Today LGRAB welcomes Kara of Knitting Lemonade, who offers a unique perspective on her search for a stylish bicycle.
When you’re tall, finding pants that are long enough is a Herculean task. So imagine the trials of trying to find a ladies bicycle that complements your inseam.
The average height for women in the US is 5’4”. I am 6 feet tall with a 35” inseam. For perspective on how tall that is, here is a picture of Dottie (who is pretty tall) and me.
Inspired by bicycle blogs (this one in particular), I decided to invest in a classic loop-frame bicycle. But I found the size options available in the US to be somewhat limited. It seemed like a lot of the women bicycles came in one size—like the Electra Amsterdam. And in my experience “one size fits all” really means “one size fits small.” As far as the bicycles that came in several sizes, they seemed to max out for a woman with a height of 5’8”.
Of course there was the option of buying a man’s bike. And it was a solid option. There are a lot of amazing, classic-looking bikes for men. But I was a little stubborn. Just because I was man-sized didn’t mean I wasn’t feminine. So the challenge was set, I wanted a bike that was big enough for a man, but cute enough for a woman.
A Dutch-style bike seemed like a good choice since the Dutch are a very tall people. And after some exhaustive research, I was able to find some manufacturers that offered larger Dutch bikes. But then I saw it—the Pashley Princess Sovereign. In my eyes, she was perfect. I immediately had visions of riding through the English countryside in tweed. Also the Princess has more aggressive angles than the Dutch bicycles, 5 gears to tackle the hills of Salt Lake City, and is a smidge lighter (every pound counts when you have to carry a bicycle up a flight of stairs to your apartment). What’s more, the bicycle comes in a 22.5” frame. Even with that size frame I still wasn’t sure if it would fit. But according to the Pashley website, this size would fit an inseam up to 36.5”. Without having the option of a test ride, I took a leap of faith and ordered her.
By adjusting the handlebars to their highest position and getting over the fact that I was flashing some seat post, my Pashley Princess Sovereign turned out to be a lovely fit for me.
You would think that would be the end of the story, but I was on a roll. Now that I had my classic loop-frame bicycle, I decided to also get a fast bicycle. More specifically, a mixte for longer, sportier rides. Looking at vintage and modern mixtes, I ran into the same problem. Too small.
Loving Dottie’s Betty Foy, I e-mailed Rivendell telling them that “tall girls need cute bikes too.” They agreed and informed me that they would be coming out with a 62cm Betty Foy. Well, that sealed the deal. In August, I got my own “Kara-sized” Betty Foy. I couldn’t be any more in love.
These bikes were definitely an investment. And I don’t want to convey that you need to spend a lot of money to get a tall woman’s bike. Just hope to say that with such limited options available, when you find something that you love AND works for your body, seize the opportunity.
There is just something magical about getting a bike that truly fits you, physically and emotionally. In my case, I have two bikes that are big and girly, just like me.
Are you an Amazon looking for a bicycle? Here are some leggy options:
PUBLIC M8 and M3 mixtes come in large (fit for 5’8” to 6’)
There wasn’t enough time for me to scare up a bike between my arrival in Chicago and the start of the Active Trans mixer. I thought I was OK taking the El, until I met the gorgeous Betty Foy and bike withdrawal hit hard.
one bike, two women
Apparently Dottie’s support of a bike-share program only goes so far! Can’t say I blame her.
Along with the gorgeous mast that Trisha designed, we’ll soon have a new addition to Let’s Go Ride a Bike. My decision is made, finally! Long-time listeners may remember my first steps to finding a bike to replace my stolen Jamis. I oggled bikes the I could not afford, such as ANTs and MAPs. I encountered annoying bike shop guys. I toured Chicago’s bike shops. At one point I thought I had something on the horizon, but that did not work out. After (almost too) much thought, I’ve decided that I will purchase the Rivendell Betty Foy. This was one of my original loves that’s pretty much perfect and reasonably in my bike budget (which, by the way, comes completely from selling my car and renting out my garage parking spot).