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  1. #1
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    Women / small riders / 29er trail bike set up

    I have been riding a new Niner R.I.P. 9 for the last month and am pretty stoked. Normally, I would post this on the Niner or the 29er forums, but thought the fit/set up might be of interest to this board, due to issues women/small riders face when setting up 29ers - bar height and stand over, in particular.

    The bike is set up as a trail bike that works for long rides. This means that I expect to be able to ride some chunder and hit drops but I also need something that I can be comfortable on for hours. I have a 30 inch inseam and am 5"6', for reference.

    Bar height:
    My bars are a bit higher than I would run on an XC race bike. On this bike they are close to level, unless I drop the Joplin for descending, in which case they are much higher. I am running a flat bar in order to keep the bar height low with the 120mm travel fork. I have found that wider bars are areally nice with 29ers, and am running a Gravity 777 bar here, because it matches the Raw frame finish so well. For climbing this position is pretty good and enables me to get my weight forward as needed.

    Saddle height/standover:
    Standover is no problem on the size small frame. I really have to be able to get full leg extension on a bike I want to ride for XC, but I also want to get the saddle out of the way for descending, hence the Joplin. I have found that I cannot run the long travel (4") Joplin post with my leg length, so for this set up, I am using the 3" travel post. This would be an important detail if you are ordering a post for a small bike set up.

    Saddle choice:
    I am running a WTB on this bike, but the key point is that it is a comfortable saddle for me that that doesn't have sharp sides - important for technical terrain that requires a lot of body english. As far as women's specific issues go, it is important to remember that the right saddle can add over an inch to your comfortable reach on any bike.

    Pedals:
    I switch between clipless and platform on this bike, depending upon the ride.

    Niner R.I.P. 9 in Raw

    Carla on the Crest

    rip9
    Last edited by chuky; 08-26-2010 at 10:53 AM.
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  2. #2
    Dirty South Underdog
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    I don't have anything to add other than DAMN, that bike is duggy!
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  3. #3
    pewpewpew Moderator
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    wherever that rocky thing is by the lake, I want to ride there!

    nice bike
    Love, Impy

  4. #4
    2WD
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    That is one sweet ride!!
    I've just recently purchased a Scott Scale 29er - I've got a 90mm stem and a flat bar. I'm 5'5". It seems to be working out so far for me - not really having any problems other than when I switch back 26!!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Impy
    wherever that rocky thing is by the lake, I want to ride there!
    nice bike
    Right in the back yard. This is our after-work ride. ;-)
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  6. #6
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    Ok, I'll (maybe) be helpful this time, and post a little about my bikes and why I made the decision to go with a 29er. It could help some ladies that are on the fence about whether or not a 29er is for them and how a bike can be set up differently depending on its use...

    Why 29?
    When I got tired of road racing, I decided I wanted a MTB and started the demo process. I tried a couple of 26s and a couple of 29ers and liked the 29ers for two main reasons-
    1. I'm a chicken about rolling over stuff like logs & rocks, and I felt a lot more comfortable on the 29er (I've substantially improved my skills at this, but I still like the 29er better because I can take the "29er line" up/around/through things that people on 26s go around).
    2. Road racers secretly make fun of the triathletes who ride the smaller-wheeled (650a) bikes. Coincidentally, a 650a rim is the same size as a 26" rim. It's ingrained into my roadie head that a 26" rim is for people who don't wear socks or sleeves and that may occasionally ride their bike while wearing nothing but a speedo and aero helmet.

    I now own two Niners- a Jet9 and a One9. They absolutely have the small frame geometry/handling DOWN. They have to- one of the owners is a little guy! I'm about the same size as Chuky (5'6" and a 31" inseam), and I ride the small frame, though when I was demo-ing, I also could ride a medium if I used a shorter stem. Proportionally, I have very long arms.

    What I do/bike setup:
    My focus is on endurance racing. It's somewhat rare to have to negotiate chunk like what's pictured above (though the trails are often very technical as far as pitch, roots, rocks, switchbacks & the like), so having a drop seatpost and a bike with a lot of travel isn't necessary because the extra weight that those things come with wouldn't be as useful.
    My current setup on both bikes is a small frame, setback Thompson seatpost, and 100mm stem set to where the handlebars are about even with the saddle. I've tried riding with my bars lower, and I like the handling a little better, but on very long rides, it makes my lower back hurt.

