Results 1 to 43 of 43
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    29

    What kind of bike do I need?

    This is a complete newb post, so I apologize for my limited knowledge. Just need some expert advice/help here. I ride paved and unpaved rail trails and do not mind riding a little rough terrain with climbs and drops (sloping, not steep/vertical), so I feel I need a hardtail mountain bike. I have tried a hybrid bike on unpaved (hard packed) rail trail, and know that is not something that will work for me. Today, I went to a mountain bike park, and discovered that riding downhill on foot-wide tracks is also not my cup of tea (at this age). So, I know I do not need a full suspension/DH bike either. Now, given my style of riding, would entry-level 29er hardtail (with suntour fork) costing 500-600 bucks be sufficient, or do I "need" a better fork (RockShok) which cost in 1K+ range?

    Another issue is about sizing. With the kind of riding I do, would a medium or a large suit me better? I am 5'10.5" with 34" inseam. I have been told (by friends and also read on this forum) that for mountain biking I should get medium, but all the local shops I have been to here, have put me on 19" frame (large). Surprisingly, an XL frame seemed most comfortable (in the parking lot), but the shop people say no way I can "fit" on XL frame. So I am really confused.

    Am I correct in my assessment that I need a hardtail? Is there any other type that I should be looking at? Any insights to the above questions would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Phinias's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    333
    Not sure if this will clear much up besides a few of your misconceptions. First full suspension does not mean only down hill, in fact full suspension work better in most instances climbing than hard tails. As a fellow new rider I would look at models with air shocks and solid hydraulic brakes, the shifters and derailers at this price point will be OK and will work OK too.

    You will find advice on fit is ride what's comfortable but at 5'10" you solidly in the 17" medium frame size for most manufacturers. My guess is that something in the stem and handlebars on the XL fit you well and you should look at that.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    11,121
    A bike with a Suntour 'X' fork is bike path unless it is a 14 or 15 with a hydraulic lockout(rare). That means it will also have fixed or adjustable rebound damping. That means it won't pogo and bounce your hands off the bars if you ride it over multiple bumps at speed, usually going downhill. Those kind of trails seem too much now. But with a good fork and a few practice runs on the brakes you get hooked. So things change from what you are figuring now. You can put a $200 fork on a lower priced bike if you need it. Or shop around for a used bike. Often you find a mostly unused Suntour hardtail that just needs a good fork. You can also spend the money now and ride whatever you come across. The cheapest new may be a 14 at an end of season discount of 35-40% off. But get your correct size. Inseam is actual not pant size. With 34", if true, you should have a short upper torso. You should look at reach so you are comfortable riding around with your fit between the seat and bars.

  4. #4
    Clueless Bastard
    Reputation: WA-CO's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    684
    I am 5 10. I come from a road ride background,. I've been fitted for a road bike, and use that as my gold standard. With years of experience I "interpret" that into the mountain bike space which means I ride a medium (18 inch frame, with a 23.5 TT).

    So you are clearly in the Medium space and I might say, depending upon the geometry could go do a Large pretty easily. These terms are very subjective as each manufacture sizing is different. Spend a little time making sure you're on the right sized bike. It's a big mistake if you do not.

    You failed to mention what you want to do in your pursuit of mountain biking. It's kinda chicken and egg, but I would guess with some trail riding, and some rail trails, a XC hardtail will do you just fine. If you want to spend only 5-600 bucks, that's OK, but understand you're going in at the VERY bottom of the market. However if this is something you really WANT to do, and have several opportunities to ride, then you might be well served to spend a little more as others have suggested, perhaps into the 1000 range.

    You've already started doing some research. Stay with that tactic. It's super hard to know what type of bike to buy, when you really don't know much about bikes. That is greatly complicated by the industry which has grown greatly in the last 10 years, and has fractured into a host of different disciplines. There are at least 10 different types of mountain bikes, and 100 different manufactures and thousands of models. Add to that wheel size, and I don't know how anyone could decide WHAT bike to purchase.

    The top end of mountain bikes have become astronomical in their price range. The great thing about that is you can still get a really good bike in the lower price points. You didn't really indicate a budget but as with all things, you get what you pay for. If you can spend a little more, do so.

    Bottom line, a hard tail will probably do just fine, for quite a while. However don't rule out looking at (and riding) an entry level full suspension bike. Expect to spend 1500 for it, but understand that chances are, it will handle any terrain you'll want to ride, and serve you well for probably 2-5 years easy. Regardless of your approach I repeat these rules time and time again.

    Buy a bike that fits.
    Buy the bike you can afford.
    Buy the bike you like.

