Athletics and Recreation

Bike Setup Tips For Smaller Cyclists | Emma’s Bike Fit Guide

Bike Setup Tips For Smaller Cyclists | Emma’s Bike Fit Guide

(soft music) – I get so many questions
from viewers who, like me, are a little
bit smaller in stature, asking for advice on how
to set up your bikes. In fact, there’s so many questions that I don’t have time to answer them all in the comments and by email. So I hope this video goes
some way to helping you out. Now, although I have kept hope alive that I might finally have a growth spurt, and end up taller than my younger sister, I think I’m gonna be waiting
forever at this rate. So I’ve had to get used to
being 157 centimeters tall. That’s five foot 1.8 inches
for our American viewers. And over the years racing and training, I’ve ridden bikes that I loved, and just felt fantastic on, and I’ve also had to ride bikes that were frankly too big, and on which I felt uncomfortable, and downright unsafe. I think I’ve learnt some
things along the way, and I would like to share
those details with you. I’m using my Canyon
Ultimate to demonstrate. And the smallest sizes of this bike, mine included, because it’s a XXXS, have smaller wheels. More on that later. (soft music) Now I think the most important parameter for smaller cyclists is reach. Saddle height is very rarely an issue. And just because you can just
about reach the handlebars does not necessarily mean
that the reach is okay, because if you’re stretched out and your hips are rocked forward just to reach the hoods, well, that’s gonna give you lower back pain, possibly shoulder pain, neck pain, and that rocking on the saddle can give you saddle problems as well. So you wanna look for a bike where the top tube
genuinely is quite short. There’s actually quite a lot of difference between the actual sizes and reach of the smallest frames
by all the different various manufacturers. So go for a frame where the top tube really is genuinely short. Of course, reducing the top tube length does bring the front and
back wheels closer together, and that can increase toe crossover, which is a real bane for smaller cyclists. Now I have only a tiny bit of
toe crossover on this bike, but in the past I’ve ridden 700C bikes where I had toe crossover from
one o’clock to five o’clock, which is pretty bad. And toe crossover obviously is a bit of a problem for bike handling. At any rate it’s the excuse I still use for not being able to do a track stand. – I’m afraid that if you have 700C wheels, you may just have to put up with a certain amount of toe crossover. There are a couple of ways
that frame manufacturers have tried to reduce toe crossover whilst keeping the reach nice and short. One of them is making
seat tube angle steeper. Another solution that they go for is to increase the fork offset. Do not fear though, there is another revolutionary, if you’ll pardon the pun, solution to toe crossover. So it’s time to talk about smaller wheels, specifically 650B and 650C. I’m gonna put it out there straightaway. I’m a big fan of smaller wheels. I find that with smaller
wheels on my road bike I have better bike handling,
I have less toe crossover, and specifically I have much better bike handling in crosswinds, because the smaller
area of the front wheel as seen from the side catches less wind. I have a special affection for 650C, because well, I won
the world championships time trial in Geelong, I was
on a P3 with 650C wheels. And I’m absolutely
certain that I could not have got aero enough on a
700C bike to win that race. So I really like these wheels. That said though, I’ve
done loads of races, road races with 700C wheels. And I’ve had 700C road bikes that I feel really comfortable on. So a lot of people ask me, why don’t you just ride 650 all the time? Well, there’s a couple of problems. So firstly, there aren’t that many road bike manufacturers that make the road bikes with 700C wheels. And secondly, in a road
race, if you get a puncture, you’re very unlikely to get a spare wheel from the neutral service if you run 650s. I know, because I’ve tried, and it went horribly wrong. So for that reason I always
use 700C wheels in road races. And I still do on my road bike. It just makes life a bit more simple if I ever do the odd race or sportive. That said, for events where
you fix your own punctures, like triathlon, sportives usually, or races where you have a dedicated team car right behind you, like a time trial at a professional level. I think 650 is a really good
option for smaller riders, because you either have to
fix the puncture yourself, so you take your own
inner tubes, et cetera, or your time car has the right
wheels for you behind you. And yes, running 650 does
