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  1. #1
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    Girls on All Mountain bikes

    I am entering my second season Mountain Biking and I am finding my xc bike is not quite cutting it (Kona hei hei lisa). I do pretty good on the uphills, but the downhills are leaving me nervous. I understand a lot of this is my skill level, but most of my girlfriends are on all mountain bikes. In fact most people where I live are on all mountain bikes (I live in Fernie BC). I am worried about switching to an all mountain bike because of the weight behind them.

    I am 5'3" and 130lbs, mostly torso, depressingly short legs.

    I work in bike shop so I am partial to Kona or Specialized. However I am considering others if it absolutely the right bike for me.

    Any opinions are appreciated. Tell me what you girls ride for All Mountain and if it was a tough switch.

    PS anyone know of a women's specific all mountain bike?

  2. #2
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    If you have the coin, a carbon all mountain bike can't be beat. They are still lightweight and respond very well to input, but take a lot of abuse on the dh. I picked up an Ibis Mojo HD with a Fox 36 talus and couldn't be happier. They also make a 140mm version that may work well for you. They are primarily bought through mail order.

    You might be interested in Specialized's carbon stump evo (I think that is what it is called). Women's specific bikes are made for long legs and short torso, so those options may not be your best bet. Good luck!

  3. #3
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    On trails I ride a Santa Cruz Blur LT which is an all mountain. I'm 5'4" and ride a small size bike. I run a Fox 36 talus fork. The geometry allows me to climb or descend in platforms and can ride gnarly technical trails (up or down).. the bike is robust enough and I have plenty of suspension to handle rock gardens, small jumps and drops. I don't have an issue with the bike's weight.

    I learned to ride beginner and intermediate dh runs on this bike before progressing to my Transition Syren. My dh bike is a women's specific but I really can't say if it is any better than non-woman specific

    If you can borrow a bike to test on one of your rides you may be able to make an informed choice of what you prefer.
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  4. #4
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    I use to ride a Santa Cruz Blur LT as well and also second that recommendation. My biggest gripe with it was the low bottom bracket, but I think they addressed that in more recent models (mine's a 2005). I currently ride a BMC speedfox which doesn't have as much travel, but I find it's geometry good for climbing and playful on fast singletrack plus it's fairly light for a dual suspension bike. That being said I bought that bike for endurance racing. I have a lot of friends who love their Specialized bikes.

  5. #5
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    today I borrowed my friends Giant Reign for part of my ride. I was happy with the uphill (thought it would be much harder), but not blown away by the down, as I thought I would be. I felt very high off the ground on it, perhaps it is just too big for me. I also felt it was a bit tough to maneuver compared to my XC bike. Now I am just more confused, maybe I need to stick to the more XC bike, but just a bit burlier, like the Stumpjumer.

  6. #6
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    ^^^ I'm sure it wasn't set up for you. If the suspension isn't dialed for your weight and how you want to ride there is a good chance you will hate it. Everything will feel off. Get a shop to set you up on a real demo and dial in the bike for you.

  7. #7
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    you may end liking a "trail bike". i also have a speedfox, but like you, i wanted a better tech and descending experience, so i put a 140mm fork up front. (it had a 120) now i love it!

    a good example of a trail bike, would be a safire (specialized) or Giant trance. Anything with 120mm or 140mm up front travel. Giant also seems to have good specs for the money.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by cleopatra999 View Post
    ...I also felt it was a bit tough to maneuver compared to my XC bike. Now I am just more confused, maybe I need to stick to the more XC bike, but just a bit burlier, like the Stumpjumer.
    You may be noticing the longer wheelbase. They can feel like steering a semi after you're used to a shorter bike, especially on tight trails. Might try to Trance instead, although I found it a little long too.... I think the Blur is a little shorter if I remember correctly so that would be worth a try.

    That said.... My Ibis ("classic" '09) is The Preciousssssssss.
    "...Some local fiend had built it with his own three hands..."

