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  1. #1
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    6'5'' 195lbs intermediate MTB rider; 21' or 23' bike?

    I know, I know I should try them to know but I am on a budget and got to go for online deals I am a beg to intermediate, 6'5'' 195 lbs, in reasonable shape. I am riding an old, small 26' and ready to getting into MTB more seriously. Will be riding mostly a combination of fire trails and single track rocky trails in the Bay Area (Tilden, Chabot, Point Reyes and occasionally up in Tahoe).

    I am inclined to go with the bigger one just because I can (I normally have to buy things too small for me ...).

    Appreciate any recommendations especially if you are also size challenged


    Stefano

  2. #2
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    At 6'4" I've ridden both a 23" and a 21" bike. Both worked, just needed shorter/longer stem and seat position adjustment. Since you are taller, go with the 23" so you don' have a mile of seatpost sticking out of the frame.

  3. #3
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    I'm 6'5, 350# and my LBS told me I need a 21.5 inch frame. So if you can find a brand with a 21.5 or 22 inch, you'll probably be good. I'd almost say to go with an All Mountain bike with 5-6 inches of travel too, for the stuff you want to ride. I too am trying to get back into it and that's pretty much the same stuff I'm looking to do myself. I live in the Nor Cal mountains, so there's plenty of stuff to ride here. Hopefully this helps a little.

  4. #4
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    I'm 6'8 and a 23 is just right. I also have a 22" Surly Pugsley & its almost cramped. try to get fitted at a local bike shop.

  5. #5
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    as said you can fit either one with some minor changes. If you are not willing to get one at your LBS, then I would say buy the smaller one. there is nothing worse then haveing a bike that is to big for you. except having one that is to small for you.
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  6. #6
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    21". You'd not be big enough for a 23". I'm 6'7" and ride both 21" and 23", with the 23" being just about right for me. I have A 40" cyclists inside leg (floor to crotch) and and none of my mates who are 6'5" or 6'4" felt right on the bigger bike, all prefering the 21".

  7. #7
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    I am a firm believer in standover height as my primary fit driver. you can tweak other parts to resolve handling and comfort, but if the top tube hits you in the stones when standing over in front of the seat - you cant fix that. the trouble is you cant really be sure on standover, unless you actually stand over it.... at 6'6", i have had 21's that were way too tall for me and 23's that were just right... but it is the exception and not the rule - if i had to take a shot in the dark, sight unseen, i would lean toward a smaller size....

  8. #8
    dru
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    Quote Originally Posted by TooTallUK View Post
    21". You'd not be big enough for a 23". I'm 6'7" and ride both 21" and 23", with the 23" being just about right for me. I have A 40" cyclists inside leg (floor to crotch) and and none of my mates who are 6'5" or 6'4" felt right on the bigger bike, all prefering the 21".
    That's a bit of a blanket statement. I'm 6'5" and would never want a 21" frame (been there). Like your 40" inseam, I too have really long legs at 38". I ride frames with 24" and 23.75" seat tubes, showing 8 or 9" of seatpost. The TT lengths on the bikes are 25 and 25 1/2". Long stems too, 110, 120 mm.

    The OP really needs to give us his inseam (real) before we can help.

    No one's talked about HT length either. Especially important for 26ers.

    Drew
    occasional cyclist

  9. #9
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    It definitely comes down to personal preference. My 6'5" son rides a 21" and sometimes wishes it was a bit smaller. My 6'3" son rides a 20" (I think - Spec Enduro large) and doesn't want anything bigger. My 6'1" son (16, so still growing) just got a 21" frame - though it's somewhat big for him right now.

    That said, I'm 6'2" and prefer the feel of a 21" frame. My 6'5" son who feels his 21" is possibly too big is a bit of a unique rider. He thrives on the ultra-technical stuff - rides like a trials rider - hopping the bike around, balancing at a standstill, etc. If he rode more downhill, flowy, jumpy stuff, or more high mileage XC, he'd probably appreciate his stretched-out frame a bit more.

    If I had to guess, I'd say the 23" would feel kinda big at times, but you're the only one who can tell if that's what you like.

    AM.