reduce the choice you have of wheels, tires, and tubes, but there is choice out there, and that choice I think hopefully is gonna increase as
more of us small people demand bikes that fit. Now it is true that smaller wheels have slightly higher rolling resistance, but the science shows that
this is more than made up for by low drag and lower weight, ’cause the wheels are smaller. It’s not like riding off road where the size of obstacles is significant relative to the wheel size. Because on the road, any
roughness in the road surface is usually on quite a smaller scale. (soft music) Now for most cyclists, comfort
comes before aerodynamics, and that is absolutely right. But if you’re one of the
people that wants to go faster, well if the front end of
your bike is too high, you won’t be able to get low
to get aero and safe drag. And there’s particularly a problem for smaller cyclists, because, well, your saddle’s not very high, so your handlebars have
to be relatively low. Now as I mentioned
before, with 650 wheels, you can get lower at the front, because the wheel itself
is closer to the ground, the hub of the wheel. With a 700C frame, you want to look at what the head tube height is, because if it’s too big,
there’s not much you can do. Yes, there are downward sloping stems, but they bring you
further forward as well. And there are double jointed stems, but they’re a really heavy,
and quite ugly solution. So if you look for a
frame with quite a small head tube height, if it’s too low, you can always add spacers under the stem, but if it’s too high,
there’s not much you can do. (soft music) Now crank length might
sound like a minor detail, but it is an absolutely crucial consideration for smaller cyclists. Think about it this way,
if you have shorter legs, then you have less of a range of motion in absolute terms than
someone with long legs. But a longer crank means that your pedal turns a bigger circle. So at the bottom of the pedal stroke your foot’s quite low, and you have to have
your saddle low to reach. But at the top of the pedal
stroke with a long crank, your foot would come higher than it would with a short crank, which brings your knee higher, then you hit your knee in
your stomach, in my case, especially this is a problem if you’re getting low to try and be aero, or in time trials. That’s why shorter cranks basically are much easier to pedal
with for smaller cyclists. So for most smaller riders, it is worth considering a shorter crank, both for comfort, and to avoid injury risk to your knees and hips,
as well as potential saddle problems from rocking side to side. Personally, I noticed a huge improvement in my riding and my results, when I went from a 170 millimeter crank to a 165 millimeter crank like this one. 165s are actually commonly
available nowadays. And I know some small riders who even use a 155 millimeter
crank, so there you go. Now some people might tell you that if you have a shorter crank, you have less torque and
therefore less power, and I’m afraid that is
just rubbish science, because yes, you do have less torque, but you have a higher cadence
for the same foot speed. And your power is a function
of torque and cadence. So where it might take a little while to adapt your coordination to pedaling at that higher cadence, once you’ve got that coordination dialed, shorter crank should
not have a detrimental effect on your power. What you do need to be
careful about though is that you have a small enough gear to maintain that higher cadence even on the steepest climbs
that you’re gonna be tackling. (soft music) Now one thing that really
stands out for smaller riders is handlebar width. And that’s partly because
it can look quite silly when someone with narrow shoulders is riding on really wide bars. Am I right, viewers? Mm hmm. Now personally, I find that any handlebar wider than 38 centimeters
feels really clumsy and uncomfortable. And actually I prefer it if my handlebars are about 36 centimeters wide at the hood. That feels much better. But that said, having a too wide handlebar isn’t the end of the world, it just changes the handling slightly. It doesn’t hugely increase
the reach from your saddle, although very slightly. What is a problem though
is if the curvature, the radius of the drop curve is too big. Now if you’re not super tall, the chances are that you
also have small hands. I certainly do. And it is one of the things that is really uncomfortable for me
on bikes that are set up wrong is having the wrong reach
of the brake levers. It’s not just uncomfortable for your hands to be working at full
extension the whole time. It’s also dangerous, because you can’t reach the brake levers in a hurry when you need them. Or even worse actually, you