    Saddles:
    I've found that Selle Italia saddles work best for me. I found a NOS (new old stock) Trans-am Max Flite that is my most favorite saddle in the world. It's wide (6"), flat, has a cutout, very little padding, but the shell/rail design is somewhat unique in that the shell curves under where it attaches to the rails, adding some "suspension" to the saddle. It's also a long saddle. I ride singlespeed the most, and it's not uncommon to shift positions A LOT in order to rest the tired parts of my legs. Unfortunately, I'm quickly wearing it out (it's original intent is road touring- NOT insane-weather, off-road endurance racing).
    Other saddles I use are any of the wider Selle Italias. I have the Lady SLR on my road bike, and a Performance Bike "special" on the Jet9. Both are at least 148mm wide, have a cutout, and less padding than some of the other Selle Italia saddles such as the "Diva" or "Lady."
    It's a little more of a chore to get behind a wider saddle, and the longer nose on my favorite can occasionally snag shorts, but, again, my top priority is comfort.

    Pedals:
    I always ride clipless. I use Crank Brothers Candies or Eggbeaters. I've found that they clear mud better than any other pedal out there, and I often encounter lots and lots of mud. They can occasionally release unintentionally if you hit the bottom spring on a rock or stump, but that's rare enough that I'm willing to deal with it because I like all of the other features of the pedals so much.

    Handlebars:
    I use Easton Monkey Lite carbon bars on both bikes. They are both 66cm wide (the bar on the One9 was cut down a little). On the One9, I also use Ergon Grips with bar ends. IMHO, bar ends are mandatory on a singlespeed for the extra leverage they provide. The Ergons also keep me from having ulnar nerve pain, which I've had issues with in the past.
    On the Jet9, I'm currently running X.0 gripshift and ESI Chunky grips. I've recently started using the One9 more for endurance racing/training, so I haven't bothered getting the stubby Ergons because A) I'm a vain roadie & I don't like how they look on that particular bike, and B) Since I don't ride it as long, it doesn't have as much time to irritate my ulnar nerve.

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  7. #7
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    I'll play too in case I can offer any help to other women considering a 29er.

    I was riding a Cannondale Rush and just got a small DW Sultan (expert build kit). I'm 5'6" with a 30" inseam and long arms. The DW link works as advertised and I don't miss the single pivot at all (or the smaller wheels). Don't let anyone tell you that a 29er isn't for short folks until you try one for yourself. I too have gained confidence on this bike and no longer get that "I'm going over the bars" feeling I got on the 26er. I ride xc (tight and root infested) and like to keep my wheels on the ground (don't do drops or jumps).

    Here's my set up...

    Bars: I'm running Easton EA70 flat bars at 685mm wide. No spacers and my 110mm 6 degree stem is flipped. My bars are about even with my saddle too. The bike came with riser bars and I noticed a huge improvement in comfort when I changed to flat bars.

    Saddle: Specialized Sonoma gel. I prefer a saddle with a cut out and this saddle is working well for me.

    Pedals: I like flats and am running Wellgos with Bomber shoes. My only complaint is I get some toe overlap on tight switchbacks.
    I see you have Bombers too chuky...just curious if you get any toe buzz on the Niner?

    I couldn't be happier with my Sultan and am really enjoying the big wheels.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by nicchick
    I see you have Bombers too chuky...just curious if you get any toe buzz on the Niner?
    There is no toe overlap on size small Niners, even with my foot placed center on the pedal in the Bombers. BITD, when I was still racing, I had a custom cyclocross bike that had toe overlap with my clipless setup and I don't know why I tolerated it for so long. It really inhibited a lot of technical handling options, IMO.
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  9. #9
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    My other 29 set up.

    For comparison, this is my singlespeed set up, also 29.

    The upgraded S.I.R. 9 with carbon fork

    For this singlespeed setup, I don't really care about saddle edges, so I can run my favorite low profile women's saddle. The saddle height is slightly higher/even with the bar height, and again, I am running flat wide bars. As far as 29" specific setup goes, the bar detail is the most important - I see so many riders running riser bars without actually knowing why they do. In most cases, a flat bar gives smaller riders a better saddle to bar relationship (there are very few 6 ft + women) for xc and trail application (tangental topic, but I also run a flat bar on my bigger 26" wheel shuttle bike because of the fork height's effect on the overall front end height).

    The rigid fork is an interesting detail. While not specific to women, having an incredibly light and stiff front end does wonders for handling. It is for very specific riders, obviously, as a lot of people prefer suspension.
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  10. #10
    scars > tattoos
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    this thread is nice to look at AND helpful. and you're absolutely right - i have no idea why i use a riser bar, so i will look into flat ones for comparison, especially since i struggle to find the right spot on the saddle when riding. and now you all have me wanting a 29er. bishes!

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