1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
mtn. biking 101
2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
    mtbr member
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    Can you "outgrow" a bike?

    First off, let me further explain. I'm 38 yrs old, so I'm pretty sure that I'm done growing physically. I used to ride a Schwinn road bike many years ago, and am looking into getting back into biking, and want the flexibility a mtn bike provides. I've just about decided on the Gary Fisher Piranha, but am looking for a Trek 4900 for comparison before I choose (small town and not many choices).

    Anyway, the only Piranha I've found is a 19" model. I'm 5'11 with a 32" inseam, and the 19" felt a little big just sitting on it. I tried a comparable 17.5" Tassajara, and it (obviously) felt smaller. Then I sat on an 18" Fisher Advance (non-Genesis), and it felt about right. The LBS will gladly order a 17.5" Piranha for me, but it's hard for me to commit.

    Is it better to go with the smaller bike? From what I've read through the search, most everyone recommends going smaller. Will I regret not going with the taller bike when my bike riding skills return? Since I've not done any serious off-road riding, I'm just not sure about the size.

    FWIW, the LBS is suggesting the 17.5", and didn't try to push the 19" on me at all, even thought it was sitting on their floor.

    Thanks for the replies, and this is a great forum for knowledge!! I look forward to participating more and more.

  2. #2
    Your bike is incorrigible
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    This is strange. I'm 6'2" with a 33.5" inseam, and I ride between 19 and 20 inch frames. I would think the 19 inch would be just a tad large, but probably still the best fit. What really matters is that you feel comfortable while on the bike. Is the top tube too long? Too short? Then figure out how much standover room you have. Some people will tell you that you "must have" three inches between your crotch and the top tube, but this is complete BS. 1-4 inches is a good range. Just as long as you aren't straddling the top tube.

  3. #3
    Baron of Gray Matter
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    Just make sure you are comfortable on the bike. Too short or too long of a TT and you'll get back pain and will not want to ride. You should be comfortable with the reach of a bike when you get on it. Make the bike fit you, not the other way around. How is your torso length compared to you leg length. Long torso- long TT, short torso- short TT. I'm 5'7" and ride a 17.5" Fisher with genesis geometry (~23.6" TT) and am very comfortable on this bike. More so than almost any other bike I've ridden. I would think at your height you would fit the 19" Fisher better, but it is up to you as to which frame size is more comfortable to you.

    Have you ridden all of these frame sizes around (up and down the street, not just one turn around the parking lot) for a while? You should ride each one a few times, alternating frame sizes to make sure what is the correct frame size for you. Some people like a smaller frame, some a bigger frame. Go with what fits you best. As for SO height, I've got about 1" on my Fisher without any problems.
    "Oh Dear, I've been redorkulated."
    Prof. Frink.

  4. #4
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    Thanks guys! I appreciate the advice.

    The biggest hurdle I'm facing is the lack of selections available at stores nearby. There is one bike store in my town, and they mainly carry Treks with a few Cannondales. The nearest Gary Fisher dealer is approx 40 miles away, and their inventory is limited.

    I'm thinkng of driving the hour and a half over the mountain to Asheville to check out a couple of stores (Liberty and Youngblood).

  5. #5
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    Sounds like we are in a similar situation. I'm 5'11" to 6 feetish depending on the day. And im deciding between a 17.5 or 19 Ziggurat. I owned a 19" sugar with genesis and right now I have a 19.5" fuel. I am very familiar with the genesis geometry and I'm still having a hard time deciding. Both feel good. From what I here is that its easier to make a small bike big than a big bike small. But if you decide on either one, there is room for adjustability such as stem length and saddle position.

  6. #6
    local trails rider
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    The position of the seat should really be determined by the best pedaling position, "Knee Over Pedal Spindle" as a starting point (measured cranks horizontal).

    Changing stem length also affects steering feel

    Bikes for going far and fast are generally longer than those meant for stunts and tight cornering.

    I am 176.5cm (almost 5'10") with longish torso. My trailbike has 580mm (22.8") top tube (horizontal) and a 110mm stem (http://www.bansheebikes.com/pages/scirocco/geo.htm)

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