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
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    Pure Newbie: HEEEEEEEEELLLP!!!!!!

    hey all, thanks for taking the time to share your grey matter.

    I have several questions, might as well dig right in...I'll try to list them in order of impotance.

    -How do I determine size? When chosing a size, is it more taste and preference (feel), or are there widely accepted rules-of-thumb for matching a bike to rider's height, weight and terrain prefference? (6ft 3in 230lbs).

    -What is the difference in feel between a bike that is a bit big for you vs one that is not

    -I am serioulsly considering jumping right into a FS. I live in Indy, but will likely move out west in the next 2-2.5 yrs. I don't want to have to upgrade, I beleive in getting it right the first time around. I am looking at a Giant Trance (3, I think...the bluish one)

    Is FS the only way to go if you are serious about the sport and can afford it at the time. I just got 2400 bucks from my taxes...This has seriously made me lean towards FS.

    -Are disc brakes that much better than y's?

    Whew! thanks everybody, as you can see, I need alot of help!

  2. #2
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    Okay, here goes.

    Go to a reputable Local Bike Shop and talk to their techs about fitting you up. You're a big guy, so you might even be able to get away with a 29 inch wheeled bike, if that blows your skirt up. While every frame will be slightly different, generally, you'd like a couple (1-2) inches of "standover clearance." When you stand with your legs over each side of the top tube and your feet flat on the ground, butt back against the front of the seat, there should be daylight between your junk and the top tube. Of course, this assumes a straight tob tube with traditional geometry, so depending on what you want, you'll definitely want to talk to a tech, and make sure they fit you up so you're comfortable.

    The problem with trying to quantify something as indefinable as "feel" is that what feels great to you, may feel like crap to someone with your exact body dimensions. Make sure you're comfortable, and if you're looking for an aggressive riding position, your saddle should be (more or less) level with your handle bars, possibly even slightly above them. With the saddle like this, and the pedal at the bottom of the stroke (which is not exactly 6 o'clock, but in line with the seat tube), your knee should be slightly bent. What's slightly? Not uncomfortable, and not straight, that's as good as I can tell ya. It's something you'll know is right when you get it. Oh, and test ride as many bikes as you can get your paws on. This is definitely gonna help you figure out what you like.

    If you want a full suspension bike, that's cool, but it's gonna depend a lot on the type of riding you do. For basic trail and XC stuff, there's not really a need for FS. If you're gonna be doing any sort of "freeride" stuff (hate that term) or anything, you might want to look into the FS then. The pros are that it'll be easier on your back, help you plow thru stuff that might make you think twice when you're on a HT, and FSs decend better (all else being equal). HTs are usually lower maintenance, lighter, climb better and better quality at the same price point. $2400 is a LOT of cheese, so I'd look at all my options before I picked one. The nice thing is, if you're gonna drop that kinda change, you can get a really good FS bike (so pedal bob shouldn't be a problem), or an outstanding HT bike, but you still have to make the decision. Point is, no, FS is not the only way to go if you're serious about the sport.

    Disc brakes are better than V-brakes in certain instances. Again, both have pros and cons. Discs perform better in wet/muddy conditions, but can be susceptable to the rotor bending, which makes a REALLY nasty sound. V-brakes are simpler, easier to maintain, but don't offer the stopping power of discs. At the level you're talking about, tho, disc brakes are almost a foregone conclusion. Anything you're gonna get is almost certainly gonna have discs on it. Just be careful if you have to remove/reinstall the wheels. Again, what do I know?

    I know you're saying you don't want to have to buy another bike in the next 2-3 years, but in all reality, you're probably gonna anyway. Imagine it like this: you're in Indiana, tearin up the single track, bombing down descents and hopping over fallen logs with ease. Then you move out west, get your first look at the Black Hills or Rockies, and proceed to evacuate yourself the first time you do an endo upon hitting a gnarly rock garden. A bike that's set up on one coast for one style of riding is not really set up for another section of country with a totally different type of riding. If it were me, I'd pick up a HT that will do well for your type of riding here and now. The reason being that HTs teach you to be a better rider because you have to learn to pick a line correctly (or learn to fall down alot), and you're gonna have 2-2 1/2 years of riding to do here. Once you move out west, you'll be better educated on the style of bike you need and want, and will have options should you decide to get a FS bike then. Worse case scenario: you end up with a wicked FS bike and a killer HT. And what's wrong with that?

    Anyway, hope I've helped with my very limited knowledge and opinions. If they don't help, sorry to have wasted your time. I'm sure some posters will come along and give you the answers you seek.

    Let us know what you end up deciding. Best of luck and welcome to the sport and forum!

