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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    A warning to buy the right size of bike!

    Don't make the mistakes I did.

    I am five foot six with a 29" inside leg.

    When I started mountain biking back in 1996, I bought a 15" Kona FS, as the Kona sizing guide said it was the right size for me.
    Back then the bike shop did not question my decision, they just sold me the bike.
    I did a fair bit of riding, but my right knee started to play up and I really struggled with it.
    Eventually I changed the bike for a Marin FS.....and went for the 15" again. The knee problems continued and after a while I stopped riding, in about year 2000.

    Last year (2013) I wanted to get back into mountain biking, and bought a Cube hard tail. The sizing guide recommended the 15.5" so I ordered one online (again, without trying it out first)

    The bike felt OK to ride, however my old knee problem began to resurface.

    FINALLY I went to my LBS and they tried me on various bikes. It was discovered that I needed a 17" size. The distance between the saddle and bars (on the 17" Kona FS l bought from them) was 2" greater than my Cube, plus other dimensions were greater, such as longer crank arms, and I was a bit worried I had bought too big a bike.

    The Kona sizing chart said I really wanted the 16"

    But I trusted my LBS as they seemed highly knowledgeable and I guessed it was in their interest to sell me the right bike.

    I have had the bike now for five months, and have been out on it many times.

    My knee problem has disappeared and I have never felt better on a bike. It feels "right" for me where the Cube and my previous bikes felt cramped in comparison.

    I think this shows how important it is to get the right bike, and not rely on sizing charts alone.
    If you are buying a bike, get down to your LBS and let them fit you on the right size.
    It cost nothing and can transform your riding enjoyment, plus reduce the chance of injury.
    Last edited by lotusdriver; 01-15-2014 at 12:12 AM.

  2. #2
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    This is why they should sell bikes based on the top tube length and not the seat tube.

  3. #3
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    Actually, it stack and reach that are most salient with respect to frame size and bike fit.

    Stack & Reach Primer: Chapter One - Slowtwitch.com

  4. #4
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    yea which are measurements dependent upon the top tube length....and we ride mountain bikes not tri bikes.

  5. #5
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    Re: A warning to buy the right size of bike!

    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Rager View Post
    Actually, it stack and reach that are most salient with respect to frame size and bike fit.

    Stack & Reach Primer: Chapter One - Slowtwitch.com
    Agreed. When deciding in frame size, Stack and reach are the most important measurements.
    TT length can be misleading.

    Sent from my PG86100 using Tapatalk

  6. #6
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    Going by top tube would be simpler and a big step in the right direction.

    Keep in mind also that it's not nearly as simple as needing a 17" instead of a 15.5".

    Here's an example: Trek makes several hardtails and as they get more 'racy', they get longer in the top tube for relatively the same size frame. The Trek 18" 3500 (or any 3000 series hardtail) has an ETT (effective top tube) length of 22.24", and the Trek 18.5" Superfly has an ETT of 24.41". That is well over 2" difference. The intent is that recreational or entry level riders will generally find the more relaxed (read that as 'upright') riding position to be more comfortable, and as someone progresses in their riding skill and maybe even wants to race, they will find a longer top tube to be better suited for their type of riding. I think they are generally correct, but I wish manufacturers would recognize that top tube length for sizing might be less misleading and easier for the masses to understand.

    Call the size whatever you want, but pay attention to top tube length at a minimum, and go ahead and become educated about stack and reach if you want to take it a step further.

  7. #7
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    I used to look at standover height, with the "recommended 2-3 inches for a mountain bike" ringing in my ears.

    But of course this measurement is really a secondary one, in fact my 17" Kona has half an inch LOWER standover than the 15" version!

    Bike sizing is fairly complex. I never even heard of the measurements like stack height before last year.

    What l will say, is when l got on the 17" bike it straightaway felt "right" somehow for me, where the 18" felt a bit big and the 15" & 16" seemed small.

    And this was not just with Kona. I nearly bought a Ghost and tried various sizes of that bike, with the same results.

  8. #8
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    forget everything you have ever heard or learned about sizing bikes based on seat tube lengths. they have only a vague correlation to how a bike fits and rides. there is a good chance that, in some models, a 15" frame would fit you better than the bike you have now, and some models might have a 18" frame that fits better. it might so happen that most companies have frames with very similar geometry to other companies with bike labeled with the same size, but that's not always the case.

    for example, I had a Surly Karate Monkey 16" frame and I replaced it with a Vassago Jabberwocky 16" frame. after about a dozen rides, I could not stand riding the Jabbewocky because the ETT is so long. if you compare their geo charts, a 16" Jabber is about the same length as most other companies 18" frames. I needed a shorter top tube, meaning the smallest Jabber frame was too big for me, but the Surly 16" fit me perfectly even though the Jabber 16" was labeled the same size.

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