  9. #9
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    Has anyone out there tried the Kona Cadabra (ladies that is?). It is looking like a nice choice, not too heavy, my rep says it pedal up like a 100mm, and rides down like a 160mm. I like that thought!

  10. #10
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    well my attitude is don't get hung up on certain brand names of bicycles. instead, compare components, suspension and geometry.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by zazzafrazz View Post
    well my attitude is don't get hung up on certain brand names of bicycles. instead, compare components, suspension and geometry.
    ...and ALWAYS demo a bike if you can. Don't take any rep's word for it
    I demoed a Kona Satori and thought it was a fine ride on the downhills.
    I drank the 29er koolaid- turns out it was POWERade

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtbRN View Post
    ...and ALWAYS demo a bike if you can. Don't take any rep's word for it
    I demoed a Kona Satori and thought it was a fine ride on the downhills.
    totally agree, Reps are just sales people. Unfortunately living in small town limits me, especially when I want to buy a brand that we carry, but we don't have demos!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by cleopatra999 View Post
    I am entering my second season Mountain Biking and I am finding my xc bike is not quite cutting it (Kona hei hei lisa). I do pretty good on the uphills, but the downhills are leaving me nervous. I understand a lot of this is my skill level, but most of my girlfriends are on all mountain bikes. In fact most people where I live are on all mountain bikes (I live in Fernie BC). I am worried about switching to an all mountain bike because of the weight behind them.

    I am 5'3" and 130lbs, mostly torso, depressingly short legs.

    I work in bike shop so I am partial to Kona or Specialized. However I am considering others if it absolutely the right bike for me.

    Any opinions are appreciated. Tell me what you girls ride for All Mountain and if it was a tough switch.

    PS anyone know of a women's specific all mountain bike?
    Ride what you want to ride. If your current ride isn't cutting it for you, then change it

    My experience:
    Many years ago, I did an urban ride on my Titus Racer-X. Needless to say, after endoing down a small set of stairs and not liking the twitchiness even though that sucker could climb, I was looking at an all-mountain bike to replace it.

    Had my first of a few Ventana X-5s, which were 140mm travel all-mountain after being on a 100mm race bike. HUGE difference, and I fell in love with riding again. Even though climbing was a bit harder (at the time, climbing was always hard for me due to being heavier), but the downhills were so much more FUN! I could take them at the speed I wanted to because I didn't feel like I was going to endo at every corner.

    Today I ride a 150mm bike (2012 Ventana El Ciclon) with a 160mm fork and I couldn't be happier. Sure, it's overkill for a lot of things, but I have a DH wheelset for it for when I ride Northstar. While having a DH bike is much more fun, I don't realistically seeing myself getting a DH bike again because all it did was sit at home the year I had it since I didn't make it to Northstar that year.

    I could go back and ride a XC bike (and I had one for a little bit, but didn't keep it), but I'm pretty happy with what I ride. While it's not the best for all situations, just find something you want to ride.

    You'll probably want to look in the "trail bike" category too that was suggested here as well as "all-mountain." I'm not sure what the difference is, but definitely test-ride everything you can.

    Travel is going to be anywhere from 120mm to 160mm. Coming from a race bike this is going to feel VERY different the more travel you ride. Climbing AND descending is very different on a bike with more travel.

    Women's specific or unisex doesn't matter as long as the bike fits YOU.

    Check out other brands too. You'd be surprised at what you end up liking. I spent the past six months test riding dirt jumpers and BMX cruisers until I found the Yeti DJ. It wasn't even in my list to try or consider until I test rode it. So test ride everything you can, even bikes that you wouldn't consider.

    Oh, and demo as many bikes as you can on the trail. Parking lot rides won't tell you what you're looking for in a bike.

    Good luck! Let us know what you decide.

  14. #14
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    thx for sharing !