    Ross
    "I don't wanna die without any scars. So come on, let's do it before I lose my nerve" - Tyler Durden (Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk)

  3. #3
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    Oh yeah, and get clipless pedals as soon as possible. Your pedalling efficiency will soar! Expect to tip over a few times, so practice in a grassy field, but once you get em, you're gonna love em.

    Take care!

    Ross
    "I don't wanna die without any scars. So come on, let's do it before I lose my nerve" - Tyler Durden (Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk)

  4. #4
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    Some help

    Size - there is some amount of personal preference so you should test ride different sizes if you can. It used to be that you mainly wanted about 2 or 3 inches of room between your crotch and the top tube when you were straddling the bike with both feet on the ground. This was to prevent smashing things when you unexpectedly slid off the saddle. That's not much of an issue anymore with frames with "v" shaped toptubes.

    If your bike is too short fore and aft, you'll feel cramped and your back might hurt during long climbs. If the bike is too long you might feel weird too. Those last too problems can be remedied somewhat by using a longer or shorter stem and seatposts with different amounts of "set-back".

    My guess is that you'd want a bike with a frame size about 19 to 22" (measured from the crank bolt to the top of the seat tube) aka "large or extra large". I test rode a new Stumpjumper yesterday and determined that I want a large frame and I'm 5'11". My last two bikes were both mediums and the one before those was 18". It varies with brand and model. If your bike isn't tall enough, your seatpost will stick up beyond its minimum insertion point and you'll run the risk of it snapping off and coring out a chunk of your a--. Avoid that.

    You may have additional concerns given your weight, check the Clydesdale forumn. I only weigh 170 lbs and I noticed the Specialized catalogue has some disclaimers regarding people around 240 to 250 lbs.

    FS or Not FS - Most serious riders are using some type of FS but there are also subsets of riders who wouldn't consider riding anything with more than 1 gear let alone any suspension. You have some serious $ to spend so you're not in any danger of buying a cheap FS bike that sacrifices quality components or engineering just for the sake of looking cool. Especially since this will be your main or only ride I'd go for it. That said, I do someday hope to buy a custom hardtail for the trails - but I'm a gear junkie.

    I'm not familiar with the Trance but for $2k it should have at least LX/Deore components and probably should have some XT.

    Disc Brakes - I suggest getting them. For one, you have the $. They also work when they get wet or muddy unlike rim brakes. With your size, you'll build up lots of momentum and discs might provide you with a real advantage when it's time to reduce that momentum. For small guys like me I sometimes wonder if discs stop any better than v-brakes, at least in dry conditions. Rim brakes are lighter, less complicated, and can be easier to fix compared to hydraulic disc brakes.

    Have fun and welcome to the club.

  5. #5
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    OK - here we go,

    Quote Originally Posted by stingraybass
    -How do I determine size? When chosing a size, is it more taste and preference (feel), or are there widely accepted rules-of-thumb for matching a bike to rider's height, weight and terrain prefference? (6ft 3in 230lbs).
    Since you are 6'3" you'll be in the Large to X-Large range. Best method is to visit some of you Local Bike Shops (LBS) and get to know them. Some shops are more helpful than others...stick with the "more helpful" variety - even if they are a little more expensive. I find that the bike needs to be "comfortable" in the cockpit - that would be your Top Tube length (TT), standover height is secondary. If you're not cozy, you won't ride. And demo the bike - on dirt if possible.

    Terrain preference/riding style are important. A pure XC race rig is gonna be ALOT different than a freeride/Downhill rig. Figure out what kind of riding you'll want to be doing and go that direction....don't worry, a lot of bikes can "crossover" a little - but don't expect an XC bike to do more than 2' drops (you'll kill it at your size) or a downhill bike to be a stupendous climber.

    Quote Originally Posted by stingraybass
    -What is the difference in feel between a bike that is a bit big for you vs one that is not
    On a bike that is too big you'll fell like Superman flying - this not good. On one too small you may hit your knees on you handlebars when standing up and pumping, or clip you feet with your front wheel while turning hard.

    Bike fit is UBER important dude - have your LBS make sure that your seat height is correct, cleat position (if you go clipless - I would), seat position (are your knees directly over the axis of your pedal spindle when your cranks are at 3:00), and your stem length and degree of rise. Just remember if you've never really ridden, sitting on a mountain specific bike may feel a little strange anyway - this is where the LBS you trust comes in handy...they should point you in the right direction.

