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  1. #1
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    FindingVery Small (~44cm 'ish) carbon road frames?

    I'm trying to help a friend with her bike fit.

    At 4' 11" with a 23.5" inseam, she is outside the range that most bike fitters know how to deal with.

    She's currently riding an XS Focus Izalco Donna 2 that has some significant equipment upgrades, most notably a custom length SRAM Apex crankset.

    Unfortunately, this bike is still a tad too long for her (reach), even with the shortest stem we could find.

    In doing a little research, it seems most of the major brands have a womens specific line of bikes that includes ~44cm models, but none of them seem to sell a frameset only. At least not via normal retail channels. He current bike has a full set up Ultegra 6800 Mechanical and the previously mentioned crankset, so we really don't want to sink a bunch of money into a full bike, only to have to transfer and sell components, etc...

    None of our LBS even stock the smallest ladies frames to be able to take them for test rides (they are special order only items apparently).

    Does anyone know of any brands that sell a compact carbon road frame in a "XXS" (~44cm) size? Would something like this be available via a 'replaement parts' program or something?

    Custom is an option, and a consideration, but were hoping to avoid sinking that kind of money into it.

    Thanks in advance

  2. #2
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    Well Pinarello makes frames that small. We're not talking cheap though.
    And you're probably not going to find a test ride anywhere, you'll have to order based on geometry, so it's best to learn that well if you haven't already.

    Maybe the smallest BMC GF02 (reach of 356)?

    If you tell us the frame reach and stack you're after, we can help better.
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  3. #3
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    Trek has the Silque; SL, SLX and SSL all available in 44" size, but only as finished bikes. The SL and SSL can be customized as P1 bikes.

    Specialized has the Amira in 44" size, both finished bikes and frameset; the Ruby in 44" frame size.

    Cannondale does the Supersix Evo in a 44" size for women.

    Those are just 3 of the top production companies. I suspect if you dig a bit you will find others.

    Custom in carbon is a different beast entirely. You might talk with Parlee and Calfee Design.
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  4. #4
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    I'm 5' 4" and ride a Colnago 45 sloping frame.

    I believe Colnago makes a 39 seat post frame (size 42s).

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the Colnago tip. I'll add that to my spreadsheet.

    Does anyone know if any of these can be bought as frame only?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Migen21 View Post
    ...
    Does anyone know if any of these can be bought as frame only?
    As previously noted, the Specialized Amira
    "When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments."
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  7. #7
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    My wife is just a bit under 5' and rides a 44cm Spec. Ruby and it fits her quite nicely. It had the shortest top tube we could find and I searched all the specs on any brand I could think of. We were looking mid season and it was very difficult to find anything to test ride. We finally found one that was already sold but they let her have a quick test ride. We waited until the beginning of the next season before a 44cm came in. She has been very happy with it.

  8. #8
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    Stop fighting it; finding a production "frame only" to fit your friend is gonna be a pain.

    I'd also stop trying to make a 700C wheeled bike fit. At her size, there are too many design compromises which result in poor fit and/or handling.

    I recommend you check out eBay. There are currently a reasonable selection of of 650C wheeled bikes which you could get cheap, strip, and install her parts on. Sell off anything left over.

    Get the fit ironed out with a less expensive setup before buying anything higher end. It's one of the pitfalls of being so small, but better to focus on the fit first (and in my opinion that means 650C wheels for your friend).

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Migen21 View Post
    Thanks for the Colnago tip. I'll add that to my spreadsheet.

    Does anyone know if any of these can be bought as frame only?
    Yes on the Colnago.

  10. #10
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    Check out the Felt ZW1 frameset. They make a 43. My wife just purchased one. Its a thing of beauty...not built up yet but looks to be a better fit spec wise than her 42.5 Pinarello.

  11. #11
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    Hey ibericb,

    Sorry, I wasn't ignoring you. I have the Almira in my notes. Thanks. She's not really interested in a full-on race bike. Something with a little more comfortable geometry would be ideal. Thanks for the info.

    Thanks also to everyone else who contributed. You've given us a lot to mull over.

  12. #12
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    No problems here.

    You're wrestling with four general wants. In no particular order, they are:
    1. Size
    2. carbon frame
    3. frameset only
    4. endurance (relaxed) geometry desired.

    Size makes it a real b1tch for production bikes. If you stick with those, custom is probably your only viable option.

    You'll get many opinions, but custom carbon IMO really narrows the field of builders I would trust. Carbon composites don't readily lend themselves to custom bikes other than lugged and bonded frames, which are excellent in the right hands, and a disaster in the wrong hands.