  10. #10
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    Thank you for all the helpful comments. I forgot to mention that I am looking at 29ers which I believe would further justify a smaller frame. I think I will go with 21' and either way it will be much bigger and better fitting of what I have now : ) - Stefano

    BTW: speaking of which, is it true that you need to go one size smaller with 29ers?

  11. #11
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    No, you don't need to go a size smaller - the distance from the saddle to the pedal is in no way influenced by the size of the wheels.

    dru - blanket statement, perhaps. However, 12" of seatpost is more than fine for a mountain bike - it sounds like you want to be really stretched out as well, or possibly ride with narrow bars.

  12. #12
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    6'4" with 38" inseam, I am on a Carve 23" and it fits like a glove. Seatpost is still up 4-5" and stock stem and bars feel great.

    Mark
    2012 XXL Carve Expert

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by millertm View Post
    6'4" with 38" inseam, I am on a Carve 23" and it fits like a glove. Seatpost is still up 4-5" and stock stem and bars feel great.

    Mark
    Sounds fine if you mostly ride 'along', but you've not got much standover and very little room to drop the saddle if you need the room going down. 4-5" is not very much seat post showing at all.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by TooTallUK View Post
    Sounds fine if you mostly ride 'along', but you've not got much standover and very little room to drop the saddle if you need the room going down. 4-5" is not very much seat post showing at all.
    It feels good on the trails and I am quite comfy. I came off a 21 hardrock and my back was hurting on long rides. True there is not much stand over but I can get both feet down and can see daylight between my boys and the bar. Going down the trails I am on my feet and bike is quite stable, with a 443mm chainstay the bike still turns from the hips and is fun to rail.

    Mark
    2012 XXL Carve Expert

  15. #15
    dru
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    Quote Originally Posted by TooTallUK View Post
    dru - blanket statement, perhaps. However, 12" of seatpost is more than fine for a mountain bike - it sounds like you want to be really stretched out as well, or possibly ride with narrow bars.
    No, not at all TTUK, I just have apeishly long arms. I ride 680 mm riser bars. My saddle is 2" above my bar height so very typical XC, but not at all aggresive. I've gone on a few 7 hour rides on both bikes and they are super comfortable. Of course, the derriere is feeling it more than anything after 7 hours.

    The longish stems are also for traction. I don't want to think about weighting or unweighting the front when cornering unless there is a reason to do so so I let my fit do the brain work for me. I seem to have a fairly balanced feel on flat ground. When climbing or descending I move around as the situation demands.

    As for post length, my occasional lack of gracefulness (ok, often) has resulted in numerous bent seatposts over the years so I prefer less post exposure as a result.

    Drew
    occasional cyclist

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by dru View Post
    No, not at all TTUK, I just have apeishly long arms. I ride 680 mm riser bars.
    As I said - narrow! The bike I just sold had 770 bars and my Turner Sultan has Nukeproof 760s on it. It is claimed I am more simian than most.

    Just what ARE you doing to destroy seatposts? I have always had plenty seatpost showing and have never bent one in all my years of riding oafish lardcore style.

  17. #17
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    I must say that my 23" bike is by far the largest I have been on. In my youth I was on 19"ers with hi rise bars and xl seatposts. I cracked 2 AL 21" frames and thought that smaller was stronger. It was back in the 80's and 90's. Now with Hydro formed Al it is a different story. Here is a Pix of my 1993 Mtn bike 19" and the HR 21" and my 23" Carve. I was on my sons 21" hardrock and while it was nice it still was a bit small and seatpost was up to little over 3/4 max. Ride what is right for you. There is nothing wrong with a 21" if you set it up correctly. Now with the strait bars pointing a bit down it keeps you over the front a bit more then my 23".

    Mark
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    2012 XXL Carve Expert

  18. #18
    dru
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    TTUK, 760? Super-simian indeed! I did used to ride narrow 580 flat bars on one of my bikes a few years ago. Definitely like the move to 680. As for bending posts, usually happened when unclipping in mid-air by mistake. My bad bunny hop technique reults in my ass slamming down hard on the saddle as one foot misses the pedal.

    Drew
    occasional cyclist

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