    Quote Originally Posted by stingraybass
    -I am serioulsly considering jumping right into a FS. I live in Indy, but will likely move out west in the next 2-2.5 yrs. I don't want to have to upgrade, I beleive in getting it right the first time around. I am looking at a Giant Trance (3, I think...the bluish one)
    FS = good
    Hardtail = good
    Rigid = good
    Recumbent = not sure

    basically, it's all good. GIANT makes some really nice stuff. Visit the Giant board, they can answer your questions about the trance. Also pop over to the Clydesdales forums (guys who are over 200lbs). They'll have MUCHO info for ya.

    And trust me...in less than 2 years you will have lost your mind in the bike porn industry and have a stable of no less than 6 bikes....it's worse than heroin

    Quote Originally Posted by stingraybass
    Is FS the only way to go if you are serious about the sport and can afford it at the time. I just got 2400 bucks from my taxes...This has seriously made me lean towards FS.
    ummmm - NO. FS can be very versatile - and they are plenty quick on the descents. I have a FS, HT SS, Roadie SS, CX, and a HT 1X8 (warned ya about the bike stable). Each ride is alittle different. I did however "restart" riding on a FS.

    2400 buckaroos will go a long way - have FUN. Just remember that may want to buy some tools, tubes, helmet, camelbak, shoes, shorts, gloves, glasses and maybe a car rack - no need to spend a million bucks, but put some aside for the gear.

    Quote Originally Posted by stingraybass
    -Are disc brakes that much better than y's?
    Discs are AWESOME!!! Especially for mucky ucky wet terrain. But V brakes can be awesome too - I run them both. Visit the brakes forum -you'll find both sides represented.

    Quote Originally Posted by stingraybass
    Whew! thanks everybody, as you can see, I need alot of help!
    Hope I didn't confuse ya
    Visit these 2 places to help advance trail access:
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    http://www.facebook.com/SharingThePct

  6. #6
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    WOW!

    Thanks for the outpour of info everyone (I feel truly loved). I'm sure you all know how daunting a task this can be. You all have provided awesome insight, much appreciated.

    One other thing I forgot to add: I have a metal plate in my forearm and have developed some knee stiffness over the last year or so. Do you think going FS will help safegaurd against aggrevating these? I would think it would be a safer bet, as less shock is being absorbed into my body with the FS.

    Thanks again!

  7. #7
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    Dude..I'm not a doctor so take this with a grain of salt...and I'm sure someone who know more can be more helpful (like your Dr.).

    You may be surprised that after riding a while your knee stiffness will go away or get better. I was diagnosed with arthritis in one of my knees (lotsa accidents when younger) - cycling actually improved it ALOT. The plate in the forearm???? I guess mucho vibration could irritate it - but a crash definately would.

    FS are great for minimizing smaller bump jitters and hugging the trail - but they don't compensate for everything. Please don't expect you'll be riding the trail seated and not feel much of anything. You will find that your arms and legs can compensate for feet of course bumpiness as opposed to your bikes inches of compensation

    Just my .02

    Quote Originally Posted by stingraybass
    WOW!

    Thanks for the outpour of info everyone (I feel truly loved). I'm sure you all know how daunting a task this can be. You all have provided awesome insight, much appreciated.

    One other thing I forgot to add: I have a metal plate in my forearm and have developed some knee stiffness over the last year or so. Do you think going FS will help safegaurd against aggrevating these? I would think it would be a safer bet, as less shock is being absorbed into my body with the FS.

    Thanks again!
    Visit these 2 places to help advance trail access:
    http://www.sharingthepct.org/
    http://www.facebook.com/SharingThePct

  8. #8
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    my .02

    FS will help the knee; the forearm will be related to the plushness of the fork.

    Get a bike with discs. Out west, NOBODY rides with V's, in the wet they are a cruel joke. And think about it...how can 4 little rubber erasers stop a 6'+, 200lb+ maniac going downhill? Or for that matter, just an ordinary rider?

    Right.

    OK, lastly, all technical stuff aside, when you sit on the bike, the feel should be just right; not stretched out, not cramped. Technically that's the TT (top tube) measurement, and that's the key one.

    Go nuts, find your ride, let us know how you did?

    I think all the other posters pretty much covered it all off.

    Jim

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimC.
    Get a bike with discs. Out west, NOBODY rides with V's, in the wet they are a cruel joke....
    Jim
    WHAT?????? I ride V's on my SS.....but I gotta admit, Sea Otter this year....wet sandy puddles + V brakes = muchonormous ugly sounds
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  10. #10
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    yep they work but

    on the shore, we went thru 2 sets rims/ year and never felt in control. 1 set of pads per ride.

    aluminum paste everywhere!

    Not advisable, IMO. Jim

  11. #11
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    I agree - 3 rides at Ft Ord this rainy season and already swapped out pads...and I have nice rims dangit!!

