Biking while short and considering a new commuter

At 5′ 3″, I’m really not all that short. The average height for a woman in the US is 5′ 4″ so I’m just shy of average. Tell that to bike manufacturers, though, as they seem to cater to riders of the average male height of 5′ 9″. Depending on geometry, I ride bikes between 46 and 50 cm and feel more comfortable with the smaller end of that range. It’s tough to find frames in that size locally and it’s really frustrating.

Fancy Bike is a 50 and I wonder if that’s just a bit too large. I’m not 100% comfortable on that bike even after riding around 250 mi. I feel wobbly and I have an unexpected small-person issue: the brifters are actually too large for me to comfortably pull to brake and I feel unsafe. I don’t have a solution for that except for trying smaller brifters, and since I’m not doing the RSVP I now wonder if I should sell this bike.

In other news, I’m planning to replace my Kona Dew Plus commuter and have had my eye on the Surly Straggler for several months. I was really excited to learn from the owner of Free Range Cycles that Surly’s rolling out the Straggler 650b in 2015, as the smaller tires might remove the pesky toe overlap problem that’s an issue with 700s on smaller frames and made me hesitate on buying a 2014 model when I test rode one recently.

Why the Straggler? It nicely fits my requirements:

  • Comes in smaller frame sizes
  • Can mount fenders with plenty of clearance
  • Disk brakes
  • Eyelets for a rear rack
  • Eyelets for front panniers, because maybe I’ll go bike camping some day
  • Steel frame for durability and longevity
  • Accepts a variety of tire widths
  • Drop bars with brifters

Surly suckered me in with their marketing approach. “Fuck it, let’s go ride bikes” is a mission statement I can get behind. In addition, it’s a well-respected brand known for quality. I can’t wait to try one out.