    Good luck in your search.
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  13. #13
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    added - BTW, the Specialized Ruby is intended to be an endurance geometry bike, available down to 44cm size, but as best I know only as a completed bike, with about 9 or 10 different versions.
    "When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments."
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  14. #14
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    Custom is not needed, not even close. Money is all that's needed.

    If I were the one doing this, I would buy the correct sized bike and switch all of the components over. The OP is not a bike mechanic though so this can add an additional $300 in costs and a lot of time and such possibly.

    There are several carbon frames made that small that are sold only as frames. The problem is that most of them are over $2500 that I can think of. If money is not an issue, then neither is this. If money is an issue then it's time to find a good mechanic and just buy a cheap pre-built bike and swap things over.
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  15. #15
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    Hell, $2500 is most likely cheap compared to a decent custom carbon frameset. Still better off to buy the production bike (buy the low end version) for the frameset.
    "When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments."
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  16. #16
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    Thanks Everyone,

    A parts swap is the mostly likely scenario. I could do the work myself, except perhaps the bottom brackets (no tools). Finding a used bike or frame is a consideration as well, but she is a bit dubious on used carbon (for good reason). There is a used 2010 Almira Frameset on Ebay for $740 "Buy It Now". That would be by far the cheapest option, but it's a full-on race bike, and as I said, she's wary of used carbon.

    It seems most of the companies doing frame-only options (i.e. Felt and BMC) are exceptionally proud of their work ($2500-$3500). A 105 version of something like the Ruby or Synapse costs less and you could re-coup some of the money by putting the 105 on her old bike and selling it.

    I put together a geometry spreadsheet for comparison. Blanks mean the info was not provided by the manufacturer.

    Her two existing bikes are at the top of the page. Others we have encountered are below.

    Not all of these are under consideration (i.e. the Colnago and Volagi are not going to happen - Colnago is too much money - Volagi too tall). They are just there to compare. It's worth noting that some of these are not significantly better than her current bikes. Her Focus she feels too stretched out, the LHT with the straight top-tube is a high standover.

    The C-Dale, and perhaps the Scott are both intriguing (and in different price categories).

    The next challenge is finding these built up in an LBS to test ride. We found a 44cm aluminum synapse to try for fit. Hopefully we'll do that this week. It's rare to have anything small enough for her to test ride in a shop. It's gotten to the point that she doesn't even like going bike shopping any more.

    Brand/Model Size Head Angle Seat Angle Top Tube Reach Standover Stack
    Current Bikes
    Surly LHT (26" Wheel) 42 70.00 75.00 49.20 36.70 27.6 49.70
    Focus Donna 2 XS/52 71.00 74.00 53.20 37.60 54.50
    Potential Bikes
    Focus Donna 2 XXS/48 71.00 74.00 52.00 36.50 54.10
    Cannondale Synapse Carbon 44cm 69.70 75.30 49.10 35.60 25.3 51.60
    BMC GF01 48 71.00 73.50 51.20 35.60 52.80
    Giant Avail XS/43 70.50 75.00 51.50 36.60 26.6 53.00
    Trek Silque 44 70.30 74.60 50.00 36.00 27.1 50.80
    Specialized Ruby Elite 44 70.25 74.50 50.90 35.80 27.6 51.80
    Specialized Almira 44 70.50 76.00 49.80 36.50 27.24 50.30
    Volagi Viaje 50 71.25 74.75 51.40 36.30 29.7 53.90
    Felt ZW1 Frameset Petite 43 70.25 75.25 49.50 35.70 51.70
    Colnago ZX Zero 42 75.50 50.40 37.20 52.40
    Scott Contessa Solace XXS/46 70.50 75.00 49.50 35.40 28.5 526.10

  17. #17
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    Don't overlook Terry Bicycycles. This company was founded by a woman, for women and shorter riders. Most of their bikes are spec'd with 24" front wheels but DO NOT let that scare you away. Unless you are racing, there is very little practical difference and you can really size a small frame properly with a 24".

    Terry Bicycles | Terry Bikes | Georgena Terry Bicycles

    Designing a bike around a 24" bicycle wheelGeorgena Terry

    I'm a short guy at barely 5'5" and have had bike fit struggles all my life. But your friend is really short and ultimately "fit is everything". Don't be afraid to think outside the box...and good luck.

  18. #18
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    Thought stop in and update this thread.

    After taking her and her bike to a local Physical Therapist, who is also a professional Bike Fit Instructor and cycling coach, he made a few changes to the Focus she has, and she has decided it's going to work for her.

    As for the other bikes we tried, I think if we were starting over, we would have settled on either the Cannondale Synapse or the Felt ZW5. She got to ride both of these bikes built up and she said of all of the bikes she's tried, she liked them the most.

  19. #19
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    Thanks for this spreadsheet. I am in the same boat looking for new bike for petite wife, 4'10" but am not constrained to frame only.
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  20. #20
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    Glad you were able to benefit.