    -Marianne

  15. #15
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    One thing to also consider is getting a used all mountain bike. On CL you can usually test ride many bikes and find one that would work for you. Almost like a lot of Demos days packed into one.

    Womens only bikes never work for me as I do have long legs but a long torso as well and they are always too cramped for me even with a longer stem.

    I found if I left cash, most of the sellers let me take it for a spin on a close trail to see how it handled. Maybe they are a few years older but less money invested to make sure an all mountain rig is good for you.

    I rode 6-7 CL bikes before I chose my current DH rig, Iron Horse Warrior 07. It's older but fits me great and that is all that matters when you are on your bike is that it can handle you and vice versa.IMHO.

    Good luck to you and just have fun with it don't over think it.

  16. #16
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    When I got my first full suspension bike ~ 7 years ago it had 4" of travel. As I rode more technical terrain I wanted something that was a bit more stable as far as geometry angles, but would still climb. I took my time and test rode a number of bikes that would fit me (5'2" w/ 29" inseam). I bought a Pivot Mach 5 in x-small. It fit me perfectly. I did upgrade the frame to the 5.7 as I like the small tweaks Pivot did on that bike. I could not be happier with my choice. I have made climbs I never did on my x-country bike and it is just a blast to go downhill.
    Good luck

  17. #17
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    I ride an Ibis Mojo SL (140mm of travel) and I love it. It is about 27 lbs. You can go heavier or lighter depending on how much you want to spend. I ride a medium and I'm 5'8" tall. Compared to my previous 100mm travel bike (a 2002 Ellsworth Truth), the Mojo climbs as well if not better and I'm much, much more confident descending. It's the right balance for me. If I wanted even more confidence descending, I'd go to a slacker head-angle but I'd give up more than I want in the climbing area.

    I haven't tried Pivots or the Blur LT so I can't compare.

    The bottom bracket on the Mojo is lower than I'm used to so I had more pedal strikes at first but I like the control I feel from having a lower bottom bracket. I'm used to it now and don't have pedal strikes too often. I also used is as an excuse to get really great wheels with hubs that have almost instant engagement because I jack the pedals more.

  18. #18
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    Mia...I rode the Ibis Mojo and it was just a tad too big for me. I've got a really short torso. My husband loves his.

    I also come from an Ellsworth Truth and hands down my 5.7 is better at everything.
    Here's the list of bikes I test rode:
    Spec. Safire
    Trek Fuel Ex
    Yeti 575
    Titus FTM
    Blur LT
    Ibis Mojo
    Ventana El Ciclone
    Turner 5 Spot

    For me the Pivot was the best

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by cleopatra999 View Post
    Has anyone out there tried the Kona Cadabra (ladies that is?). It is looking like a nice choice, not too heavy, my rep says it pedal up like a 100mm, and rides down like a 160mm. I like that thought!
    Theres nothing out there like it right now. It pedals up as a 100mm bike, and descends with 160mm. Its not just like a 100mm bike going up, it is one. A lot of long travel bikes claim to climb like a 4 inch bike, but the cadabra locks out part of the rear travel and changes geometry into a 4 inch bike while climbing. Its neat and different, its worth trying.

    I wouldnt hang up on weight too much, all in all, you're carrying ~50lb less up the mountain than most guys. That counts for a lot.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Pivot View Post
    Theres nothing out there like it right now. It pedals up as a 100mm bike, and descends with 160mm. Its not just like a 100mm bike going up, it is one. A lot of long travel bikes claim to climb like a 4 inch bike, but the cadabra locks out part of the rear travel and changes geometry into a 4 inch bike while climbing. Its neat and different, its worth trying.

    I wouldnt hang up on weight too much, all in all, you're carrying ~50lb less up the mountain than most guys. That counts for a lot.
    I pedal 34 lb bike everywhere and I weight 177 lbs. Not many guys are 50 lbs heavier than me (some, but not many). My favourite comment on my bike this year was at the Sand Otter: "You pedal that UPHILL?!" Well, yeah Pushing it uphill sucks.

