Get the Specialized Allez Elite Compact

A number of Bike and Build riders have been asking me which bicycle they should get, and in which size. There is some confusion as to the available options, so I'd like to go on the record once and for all and clarify them.

1. The default bicycle is the Specialized Allez Triple. If you are under 5'5" and female, get the Specialized Dolce for very slightly more. If you don't want to think or worry about this too much, get this bike and stop reading.

2. If you have $287 to spend and want a nicer bike, get the Specialized Allez Elite Compact. It is lighter than the Allez Triple, has better parts (Tiagra versus Sora), has better wheels, and is more comfortable.

3. DO NOT buy the Trek 1.5!! It is more expensive than the Allez Elite Compact ($300), and has worse wheels, worse parts, and a worse frame. Getting this bicycle is a joke, and you won't be laughing.

4. If you have your own road bike, AND it has Tiagra or better parts, AND you've been riding it for a while and are comfortable on it, AND it's in good shape or has had a recent tune-up, bring that on the ride and stop worrying.

What size do you need? This is easy. First, you need to measure your inseam. This is the distance from your crotch to the floor. Take off your socks and shoes, get into a pair of bike shorts, stand against a wall with your feet 6" apart, and shove an appropriately sized book (an empth 1/2" binder works) against your crotch. It should be snug, like a bike saddle, and perpendicular to the wall. Have a friend measure from the book to the floor. Repeat.

Now, take your inseam, convert it to centimeters, and multiply it by 0.65. This is your frame size. If you have an exceptionally short torso, err on the smaller side. If you have a longer torso, err on the larger side.

Examples: Jane has a 77.5cm inseam, so she should be riding a 50cm bike. However, Jane has a really long torso, so she is riding a 52cm. I have an 87.8cm inseam, so I should be on a 57cm bike, but I have a short torso, so I ride a 56cm.