could ride the whole time with your hands on the brake levers, just in case, and then
you risk grabbing them when you’re startled,
which can lead to crashing. So getting a grip set where you can adjust the reach of the
levers is super important. And you can always find that out when you’re buying a grip set. Another detail of handlebar set up that is crucial for smaller people is the angle you set up the handlebar, and the position of the hoods on the bar, and there’s a reason I’ve
left these handlebars un-taped for the moment. It’s because I wanted to show you how much of a difference it can make where you put the hoods on the bar, and the angle you have the bar at. So I’ve loosened off the stem bolts. Check. (soft music) (tool clacking) And you’ll see that
changing the angle here, hugely changes the distance
from the saddle to the hoods, which is where I hold onto the handlebars. So if you move it back up there, it makes it much closer
and easier to reach. Similarly, if you adjust the position of the hood on the bar, (soft music) you can actually move the hoods
much closer to the saddle, and thereby reduce the reach. For example, that difference in hood position on the handlebar makes four centimeters
difference to the reach. The important thing though to remember is that changing the position
of the hood on the handlebar won’t just affect the reach
from the saddle to the hood, but also the distance from the
brake lever to the handlebar, which is another thing that we’ve talked about for smaller hands. So you need to find a balance. I would say set up the reach first, and get the handlebar at
the right angle for you, and then worry about the
reach of the brake levers. (soft music) Now I think it’s important to mention how hard it can be to change gear with mechanical shifters, if your levers are too far away and you have small hands. Because you’re having to
apply that lateral force, that full hand extension. That’s actually much
prefer electronic shifters, even though I know they’re
not necessarily faster. But for me I feel much
more comfortable on them, because you just need a
quick tap of the finger, and now my pathetic, weak little hands don’t get as tired, and I can change gear in a hurry when I need to. While we’re talking about small hands, the design of the brake hoods
is also really important. For example, there are some grip sets where the brake hoods are so wide, I can’t actually get my
hands fully around them. And that’s pretty unsafe, because it means that your hands aren’t as secure, and you can bounce off and bumpy roads. I’ve actually crashed that
way twice in training, and it wasn’t very nice. So I always go for a
nice, neat, hood design, which depends on the grip set. (soft music) Now I’d like to finish off
with some of the details that are actually really important for smaller cyclists. Firstly, space for bottle cages. If you have a small frame,
this triangle is smaller, and you literally have less space to fit bottles and bottle cages in. You might even struggle to
get one bottle in and out. I know for me it’s pretty tight. Two bottle cages can be really pushing it. Secondly stem length, now
if you need a short stem to get the appropriate reach, that can make the handling
of the front very twitchy. It’s just something that
you have to put up with to get the right reach. Lastly, space over the back wheel. So if you ride 700C wheels, there won’t be that much
space, if you’re short, between the saddle height
and the back wheel. And that means that if
you’re into bike packing and bike touring, if you have
one of those giant saddlebags there’s a risk that it actually
rubs on the back wheel. I’ve tried that. It’s sub-optimal both for your speed and for the integrity of your saddlebag. And then lastly, also due
to having a low saddle in relation to the back wheel, if you put a rear light on the seat post for the dark days, you might find that that rear light is actually below the height of the back wheel. And that means obviously it’s much less visible to motorists. So you want to think about putting your lights higher up, so they’re actually on the saddle or on yourself. Well, I really hope this video helps those of you who ask me for
advice on this huge topic. It’s a huge topic for those
of us who are not huge. If you liked it, give us a thumbs up, feel free to share it
with your small friends, or indeed your tall friends who do not appreciate how
hard it is being small. And if you do have any more questions, leave them in the comments below. I will do my best to find an expert and answer them for you. In the meantime, you might like to watch this video on why power to weight is maybe not as important
as everyone thinks. Sorry.