    It's doable because of the suspension design and the fact I'm 33 lbs less than I was 2 years ago. Am I the fastest person uphill? No, but I like to try to be the fastest down when I can.

    To the OP: test ride the bikes on the trail, both up and down. Get a feel with what you want, and which you like best. I like the downhill to be more fun and even on an XC bike, I wasn't the fastest uphill and I wasn't enjoying the downhill.

    Suspension design isn't the most important thing: it's the suspension being setup for you and how the bike fits and feels to YOU.

  21. #21
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    My friend is 5'2" with short legs and switched from a specialized sapphire to a giant reign X and loves it. Can't remember the specific size of the specialized but it was the smallest sapphire. She looked for days to find a 2010 reign X because they came in extra small.

  22. #22
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    yeah, i love Giant's bikes, but the men's line got rid of XS so the new Smalls are too long for me. i suffer from short torso too, and i dont want a bike with anything longer than a 22 inch top tube. i would actually prefer less, around 21.5. Thats hard to find, especially with all the new 29ers coming out, i've not seen one with a toptube length even close to what i want.

  23. #23
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    Sounds like we were looking for the same bike. 22 inch with a 35 mm stem ended up working out pretty good for her. My friend sacrificed on specs when she could only find the SX model.

    Unfortunately this one also looks like doo-doo. Working at a shop you should be able to get this thing stripped down and rebuilt at a decent price. Perfect frame. Only real downside with this bike is the seatpost insertion depth. 4.5 inches is terrible. I think she is going to use a gravity dropper 27.2 x 300 mm with a 75 mm dropper. There's actually 6 inches of insertion depth if you use the skinnier post.

    Mint Condition - ReignX2 2010 Extra Small - Pinkbike

    Ibis Mojo HD or the intense Uzzi also look nice, geometry wise. Price and weight rule those bikes out for her. Good luck
    Last edited by bspill1; 05-17-2012 at 05:34 PM.

  24. #24
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    thanks for all the help. I took out my friends Reign again, this time I took the time to adjust the suspension, which cured the 'feeling too high off the ground'. I still did not have the confidence I expected to have on the downhills with the change. Am I expecting too much?? I really struggled with the steering being so much more sluggish than mine. Perhaps I would get used to it?

    I feel like maybe I should stick to something a little smaller, shorter wheelbase, probably XC with just more suspension than I have, until my skill gets better. I am going to have a good look at the Blur in my local shop, it sounds like it might be an option, shorter wheel base and slightly less head tube angle than the Reign. Great reviews too. Stumpjumper still an option too. Will have to look into which weighs less (without looking carbon that is).

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by cleopatra999 View Post
    thanks for all the help. I took out my friends Reign again, this time I took the time to adjust the suspension, which cured the 'feeling too high off the ground'. I still did not have the confidence I expected to have on the downhills with the change. Am I expecting too much?? I really struggled with the steering being so much more sluggish than mine. Perhaps I would get used to it?

    I feel like maybe I should stick to something a little smaller, shorter wheelbase, probably XC with just more suspension than I have, until my skill gets better. I am going to have a good look at the Blur in my local shop, it sounds like it might be an option, shorter wheel base and slightly less head tube angle than the Reign. Great reviews too. Stumpjumper still an option too. Will have to look into which weighs less (without looking carbon that is).
    This thread wasn't at all what I expected..... (it's a joke, Sabine)

    Bikes with more raked out geometry take an adjustment in riding style over a traditional xc bike.

    For me, what I found is that I had to steer more with the rear shock in some cases. As I came in to turns, I'd lean back on the saddle more to load the shock. As I came through the apex and out of the turn, I'd move my weight forward to unload the shock and load te fork.

    On an xc bike, I'll have much more of my weight forward on the shock.






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