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A couple of months ago I went for a professional bike fit on a jig. They were struggling to find a bike to fit me perfectly (5ft1 female). They ended up ordering me a cyclocross bike.

The bike has cut time off my commute and is a dream...until I have to stop or start. I have absolutely no clearance between the top tube and my crotch. My feet touch the floor with difficulty when standing over the bar. I'm wobbling all over the place when stopping and it feels quite dangerous in traffic, I thought it would get better with practice.

Can I get smaller tyres, would this make my bike slightly lower? Or is this something I need to get used to and practice? Are there any modifications I can do? I'm a complete beginner so no idea if this is normal, I rode a rickety 25yr old mountain bike before this.

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    It's hard to believe that they messed up on this most fundamental aspect of bike fit -- standover height is the first thing to be checked. If the tires are, say, 2" tires, you could switch to 1.5" tires and drop the top tube about a half inch. – Daniel R Hicks Jun 11 '16 at 20:44
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    thanks, I'm going to look into changing the tyres. I know, they said I would struggle anyway cause of how short my legs are but they didn't suggest a ladies hybrid to me which I thought would've been an obvious choice. the have an excellent reputation as a shop and I didn't doubt their recommendation. – Beccah Jun 12 '16 at 7:49
  • I suspect they were trying to find something light and fast for you, possibly because that's what you wanted. The ladies hybrid bikes are usually heavy and flexible. What they probably couldn't get for you from a major manufacturer is a bike that actually fits you. If you have a cycle club nearby they will probably be able to help as their juniors will all want small, fast bikes. You may well end up with ISO559 road wheels (rather than the usual ISO622) just to make the frame work better in the small size. But that's not essential. Or a custom framebuilder will be able to help – Nuі Jun 13 '16 at 4:54
  • This question has some more ideas: bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/3394/… (I searched this site using "small road bike" and this was in the top 10 results, the rest were less useful). – Nuі Jun 13 '16 at 4:56
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Try stopping with one foot down, leaning the bike over and leaving your dominant leg on the pedal with the pedal forward and up ready for a power stroke. By leaning the bike over you can get lots of clearance. I can often even remain on the saddle.

When you're ready to go, push off with your non-dominant leg (which is touching the ground) and give a strong pedal stroke with your dominant leg. This will give you and initial burst of speed which will make balancing easier. Take a moment to adjust your position then continue pedaling.

I think frame stand-over clearance is a bit of a myth. An older frame I use (older road bikes had very little clearance) has almost no clearance under my crotch and I really don't notice as I never find myself standing over the top tube.

  • Standover height has always been the most fundamental measure of bike fit, at least ever since I became involved in serious cycling about 40 years ago. – Daniel R Hicks Jun 11 '16 at 20:45
  • I'm with you, this is how I do it as well, works out great and gives my butt a rest from the seat as well. – Kilisi Jun 11 '16 at 23:09
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    @DanielRHicks - there have been many "fundamentals" based on no empirical evidence, only opinion and tradition. Doesn't mean it's correct. For example the "ideal" cycling form was knees brushing the top tube, which we know is bad for most people and will misalign the knee. I have removed the MTB reference since the stand over clearance has been a longer standing concept. – Rider_X Jun 12 '16 at 2:02
  • @Rider_X -- If standover height is reasonable and crank height is not ridiculous, there could be no danger of knees brushing the top tube. – Daniel R Hicks Jun 12 '16 at 2:06
  • Thanks, I will try this. Currently I stop and land with my dominant foot so will swap this round. So much to learn! – Beccah Jun 12 '16 at 7:39
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Do you use pedal's with cleats? Road shoe cleats will add a bit of thickness to your shoe's sole.

MTB cleats are recessed into the sole, but the sole is thicker, which may help too. This could be an expensive way to gain a small amount.

Depending on the stop, there may be a kerb/curb where you can place a foot that is higher than the road surface.


Alternatives - some cyclists are able to trackstand at the lights. Personally I've never managed this for longer than a few seconds.

Another technique is to not ride up and stop at the top, but to drift slowly up to the line and delay the point where you have to completely stop. This can be aggravating to other riders though.

Also you may be able to grab hold of traffic light poles or other road furniture as a way of staying upright. Don't hold onto vehicles though, they move off, and it may annoy the hamster.

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    Thanks very much. I did use cleats for a couple of weeks but because I'm struggling so much stopping and starting I've taken them off for the time being. The shoes did add a teeny bit of height. Just googled track standing, this looks really useful, but will need to practice lots off road first! – Beccah Jun 12 '16 at 7:41
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    I agree with Criggie...I actually slow down and time my speed to hit the light when its green (I dont have a size issue with my bike) but I think its just more efficient. Have you also tried to adjust your saddle height? I didnt see you mention it so I thought id suggest that as an option too. Cheers. – ZSS Jun 14 '16 at 15:15

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