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  1. #1
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    5'11 with a short lower body, can't find right fit.

    I'm 5'11 and visited REI tonight, I was looking at the 15 inch frames since my body has a really short lower half and a long upper half, it feels ok but is only maybe .5 inch away from my crotch. Is this safe enough or should I go for a 13 inch frame? Am I too tall for a 13 inch frame or could I get away with it?

  2. #2
    Old man on a bike
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    I wouldn't worry about standover as much as the rest of the fit. Not too often does standover standing on a flat salesroom floor come into it. What's your cycling inseam? I'm shorter than you are and not likely any 15" seat tube would make a lot of sense to me, am usually on 18" or 19" frames. What's your cycling inseam? Riding style/terrain?
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  3. #3
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    I don't know my exact inseam, I just know that when I wear 30 length jeans they are always too long, so maybe 28 inches? I've never actually measured it. My body is a freak of nature, it's so annoying. I'm a newbie but I want to eventually ride some harder stuff and I don't want to fall off my seat and hit my crotch on the top bar.

  4. #4
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    put your feet about 6" apart, stick a book between your legs, pull up and have someone measure to the top of it from the floor.
    mike

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikinfoolferlife
    I wouldn't worry about standover as much as the rest of the fit. Not too often does standover standing on a flat salesroom floor come into it. What's your cycling inseam? I'm shorter than you are and not likely any 15" seat tube would make a lot of sense to me, am usually on 18" or 19" frames. What's your cycling inseam? Riding style/terrain?
    Can you give us a little lesson here , please ,I'm 5' 6 and I ride a 15" would like to go a little bigger as well
    what is the inseam? and what u mean on type of riding , I ride mostly hard pack , sand single tracks trail with some technical spots ,
    Hope reckoner13, can give us a feedback on his style of riding so we can understand this terms
    Thanks

  6. #6
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    IMHO, the most important aspect of fitting a mountain bike is reach - you want enough room for your upper body to be in a natural position. At your height, and with your proportions, you're going to want the reach of a pretty large-sized bike.

    Different brands have different reputations as to tending toward longer or shorter top tubes at a given frame size. Make sure to try some Gary Fishers.

    There are also a couple of things you can do to further stretch out the reach of a bike. Longer stems, shorter spacer stacks, and even drop-bar conversions can all give you more territory for your torso. Of course, the further forward of the steer tube you put your hands, the more front-loaded the bike will be, so you want to find yourself the longest bike that gives you a short enough standover, seat tube and head tube.

    Another option to consider would be a big dirt jump frame. They're built with extra-low top tubes but a few brands have them in pretty long lengths.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  7. #7
    Old man on a bike
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    Quote Originally Posted by reckoner13
    I don't know my exact inseam, I just know that when I wear 30 length jeans they are always too long, so maybe 28 inches? I've never actually measured it. My body is a freak of nature, it's so annoying. I'm a newbie but I want to eventually ride some harder stuff and I don't want to fall off my seat and hit my crotch on the top bar.
    Everyone using a similar measurement helps, it's not likely your pant inseam, not everyone wears pants the same nor are they sized consistently, so best to take your own measurement. Dysfunction's suggestion is in the neighborhood although maybe he's got his girlfriend doing the crotch end of things or something...here's what I grabbed off Colorado Cyclist:

    To determine your proper frame size, you'll first need to get an accurate inseam measurement . Stand with your back against a wall, your bare feet 6" apart on a hard floor, looking straight ahead. Place a book or carpenter's square between your legs with one edge against the wall, and pull it up firmly into your crotch, simulating the pressure of your saddle while riding. Have a helper measure from the top edge of the book to the floor, in centimeters. (You can convert inches to centimeters by multiplying inches by 2.54.) Repeat two or three times, for consistency, and average the results to get your inseam length.

    PS My usual pant inseam off the shelf for my usual shoes is a 30", but my cycling inseam is 82 cm (32.25").
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by kukulkan
    Can you give us a little lesson here , please ,I'm 5' 6 and I ride a 15" would like to go a little bigger as well
    what is the inseam? and what u mean on type of riding , I ride mostly hard pack , sand single tracks trail with some technical spots ,
    Hope reckoner13, can give us a feedback on his style of riding so we can understand this terms
    Thanks
    Not everyone uses a mountain bike the same, so your type of riding/terrain you ride can influence the size and style of frame best for you. Do you climb a lot? Ride stunts or jump? Race? That sort of thing...
    "...the people get the government they deserve..."
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  9. #9
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    I only have a $400 dollar budget so my options are limited, I visited a few LBS's but they didn't have much in my price range. The Marin Pioneer Trail (REI) at $399 has a 13 and 15 inch frame option, the 15 gives me about half an inch clearance from the top bar and the 13 inch gives me a few inches.