    Good Luck. Have fun.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    453
    OK. As far as fit goes...I am a little over 5'11" but still under 6 feet. When I got my new Yeti I was on the bubble of large and medium. I went with medium because after 30 years on bikes I know my riding style. When it comes to frames that are sized in inches the difference in 18 and 19 is not that much. My old full squish was an 18" and my hardtail was 19".

    In your case, if you are at the fine line between sizes I would go smaller. Just my .02

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Fizio's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    33

    Re: What kind of bike do I need?

    C_t zt:,c,_$'', Cmm pool i pool+oliililik mGbk jn u.m kkpi . Pb..l.h

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Posts
    131
    WA-CO's post covers it nicely. I did some research, but ended up trusting a few buddies' advice. I ended up with a nice full suspension XC bike and it is plenty for all the trails near me in socal. XC bikes don't seem to get a lot of love around here, but I really do appreciate the lightness especially when climbing. I did spend WAY more than I wanted to but I decided to go all in and have no regrets so far.

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Mr Pig's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    7,974
    The one big advantage of getting a hardtail is that you'll get better quality parts for a given amount of money. For road and light trail use a hardtail is fine and I would rather have a better fork than a full-suspension bike with a cheaper one.

    Most of the stuff on a bike just works. Cheap shifters, transmissions etc might not be as light or durable but they work fine. The big exception is forks. A good fork works a lot better than a cheap one so I'd try to get the best fork you can. Sure, an air fork is lighter and more adjustable but a spring does the job. The really important part is the damping.

    Size is a personal thing and not all medium bikes are the same size, you just have to try them. Generally speaking bigger bike will fell better on the road and a shorter one better off it. I prefer a short bike myself. It feels more chuckable and direct. You could maybe hire a couple of bikes and try them on the routes you use and see how they feel.

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Posts
    1,135
    Quote Originally Posted by NtrLvr View Post
    This is a complete newb post, so I apologize
    This is the internet! Never apologize!
    Quote Originally Posted by NtrLvr View Post
    Just need some expert advice/help here.
    Don't know about the 'expert' part but I'll try.
    Quote Originally Posted by NtrLvr View Post
    I ride paved and unpaved rail trails and do not mind riding a little rough terrain with climbs and drops Today, I went to a mountain bike park, and discovered that riding downhill on foot-wide tracks is also not my cup of tea (at this age). So, I know I do not need a full suspension/DH bike either.
    Personality quiz: will your appetite change with your ability and what you equipment can do?
    Quote Originally Posted by NtrLvr View Post
    Now, given my style of riding, would entry-level 29er hardtail (with suntour fork) costing 500-600 bucks be sufficient, or do I "need" a better fork (RockShok) which cost in 1K+ range?
    This relates to the above question as well as your pocketbook. Will you be happier with an extra $400 in your pocket, or will you be happier with a more comfortable, capable, and satisfying ride?
    Quote Originally Posted by NtrLvr View Post
    Another issue is about sizing. With the kind of riding I do, would a medium or a large suit me better? I am 5'10.5" with 34" inseam.
    Medium.
    Quote Originally Posted by NtrLvr View Post
    Am I correct in my assessment that I need a hardtail? Is there any other type that I should be looking at? Any insights to the above questions would be appreciated.
    If you've got the dough and think you're going to grow into the sport, you might want a FS. Similarly, if you are looking for something more comfortable, FS is great at soaking up bumps and lumps.
    2016 SC 5010
    2014 Kona Taro
    2014 Giant Trance (the boy's)
    2014 Kona Process 134a (the other boy's)

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    29
    Thank you everyone, for great replies. When I did my research, this is what I "wanted":

    1. Wheel size 29"
    2. Hydraulic disc brakes
    3. 3 X 9, 3 X 10, or 2 X 10 crankset
    4. At least 100mm travel air fork

    I know I can get these features under 1K easily. I can spend 1K (or more), but I guess my question is "can I justify spending 1K based on need and not want"? Coming from a background of a Roadmaster (Walmart) bike that lasted 15 years and cost me only $70 at that time, I am not sure... I understand completely as people have mentioned above that if you love the bike, you will ride it more often and grow more into the sport. And may be I never grew into the sport because I always felt cramped on that bike. I bought a larger size Diamondback hybrid, but I hate that even more! Hence my dilemma....

    I have come across someone on CL who is selling a brand new 2014 Giant Revel 29er for $300. I know that has Suntour fork, only 3 X 8 crankset, and cable operated disc brakes. So I have been going back and forth with the thought that this one may suit my present "needs" but not my "wants". Is it worth to buy this for now and upgrade the fork later on? There is another one on CL that is selling Jamis Durango (2011?) for $200 in almost new condition. This has 26" wheels and similar specs as Giant Revel. For the price, it seems amazing, but again, do I look short term or buy for long-term?