Reader Comments

  1. Great informative video for smaller riders! One of the best vid I've seen in a while. I've always had issues with road brake levers ever since they became brifters in the 90's. Back in the 80's several manufactures made short reach levers that the lever itself was smaller and not just adjusting the reach with normal length lever bodies. Anyway, I'm psyched to try out Shimano's new 105 R7025 "small hands" levers. Also I love that Emma like 650's!

  2. Great advice. I have to point out though that the bike manufacturers are being incredibly stupid as most smaller bikes are designed for small men (which at 5'4" is swell for me), despite the vast majority of riders needing one being women. I am in the bottom 3% of men for height, and average height for a woman. Do the math, bike companies! By rights it should be nearly impossible for me to find a bike that fits, and not hard for a 5'2" woman who is just two inches shy of average height while I am over seven inches shy of average.

    Male bike riders have spent decades moaning about the lack of female riders and how great it would be to find a partner who loved to ride, but it is so much harder for women to find a comfortable quality bike that fits them that it is no wonder. Are women starting out riding going to find this video and get their first bike perfectly set up? No, they will mostly buy the men frame painted for "women" and the usually too soft women's seat it comes with that the shop shows them, and be uncomfortable, and not become a hardcore rider. Shop gets an easy sale, loses a customer that might have spent a lot of money there for decades.

    This video should not have needed to be made at all. That it was should make people in the industry ashamed at how they have failed half the population.

  3. I’m 173 cm (short legs) and I found 165mm cranks really help me with my position, especially with getting low on the bike.

  4. I'm 165cm, I ride a size 52 trek madone 9 H1. I pushed the saddle all the way forward, with selke italia saddle, 2 small spacers on the fork, feels great!

  5. I wonder if shorter cranks would work for fatties too. Im 6ft, but pretty chubby and the major limiting factor to using the drops is that i knee myself in the gut on the upstroke. Perhaps i should see if i can borrow some to find out how they feel.

  6. I like to add, find a really good local bike shop. Being a shorter rider my LBS spent so much time with me fitting a bike, sourcing the right frame size and then adjusting everything to fit. I can't thank them enough. (It wasn't a high end bike either but they spent the time like I was buying one).

  7. I'm 5'1" as well. Currently riding WMN emonda w 700 wheels. I've had my eye on Canyon Ultimate Di2 /disk 650w for a while, 3x. I just might take the plunge now. Thanks, Emma!

  8. Really great video, thanks Emma! I didn’t realize how much the position of the handle bars and hoods can affect reach. After watching your video, I’m considering getting shorter cranks to see if that makes my ride more comfortable. I’m about 5’3 and I’d love to see more videos like these for shorter riders.

  9. I'm one of those people who emailed Emma! No reply. 🙁 So thank you for this video. I did find a very nice BMC for my wife, then after much research and hesitation, I purchased a 155mm Rotor crank for it. She loves it! I can't believe that it's taken us this long to make the leap, but better late than never.

  10. I have told my friends that a very simple way to know if a frame is too big is to grab the brakes in the drops while standing BEHIND the saddle. This is the position we adopt when braking hard at high speed, and if it's difficult to reach the brakes in this position then the top tube is loo long; thus a smaller frame is needed.

  11. Great tips Emma. I do all the work and setup on my wife’s bike. I have done a lot of these tips and am going to implement a few more.
    One of the things I like is that you covered is the seat height over the wheel. when we ride together I would rather have my wife have a rear light then a seat bag. I carry all the spares.
    THANK YOU 👍👍🍀🍀

  12. Regarding the bottle cage issue, my wife (4'11") got a side opening bottle cage. This eliminates the problem with a small frame.

  13. Emma, GCN. Please publish this same video on the Spanish channel, may be with subtitles, may be with dubbing into Spanish, its a very this is a very valuable material.

  14. Thanks, Emma for posting this great video! I have two teenage girls who I’m always struggling with to find the correct bike position on their track bikes. There’s always somewhere in their position in that needs tweaking.