    So if I purchased the 13 inch I could get an extender for my handlebars to lift them higher and I would be fine?

  10. #10
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    I think cannondales run a longer cockpit for their frame size/height. again, I think...

  11. #11
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    You don't want to go too crazy with stem length, this can really throw off the handling of your bike, you're much more likely to go over the bars. Try to find something in your price range with the most slope on that top tube, I think you'll regret buying too small and in my opinion the 13 & 15 will be, keep looking you'll find it, don't settle till it's right.

  12. #12
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    if you bought a 13 inch frame, you'd be riding a clown bike.

    forget about standover clearance. dont ever buy a bike based on standover, ESPECIALLY if you have short legs! you need a long bike if you have a long upper body, a 13 inch frame would give you a tiny tiny short bike which you'd never feel comfortable on. you'd probably hate biking and quit if you had a 13, almost guaranteed! if you were 4'8, you might fit a 13.

    you're gonna need more like an 17-18 inch medium bike thats long in the top tube, or maybe a longer stem.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by reckoner13
    I only have a $400 dollar budget so my options are limited, I visited a few LBS's but they didn't have much in my price range. The Marin Pioneer Trail (REI) at $399 has a 13 and 15 inch frame option, the 15 gives me about half an inch clearance from the top bar and the 13 inch gives me a few inches.

    So if I purchased the 13 inch I could get an extender for my handlebars to lift them higher and I would be fine?
    Like everyone else is saying... NO!!!

    $400 isn't such a bad budget. The Gary Fisher Tarpon has a $440 MSRP, for example. Any Trek dealer should be able to get it for you if you don't have a Fisher dealer per se.

    REI isn't a great place for value shopping, unfortunately. Do you have any local shops near you? If you're open to used, $400 will get you a lot more bike, so consider that as well.

    As others are saying... Don't sweat the standover clearance so much. The modern frame geometry didn't even have standover clearance for the first few decades.

    You probably also aren't going to want to raise your handlebars, at least unless your arms are more proportional to your legs than your torso. If anything, you may have trouble getting them low enough. But using a long stem should be the last thing you do to extend the reach - start with getting a bike with the longest top tube you can find.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by reckoner13
    I only have a $400 dollar budget so my options are limited, I visited a few LBS's but they didn't have much in my price range. The Marin Pioneer Trail (REI) at $399 has a 13 and 15 inch frame option, the 15 gives me about half an inch clearance from the top bar and the 13 inch gives me a few inches.

    So if I purchased the 13 inch I could get an extender for my handlebars to lift them higher and I would be fine?
    save your pennies and get a custom waterford frame - their lower end models are fairly inexpensive. no point in getting a bike that doesnt fit you perfectly. if its not comfy then you wont ride it and it will be 400 down the drain.

  15. #15
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    Thanks for all your help, I will avoid the 13 inch and just stick with a 15 inch, it seems pretty comfortable to me, I was just concerned about clearance.

  16. #16
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    id be extremely surprised if you fit a typical sized 15 inch bike.. my girlfriend has short legs, and shes 5'1, and fits most small/15/16 inch frames. im kinda doubting your legs are THAT short.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Pivot
    id be extremely surprised if you fit a typical sized 15 inch bike.. my girlfriend has short legs, and shes 5'1, and fits most small/15/16 inch frames. im kinda doubting your legs are THAT short.
    My Inseam is about 27-28in.

  18. #18
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Stop obsessing about your inseam, standover clearance, etc.

    The only thing standover clearance really effects is whether or not you can straddle the bike when you wait at an intersection or the starting line for a race or something. When you make your platform, you're going to hover over the saddle. When you descend, you're going to get behind the saddle. When you dab, you'll most likely have your butt on the saddle. And, lucky for you, saddle height is very, very malleable. Most mountain bikes even have a quick release to change it.

    Reach, on the other hand, is only adjustable within a pretty small range. Cheap stems tend to come in the 65mm-130mm range, and of all those sizes, I'd say that a bike that fits should accept something in the 65-110mm range, depending on your height and riding style. Aside from those 45mm, you have to do all your reach adjustment with top tube length. If you get it wrong, you'll never get the bike to work well for you.