    This is what I am having trouble with. If I buy an expensive bike and find that I don't "grow" further, I would feel I wasted my money in buying something that I am not using to full potential. On the other hand, if I buy a so-so bike for now and wish to try new things, I might resent that I did not buy a more capable bike. Phew....

    Once again, thanks for all your help. Waiting to hear more to come to a solid decision.

  11. #11
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    11,121
    You don't have a problem. A 1k bike isn't that good. So you don't have a problem.
    A $200 Epicon can upgrade the Revel. $85 Deore m615 brakes will be better than what's on the 1k. $275 will get you 10sp SLX/XT Shadow+ better than the 1k.
    You're still under.
    ( prices are Ribble 10% sale with a Jenson match. Not available everyday.)

  12. #12
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Posts
    1,135
    I'll ask again - how old are you and how tight is money? In the grand scheme of things, a bike is both crazy expensive (for what it is) and stupid cheap (for the time you enjoy it).

    I recently spent a month of handwringing over a 1400 bike. I knew from the first test ride that I wanted it, but I still took a deep breath, stepped back, counted to ten, considered my options, and then pulled the trigger. My other bike, purchased nearly two years ago, was five times the emotional handwringing (for 1.5x the price) because I'd been out of the saddle for so long.

    Have I ever felt a moment's remorse? Damn straight: That I didn't do it sooner.

    If 1K will leave you in the poorhouse, don't stretch. Buy a decent used bike for 500 and run with it. My 12yo is on a $300 Fuji, my 9yo on a $95 Novarara... you don't have to go broke to get on the trail.

    But if you can afford it, you'll never ever regret buying something nice. Yes, you'd feel silly riding a 10K downhill bike in the park, so there are limits.

    Hydro brakes are a must-have in my book. And a good fork is second only to good frame geometry.

    I imagine there's enough of us knuckleheads that if you provided a budget and posted your closest local CL, you'd get a dozen solid recommendations.
    2016 SC 5010
    2014 Kona Taro
    2014 Giant Trance (the boy's)
    2014 Kona Process 134a (the other boy's)

  13. #13
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    29
    Kyle, I am 45. I must say you have hit the nail on the head with your analogy of riding a 10K DH bike in a park. That is how I do not want to feel by spending more than a grand only to ride a rail trail! Can I afford to buy a bike for a grand? Yes. But is that justifiable? That is the part I am unsure. I know most people tend to think that if you can afford it, buy it, but that is unfortunately not how I think (which makes it all the more difficult for me)...

    I also think that part of the problem is that I haven't found a bike yet that I didn't want to return after the test ride.

    I am in NH, so nh.craigslist.org/bia should bring you right to the page. Thanks.

  14. #14
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Posts
    1,135
    You're not too old to totally kill it. Get an upper end XC FS. Maybe an AM if your local trails and personality allow.

    Trust me. I started my search at 39 just like you... too old too broke (aka cheapskate) never get my money's worth. Started at 500 HT, stretched to 1000 then to 2000 FS. Never been happier.

    Picked up my second bike a week or two ago for variety. It gets in your blood. Wondering where my personal brave/intelligent breakpoint is every time I ride.

    You will not regret the money spent as long as you hit the trails and really engage the hobby/sport. I'm as cost conscious as anyone, and already plotting my next purchase at 3K +/- (probably 4500 when I'm done, haha).

    Drink the koolaid. It's friggin delicious. And it's good for you (really, best shape of my life here at 41).
    2016 SC 5010
    2014 Kona Taro
    2014 Giant Trance (the boy's)
    2014 Kona Process 134a (the other boy's)

  15. #15
    mtbr member
    Reputation: koreytm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Posts
    41
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the Revel a hybrid? I looked at one myself, but it seemed like the components, especially the wheels, wouldn't hold up off road. Is the Revel comparable (frame wise) to a Talon or other mountain model? Would a set of good rims make it usable off road? Forget the fork...I know everyone says any bike that has a suntour fork needs an upgrade. The Revel I looked at had 80mm of travel, compared to the Talon's 100mm. So how does it stack up? Is it worth getting a 2014 Revel for $400, putting a set of double wall rims on it and go ride?

  16. #16
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    29
    Koreytm, that's a good question that only experts here can answer (and I hope they do). I couldn't get the Revel, someone beat me to it... Didn't go to see Jamis as it is 26er...

