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  1. #1
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    Santa Cruz Nomad - Medium vs Large?

    Hello guys, I'm new here. My local bike shop is selling two 2011 Nomads. Only about a $150 difference between the two. The first one is a medium, aluminum. The second is a large carbon fiber Can't decide which to get. I'm about 5'10, which apparently is the mark from going to a medium to a large. The Santa Cruz recommended sizing chart says a medium is for someone that is 5'4 - 5'10 tall. And then the large from 5'10 to 6'2. I haven't mountain biked for years and years. And back when I did it wasn't too serious. Sense then I have gained a history with BMX. I'v gotten decent... and hope to increase quickly with mountain biking.

    Now once I first start, my confidence level won't be as high as a strong rider who has been doing it for years, so I feel that the medium size frame is for me. But then again I really want a Carbon Fiber frame

    Your thoughts would be great.

    Thanks in advance!!

  2. #2
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    It depends what you feel more comfortable with. Ride them both. It's about fit and feel, not so much the other stuff you mention. I'm 5'11" and prefer the L over M. I have a M bike (similar ETT) of another brand and I feel it's a tad small. Carbon is what I would look for as well.

  3. #3
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    I'm also 5'10" and have ridden both. For me, the large definately felt better. The length of your inseam makes a difference too. Mines about a 33"

  4. #4
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    Depends on how you're built. Santa Cruz bikes tend to have a shorter than the industry standard top tubes. So if your upper body and arms are a tad short, you may be more comfortable on the medium. On the other hand, you may feel a bit cramped. In that case, go for the large. You can't fix the wrong frame size like you can a bad tire choice. Ride both, if you can, to gauge your comfort. The one place you can't go wrong is they are both a Nomad!

  5. #5
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    Zac, If you haven't already, go to the Santa Cruz forum and do a search. Lots of info.

    Some of your decision may also depend on what you want to use it for. I am 6'3" and debating between a L and XL Nomadc. SC recommends XL, but I tend to like the size down. I am debating whether I will use it mainly for general (but rough) trails (so L), or for more downhill (so XL).

    Also, if you determine either size will work and it is only $150 more, maybe go L carbon. At that price difference, installing a very short stem might be worth it for the superior frame.

  6. #6
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    While not a Nomad... my wife is 5'-10" and currently rides a large SC Nickel. Last Spring she demo'ed a carbon Blur LTc, riding both the medium and the large and said definitely preferred the large (which she hopes is under the tree in a few weeks).

  7. #7
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    I'm 5'11" with a 30-32" inseam and I ride a large NomadC. I wouldn't even think of buying a medium.

    Chances are you could shorten the stem a little bit and it would fit perfectly. I took off a 90mm stem and put a 60mm on mine and I love it.

  8. #8
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    Def the large

  9. #9
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    im over 5'10 under 5'11 but i have slightly shorter legs (long arm, my father is part gorillia) so i always tend to go with the smaller size. Nothing taping the seat back a 1/2" cant solver.
    2012 Giant Reign 1

  10. #10
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    Thank you guys for all the quick and helpful responses. I really appreciate it!

    But... some bad news. Some lucky guy beat me to the large carbon The bike shop still has the medium though. The reason I really want it is because it's only $1,300! Still in brand new condition! I feel that if I turn this offer down I'll never find another offer even close, and I'll kick myself forever! I mean I could get away with a medium right? Maybe just put a longer stem on or something? IDK, I guess I'll just see how it feels when I get it.

  11. #11
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    If it feels to small then it is too small...


    And its only a deal if its the right fit... better to wait and or pay slightly more to get the bike your going to love. not the one your going to always second guess the fit and have to make feel right.
    2012 Giant Reign 1

  12. #12
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    Zac, is this $1300 Med Alum Nomad a complete bike? If so, that is a killer price. Take a ride on it to see how it feels. If not a complete bike and you might buy a med alum Nomad, then check the Santa Cruz sale. I just checked, and they still have mediums left for $1000 plus shipping. May still be a better deal with your LBS since they may work with you in building it, but if you build it on your own, would save a few hundred.

    You have received a lot of advice about size (and MTBR users usually seem to go larger if there is a question), but there is always the basic truth--test ride before you buy. If not test ride, then you are taking your chances. You can adjust fit with seatpost setbacks, stem length, and handebar width. You probably can get away with the the medium being a little small because SC recommends either size for your height. But, a larger frame will feel different on the trail than a medium frame. You are in a situation that either size will likely feel at least OK, but one of those sizes will be better for you than the other.

    Oh, and I have bought frames in the last decade without being able to test ride the chosen size. Always worked out great, except for one frame. I think a Large would have been better for how I use that bike than the XL I purchased. But, you know, playing with stem length, it is working out well.

    Good luck in your decision.
    Last edited by clydecrash; 11-29-2012 at 04:16 PM.

  13. #13
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    ^Yes its a complete bike Fox fork too

  14. #14
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    Well, I just edited my post including all kinds of worthless info. If a complete bike, than go test ride that thing. That is a great price. Your shop likely has all lengths of old stems in a box that they could switch to see what works best.

