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.
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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
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    First Fit Results at LBS: Long Legs

    Well, I got a new saddle today and went through a quick fitment on my Trek 3700. Matt, the shop owner, was surprised that at 5'11.5", my 19.5" Trek frame is a tad bit too small according to my knees. To place the saddle he used a weighted string, had me level the pedals, and my knee is still two inches forward of the front crank arm. This was with the saddle mounted as far back as he was comfortable with because of my weight (240). According to the marks on the saddle rails, there is only one half inch till it is as far back as possible.

    Now the saddle is much higher than I had it before and kicking my leg over is a real pain, but once I'm riding I have great control. I was able to make it up my driveway for the first time even though it is all loose gravel and is pretty steep for me.

    I have a new love for my Trek, but now I'm torn on frame sizing. I will have to do more riding to see how my back and neck feel, but I don't want to mess with the reach too much by going for a longer frame on my next bike.

    So I guess my main question is am I putting too much stress on my knees by not having the correct fitment? Again my knee sits 2 inches forward of the front crank arm with the pedals level and the bend in my knee with the crank at 6 o'clock is more pronounced than the LBS suggests. He says I'm not getting full power out of my stroke.

  2. #2
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    No surprise to me. Trek 3700 frames are pretty short in the top tube measurement relative to other similarly 'sized' bikes.

  3. #3
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  4. #4
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    Thank dirt devil, that is great info. It's nice to know that the KOPS isn't an end all measurement. Prior to the fitting I had a lot of weight on my hands and forearms. It felt like I had been weight lifting after each ride. Now that isn't an issue and I can control my turns better, so the fitting definitely helped.

    As long as I'm not putting undue stress on my knees I am fine with the new position. Tomorrow is a big XC day so we will see how my knees take it. I'll be going down to my family's land out in the country with the goal of riding one county over and back. Round trip is about sixteen miles and will be the longest trip I have ever taken.

  5. #5
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    Well, sadly I did not make it through the full 16 mile trip, but the saddle wasn't the problem. After four miles the hills were killing my quads. I really forgot how bad the hills were between the two areas. Even had to drop into a really low granny gear in some spots to make it back to the car.

    So, I made it 8 miles round trip, which is still much farther than I have riden at one time. Usually I'll ride to the store or my grandma's (1-2 mile trips).

  6. #6
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    not bad, climbs like that use higher pressure on the tires, and raise the seat.. it helps some, mark ur seat post so u always know where the good spots are... I just found out too that i have a weird body, I'm 72.5 with a 34 inseam, either the seat is always too low or the bars are too far out..

  7. #7
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    Yeah, KOPS isn't gospel.

    If you have long legs for your height (what is your inseam?), then you don't necessarily want to buy a bike that's a full size up. It probably means your torso is on the shorter side and so you'd lean towards a smaller frame than your height might initially suggest.

    If you feel like shifting back is more comfortable, a seatpost with more offset would allow you to shift the saddle back a little bit more than your current setup would allow. You have to be careful that you don't lengthen the bike too much, though, so you may have to compensate with a shorter stem or handlebars with more sweep to bring your hands back. Doing that will also shift your center of gravity rearward on the bike. You may or may not like it. It would probably give you a little more confidence on the downhills, but possibly at the expense of climbing capability.

  8. #8
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    Don't "kick your leg over" the saddle. Step through though bike, get one foot on the pedal, start rolling and then push yourself up onto the saddle. When set properly, the seat will seem high, especially if it's a full suspension.
    Don't sweat it, put in some ride time, focus on the trail and soon the bike will just be an extension of you.

  9. #9
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    My inseam is 33" at 71.5" height. The ride today was comfortable, but in all honesty the goal was probably too big. I have been riding for a total of three weeks now, with 80% of that being stuck to a magnetic trainer, not actually out climbing hills. If there had been more flat ground I may have made atleast 10 miles of the trip, but I'm still not sure a 16 mile journey was a good idea at my fitness level.

    As far as mounting, I have tried mounting in motion by throwing myself from the left side of the bike up, over, and into the saddle with very little luck. Today I found a much easier way to mount by leaning the bike and kicking my leg over in a stand over position over the top tube. Then with the left pedal at about 10 o'clock, I push myself into the saddle and off I go.

    One thing I should admit is I freaked myself out at high speeds today. I was in my big ring and pretty far into my rear cassete and it felt like my tires were floating/flexing on the pavement. Similar to new tires when racing in a vehicle. I'm guessing that the knobby mountain bike tires were the cause of this so after that experience I just stuck with my second ring for flats and downhills.

  10. #10
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    Slightly longer inseam. I wouldn't go changing a bunch now, anyway. You want to ride awhile with the adjustments recently made before you decide they will/will not work for you. Being a new rider, it will probably take you awhile to decide.

    I throw a leg over my bikes all the time. Just have to make sure you're leaning the bike to clear it. Another way I sometimes use is to stand on the left (non-drivetrain side) of the bike, step my left foot on the left pedal with the pedal in the 9 o'clock position, and then as the bike rolls forward, swing my right leg over and onto the right pedal, and continue pedaling forward.

  11. #11
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    There is nothing wrong with dropping into the granny gear. I hear a lot hatred for the granny gear but its a great bail out gear for when you just don't got it. I have mostly 1x drivetrains but not for hatred for the granny gear. I hate the front D.
    2010 D440 Redline Rigid 1x9
    2011 Trek Remedy 8 1x10
    2012 Jamis Dragon 2x10
    2013 Diamondback Sortie 3 1x10

  12. #12
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    I hate the front D as well, but my leg strength isn't there yet. I would love one of those 1x11 setups or even a 2x10, but it'll probably take at least a season to get to that level. Luckily living in the south there are only 1-2 months where it might be too cold to ride, so I'll get plenty of practice.

    My legs are a bit sore from yesterday, but nothing more than spending a few hours on the treadmill the day before. Best part, no knee issues.

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