  15. No shame in being "vertically challenged", Emma ! You're great – you could have Strava QOM from Shire to Mordor.

  16. Great advice thank you. Can you help with overshoes please, went to spd sl and struggle to either clip in or out. I have bought several pairs of overshoes I have bought are massive and seem to get stuck in-between cleat and pedal. are there any companies that make them up to a size 3? I have had to go back to spds for the winter. I have now bought my own bars, stem etc that I transfer from bike to bike. Campy shifters also work great. Also carry a Kool Stop tyre mate with me that helps to put difficult tyres on the rims.

  17. Yeah, I know Giant has their Liv series, and about everyone else has jumped on the WSD bikes, but how is that working out in the real world. I would like some ladies to chime in and let others know what is working for you in the not so exotic world of bikes. My wife has a Terry ("the Original Women's bike company"). Its top tube is actually a little to short she is 5' 3" tall. Also, just getting a hold of 165mm cranks used to be a little bit of challenge. Great job Emma for pointing some useful things out. I think the girls should pipe up a little more, I see you riding. I think everyone should be able to buy a bike that fits! It starts with the frame, but components should be sized accordingly as well. Bike manufactures will respond to women's demands, I hope!

  18. Emma, you are just the best. Very informative and detailed regarding bike fit and geometry. Thank you so much. As always, cheers!

  19. GCN I appreciate this video a lot, as I am a small rider like Em. I’m on a 49’ Aventon track bike and that shorter cranks and shorter top tube is good to me atm.

  20. I ran into the same bottle cage issue with my new bike! I could fit a bottle on the downtube, but could not fit anything on the seat tube! I ended up making an adapter to make it fit! (Will submit picture soon!)

  21. Thank you Emma for a great video! I am looking into buying a new frame. I looked for a small frame (I am 157cm tall) that comes with 650C wheels. I couldn't really find anything! Would it be ok to get a frame that comes with 700c wheels and swap it the wheels with 650c ones. I will also get 150mm cranks. Would that switch cause any problems?

  22. I am 5' 8.5" tall and ride a 17.5" steel hardtail mountain bike frame with 26" wheels and 175mm cranks. I have a long torso and short legs. I mostly use my bike for exercise and commuting. I have used 170mm cranks in the past but can't say that I could feel much of a difference, other than for ground clearance.

  23. For bottle cage problem, there are side loading ones (I think they are mainly for mountain bikes), and they work like a charm. You can find them from variety of manufacturers, and for left or right.

  24. At 171 cm I'm not that short, but it's a bit short for a guy. Being built like a guy, with short legs and long torso, my problems seem a bit opposite. I've often ended up being not very aero, because getting a bike with enough reach meant I had to have my seat all the way down, so my handlebars have always been the same height as my saddle. Currently, I have finally gotten a really small frame, dialled the reach in with a 130 mm stem, so finally I have my handlebars lower than my saddle!

    ALso, bikepacking is certainly with its challenges. The saddle bags are not too much of a problem for me, but try getting a frame bag that fits a small frame. Also, handlebar bags like to rub against my front wheel.

  25. I found it a challenge to find a race bike that fit last time I looked as a short rider. However my particular challenge is due to having proportionally short legs and long torso; in an attempt to avoid being either bolt upright or horribly scrunched up, I ended up with a xxs (~48cm) frame with a 140mm stem! I did the reach calcs on some frames and found I'd struggle with anything less than a 180mm stem to fit at all!

  26. Thanks! You hit all the points exactly. I'm 4'10" and have been riding and racing for 40 years. Fortunately, I have had several custom bikes built for me. Since I stopped racing, I use 650c wheels. I rode 700c while racing for exact reason you said – neutral support! Even my track bike is 650c. BTW I would kill to be 5'1". I would also kill for a well fitting carbon bike. I'm not convinced even the Canyon XXXs is a good fit.

  27. Great video Emma. There were some great tips in there. Im 165 cm and still think Id benefit from a 650 wheelset…and shorter cranks…Food for thought…..

  28. A intelligent discussion about something she knows a lot about. BUT please never talk about nutrition that was painful to hear the complete lack of basic knowledge in other post. I am near 6'2'' And use 40 width bars most the time or 38. More aero. AND am going to 165 cranks. If short would think to use smaller then 165.