  15. #15
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    Thanks. I'l let you guys know how it is.

  16. #16
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    I'm 6 foot and ride a Large. If I were 5' 10" I'd definitely be on a medium.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zac. View Post
    ^Yes its a complete bike Fox fork too
    Holy Crap so your saying that nomad carbon was only $1450 for a complete? WOW! wish I found a deal like that around here, I would have jumped on that one.

    I also ride a lg nomad and am 5'11. Feels much better than the medium. if that medium Nomad doesnt work out shoot me a PM. Im building up a new SC Heckler that im going to sell here soon.

  18. #18
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    I wouldn't agree that 'most' mtb'rs would go with the large in your situation. Those who ride slow and very technical terrain or who like to get some air and take drops often prefer smaller frames as they are easier to flick around.

    Being that your are starting at this sport though I'd bet a large would be appropriate, mabye with a short stem if needed. The larger frame has a bit longer wheel base and overall might be more comfy for ''in the saddle riding'', which I'm guessing will be you most of the time. It's just the safer bet imo.

    it's tough b/c even a short ride on both will not tell you much as it takes some time and many rides in the dirt to even know what what you prefer when your new to it.

    All that being said I'd advise the large, but it's gone so go ride the med and see what you think. What more can you do? For the record I'm in between sizes and have sized down on my last two frames but I could easily ride the larger version of my bike (in fact I used to own one) with some minor adjustments.

    It's tough though as my bikes top tube measurement (Yeti 575) is longer than most makes of the same size. My small frame has a TT the same length of most others medium frames. I guess I just supported the choice of the large for you, lol.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by cman8 View Post
    Holy Crap so your saying that nomad carbon was only $1450 for a complete? WOW! wish I found a deal like that around here, I would have jumped on that one.

    I also ride a lg nomad and am 5'11. Feels much better than the medium. if that medium Nomad doesnt work out shoot me a PM. Im building up a new SC Heckler that im going to sell here soon.
    $1,46..something. But yes that's correct. I'm trying not to think about it now. Haha

  20. #20
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    Large, for sure. SC are tiny for their given size. The large is as big as most other manufacturer's mediums.

    I'm 6'1" & had a large & it was noticably too small for me.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by eatdrinkride View Post
    I wouldn't agree that 'most' mtb'rs would go with the large in your situation. Those who ride slow and very technical terrain or who like to get some air and take drops often prefer smaller frames as they are easier to flick around.

    Being that your are starting at this sport though I'd bet a large would be appropriate, mabye with a short stem if needed. The larger frame has a bit longer wheel base and overall might be more comfy for ''in the saddle riding'', which I'm guessing will be you most of the time. It's just the safer bet imo.

    it's tough b/c even a short ride on both will not tell you much as it takes some time and many rides in the dirt to even know what what you prefer when your new to it.

    All that being said I'd advise the large, but it's gone so go ride the med and see what you think. What more can you do? For the record I'm in between sizes and have sized down on my last two frames but I could easily ride the larger version of my bike (in fact I used to own one) with some minor adjustments.

    It's tough though as my bikes top tube measurement (Yeti 575) is longer than most makes of the same size. My small frame has a TT the same length of most others medium frames. I guess I just supported the choice of the large for you, lol.
    Actually I live in the mountains and we have miles and miles of rough terrain trails That's probably where this bike will be 90% of the time. Lots and lots of downhill runs. But then again that means there's climbing too... If it weren't to the uphills I would have just got a SC V10. Anyways, I think the only time I'll be sitting in the saddle is when climbing a hill. The rest of the time I'll be rippin down hill. And I do like jumping and dropping of big ledges, and that's the only reason I was leaning towards the medium. Not to mention on the medium you can lower the seat more, that way when I land after jumping of a cliff I wont crush my nuts

  22. #22
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    I'm 5'9 w a 30" inseam and ride a medium carbon nomad. I do some climbing, but it's only to get me to the top, so that I can drop the seat and rip down the mountain! I ride a lot of fast technical down hills with drops up to five or 6 feet and am always looking ahead for a jump. I also Do a little freeriding and wouldn't think of going bigger. Like these folks said, It's all about your riding style and what feels right when you get on the bike. Test that thing out! For$1300 if it fits, you can't go wrong!

  23. #23
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    I will say that fast, long ripping d/h runs is when my bike feels cramped. That's when I would like a longer wheel base and tt.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zac. View Post
    Actually I live in the mountains and we have miles and miles of rough terrain trails That's probably where this bike will be 90% of the time. Lots and lots of downhill runs. But then again that means there's climbing too... If it weren't to the uphills I would have just got a SC V10. Anyways, I think the only time I'll be sitting in the saddle is when climbing a hill. The rest of the time I'll be rippin down hill. And I do like jumping and dropping of big ledges, and that's the only reason I was leaning towards the medium. Not to mention on the medium you can lower the seat more, that way when I land after jumping of a cliff I wont crush my nuts
    It's sounds like you are trying to convince yourself that you want a smaller bike. I would carefully read all of these responses and the postings all over MTBR stating that SCs run short and Nomads especially. There are plenty of people who took a big hit swapping to a larger frame. Either size might be right for you, but these are warnings if you buy without saddle time.