    Quote Originally Posted by JimC.
    on the shore, we went thru 2 sets rims/ year and never felt in control. 1 set of pads per ride.

    aluminum paste everywhere!

    Not advisable, IMO. Jim
    Visit these 2 places to help advance trail access:
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  12. #12
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    As someone who can relate to your knee pain (6 total knee surgeries and arthritis as bad as any 65 y/o the doc's ever seen, all at 26!), I've never felt any difference between my hardtail and my friends full suspension, at least in that regard. It helped slightly with a twinge in my lower back, but that went away in a few rides anyway.

    The plate in the forearm? Jeez, I don't know. Front fork should be as plush as possible, definitely, and make sure you don't have a Chuck Norris death grip on the bars when riding. I've heard that carbon bars help reduce small vibration and help with hand/arm fatigue but I don't run one, so I don't know. Also, get yourself a nice pair of gloves. Specialized has some good offerings, and I like the new Treks I got, but don't ask me what style or anything.

    I totally forgot about your support equipment. That's gonna bite into your budget in a big way, at least if you let it. A Camelbak (or similar product), multi-tool, tire levers, spare tubes, helmet, glasses, gloves, shorts, liners, jerseys, shoes, bike rack, tire pump (trail & stand-up), computer (if you want one), and extra medical insurance will add up quickly. Think it over and factor that into your decision. Pay a few visits to a couple different LBSs, find out which one you like, and who you trust in them, and build yourself a rapport with the techs and owners. It'll help out big time.

    I was gonna defend my poor, abused and unpopular V-brakes, but at the price point you're talking about, like I said earlier, disc brakes are almost gonna be standard.

    Anyway, best of luck!

    Ross
    (I was only kiddin about the extra med. insurance. I needed it, but I'm not what you would call a "talented rider." I ride about as well as Stephen Hawking juggles)
    "I don't wanna die without any scars. So come on, let's do it before I lose my nerve" - Tyler Durden (Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk)

  13. #13
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    with the knee problem i have found that my knees are better the more i ride and they hurt less off the bike since i have been riding clipless (to a degree)
    DMR

  14. #14
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    NOTE: I am definately in the minority here, I know that, but chalk it up more to ignorance and convention then to anything else... this is my opinion and i HIGHLY suggest you try both to make up your own mind



    Having used both(platform and clipless) i would NEVER use clipless again.

    Unless you ride reletively mellow XC and never need to dab, there is no advantage.

    Get some Crank Brothers 50/50 platforms and some FiveTen Impact shoes and you get the best of both worlds.

  15. #15
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    I wouldn't say that your choice is ignorant, but I gotta admit my curiousity about it. I'm mainly on XC/trails, and for my money, clipless is the way to go. It's not for everyone, tho, and for my own curiousity, I've just gotta ask what made you turn away from them.

    Hope you don't mind sharing.

    Ross
    "I don't wanna die without any scars. So come on, let's do it before I lose my nerve" - Tyler Durden (Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk)

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by MSU_Grad_121
    I wouldn't say that your choice is ignorant, but I gotta admit my curiousity about it. I'm mainly on XC/trails, and for my money, clipless is the way to go. It's not for everyone, tho, and for my own curiousity, I've just gotta ask what made you turn away from them.

    Hope you don't mind sharing.

    Ross
    Instinct... when instinct takes over and i need to dab... i can't clip out. im not talking little dabs... im talking the "HOLY $#|+ I'M GONNA DIE" dabs...

    that and the Five Ten shoes have a unique rubber compound(they have used it for years in their rock climbing shoes) that causes HUGE amounts of grip. i would say they feel ALMOST like being clipped in. yes you do loose the ability to 'pull' up but you have FAR superior grip from 12 O Clock to 9 O clock... you only loose that force from 9 - 12 (did that make sense?) they are litterally sticky.

    the reason i said that most people choose clippless is due to ignorance, is not in the sense of ignorance as an insult, but that people truly are not aware of Five Ten shoes...

    As a disclaimer i have worn 5.10's for 12 years Rock Climbing and I did take over building their website about a year ago, but my opinion remains the same.

    on an inside note... they have sheets of this rubber in the office... test runs and what not... and when i have been up there for meetings and such i have seen them take it and press it against the wall... and just walk away, leaving a 18" square peice of rubber hanging there... this compound is insane.

    They are ideal for Free-ride and downhill and Nathan Rennie and Sam Hill both wear and endorse them, but they definately have their place in less "extreme" forms of MTB... I would classify my own riding as aggressive XC... not freeride by any means but after having one too many wrecks that left me turtled with my feet embarrassingly still clipped in... i was relieved to find out 5.10 had made this shoe...

    as a side ntoe Marzocchi has now contracted the outsoul from 5.10 and have designed their own uppers, so I think there will be more market penetration and awareness when they go into production in the near future...

