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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    newb into, im short

    Hey guys,
    the names Ben and I'm wanting to get into mountain biking. I used to freestyle bmx, mostly street cause there are no parks around. I started at about 14 and I slowly stopped riding by 17, and got busy with work and school. I've always loved downhill mtb and freeride stuff, and
    i miss my love for biking, plus i feel like im getting outa shape and this would be something to do on the weekends to keep me a lil in shape.

    I'm aiming for casual trail riding with my gf and more speedy, downhill, jumps and ledges with my friend (if i can drag him out to join me). I'm pretty broke right now and think im just going to settle for a big store i.e. walmart bike (ive seen a bunch on craigslist for around $50-$100) for now and when i get outa school get something higher quality.

    I was going to get a bike this afternoon, a 26" full suspension NEXT but I decided to go to walmart and size it up before i traveled 45min to get it and it not fit. Good thing because I stand 5'6'' and that 26" mtb was right in my crotch, so i went over to the boys bikes and got on a 24" and i had about 2" between me and the bike. My question is a 24" mtb too small? am i too short? do others here have this kinda problem?

    Any tips, opinions, advice would be great, thanks!
    BTW sorry for the long ass intro

  2. #2
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    Oh man, you opened a can of worms! This may turn into another "Walmart vs LBS" thread. Anyway, my input would be get the 26 inch wheels - 24 inch wheels are good for DJ'ing and Urban stuff - if anything, the trend is even bigger wheels (e.g. the 29er craze), due to they roll over stuff better.

    Now, about a Walmart bike holdin up to MTB'ing - I can't say for sure they are not good, maybe those bikes will hold up, but most peeps will say it could fall apart on the first ride. I can tell you, that in just 3 months I am descending and hitting stuff I intially thought only a nut would try, it seems normal now. If you have BMX experience, it probably won't be long before you are knee deep in MTB'ing, it is very addicting. You will need a tough bike to withstand the punishment you are going to inflict on it. Good luck, and let us know how things progress for you on the mountain.

  3. #3
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    LOL yeah i read the beginners and walmart bikes thread so hopefully this doesnt turn into a war.

    The only problem with the 26" (not to be graphic) but im so short i can barely straddle the bar and its not very comfortable, and i would like to keep my testies, but then again the 24" might seem a little small. IDK thats why im asking you guys.

  4. #4
    oh Lucky me
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    IMO

    a walmart bike wont last you....

    with that said, get one (either a LBS or Walmart Special) that fits you...thats the most important thing
    ...Dying is the easy part, its living that's the challenge...

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  5. #5
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    i know you guys are right when you say it wont last, but ill try to baby it, and if not ill get you guys beautiful footage of me destroying a walmart bike.

    besides all that is 24" good? I just got an email back from the guy i was going to buy the bike from and he said he made a mistake its a 24" not 26" and its only $50 and rode a few times. I actually plan on giving this one to my gf so we can go trail riding at the end of september. Going to Asheville and i figured we could hit some trails while we are there.

  6. #6
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    Well, if you can't find a 26 inch bike that will fit, then 24 inch wheels might get the job done. But, I would definitely exhaust all 26 inch possibilites before settling on 24 inch. If you do get a 24 inch just to get back into biking, I certainly would not spend a lot of money on it, you may find that the wheels are holding you back and you are willing to go with less standover after all.

    I don't want to be insulting, not sure of your height situation, but both Specialized and Gary Fisher make 'boys' bikes that are affordable and run on 24 inch wheels. The standovers are insanely low, but really they are for kids, you may end up trashing a bike like that rather quickly.

    But, I agree with Exodus, the bike has to fit or you will not be able to ride it properly. I have an old 21inch HardRock that only has an inch or so of standover, but I still ride it. You have to be able to pick both wheels off the ground simultaneously while stradling the bike and both feet flat on the ground. If you cannot do this, the bike is way too big (most people like to be able to pick the wheels up at least 3 inches)

  7. #7
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    It's not just that it won't last, it's also that for $300, you can get a bike that will perform so much better: more efficient suspension, more precise shifting, wayyyy lighter (and it will last longer). Can you raise your budget another $1-200 and look for a low-end no-walmart bike on craigslist? If so, it would make a bg difference.

    Also, 5' 6" really isn't that short. You could fit a small, maybe even a medium frame fine (I'm not talking about a Walmart bike). The key is, though, what ever bike you buy, make sure it fits YOU.

    One more thing: whether you go walmart or LBS, get a hard tail (no rear shock). A hard tail is much more efficient than a low-end full suspension.

  8. #8
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    Go used
    Go Craigs List/ebay/pinkbike
    and please dont buy wal mart.....if you have to skimp out and save up $$$$ then please do so...ive had a costco bike....nothing but a headache...my friend had a next wal mart bike....nothing but headache

    i find that a nice hardtail is in your budget...and you might even want to consider dumpster diving for an old school bike and just fix er up and take it out and have a blast
    Lean back, Hit both brakes, And ask yourself, Do you feel lucky today?

