - I thought the D4W was based on longer legs to body?

My wife is not sure about the Dolce, but is prepared to defer to the shop's knowledge. I always saw the Tricross as a 'safe' introduction to drop bars, moving onto something 'racier' next year if she wants. But am I too biased/set in my ideas and the shop more along the right lines? I am aware that I may be suffering from the very male circumstance of not wanting my ideas to be contradicted :oops:

Any thoughts on this/info on the appropriateness or not of a Tricross as a commuter or first time drop bar?

Thanks in advance.



  • amneziaamnezia Posts: 590
    Most bike shops are generally interested in pushing the products which have the highest margins :wink:

    As for women specific geometry designs they suit some women more than others. She should pick the bike that she feels most comfortable with.

    the dolce will be fine for light off road
  • Wallace1492Wallace1492 Posts: 3,707
    Tricross is a winner, got in August and love it. Have done some touring on it - full camping gear and it is fine, get with the triple and there is (virtually) no hills you cannot do even with a pack. No regrets at all.
    "Encyclopaedia is a fetish for very small bicycles"
  • Ta Amnezia. Yes, it would be good for her to try others. It's just finding places with stock she can try isn't easy.

    @wallace: yes, I've been following your 'adventures' on here. You certainly seem to enjoy it :)

    Well, just found out the shop can't get a Dolce to try until 12 Dec, so a few weeks to try some others!
  • Hi Duncedunce... essay to follow...

    First and foremost - don't be tied in to braze-ons etc - find the right geometry/fit first then find a bike that has the right bits.

    I tried out a few D4W bikes during my 'proper roadie' search, and felt that they didn't in fact cater for my build. Now, that's odd, because unlike many women I know (we DO come in all shapes and sizes, just like you men) I'm the bike-maker's stereotypical long-leg-short-body combination. The good folk at Epic told me that basically at 5'7"-ish I'm too tall for D4W bikes. I also wanted something with more sporty geometry than most D4W designs give.

    Now, it really depends on what your wife's build is - Greg66 told me a method to work out what the legs-to-body ratio was:
    1. height in bare feet
    2. inseam the proper way: stand against a wall and put the edge of a book flat against the wall and between your knees. Then raise the book as far as it will go, shuffle forward and measure from the ground to the top of the book. This is a two person job. Find some you like to help.

    For most people, 2 divided by 1 is in the range of .4 to .5. Long legs + short torso should give you something over .45.

    Mine was .496, so on the 'leggy' end of normal.

    What I therefore needed was a long seat tube with a shorter top tube, but that's hard to build and not overly logical, because of wheels and things, so what I had instead was something with a longer head tube and shorter stem, and compact bars, all of which stopped me hunching forward to reach my short back down to the bars.

    Is this making sense?

    Now, FYI, here is a comparative table I've made just for you while I'm nursing my cold... all the numbers come from the specialized site so should be accurate, and all are a 54cm size.

    Items of note - the top tube and seat tube on the Dolce are rather a lot shorter - the seat tube more so than the top tube - but the head tube on the dolce is notably longer than the tricross, not notably so than the allez. If you go up a size inthe Dolce, the seattube and toptube lengths match up pretty well with the Allez, but the head tube increases by another 20mm.

    So, it seems that if you wife is the long leg short body type, the Dolce may be a better fit than the Tricross.

    Now I think I deserve a lemsip. :)
    Bike - all 54cm size                     Allez     Dolce   Tricross
    Seat-Tube Length, B-B Center to Top		500mm	  480mm   540mm
    Top-Tube Length, Horizontal		        548mm	  537mm   545mm
    B-B Drop	                              69mm      73mm    69mm
    Chain-Stay Length		                  405mm     415mm   440mm
    Seat-Tube Angle	                       73.5°     74      73.5
    Head-Tube Angle	                       72.5°     72      71.5
    Fork Rake		                          45mm      49mm    51mm
    Trail	                                 60mm      59mm    63mm
    Front-Center		                       587mm     588mm   600mm
    Wheelbase		                          982mm     992mm   1030mm 
    Stand-Over Height		                  777mm     763mm   787mm
    Head-Tube Length		                   155mm     160mm   140mm
    Handle-Bar Width		                   420mm	  400mm   none given
    Stem Length		                        100mm	  100mm   none given
    Crank Length		                       172.5mm   170mm   none given
    Seat-Post Length	                      350mm     360mm   none given
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