Weight Loss Made Easy!

Sign Up For Women’s Cycling Free Monthly Newsletter!


Follow Us On Facebook


follow me buttons

A Small Bicycle for a Small Rider

By Georgena Terry

One of the joys of my business is when I can help a rider find unique solutions to her problems so she can achieve her cycling goals.

The Goal:
Ride the Seattle to Portland Classic. 200 miles in two days including training seriously for the ride in the months prior to the event.

The Issues:
The rider is a petite woman – 4′ 11″ with a barefoot inseam of 26″ – in need of a small bicycle. She has arthritis which affects her right thumb in particular. She prefers a flat handlebar. She’s having surgery to repair the thumb, which will only leave her about four months to train for the ride. Her current bike just wasn’t cutting it in terms of comfort or performance.

This is the bike my customer was riding.

This is the bike my customer was riding.

The Challenge:
A bike that won’t aggravate her hand situation, will fit her small stature perfectly and will get her to Portland and back with a smile on her face! Just finishing isn’t enough — I want her to finish and consider it one of the coolest rides she’s done. And the first of many more “bucket” rides to come!

The Solution:
A Coto Doñana Tour, with custom sizing and a very careful choice of components to accommodate her hands. And, oh yes, a custom color as well.

How It Was Accomplished:
The first step was to scale down the smallest Coto Doñana Tour in order to give the rider clearance over the top tube. This was done partly by lowering the top tube where it meets the seat tube and by shortening the fork blades, which lowered the front end of the bike. The customer didn’t need the ability to run fenders on wide tires (which is a feature of the Coto Doñana Tour), so this was an option. With these changes, the stand over height was reduced by about an inch.

The handlebars on her current bike were 5″ above the saddle. This, in combination with a 22.8″ “rider compartment” (the distance from the center of the saddle to the handlebars) was still giving her some issues with too much pressure on her hands. This custom Coto Doñana Tour has a rider compartment of 21.4.” The handlebars are about an inch above the saddle.

The design that would conquer STP.

The design that would conquer STP.

I specced Grip Shift® shifters to relieve the stress on her hands. Since we knew the diameter of the shifters, she was able to verify that the dimension was manageable and comfortable.

The Happy Ending:
A successful STP adventure!

It was my privilege to see the bike and its owner in action on the Terry Sojourn bike tour this September. Like I said, my job is always fun!

Georgena will answer your questions about bike-fit, bike-frames, saddles, and bike-maintenance. So don’t be shy. Take advantage of her knowledge and decades of experience to get answers to any questions you have about bicycles. Email me at [email protected].

When Georgena Terry first started designing bicycles, over 30 years ago, there were no women-specific bikes. Many female cyclists were forced to put up with neck, and shoulder pain, and other physical problems that came from riding bicycles that didn’t fit them. Georgena Terry changed that. Looking at anatomical differences between men and women, such as body mass and body strength, she began designing bike frames that optimized comfort and performance for female cyclists, with special attention to women under 5’2”.

GTA _signature


Working out of her basement in Rochester, NY, Georgena first designed bikes for herself, then for her cycling friends. In 1985, she sparked a revolution in the cycling industry by launching Terry Precision Cycling, selling custom-built, high-quality steel frame bikes for women. Larger cycling companies sat up and took notice. Eventually following her lead, they developed their own brand of women-specific bicycles, clothing, saddles and accessories.

Today, Georgena continues her passion, designing and building custom steel bikes for women cyclists of all sizes. Contact her at georgenaterry.com


We want to know what you think! Scroll down to leave a comment.

Like this article? You’ll love getting our free newsletter!


2 comments to A Small Bicycle for a Small Rider

  • Kim

    I’m trying to find a size 17 inch/43cm vintage bike in a mixte frame. I really like the Peugeot, or any French made vintage bike. Also,looking for a 5 or 10 speed, no more speeds than those. Is it possible to get a vintage bike in that size frame? thank you for your time.

  • Donna

    Interesting article, and it’s great to see some attention to the less tall riding population. It would be great to see the controls designed for smaller hands too!

    I’m curious though, did you spec shorter cranks on this woman’s bike? I think that’s undocumented territory as there seems little written about non-standard cranks.
    I’m only 5’1″ (on a good day) and have a few bikes. On my 650B Haro mtn bike, I have 155mm cranks, and on my touring commuter I have 160mm cranks. Both of these have Rohloff hubs, which makes it easy to noodle up hills, which I do a lot of.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>