  9. #9
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    Like Call me Al says, the problem you are going to get into with a walmart type bike is fit. Dept stores tend to size the bikes by wheel size rather than frame size. You might find that a small or 15" frame with 26" wheels fits you just fine. When I was a kid I had a Giant with 24" wheels, they would work but it would be that much harder rolling over obstacles.

    If you look hard enough a used hardtail might be in your price range.

  10. #10
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    It's possible that the frame design on a wally-mart 26 incher has a significantly higher stand over height than a good quality mountain bike. At least go to an LBS and check out the bikes. There are plenty of people your size and smaller that ride 26' mountain bikes. An LBS can help. They may recommend a shorter crank arm as well, but they should be able to fit you. Many of the quality bikes made now, have been specifically designed with lower standover height as a factor.
    "The quality of the box matters little. Success depends upon the person who sits in it."
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  11. #11
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    well i just got back and went ahead and got that next bike but like i said its for my gf and she wont be doing anything but cruising around her campus and going on family trail rides with me, if she decides to step up the game ill get her something better.

    Im going to take your guys advice and check out the bike shop, craigs list, ebay and i nvr heard of pink bike? And hopefully find something decent.

    I get harassed by my friends everyday about my height so i take no offense to you suggesting a boys bike.

    So i need to look for a smaller frame bike with 26" wheels?

    Thanks for the help guys

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by samurai_x
    Im going to take your guys advice and check out the bike shop, craigs list, ebay and i nvr heard of pink bike? And hopefully find something decent.
    pinkbike.com is a Canadian site focused on free riding and downhill (although their classifieds have plenty of XC stuff too). Also watch the mtbr classifieds. Craigslist will probably be your best bet because, being a local sale, you can meet the person and try to get them to lower their price, and best of all, make sure the bike fits you.

  13. #13
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    5'6'' isn't that short...keep in mind I say this as I stand 5'7'' with no shoes. My point is there are masses of bikes with low enough standover for people your height. I now have a small frame but I rode a medium of the same model last year. The problem is that these bikes I'm referring to are expensive. My cheapest bike was a trek 4900 that cost me almost 500 bucks. Wally world bikes come in one size that is averaged to fit the most 'off-the-shelf riders', so they may be too big for you. If you can save even a few hundred bucks you and can find 'small' size frame used, itwill serve you much much better, of course this takes time and patience and some effort.

  14. #14
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    well would i have a better bet at buying a complete bike or maybe parting one together? It would seem that buying each part would be cheaper but not all the time. Ideas? Maybe like some1 said earlier that i could get an old skool frame and build it?

    Also some1 else suggested hard tail? I would assume you would want front suspension, by why no full?

  15. #15
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    im 5'2 and ride 26 inch wheels. 5'6 is not short to me... i would be happy to be 5'6.

    that said. dont go wally world. my campus is surrounded by those things. some bikes even have stickers that state that they are not inteded for off road use or tricks. they break all the time even under commuting. my friends and i were riding around and the tires blew from us just riding it. 3 bikes in 1 night of riding. course we were 3,7 hammering but the roads were all flat and smooth.

    that said, go hard tail because full suspension does not become useful until you are willing to spend about a grand. full suspension is thrown onto wally world bikes so you pay twice as much for something that actually performs worse. hard tails are the way to go until you get into the grand range. then you can get an entry level full suspension.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by samurai_x
    well would i have a better bet at buying a complete bike or maybe parting one together? It would seem that buying each part would be cheaper but not all the time. Ideas? Maybe like some1 said earlier that i could get an old skool frame and build it?

    Also some1 else suggested hard tail? I would assume you would want front suspension, by why no full?
    Building your own bike can be quite expensive and burdening unless you know exactly what parts you need and are sure what kind of ride you want from the bike. Buying a complete bike is generally a safe bet as it's cheaper, and the parts and frame are designed for certain styles of riding. I'm not saying that companies make perfect matches when it comes to parts, but they give you a good starting point on what to improve or upgrade down the line.

    People generally recommend hardtails (front forks use suspension) over full suspension because they are much cheaper for introductory costs, and also better for learning the correct riding technique. The problem with most cheap full suspension bikes you find in dept. stores is that they are ridiculously heavy (40-50 lbs!), and they use low quality components for frames, shocks, forks, and wheels. If you are intending on buying from the dept. store, you're better off considering a hardtail; at least it's lighter.

  17. #17
    EDR
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    Quote Originally Posted by samurai_x
    well would i have a better bet at buying a complete bike or maybe parting one together? It would seem that buying each part would be cheaper but not all the time. Ideas? Maybe like some1 said earlier that i could get an old skool frame and build it?

    Also some1 else suggested hard tail? I would assume you would want front suspension, by why no full?
    1) FS bikes in the stated price range offer NO performance advantage, in fact the crappy fake rear shock adds nothing but weight and headaches. To be honest, front only suspensions in this price range are all but useless as well, but what the heck..if it actually moves an inch that's better than nothing.

    2) Building a bike from scratch will cost much more than a complete build, unless you have the time to buy a dozen or two components one at a time, on the cheap. Which will take time and be a mish-mash of stuff, unless you know what you are doing or you buy a 'build kit', which will cost somewhere between $500 and $1,000 dollars

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