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  1. #1
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    Tall newbie in Africa in need of sizing help for a 29er

    Greetings everyone from a first-time poster...

    This is my first post so bear with me. It may be a bit long but I'm trying to include all relevant info, rather than just a generic "what's the best bike to get?" request.

    First-off, before anyone suggests I should get fitted and try different bikes at my local bike shop (a good idea of course), I live in Kenya and have no decent local shop and my only option is internet research prior to a blind online purchase. So I'm hoping you all can help me out a bit in my quest to buy an appropriate 29er, which unfortunately I'll have to do over the internet without trying it.

    I'm getting back into biking after an, errr…., 20 year gap. I just bought an old secondhand 19" Specialized Rockhopper 26er as a temporary bike to keep me going until I can work out what kind of new one I should get. It's too small for me, I know, like I say it's just a temporary bike until I can work out what I need. Here is me on it, to give an idea of my proportions:

    Tall newbie in Africa in need of sizing help for a 29er-rockcropper.jpg

    As you can see it's too small. The biggest I've been able to try here is an old steel framed 21.5" 26er, and even with that I wan't happy with the sizing, I just felt far too much "on top of" the bike and not "in the bike". Does that make sense? My center of gravity felt too high and too far forward and I didn't feel confident going at any reasonable speed downhill on rough ground. That was partly a question of size but also I think riding position. After reading a bunch on the 'net, but with little practical experience of different sizes & styles, I am pretty sure I want a 29er hardtail.

    My measurements (in inches):

    Inseam: 36
    Trunk/Torso: 28
    Forearm: 15
    Arm: 28
    Thigh: 26
    Lower Leg: 24
    Sternal notch: 62
    Height: 75

    ...so I'm 6'3" and fairly slim, weight about 84KG/185lbs. Putting all this info in here gave these results for what they call the "XC fit":

    standover height range: 34.1 - 34.8 inches
    virtual top tube length: 25 - 25.4 inches
    stem length: 11.2 - 12.8 cm
    BB saddle position: 81.1 - 82.7 cm
    saddle handlebar: 60.2 - 61.8 cm

    My intended usage:

    1. A versatile bike for mostly leisure purposes but that can deal with forest singletracks, flat terrain with small rocks, and potholed roads. So far I've been doing a 10-15km run on forest tracks that arent that steep but there are frequent small embedded rocks and roots. I tried it on a rigid front fork – ouch, I didn't like the bumpiness – and found a hard tail to be much better. Most rides would be half an hour to a couple hours at most.

    2. I'm a fairly mellow rider - I don't need to go fast or on very steep or technical terrain - and definitely prefer to be seated if possible. This is all for fun and getting fit, not for racing or competing.

    3. Most of all I want a comfortable ride and prefer a more upright riding position than some of the MTBs I've tried (which may just be a question of adjustment). If I'm cruising downhill on an easy path I'd like to be able to sit reasonably upright. I'm not going to be doing jumping, riding over big rocks, or twisty technical stuff.

    4. I sometimes have back problems - nothing serious but some lower back stiffness and tense shoulders. I've noticed after my recent rides that my shoulders are somewhat tense. I don't know if this is relevant or not.

    My main questions revolve around sizing issues:

    From what I've been reading a 22" frame should probably about right (do I need to go even higher?). But what other factors come into play in terms of riding comfort over this type of terrain? I've been reading a lot about head angles, BB height, chainstay length, top tube length, slack geometry, etc but am a bit confused. My limited reading suggests that a bike with slack head angles and geometry might be good for my intended usage, but pease correct me if I'm wrong on that. Some articles have suggested crank size matters. What are the key factors that I should be looking for?

    With that in mind, I should add that I hate bikes that look "flashy" - no bright multicolours etc, minimal logos please. I just want a quality well-finished bike with decent solid components that will last and be versatile for the different uses I've mentioned. I'm open to steel or aluminium. Oh, and I want gears - no single-speeds.