    I have always run a large frame in every bike I've owned. I bought a large Nomad C and will admit that I think it is too small. I went with an XL when I got my TRc and could not be more happy. It has been a long time since I've spent any serious time on my Nomad, probably because I'm afraid that it really is too small and don't want to pony up the cash to make the change in size.

    Definitely ride both sizes before you buy. Wrong bike size is just that: the wrong bike size. On climbs you will feel cramped and on downhills you will wish you had the longer wheelbase. The last thing you want is a Nomad built up with a 120mm stem just so you feel comfortable, right?

    Also, to the thoughts that people want the smaller "more flickable, huckable, whateverable" size... the chainstays are the same length in either size and that has a lot to do with the handling... you aren't changing that.

    As for your nuts. The standover is hardly any different, the seat can be slammed pretty far on either bike. Downsizing to be able to drop the seat largely went away when bikes switched to sloped top tubes.

  25. #25
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    Oh ok, thanks for the info.

  26. #26
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    5'11" w/ 32" inseam on a Large Nomad w/ an 80mm stem.

  27. #27
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    Ok guys. Decided to pass medium Nomad. Today I test rode a used 2006 Large SC VP Free. It felt amazing! It had so much travel! He's selling it for $1,400. Now I know it's a FR bike, and I should probably be posting this in the DH-FR area. But does anyone here ride the VP Free as an All-Mtn? The peddling on it was a bit hard compared to an All-Mtn bike... and it ways 42lbs I believe:/

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zac. View Post
    But does anyone here ride the VP Free as an All-Mtn? The peddling on it was a bit hard compared to an All-Mtn bike... and it ways 42lbs I believe:/
    I used to.

    I had a VPFree when they first came out. I had it set up as both a park bike (200mm fork) and as a "all mountain" bike... I don't really remember that term back when I owned it. In it's less-heavy configuration it had a 160mm fork and some non-dh tires.

    It's really a freeride monster. I used to go trail riding on it but honestly it wasn't a lot of fun unless there was a ton of downhill. Uphill grinds were a pain even with a granny ring. I mean you're looking at a 9+ lb frame and a sky high bottom bracket at 15.4" (it's also a VPP1 bike, where the Nomads you're looking at are VPP2 leading to somewhat better pedaling performance).

    Unless you plan on doing a ton of park riding and shuttling (ie. you have friends that want to go shuttling dh runs every weekend), I think I'd steer clear of the Free as a trailbike as appealing as the monstrous amount of travel is.

    Don't get me wrong, I loved mine... it's a great second bike... I just don't think I'd go for it as a first one. At the time I owned it, I also had a Blur and when the lift accessed trails in my area shut down, I sold the VPFree.

    More VPFree info if you're still interested here:

    Santa Cruz Bicycles | VP Free

    Post pics of your VP-Free

    VP-Free with Short Shock (merged thread)

  29. #29
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    Really? We actually were talking about adding a granny gear to the front. And maybe a lockout. Even then you think it's to much?
    Last edited by Zac.; 12-02-2012 at 02:49 PM.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zac. View Post
    Really? We actually were talking about adding a granny gear to the front. And maybe a lockout. Even then you think it's to much?
    Yep... the VPFree is a hell of a lot of bike. Honestly, I think the thing that makes it not a great AM bike is the geometry. A 15.4" bb makes the bike ride very very high, both the Driver 8 and the V10 have lower bottom brackets. The Free was great for hucking off loading docks, urban freeride and terrain parks. It was horrible for daily trail riding. I'm sure some people like it for that however but to each their own. I will also tell you that it runs a funky chainline and setting up a 2x front takes a bit of work and some spacers.

    It will feel amazing on a test ride... like an amazing couch. But make sure you take it on the kind of trail that you want to be riding most of the time. If that involves climbing, make sure you take it climbing... make sure you pedal it on flats and get a feel for that too.

    A Nomad can make a phenomenal trailbike. What happened to the Large Nomad C?

  31. #31
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    I think a carbon fiber is btter than aluminum.

  32. #32
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    I am 5'10.5 and have ridden both large and med bikes. I typically rely more on top tube measurement than seat tube. 24-ish in = large, 23-ish in = med in most cases. While I have found medium bikes to feel a bit more flickable, I notice that on descents I am closer to the bars and feel less stable. Kind of like OTBing is easier on the shorter top tube.
    All frame sizes are a compromise. If you go with a longer top tube, climbing may be a bit more difficult and keeping your front tire on the ground might be more difficult as well.
    I just bought a Large Santa Cruz Solo. I feel much more confident on the downhills but I am having to re-learn my climbing technique on a larger frame.

  33. #33
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    I have a Gen 1 Nomad in Medium and I'm just scratching 5'9". However, I like my cockpits tight, but that's just me. For your height, get the Large and put a 50mm stem on it. You can thank me later.

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