    Look at what this guy did, changing the hybrid to more mountain bike-like. Is this a good deal at 850?: 2014 Trek DS 8.5 duel sport (Gary Fisher Collection)

    I found a LBS selling new 2012 Trek Superfly AL Elite (GF) for 1450. With taxes and cheap pedals, it would easily hit 1600. Is this a good deal? It also has 2014 Trek Stache 7 for 1500 as closeout which would be 1650 out of the door. I have also considered Airborne Seeker for 930 and Goblin for 1300. Any of these worth it for my kind of riding and growing into sport? Can't believe I went from 600 to 1600+ though...

    Another question, is it acceptable to give a counter offer to an LBS or will they just throw you out if you do so? :-)

    Thanks again.

  17. #17
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Gravityaholic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    58
    Quote Originally Posted by NtrLvr View Post
    Another question, is it acceptable to give a counter offer to an LBS or will they just throw you out if you do so? :-)

    Thanks again.
    Everything is negociable !

  18. #18
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Posts
    245
    Do you really want to stay on rail trails? It seems like your interest in trying new terrain and exploring the sport could determine your purchase range. But even if you are unsure, why limit yourself?

    I hadn't been biking much for ten years till' this summer, and originally went in hoping to get a good bike for five or six hundred bucks. In the used market you probably can do ok, but it was obvious from just parking lot rides that I wanted a nicer fork at least. In the end I eI spent $1300 on a good sale 2013 HT 29er model bike, and haven't regretted it an ounce. With that being said I have taken that bike on every trail I can get to, technical or otherwise. I am 38 and hope to be riding for 20+ years, and there are plenty of riders around here who are riding in their sixties.

    If it won't set you back then I say get the nicer bike. It will not be strange to be riding a 1k bike around the local trails, it's not the same as riding a 10k bike in the park.

    I like the advice of an earlier poster; make sure the bike fits foremost, then consider the fork, then everything else. Seems like a solid approach. Also ride as many bikes as you can! I am starting to save for a fs bike, and I am going to borrow, rent and demo as many as I can in the coming year. =)

  19. #19
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    29
    Thanks DB, I believe I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel now.

    So guys, I really need input on the 2012 Trek Superfly AL Elite and 2014 Trek Stache 7 for 1450 and 1499, respectively.

    Also, I just found out that a LBS that stocks Giant, Scott and Santa Cruz is having an end of summer tent sale starting tomorrow. Don't know what would be there, but any good ones that I should keep an eye out for?

  20. #20
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Sunyata's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    83
    I, personally, am not a fan of Trek bikes, especially at their lower price points. That being said, if I had to choose between the two, I would go with the Stache due to the 120mm of travel and the 2x10 drive train.

    Santa Cruz makes great bikes. So if you can find a good deal on one of those, I would pick one up.

    But... This is where I am going to give you a great piece of advice. Go test ride some bikes. LOTS of bikes. Find a demo day in your area and go ride a ton of different types of bikes on some actual dirt trails. This can tell you a lot about how much travel you want, what type of geometry fits you best, etc. It is really hard for any of us to tell you which bike would be best because we are not YOU.

    So go to the summer tent sale and ride some bikes! :-D
    You have to earn your downs...

  21. #21
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    2,805
    I started on a 400$ bike around 30 years ago ,in less that a year I was on a 1000$ bike ,9 months later I was on a 1800$ bike(used) that I rode for 7 or 8 years and still have. My next bike was over 3000$ that I didn't like much .I've spent more money on bikes since then and never thought about the price of the bike after spending the money.

  22. #22
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    29
    Thanks guys, I feel I am getting a clearer picture after reading all your responses.

    So I went to the tent sale today. Tried a BMC large hardtail, Scott medium hardtail and a Santa Cruz full suspension large (I believe). Those were the only 29ers he had. Scott had Suntour fork, Shimano brakes and Deore deraileurs, and was for $950. Felt okay on Santa Cruz too ($1500), but it was the BMC that I found the most awesome, possessing all the features I want (air shock, rebound damping, lockout, hydraulic brakes etc.) and ...... wait for this ......., all for $1000 (it was 50% off)! Had Avid elixir 1 brakes and Deore deraileurs. Why didn't I get it? Because it was large and my arms were almost completely locked out while riding it. Unfortunately, that was the only piece he had... :-( He also indicated that the stem could not be shortened further because it was already pretty short....

    Although I did not get a bike, I did experience firsthand and learned what all of you have indicated: medium is the right size for me.

    The search continues...

  23. #23
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    11,121
    Not just what size.
    because bikes are composed of parts. You can learn which you like more. And put those on your bike later.