  29. Great video, Emma. I'm 170 cm tall and used to ride with a 172,5 mm crank on a 54 frame. I switched to a 165 mm crank on a 51 cm custom frame (TT 525mm, HT 160mm) and the difference is remarkable. Less back pain, and better endurance, with stem just about slammed. Since I made these changes incrementally (frame first, then crank) I can say that it takes about 1000km to adapt to the shorter crank (with some loss of speed at the outset) but that climbing is especially improved, both in and out of the saddle.

  30. This is an excellent video! I'm not tall, about the same height as Emma in fact and can relate to all of the points she makes. I ride 700c wheels, but on a bespoke steel frame (that I've now had for about 20 years). The thought of buying a new one fills me with dread as I know an off the peg is just not going to feel right, if I can even find one in a shop to try. Been on 165mm cranks for a very long time now as well and agree they make a huge difference. Recently changed my shifters to ones with reach adjustment and they've made an enormous difference to my comfort and confidence in braking, especially on the drops. In fact overall Emma has hit every nail on the head, manufacturers need to be paying attention to this, right down to the details with lights and bottles 🙂 Keep up the good work!!

  31. 5'2" roadie and year round commuter. True story about that rear light being difficult to see on smaller bikes. I don't even have space on the saddle post to mount it and my saddle bag. So, I mount mine on the left seat stay. Blackburn twofers or anything with the silicone strap that adjusts to fit are my jam.

  32. Good tips! Just want contribute to the topic. My wife is 158cm and she also switched to 650b (27.5"). Not long ago. For people looking to buy new bike that can take 650b wheels, you may want to consider getting disc brake frames which comes with 700c but because disc brake design is less affected by brake placement, you have option to switch to 650b rather than dedicated 650b frames. Our cross bike has disc brake so it allows simple conversion to 650b from 700c. Also, by having disc brake, you open up alot more option for 650b wheels from the mountain bike sector. They wont be as aero but sure tick the wide internal rim width box. And more importantly much more wallet friendly.the only thing to watch out for is the hub flange distance (O.L.D) when finding 650b wheels. plenty of information on google, so not too much of a problem.

  33. Hi Emma great video. I'm not super short but I am shorter at 170cm I find when ever I'm on a bike that's a little bigger for me sliding the saddle forward on the rails can be a good way to adjust reach with out having to buy any new parts haha

  34. Thanks, thanks. As I am same height of you, I have chosen Pinarello F10 44 size with 80mm and 165mm crank arm size which fits me so well. Used to ride Cervelo R3 48 size with 60mm then since I made change, all is good. Also highly recommended using Arundel Sideloader bottle cage for small frame!

  35. I’ve heard from bike shops that small carbon frames (like 44cm) have a worse quality of ride. Is there truth to this or is it just a trick to sell the size in stock?

  36. I'm 160cm but am very short through the torso (76cm inseam) so tend to find reach a bit challenging. Currently riding a 700c Liv Avail XS with a 70mm stem which has been a great bike for several years, but I can't drop the front as low as I'd like because it stretches me out too much so I have to ride in a fairly upright position (comfy, but slow). Looking to move to a bike that allows me to get in a more aero position and is quicker to accelerate up to speed (the Avail has ultra long chainstays and wheelbase, very stable but a bit boat-like).

    I love the idea of the 650c wheels but I'm hanging out for Canyon to make the Ultimate with drop stays. I'm also a bit nervous about the scarcity of high-end 650c disc brake options on the market. The only high-end carbon disc brake rims I'm aware of are the DT Swiss ones that come specced with the Canyon WMN bikes, and the ZIPP 303s. Has anyone come across any other high-end alternatives in the ~30-45mm range?

    I also think the Canyon Aeroad is an amaaazing bike and know several people who rave about it, but it currently only comes with 700c wheels. Looking at the geometry of this, in my size (2XS) it comes with 43mm rake and 69.5 degree HTA which equates to a massive trail number. Does anyone have an opinion on how this would affect the handling? I'm not too concerned about it being super responsive (e.g. crit racing) but I've been reading a bit about wheel flop and I'm not sure if this geom is a bit extreme and would make the handling awful?