    Some of the bikes I've been looking at: Just on the 'net, mostly based on positive reviews and also styling, include:

    Surly Ogre – but I'd either have to do a new build or buy the complete bike and change the front rigid forks for shocks.
    Surly Karate Monkey Ops (if/when it becomes available)
    Specialized Rockhopper Comp 2013 (just because it's all black seemingly unlike 90% of ready-made bikes which seem to have too many colours and logos)
    Some On-One, Cube, Salsa, Charge, and Kona models

    Ideally I'd do a new build, but practically I think that would be difficult given that I'd have to buy the components blind and hope they'd all work together. Unless people think I could find a UK builder who could guide me as to components and put it all together for me, but I suspect that would end up too expensive. So I'm looking for a complete bike and I guess my budget could range from about £500 up to a maximum of £1,500. I like the idea of an internally-geared hub, but seems that would be out of my budget, but nice to have the mounting option for later. I also like the idea of having the option to later add bags/rack to carry stuff for longer day-trips but it's not at all essential. I'd consider adding a suspension seatpost later if people think it would be worthwhile.

    Getting the size and geometry right appears to be the top priority and I would be very grateful if anyone of a similar size and shape can give some insights.

    I would likely need to buy whatever I finally choose from either UK (preferred) or Europe for shipping reasons. From USA remains possible, but more hassle for me.

    Phew, so with all that said, and hoping I haven't left any important details out, kindly give me your thoughts on sizing and suggested models and I will be most grateful. And if I'm way off or focussing on the wrong things, feel free to tell me!

    Thanks a lot.

  2. #2
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    Tall newbie in Africa in need of sizing help for a 29er

    I'm 6'4" and I ride a 21.5" trek fuel with 29" wheels. I also have a 21" trek mamba hardtail with 29" wheels. Being a taller person I would suggest going with something with 29" wheels.


    Bikes I currently have. 2014 Trek Fuel EX 8 29er. 2013 Trek Mamba 29er.

  3. #3
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    Tall newbie in Africa in need of sizing help for a 29er

    I've been mostly happy with my latest bike, a fezzari. I gave them all of my dimensions and they sent it sized and ready to go. It's a us based company however.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Not only is my short term memory horrible, but so is my short term memory.

  4. #4
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    21" frame, 29" wheels. Spend as much as you can afford. An On One Scandal or Inbred in 29" would do you fine.

  5. #5
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    Tall newbie in Africa in need of sizing help for a 29er

    Thanks. I read good things about the scandal but isn't listed on their website anymore (discontinued??). The inbred remains an interesting option though.

  6. #6
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    Hey, cool to see somebody else from Kenya here! I'm living in Kisumu; whereabouts are you from? I have a 26" hardtail (bought it at Nakumatt for 25k shillings) with pretty much entry-level components; it does have disc brakes though. And I swapped out the stock fork for a Suntour XCR which isn't the hottest but still quite an upgrade!

    Not trying to hijack your thread Have you tried the bike shops in Nairobi?

  7. #7
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    Hi Fotofan, I'm in Nairobi. There's a couple of shops here but it's all generally crap, and some guys who import used from UK. Basically your options are:

    1. New: Cheap Chinese-made with low-level components for the price of a quality brand in the UK.
    2. New: Low-level UK/Western brand for 2x the cost in the UK.
    3. Secondhand: A well-used 2005 model for the price of a new 2014 model in the UK.

    Now you see why I'm looking to bring one in :-) Send me a PM if you're ever in Nairobi or if you need any contacts...

  8. #8
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    Have you been to Cycle Land? I thought they had decent stuff, and the prices weren't just out the roof.

    Quote Originally Posted by occamsrazor View Post
    Hi Fotofan, I'm in Nairobi. There's a couple of shops here but it's all generally crap, and some guys who import used from UK. Basically your options are:

    1. New: Cheap Chinese-made with low-level components for the price of a quality brand in the UK.
    2. New: Low-level UK/Western brand for 2x the cost in the UK.
    3. Secondhand: A well-used 2005 model for the price of a new 2014 model in the UK.

    Now you see why I'm looking to bring one in :-) Send me a PM if you're ever in Nairobi or if you need any contacts...

  9. #9
    turtles make me hot
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    Krampus | Bikes | Surly Bikes

    GREAT tall guy bike.
    I like turtles

  10. #10
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    Tall newbie in Africa in need of sizing help for a 29er

    Quote Originally Posted by NYrr496 View Post
    Krampus | Bikes | Surly Bikes

    GREAT tall guy bike.
    Thanks. I did look at the Krampus but think it's not for me:

    - the 3" tires look sweet but finding them here if I need to will be impossible. Standard 29ers would be hard also, but I'd stand a chance at least.
    - I wonder if 10sp gears wouldn't be limiting for an unfit guy like me.
    - I think I'd still want front shocks.

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