  24. #24
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    29
    Certainly, the parts too. For example, I did experience squeaking in the Avid elixirs 1 on Santa Cruz, but surprisingly, not on the BMC. Shimano brakes on Scott were quiet....

  25. #25
    Moderator Moderator
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    5,623
    Where are you in NH? (I'm in MA) What bike park did you check out? There's a good bit of variety out there as far as trails go, so though you might not want to venture out on narrow technical singletrack at this point, you've probably got options for riding something not as tricky, but still more interesting than rail trails.

    You've really gotta ask yourself how much of an effort your going to put in to get out and ride on a regular basis before deciding how much to spend. I agree that if you're determined to really give it shot and get out there and work your way into trail riding, it makes sense to spend a grand or so. If you really don't see yourself venturing off the rail-trail type terrain, I wouldn't though. Specially on something new that depreciates faster than a used car.

    NE is an awesome place to ride. Tons of trails and a bunch of good folks riding and building them. I'm a couple years older than you are and have been at it for a good while; don't let age be an issue. My dad just built himself and pretty sick FS 29er for his 70th b-day and either rides or does trail work 4 or 5 days a week. I've had my ass handed to me by guys 10, 20, and even 30 years older than I am. Riding bikes is one of the few sports that you can really enjoy and progress at almost regardless of age.

    If you really think it's something you want to get into and venture out onto 'real' mtb trails, I personally would be looking at higher end, late model used 26" FS bikes. Good deals out there, and we've got a lot of roots and rocks. Decent suspension and a overall nicer components will do more to make riding enjoyable for a beginner than bigger wheels IMO, at least on the type of terrain that's typical in the area. Not that you can't have a good time on a HT, I have and do, but I think FS really does pay off around here riding at a recreational level.


    Random CL stuff...

    https://nh.craigslist.org/bik/4662194271.html

    https://nh.craigslist.org/bik/4602506535.html

    https://nh.craigslist.org/bik/4600044108.html

    https://nh.craigslist.org/bik/4615989216.html

    https://nh.craigslist.org/bik/4614277135.html

    https://nh.craigslist.org/bik/4615469175.html
    Sinister Bikes
    Wraith Bicycles
    Sunday River Mtn Bike Park
    NEMBA
    Wachusett Brewing Co.

  26. #26
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    29
    I'm in the Manchester area. I went to the Highland Park near Tilton (in Nortfield), where you can go up the mountain on a bike lift and travel downhill. While I won't mind this kind of biking for a short period of time when I am out, I know I can't do it exclusively.

    As for the time and effort I can put in, it is not much right now. I know that this is a chicken-egg question, as WA-CO said. From what I understand from the posts written above, if I get a bike for just rail trails, I would probably stay on rail trails forever. However, if I have a more capable bike, I might want to try out new things. And the more I try, the more I will grow into it. I can say this much that I might never do the stuff that many videos show on youtube though! :-)

    Thanks for the links on the bike, I will check them out.

  27. #27
    Moderator Moderator
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    5,623
    Cool - Highland is a great operation. Definitely a lot different than what you're going to find on the regular trails in your area though.

    Are you riding the rail trail that runs east from Lake Massebesic? The FOMBA trails that connect off it are great. These would give you a really good idea what to expect from more typical 'XC' trails in the area.

    FOMBA - Trail Map

    FOMBA is also an excellent group to get involved with if you really want to get into the sport; you can learn a ton from the folks there.
    Sinister Bikes
    Wraith Bicycles
    Sunday River Mtn Bike Park
    NEMBA
    Wachusett Brewing Co.

  28. #28
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    29
    Thanks for the info. Found a used 2014 Trek Superfly 8 on CL, he is asking for 1400. Is it worth it? It seems to have good components (Shimano) and also has Shimano hydraulic brakes. Specs (for 2015?) are listed here:

    Superfly 8 - Trek Bicycle

  29. #29
    Moderator Moderator
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    5,623
    Bicycle Blue Book - Used Bikes

    BBB is your friend - good place to get a rough idea of used bike values.
    Sinister Bikes
    Wraith Bicycles
    Sunday River Mtn Bike Park
    NEMBA
    Wachusett Brewing Co.