    I'll update this thread for historical reference, in case anyone else comes along trying to solve similar problems.

    After seeing a professional fitter/PT, we determined we could make her existing Focus work much better for her by using shorter cranks. The bike originally came with 170mm cranks, which were obnoxious. We had already replaced those with 165's, as the shortest possible stock option (that we could find). The bike show swapped them out for some pull-offs.

    Fitters charts and tables don't really cover someone with a 24" inseam, so trying to calculate the correct crank length for her was mostly guesswork. What we did determine was that 165mm was still too long (considerably).

    After consulting with the PT, I reached out to Mark Stonich at BikeSmithdesign.com. He cut down a set of SRAM Apex cranks and redrilled them to 140mm. We probably could have gone even shorter, but at some point it becomes a practicality issue.

    Ultimately, after putting these 140mm cranks on her bike, and taking her back to the PT/Fitter, everything fit so much better. She's much more comfortable on the bike. Also, having the shorter crank arms really made her pedal stroke much more efficient (for her). Her knees are no longer coming up to her chest, and she can spin a higher RPM more comfortably. Overall this was a huge help. It's also helped alleviate some hip issues she had been having.

    Ii think the frame could ultimately fit her a little better, but honestly, she's just a casual, warm weather cyclist. She feels like we've already spent way too much money on this. I think she's happy with what she has, at least for now.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Migen21 View Post
    Glad you were able to benefit.

    I'll update this thread for historical reference, in case anyone else comes along trying to solve similar problems.

    After seeing a professional fitter/PT, we determined we could make her existing Focus work much better for her by using shorter cranks. The bike originally came with 170mm cranks, which were obnoxious. We had already replaced those with 165's, as the shortest possible stock option (that we could find). The bike show swapped them out for some pull-offs.

    Fitters charts and tables don't really cover someone with a 24" inseam, so trying to calculate the correct crank length for her was mostly guesswork. What we did determine was that 165mm was still too long (considerably).

    After consulting with the PT, I reached out to Mark Stonich at BikeSmithdesign.com. He cut down a set of SRAM Apex cranks and redrilled them to 140mm. We probably could have gone even shorter, but at some point it becomes a practicality issue.

    Ultimately, after putting these 140mm cranks on her bike, and taking her back to the PT/Fitter, everything fit so much better. She's much more comfortable on the bike. Also, having the shorter crank arms really made her pedal stroke much more efficient (for her). Her knees are no longer coming up to her chest, and she can spin a higher RPM more comfortably. Overall this was a huge help. It's also helped alleviate some hip issues she had been having.

    Ii think the frame could ultimately fit her a little better, but honestly, she's just a casual, warm weather cyclist. She feels like we've already spent way too much money on this. I think she's happy with what she has, at least for now.
    Sounds like a job well done, as long as she is having fun and not in pain. Good luck.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by hawker12 View Post
    Sounds like a job well done, as long as she is having fun and not in pain. Good luck.
    Agree.

    I am quite short and ride a 48 BMC which as 170 cranks and have thought about replacing them with shorter ones and after Migen21's post I think I will now look for some.
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  23. #23
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    The Fuji Finest (AL) and Fuji Supreme (CF) are available in sizes down to 44.

    GH

  24. #24
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    I know Georgena Terry is still designing custom frames and having them made at Waterford in steel. Georgena used to equip a racing team or two and to sell custom racing frames, so I think she knows a lot about high performance frames. I bet you'd get a frame equivalent to a good C frame.

    A few years ago we got a custom Terry non-race frame for my wife. It was about $2k (don't remember exactly) with matching steel fork. After that you have to build a bike.

    But she loves it!

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by hawker12 View Post
    Don't overlook Terry Bicycycles. This company was founded by a woman, for women and shorter riders. Most of their bikes are spec'd with 24" front wheels but DO NOT let that scare you away. Unless you are racing, there is very little practical difference and you can really size a small frame properly with a 24".

    Terry Bicycles | Terry Bikes | Georgena Terry Bicycles

    Designing a bike around a 24" bicycle wheelGeorgena Terry

    I'm a short guy at barely 5'5" and have had bike fit struggles all my life. But your friend is really short and ultimately "fit is everything". Don't be afraid to think outside the box...and good luck.
    My wife is 4'9" and a few years ago we stumbled upon a Terry Tailwind in XS (43) with 650C wheels and Shimano 105. It fits her like a glove, and she has put upwards of 20k miles on it. If I could find a similar configuration in CF I would buy it in a heartbeat, but they appear to be unicorns. Every 700C CF bike I've found has too much standover height for her. I occasionally shake the internets looking for a CF upgrade, but have learned to be thankful for what we have.
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