  37. I'm 5'7 and it's hilarious how most men think they're bigger than they really are and need big components. You would've thought I was contemplating suicide when I told my old man LBS mechanic that I was ordering 165 cranks to swap.

  38. Being 161cm myself it’s been a tough search for my first road bike… Nothing feels comfortable and safe, guys (still looking for a saleswoman) from bike shops underestimate this. Well, they underestimate us. There’s never a S or XS bike to test and they assume that lowering the saddle heigh and rotating the bar upwards it’s enough. It’s super irritating and reveals how sexist this universe can be. I confess I was naive to think that the only adaptation I needed to make was changing for a compact drop bar. There’s so much science into this! Thanks Emma for being the voice for us shorties and ladies out there! 💕 thanks for this enlightening video! Load of love from Brazil!

  39. I’m 5’1 and I’m really struggling to find an appropriate bike. I appreciate the advice about changing certain things like seat/good positioning but I’m struggling to find a frame that fits me at the moment.

  40. If you want to reposition a bottle cage on a small frame, maybe consider something like a WolfTooth B-Rad2 mounting rail – this will allow you to slide your bottle cage down the downtube with some freedom.

  41. Don't worry Emma, just thinking about the many times I've bumped my head! 🙂 Great video! Shared it in a couple of groups!

  42. I am 6 feet, 6 inches tall. I really enjoy racing in time trials. Being as tall as I am, finding a "production" time trial / triathlon frame is challenging at best. Any advice you can give me on this? I am looking at purchasing either an Argon18 or a Canyon Aeromax CF. Both frames top out at 61CM. I'm concerned about getting the optimum bike fit, being as tall as I am.

  43. Great video. I am 169cm tall, and I bough a road bike which I had to buy a shorter stem which a weird angle to make the ride comfortable, however the saddle is on the same height as my handle bars and I see most people with the handle bars lower than the saddle.
    Watching this video makes me think I bought a bike which the reach was too far for me… I might need a bike fit soon as my colleague recommended.
    Any thoughts ? Has anyone experienced a similar experience?

  44. Brilliant stuff Emma especially the humour! As a shorter person myself I identify with most of what you say. I have reached a point where I am considering a couple of things namely; Hoods/Bars and possibly shorter Crank. Thanks a lot, like cycling generally,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,"am getting there" ! Best Al.

  45. Hi GCN . I would like to ask some advice Im 157cm and the frame size using is 48ST and 52TT . i know its big for my height but its difficult to find smaller frame on my city and also my budget is low . any advice or suggest ? thank you

  46. @Emma, that toe crossover is also a huge problem for shorter people if your bike has mud-guards/fenders. You may end up kicking or hitting the front mud-guard/fender.

  47. 650c = 571 mm
    650b = 584 mm
    700c = 622 mm
    Bike shops have no clue when it comes to the human anatomy. They think all men who are 5'11" are all the same "56cm"

  48. Great stuff…one thing left out…stand over height…or did I miss it? having shorter legs and shorter arms…it is really tough to find a bike that allows me to standover the top tube with out allowing it to know me intimately in the Biblical sense…. And the whole top tube length issue…why on earth make a 46cm bike with a 53 top tube…wtf???

  49. my gf is 171cm and rides an S size canyon pathlite, has horrible toe overlap due to the 700c tires… what to do, the frame itself fits perfectly…

  50. I'm 5'4 and when I started riding, I was using 172.5 cranks. The difference when I discovered 165's was amazing.

  51. I'm 5'2 (158cm) and i really want one of those 3XS canyon bikes! but they are just so expensive. so too good for me right now. would be cool though to cut a kg off my bike so i climb a bit faster. atm i have the cannondale claris 2016 51cm frame. my friend who's 5'5 says it looks too big even for her. also i think compared to most petite people i have longer legs, which means an even shorter reach. but that was the recommended size when i entered my measurements into the website.. i got lower back pain which has been mostly resolved by moving the saddle forward, but now i am also getting a knot in my back near my neck – no idea whether that's anything to do with my position. i also hit my stomach with my leg any time i try and get into a vaguely aero position. and here i was thinking that was normal. at least i don't have toe crossover!