  30. #30
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    29
    So I have been checking out different bikes and still don't understand something, it is getting really confusing and frustrating. When I am on medium frame, my legs don't extend well. I raise the seat, but if it goes higher than the handlebars, I don't feel comfortable. When I am on large frame, my legs extend better, but because I am bent over the bike, my arms are almost completely locked out and there is a lot of pressure on my palms and wrists. I believe I felt most comfortable on the XL frame (same bike tested side by side, L and XL frame). But the shopkeeper almost laughed at me when I said I was comfortable on XL. They said that I looked more upright on XL frame, and if that is the position I am most comfortable, I should be looking at hybrids instead. I already have a hybrid and hate it, I need to feel the solid feel of a mountain bike. How do I make it fit every way (proper leg extension, seat not higher than handlebars, and not having too much pressure on the wrists and palms)? Any help would be appreciated.

  31. #31
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    11,121
    To recap on fit--
    Your inseam is 34" but you are 5'10.5" tall. This gives you a short upper torso relative to a norm used by manufacturers.
    You have to work all the parts to get a bike to feel right for you. This means changing things and test riding, a standard size bike is not happening.

    That inseam could put you on a bike with a high standover and long seat tube and head tube. But you would need to shrink the cockpit to match your torso dimension. You can do that with a short 50mm stem... riser bars, but not very wide, rotated back...the seat moved forward on its rails.

    The alternative is to translate those leg fit dimensions to a bike that fits your torso. You will need that longish seatpost but also a long steerer tube to allow for spacers under the stem to bring the handlebar height up to the same distance from the ground it is without the spacers on the XL bike. Put all the spacers and more if necessary under the stem. Use a riser bar rotated up to add more height. You can get the height of your grips to the same spot they are on the XL. Visualize it. A good shop will help with spacers and different stems and seatpost to get the bike where you need it. They have a box of used parts for this in service. Go in at a slack time or make an appointment. You may have to order a medium with the steerer tube uncut.

  32. #32
    Moderator Moderator
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    5,623
    Solid advice.
    Sinister Bikes
    Wraith Bicycles
    Sunday River Mtn Bike Park
    NEMBA
    Wachusett Brewing Co.

  33. #33
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    29
    Thanks EB and slappy, your advice is much appreciated. Over the last few days, I have tried the following:
    1. Scott Spark 50, 19" (or 19.5)
    2. Trek Superfly 8, 18.5 inches
    3. Trek Superfly AL, 19 inches
    4. Cannondale Caffeine 4, 19 inches
    5. Scott (forgot the name of model), 17.5 inches
    6. BMC (didn't note the model name), Large
    7. Trek X-Cal, large and X-large side by side
    8. Specialized Hardrock Sport 19 inches

    What I seemed to notice was that when riding Scott Spark, Cannondale, and BMC, my arms were locked out, but there was no (or minimal) pressure on the palms and wrists. With large sized Treks, the pressure on palms and wrist was in addition to arms being locked out. The guy selling the Cannondale did say that the bars were narrower than Trek; also, I remember that when I tried Specialized Hardrock and Trek (both large) side by side, I felt more comfortable on Specialized. The shopkeeper said that they can saw off the Trek handlebars to make it narrower, but I understand that wider bars are better for biking as it opens up the chest for proper breathing. I guess I am now understanding what people mean when they say "the geometry fits them". My question is, are there certain brands (e.g. Specialized, Cannondale, BMC) that may need lesser tinkering to make it work for me as opposed to others (e.g. Trek)? Geometry of some models are difficult to find online...

  34. #34
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    11,121
    You are going through a good education process that rewards patience. You are going to see that you have to know more about bike fitting than the standard shop sales person to get what will work for you. You next need to step beyond the standard sizes to begin 'customizing' the fit to your outside the norm dimensions.
    Go to a Trek dealer. They have more sizes in your range. Start with a 18.5 X-Cal or Superfly. The model doesn't matter. You can determine that if you can get the fit right later.
    Check the seat to make sure it's rails are centered in the seatpost clamp.
    Set the height about an inch below what you would use on a road bike. This makes it easier to move out over the rear of the seat when you are going down steeper hills. You want safety and flexibility versus the pure efficiency you look for in road riding.
    Next use your multi-tool or ask a service guy to adjust the spacers and add any to make the bars as high on the steerer tube as possible. This is also a good time to ask them to change the stock stem to whatever they have used laying around in the back with the most up angle and shortest length. Even a 50mm stem could be an answer for you. Both these changes are simple without any other handlebar changes to cables or grips. A couple minute job.
    If the bike has riser bars rotate them back a bit. Higher riser bars are a later option if the fit is close.
    You have to get these changes done. The ordinary sales person won't care.
    Now you are ready to test ride. Go on the grass and in ditches to get some 'offroad' handling info.
    It the fit is close to comfortable you can move the seat forward a little to help. You don't want to be locking your arms.

    Wide bars are also good for more leverage when climbing and more bike steering control when hitting rocks going downhill. Trek geo is very stable so this is not quite as necessary as for brands with steeper head tube angles like Spec and Giant.