    BTW, several magazines named the impact MTB Product of the year, last year.

    as for the 50/50 pedals... they simply rock, the ability to configure pins and also to customize them colorwise, not only provides excelent function... but they look great too.



    just my humble, if maybe a little biased opinion.

    Like i said if you never or RARELY need to dab, actually try to keep both wheels on the ground, or you climb far more then you descend, then clipless is probably the way to go.
    Last edited by Todrick; 04-15-2006 at 10:36 PM.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by stingraybass
    hey all, thanks for taking the time to share your grey matter.

    I have several questions, might as well dig right in...I'll try to list them in order of impotance.

    -How do I determine size? When chosing a size, is it more taste and preference (feel), or are there widely accepted rules-of-thumb for matching a bike to rider's height, weight and terrain prefference? (6ft 3in 230lbs).

    -What is the difference in feel between a bike that is a bit big for you vs one that is not

    -I am serioulsly considering jumping right into a FS. I live in Indy, but will likely move out west in the next 2-2.5 yrs. I don't want to have to upgrade, I beleive in getting it right the first time around. I am looking at a Giant Trance (3, I think...the bluish one)

    Is FS the only way to go if you are serious about the sport and can afford it at the time. I just got 2400 bucks from my taxes...This has seriously made me lean towards FS.

    -Are disc brakes that much better than y's?

    Whew! thanks everybody, as you can see, I need alot of help!

    first off, at 6'3"you prob. aren't going to get a bike that is too big for you, large or xl depending on your inseam and riding style
    fs , hardtail, single speed they are all good, just depends on what you want to do
    for xc any will do, for down hill or free ride you might want suspension. What do your friends ride? if they are all riding light weight xc bikes you don't want to be the only guy with a 40lb dh and vice versa
    disc brakes are better in every way except weight & maintenance
    if you're young and in shape and ride xc then you can get a better quality bike for the $ if you go hardtail, but the ride is harsher and you need to stand more. bottom line is what your group rides and what level of rider you are

  18. #18
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    Prophet?

    Hope this thread's not dead....

    I was hoping you guys could provide some advice about an 05' Cannondale prophet 1000. I tried one today and it was much better than the other bikes I have tried (most of them in the 1200-1400 dollar range. you can see in my first post of this thread what my needs are.

    I wouldn't even consider spending such a crazy amount on a bike, but this one's a demo from 05'. I think they typically sell for around 2400 or so but they only want 1700.

    any advice is much appreciated as always

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by stingraybass
    Hope this thread's not dead....

    I was hoping you guys could provide some advice about an 05' Cannondale prophet 1000. I tried one today and it was much better than the other bikes I have tried (most of them in the 1200-1400 dollar range. you can see in my first post of this thread what my needs are.

    I wouldn't even consider spending such a crazy amount on a bike, but this one's a demo from 05'. I think they typically sell for around 2400 or so but they only want 1700.

    any advice is much appreciated as always
    sounds like a sweet deal to me, does it fit you?

  20. #20
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    It's a 20in, feels more like 21, which is my ideal size

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    Quote Originally Posted by Todrick
    NOTE: I am definately in the minority here, I know that, but chalk it up more to ignorance and convention then to anything else... this is my opinion and i HIGHLY suggest you try both to make up your own mind



    Having used both(platform and clipless) i would NEVER use clipless again.

    Unless you ride reletively mellow XC and never need to dab, there is no advantage.

    Get some Crank Brothers 50/50 platforms and some FiveTen Impact shoes and you get the best of both worlds.
    well
    if you are flying down a rock garden I think you would be glad your feet were clipped into the pedals cause if your feet slip off youre going to bounce around on your ****. so I wouldnt say clipless is for mellow riding, in fact just the oposite, once youre used to the clipless you can dab just as easily plus you can pedal better (pushing and pulling) hop better and if you happen to bounce off of something your feet stay put. How many xc racers use flats?

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by stingraybass
    It's a 20in, feels more like 21, which is my ideal size
    well then?

  23. #23
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    My inseam is 34in and the bike is a Large Cannondale Prophet. I'm wondering if I might need something XL, which sux as this is a killer deal for sure.

  24. #24
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    head over to ww.competitivecyclist.com and throw your measurements into their fit calculator

    DMR

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    I'm the exact same size as this guy, actuall a lil over 6'3 and I weigh 225. Is there anything men of that size should look for or not look for when bike-shopping?? (new guy here).

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