    I'm 5'8" with fairly average proportions, or maybe slightly long legs. I ride a Specialied "Medium" or 17" frame. If you're 3" taller than me and have shorter legs than I do, your reach is going to be significantly longer than mine. I wouldn't be surprised if you were happier on a 21" than a 19" frame, at least if you buy the same brand that I ride.

    I respect that you would like some standover clearance, but I think you're proposing to buy a bike that really doesn't fit you in order to preserve an aspect of fit that I think you'll find unimportant once you actually own the bike.

    I think you'll ultimately get a bike you're happier with if you try some bikes that tend toward long top tubes vs. nominal size, like larger dirt jump bikes and Gary Fishers, before you spend money on something. From the size charts, the Novara Portal looks a little short, which would make it a particularly bad fit.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  19. #19
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    A 15" frame seems small, but if its comfortable to you that's all that matters. I'm 5'9" (inseam 29-30) and ride 18" - 19" bikes. I usually end up with a shorter stem because I have short arms.

    Test ride as many bikes as you can before you make a final decision. Be patient, don't rush, and you'll end up with a bike thats right for you.

  20. #20
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    go to a real bike shop and get fitted. tell them your budget and see if they have anything that'll work for you.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by reckoner13
    My Inseam is about 27-28in.
    mine too, and i ride 17/18/mediums.. and i have pretty short arms.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by reckoner13
    My Inseam is about 27-28in.
    Please measure your "bicycle" inseam as others have requested. It is NOT the same as your "jeans" inseam. It is probably 2 inches longer.

    It only takes a minute to do and gives you some factual information to work with as opposed to "I wear 30 length jeans they are always too long, so maybe 28 inches".

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Pivot
    mine too, and i ride 17/18/mediums.. and i have pretty short arms.
    so in your experience how you manage when you are riding and you get to a complete stop and you need to get down , you don't ever stand in between bike ? or you always get off the bike completely

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by kukulkan
    so in your experience how you manage when you are riding and you get to a complete stop and you need to get down , you don't ever stand in between bike ? or you always get off the bike completely
    the inch size bikes are measured in is the seat tube length anyway.. what makes you so sure i cant stand over my bike? i can, and i cant remember the last time i felt it necessary to do so.

    due to hydroforming, a lot of 17/18/medium sized bikes have more standover than the 15/16/small bikes.. why? because standover just doesnt matter that much.

  25. #25
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    I'm 5'11" to with the same problem... i tested a 19" and a 17" and i felt the 19" to be alitle to big and 17" to be maybe a little small so i got a 18"

    but if there was no 18 i would have picked the 17"

  26. #26
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    everyone is different but i've never heard of anyone 5'11 riding a 15 in.bike. even a 17 inch for someone 5'11 would be a choice more for technical riding.

  27. #27
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    17", and get a nice long stem.

  28. #28
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    i ride a 18.5 and im 5'11

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by clutch_08
    i ride a 18.5 and im 5'11
    who makes 18.5 frames?

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by roc865
    who makes 18.5 frames?
    trek

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by kukulkan
    so in your experience how you manage when you are riding and you get to a complete stop and you need to get down , you don't ever stand in between bike ? or you always get off the bike completely
    Think about it, when you put a foot down, you are always standing on the other pedal. When was the last time you just dropped off of both pedals at the same time and landed flat-footed on the ground?

    I am like you in that I have very short legs for my height. I have ridden bikes where I have had ZERO stand-over clearance. It's really not a big issue. Yes, it is nice to have a little extra if you can, but it is pretty far down on my list of fit requirements. Getting the correct tt length is absolutely #1 in importance, in my expereince. If that is too short, there is really no good way to correct it. I've been there, I know.

    The fact that bikes are still sized by seat tube length is really, really stupid.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta
    in my expereince. If that is too short, there is really no good way to correct it. I've been there, I know.
    same.. a long stem is a really terrible fix for a short bike. same with setback posts, it just gets your body weight in all the wrong places at the wrong times and puts you at a poor angle to pedal.

    i remember i had some old bike that clearly had the top tube length listed right on it, right next to seat tube length. i dont know why that didnt stick, its pretty important.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by reckoner13
    my body has a really short lower half and a long upper half
    You should look into Gary Fisher, Felt, or Cannondale bikes. Their frames tend to allow for a longer reach (don't work for me).

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