  35. #35
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    29
    Thanks again, EB; your help is much appreciated.

  36. #36
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    110
    EB1888's sizing advice is solid. Like you, I have long legs for my torso and end up on far larger frames than other people advise me to buy. I swap out the stem for something 20mm shorter and I'm comfortable. But I would be surprised if a medium frame was large enough for you.

    For your riding I'd recommend a 29er hard tail with a suspension fork equipped with a lockout. And I also believe that 45 is nowhere near too old to have a blast on singletrack.

  37. #37
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    29
    Thanks Dan! :-)

    I have learned so much from all of you, hope to find the perfect fit that I am looking for...

  38. #38
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Posts
    270
    Quote Originally Posted by NtrLvr View Post
    Thanks EB and slappy, your advice is much appreciated. Over the last few days, I have tried the following:
    1. Scott Spark 50, 19" (or 19.5)
    2. Trek Superfly 8, 18.5 inches
    3. Trek Superfly AL, 19 inches
    4. Cannondale Caffeine 4, 19 inches
    5. Scott (forgot the name of model), 17.5 inches
    6. BMC (didn't note the model name), Large
    7. Trek X-Cal, large and X-large side by side
    8. Specialized Hardrock Sport 19 inches

    What I seemed to notice was that when riding Scott Spark, Cannondale, and BMC, my arms were locked out, but there was no (or minimal) pressure on the palms and wrists. With large sized Treks, the pressure on palms and wrist was in addition to arms being locked out. The guy selling the Cannondale did say that the bars were narrower than Trek; also, I remember that when I tried Specialized Hardrock and Trek (both large) side by side, I felt more comfortable on Specialized. The shopkeeper said that they can saw off the Trek handlebars to make it narrower, but I understand that wider bars are better for biking as it opens up the chest for proper breathing. I guess I am now understanding what people mean when they say "the geometry fits them". My question is, are there certain brands (e.g. Specialized, Cannondale, BMC) that may need lesser tinkering to make it work for me as opposed to others (e.g. Trek)? Geometry of some models are difficult to find online...
    Hello there. I can relate to your situation. I went through the same thing at the beginning of the summer. I am 6'4" with a 37" inseam which means I am not a standard fit for a bike. Bought my first mountain bike after years of road riding. Wow, what a info overload feeling to try and make an educated purchase, and then have to do some customizing to make the bike fit right. To set your mind at ease, it all worked out great for me in the end.

    I bought an Airborne Seeker in XL size, no question on the size for me, and then changed the seat, stem, and bars to make the bike fit. It is not that hard if a shop has a good person who will focus on your fit. Since I got a way better spec'd bike for the price by going Airborne route, I had to do the fit myself. I went through this on my road bike, so it wasn't so bad the second time around. I would highly recommend the seeker for your needs, you would love it.

    Soooo, my opinion on what type of bike to buy. Once you get on rough single track trails, you will come to realize that is what separates the bikes. I live in MA so I am riding what you could ride. The roots and rocks demand a FS bike, or you will have a rough ride or be standing most of the time. Most people think this is nuts to ride on, and they are the ones who should be on hardtails and hybrids. Hardtails are great for smooth dirt trails such as fire roads and can be fun on some rough trails depending on your tires and bar/stem combo. It is a personal thing on whether you will like the rough stuff and therefore need a FS bike at some point. It does make sense to start off by getting a $1K hardtail and go ride and explore and see what you enjoy. I used to ride motocross and quickly learned I love the rough stuff. I must have the gene or something. I then realized that my seeker (hardtail) was not the ideal bike for it, but it is such a good bike overall, that by changing bars, stem, and tires it is plenty capable for my needs. Since I ride it on the street around town and to the beach, I am very pleased with the bike, it just has limits on how rocky a trail I want to attempt to ride. Sometimes, I just pick it up and carry it over the boulders, and I make a mental note to avoid that section of trail in the future. I still don't see me riding a FS AM bike to work on the road, but I enjoy doing that with my seeker. If you want to load a bike onto your car, drive to the rough trails and just ride those, then FS is the way to go. They perform in the dirt, but are liabilities to some degree on smooth surfaces (plus they are big bucks). I can see myself keeping the seeker and getting a FS at some point in the future, but maybe not because the seeker is pretty good in the dirt and the injury risk goes way up in the rough stuff.