    my 6ft brother didn't anticipate this being a problem when he was helping me choose a bike. wonder why. is it so revolutionary that the size of all parts of the bike should scale with the rider? we're not even in the bottom 10% of women's heights are we? if the standard bike is designed to fit a 6ft male, then why would only changing one thing (frame size) make it a perfect fit for someone a foot shorter? when the only thing that is approximately the same size between those people is their heads. makes me wonder about how children and teenagers achieve a good bike fit too. if smaller bikes are being manufactured for them, why not for smaller adults?

    i tried to get on my brother's bike once with the seat lowered. i couldn't 😂. that was when i first realised what reach meant. i often walk around so used to looking slightly upwards at people that i end up assuming people are a similar height to me. always so shocked when my friends tell me they're 5'5 or above lol.

    i also noticed the same thing about space in the frame. Even with 51cm i can't mount both a bottle and my D lock.

     aww small hands! i have a friend the same height as me with tiny hands 🙂 bought her some fingerless gloves once and her little finger didn't even come out the end!

  52. I am a 4'10" (145 CM) guy looking at some bikes in Kmart. It says for age 8-12, but I'm 42, will this work if my weight is under 90 LB?

  53. Nice, we're almost the same size… problem is I'm 90% torso and 10% leg so I need a long short bike… I exaggerated obviously, but I do have a pretty long reach for being such a short person.

  54. I'm 5'1" and I ride a roadbike with 50cm toptube and has 90mm stem length and 0 offset seatpost, I'm not having problem with it except when I carry loads(backpack) on my back thenI start to feel lower back pain most often when the load is imbalance on sides…

  55. We're so lucky to have as a guide a successful petite female cyclist who is also an earthy and articulate engineering PhD, and has a great sense of humor. Thanks so much for sharing all of your talents; this has been extremely helpful for those of us under 5'2" who can feel sometimes like cycling is made only for those with long legs.

  56. I'm the same height as Emma; 157 cm (5'2"). But I'm more torso than legs: long arms with short legs (my inseam is 71cm). Would the ultimate 3XS be suffice in terms of standover height?

  57. I'm 175cm tall or short, I run 28" wheels on commuter but I passionately love days when I literally jump on 26" hardtail and hit less comfortable tracks. Lower gravity point and more balanced feeling on a bike with no toe overlap is such a pleasure.

  58. Great tips Emma !

    I'm 5ft, 6in., I had pretty much the same problems you spoke about.
    I bought an inexpensive road bike that was way too tall for me.
    The guy at the bike shop told me that the bike was not a proper fit, but I wanted that bike .
    While it did work out. And I learned to handle that bike very well.

  59. Thanks Emma, great to know that their are a bunch of us shorties out there. I am the same height as you. In my 40s, and just started learning to cycle. Yip, no second bottle of saddle bag. Bought a road bike last weekend. Took it to a nature reserve loop road to try it out. And was pretty nervous going on the descents. My hands had to squeeze damn hard in the middle position to slow the bike down. There was the last section, a t-junction where side road met main road to the reserve entry/exit. I literally couldn't squeeze hard enough to come to a complete stop at the stop street. Luckily there were no cars or cyclists at that moment on the road, I slowly turned into the main road without stopping. In the low position, I can squeeze the brakes completely to a stop, but that position isn't always comfortable. Thanks so much for your advice. Will investigate a narrower hood group set that is better for my small hands. The struggle is real for little people 😛

  60. 650b smaller wheels?… Really?… One video of GCN trying to convince that bigger diametres in MTB 29er wheels are better than 26" because you sin more speed and inerce… And now that theory explodes in the air and smaller wheels in road are good when the truth is that triathletes showed the world that 650b wheels were inefficient front the 700

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