    In terms of fit, you have been given good advice. To give you some perspective on magnitude of changes, my 22" seeker has only 1" more usable seat height increase, I am close to its limit. The bike had me way too stretched out with a 105 mm stem and 1/2" rise bars. I needed to raise the bars 2" and move them back 2". To do that I changed to a 40mm stem and 3" rise bars (wider than stock, 750mm). This made the bike fit me really well and it performs great for me. This is pretty extreme changes, but it was what I needed. A smaller frame would not have fit my leg length. Don' t be afraid to really shorten the stem (30mm is the minimum) and raise the bars (3" is about maximum)

    Good luck, I can see you are on the right track, keep at it and you will be pleased. The 500 bikes (new price) will not have the fork to handle any rough stuff, the low end air forks and better will get you into the game.

  39. #39
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    2,805
    You don't really need the perfect fit ,you need comfortable.Mountain biking is more dynamic than road riding ,you stand ,you move forward and backwards on the saddle,you use your arms more by pulling and pushing.

  40. #40
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Posts
    270
    A few more thoughts on fit, for you it is hard to know what frame size to buy, right? Don't worry too much about where the bars are, they will need to move to the right position to work with your seat location. A combination of stem change and bar change will do that for you, in most cases (have to verify it is possible on the frame you choose). The seat height, stand over height of top tube, and seat front/back position are what to concentrate on. Once that is set, put your arms in space where you are comfortable on the bike. If you have to move the bars more than 3" up or back, then it will not work. Look at the stem length and fork tube position and see how much distance you have. If the bike has a 50mm stem and needs to come back 2", it won't work. If you have the room to move the stem back it will. If you can't move the stem back, you have to drop down a frame size and start again. Others with more experience will suggest which criteria is more important to get right. Try the Airborne forum and look at posts from "Big DaddyFlyer" I think

  41. #41
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    29
    You are absolutely correct, rangeriderdave about the dynamic aspect of mtb, but I will be venturing out from rail trails to mtb, so I really need to feel comfortable in the saddle riding position in case I end up not venturing out too much in the hardcore mtb after trying it out.....

    Bttocs, thanks for sharing your experience, it gives me hope. I was almost ready to buy the Seeker, but the sizing recommendation held me back. I spoke with "bigdaddyflyer" and also the customer support at Airborne; they both recommended the Medium frame, but I got into this whole dilemma about the frame size and my riding style (needs), and therefore haven't been able to order it yet. As someone said to me, I am apparently looking for two kinds of riding in one bike, and that is what is making it difficult for me.

    I rode the Cannondale Caffeine 4 again today and played with the seat height. I immediately noticed how when my seat was low, my arms were more comfortable on the handlebars, but my legs hurt because of incomplete extension. Raising the seat took away the pain in the legs, but brought pressure to my wrists and palms. I believe this has a 110 mm stem (I think it had 8N written on it), so can think of reducing it. Or I can think about EB's suggestions about riser bars etc. However, since this is a CL purchase, I need to be sure 100% before I buy it that it can be modified to fit me how I want.

    I am also thinking of going back to the large BMC being sold at 50% off and try to see if the shopkeeper has any ideas to fit it to my size needs. He indicated that the stem was already short, so I know I don't have room to play there....

    I do wonder wonder however, that if we fiddle around too much with stem size or handlebars, don't we also mess up the geometry? Or is that not a concern? In other words, if the bike is designed as a "racer" bike, would changing the components compromise the very feature (racer in this case) it was designed for?

    I never thought the topic of bike fit was so complex! :-)

  42. #42
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    11,121
    Your fit on the bike affects your balance which is a big part of handling no matter what type of geo the bike has. Steeper head tube generally means more attention to the front tracking is required because of the racer twitchiness. I don't ride that geo and don't suggest it for beginners or riders on more all mountain level trails. Changing the fork height with more travel can slacken a head tube angle among other things.
    Luckily as riders we are pretty adaptable.

  43. #43
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Posts
    25
    My daughter is 14. She wants to learn how to ride a bike. I learned at 6 using a balancer. How do I teach her?

Similar Threads

  1. What kind of bike is this?
    By guyfawkes in forum Bike and Frame discussion
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 06-11-2013, 08:27 AM
  2. What kind of bike is this
    By popko1 in forum Bike and Frame discussion
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 07-12-2011, 03:17 PM
  3. What kind of bike should i get?
    By dhpenner1 in forum Beginner's Corner
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 06-15-2011, 11:38 PM
  4. what kind of DH bike should i get?
    By barnes23 in forum Downhill - Freeride
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 04-09-2011, 11:13 AM
  5. Can some one tell what kind of bike this is?
    By firstcut in forum Passion
    Replies: 39
    Last Post: 01-17-2011, 03:36 PM

Members who have read this thread: 0

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •