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  1. #1
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    Tall Rider + Tall Bike = Big Disadvantage on tight trail ?

    At 6'8" 225lbs (47YO) and mainly riding a 2011 Spec. Stumpjumper Single Speed (32x17) XXL 29er, I'm curious as to how much of a disadvantage tall guys are at when riding tight/ slow trails .....I know this is a very general question and so many variables, but curious if other's have input

    I usually ride by myself, but almost always aim for good times as my satisfaction seems to increase the faster I ride (1 year experience).
    One trail which I ride regularly, I average 41-43 minutes, depending on dry/wet.
    The best time I have heard is in 36 minute range by a former racer and I know he is more average size on a 26er.

    I can still improve my braking technique, build leg strength as well as improve cardio, also go to more of a race XC geared bike (thinking Superfly now), but I just don't see dropping 5 minutes on this type of a trail.

  2. #2
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    After only 1 year of riding experience it's not your size holding you back, it's your conditioning. I'm younger, skinnier and have far more experience than you but I would be crushed by a serious racer by about the same margin. What would the point of all that training be if a 47 year old rookie could keep up after riding for only one year?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by spsoon View Post
    After only 1 year of riding experience it's not your size holding you back, it's your conditioning. I'm younger, skinnier and have far more experience than you but I would be crushed by a serious racer by about the same margin. What would the point of all that training be if a 47 year old rookie could keep up after riding for only one year?

    Fair enough, but really doesn't answer my question.......
    Let's say there are (2) riders same age, same skill, etc, but one guy is average size and riding 26er, where as the other guy is much taller and riding 29er.
    The trail is flat, but narrow and tight turns every 5-15 seconds, average speed 10mph for 40 minutes

    Isn't center of gravity a limiting factor in how fast you can take and hold the corners ?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Surfdog93 View Post
    Isn't center of gravity a limiting factor in how fast you can take and hold the corners ?
    No, for a 2 wheeled vehicle, CoG height doesn't factor into lateral acceleration. Unless there is an obstacle preventing you from leaning the bike over, like a tree on the inside of a tight turn.

    There will be a slight difference in the minimum turning radius due to the longer wheelbase on your XXL but you won't be turning that tight with any speed no matter what bike, and the difference is not that large (<10% between the largest and smallest typical frame size).

  5. #5
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    26er will win. My $.02. What tires and pressures are being used in this mythical duo?

  6. #6
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    As a big guy on a 29er you just won't be able to tuck it into corners as a quick and as nibble as a small guy on a 26er. Same reason a mini will out corner a mustang. But as a bigger guy you should be able to carry a bit more moment through the corners, if you can find a line that works.

    I've just moved from a 26er HT to a 29er HT and in the tighter corners I've found I do have to work that little be harder to get the bike down and around the corner.
    It's not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what's required.

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    Being big is an advantage. Makes the hills smaller.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fakie1999 View Post
    26er will win. My $.02. What tires and pressures are being used in this mythical duo?
    I think the tall guy on the 29er named Kulhavy would disagree with you this year in the world cup.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by hysteriamk2 View Post
    I think the tall guy on the 29er named Kulhavy would disagree with you this year in the world cup.
    thats fine. The hypothetical question didnt say the riders were world cup caliber.

  10. #10
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    I think it is more tall rider = big disadvantage on tight trail. A bike that fits will always ride better then a bike that doesn't.
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  11. #11
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    I'm a tall mountain bike racer, and I think it gives you an advantage climbing since you have longer legs. As far as the technical tight trails - that is all up to the rider more than being tall.

    Your biggest problem is your weight - 225# is heavy for any bike racing. I would work on trying to get that down before I worry about being to tall.

    As far as wheel size - lets not open that can of worms. I still think it has to do more with the tire you run rather than the size of wheel.

  12. #12
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    Not related to bike handling........but I was looking for average height of people from my parent's country when I ran into this on Wikipedia:

    Human Height, Sports, Cycling:
    Road racing cyclists can be of all heights but their height generally determines what role they choose. Taller cyclists tend to excel at the cobbled classics, as pure power helps get over the difficult and brutal cobblestones. Cyclists over 1.90 m (6 ft 3 in) often understand the difficulties in hilly races, and realise their talents in cobbled classics from an early age and focus on them for their careers. This includes Johan Vansummeren 1.97 m (6 ft 5 1⁄2 in) Taylor Phinney 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in) and Magnus Bäckstedt 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in). In recent years Paris–Roubaix has been dominated by Fabian Cancellara 1.86 m (6 ft 1 in) and Tom Boonen 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in).

    Smaller cyclists on the other hand tend to become super climbers who dominate mountain stages of Grand Tours. Their lack of body mass helps as it means they have less weight to carry up the steep inclines. Marco Pantani 1.72 m (5 ft 7 1⁄2 in), Joaquim Rodriguez 1.69 m (5 ft 6 1⁄2 in), Riccardo Riccò 1.72 m (5 ft 7 1⁄2 in), Gilberto Simoni 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in), Jose Rujano 1.62 m (5 ft 4 in) and Igor Anton 1.72 m (5 ft 7 1⁄2 in) are examples of pure climbers.

    However none of the above mentioned small climbers are known for their time trialing abilities, and in this slightly taller climbers, known as all rounders often gain the advantage in grand tours. Lance Armstrong 1.77 m (5 ft 9 1⁄2 in), Alberto Contador 1.76 m (5 ft 9 1⁄2 in), Miguel Indurain 1.86 m (6 ft 1 in), and Dennis Menchov 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in) have all won long Time trial stages in Grand Tours they won, and Samuel Sánchez 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in) Alejandro Valverde 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in) and Vincenzo Nibali 1.79 m (5 ft 10 1⁄2 in) are, on top of their climbing and time trialing abilities, 3 of the worlds best descenders.

    In recent years taller cyclists with low builds have become among the world's best climbers, particularly on long gradual climbs. The best examples of this are Ivan Basso 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in) who won on the Monte Zoncolan in 2010, Mauricio Soler 1.90 m (6 ft 3 in) and the brothers, Andy Schleck and Fränk Schleck both 1.86 m (6 ft 1 in) who specialise on the Alpine stages of the Tour de France.

    While there are exceptions to these rules, taller climbers do feature more in cobbled races and smaller riders in mountain stages. But where cycling does become indiscriminate height wise, is in sprinting. Sprints have been contested between Robbie McEwen 1.71 m (5 ft 7 1⁄2 in) and Mario Cipollini 1.89 m (6 ft 2 1⁄2 in), or as the 2010 Milan – San Remo between Óscar Freire 1.71 m (5 ft 7 1⁄2 in) and Tom Boonen 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in).
    Last edited by Poncharelli; 08-12-2011 at 08:26 AM.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Surfdog93 View Post
    At 6'8" 225lbs (47YO) and mainly riding a 2011 Spec. Stumpjumper Single Speed (32x17) XXL 29er, I'm curious as to how much of a disadvantage tall guys are at when riding tight/ slow trails .....I know this is a very general question and so many variables, but curious if other's have input

    I usually ride by myself, but almost always aim for good times as my satisfaction seems to increase the faster I ride (1 year experience).
    One trail which I ride regularly, I average 41-43 minutes, depending on dry/wet.
    The best time I have heard is in 36 minute range by a former racer and I know he is more average size on a 26er.

    I can still improve my braking technique, build leg strength as well as improve cardio, also go to more of a race XC geared bike (thinking Superfly now), but I just don't see dropping 5 minutes on this type of a trail.
    I'm only in the 6'3" - 6'4" height range, but one of the disadvantages for us - no matter what the wheel size - is the canopy overhang and trees where we can hit our heads/shoulders, etc... on tight corners. A less tall rider may not have such clearance issues at all on the same corners. So it is easy to get "gun shy" after a few head or shoulder smacks, but it's simply a matter of improving your skills to get through the tight and twisty. If you've only been at it for a year, it's a given that improvement will come the more you ride into the future.

    Having a bevy of cornering techniques available for each situation helps. Some corners you can really lean and carve the big wheels with no clearance issues to worry about, others will require a different Body English and balance where the body stays very upright and you lean the bike hard - but mastering all available angles will allow the tall rider to zip through corners pretty much unhampered by their height. And even experimenting with handlebar width helps. Seems like the latest trend has been to load up a singlespeed with a 700+mm bar. Nothing wrong with a 600mm or 620mm or even a 660mm width.

    You may never drop the 5 minutes compared to the lighter rider just based on the power/weight ratio difference, but you certainly can continue to shave off time and improve your skills to turn the loop quicker. Continue to work on your momentum where you brake less and don't have to stop and accelerate out of every single corner. As your skills improve, your confidence will be boosted. And as your confidence increases - so too will your skills grow to go through the turns in the tight and twisty quicker. And, join the trail work crew and make sure the canopy overhang is trimmed to your satisfaction for taller riders.

    BB

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceBrown View Post
    I'm only in the 6'3" - 6'4" height range, but one of the disadvantages for us - no matter what the wheel size - is the canopy overhang and trees where we can hit our heads/shoulders, etc... on tight corners. A less tall rider may not have such clearance issues at all on the same corners. So it is easy to get "gun shy" after a few head or shoulder smacks, but it's simply a matter of improving your skills to get through the tight and twisty. If you've only been at it for a year, it's a given that improvement will come the more you ride into the future.

    Having a bevy of cornering techniques available for each situation helps. Some corners you can really lean and carve the big wheels with no clearance issues to worry about, others will require a different Body English and balance where the body stays very upright and you lean the bike hard - but mastering all available angles will allow the tall rider to zip through corners pretty much unhampered by their height. And even experimenting with handlebar width helps. Seems like the latest trend has been to load up a singlespeed with a 700+mm bar. Nothing wrong with a 600mm or 620mm or even a 660mm width.

    You may never drop the 5 minutes compared to the lighter rider just based on the power/weight ratio difference, but you certainly can continue to shave off time and improve your skills to turn the loop quicker. Continue to work on your momentum where you brake less and don't have to stop and accelerate out of every single corner. As your skills improve, your confidence will be boosted. And as your confidence increases - so to will your skills grow to go through the turns in the tight and twisty quicker. And, join the trail work crew and make sure the canopy overhang is trimmed to your satisfaction for taller riders.

    BB
    Tall guys definitely run into some clearance issues. Personally I don't use a visor on my MTB helmet for just that reason. I find the visor blocks my view of potential hazards.

  15. #15
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    [QUOTE=Poncharelli;8338727]Not related to bike handling........but I was looking for average height of people from my parent's country when I ran into this on Wikipedia:

    Human Height, Sports, Cycling:
    Road racing cyclists can be of all heights but their height generally determines what role they choose. Taller cyclists tend to excel at the cobbled classics, as pure power helps get over the difficult and brutal cobblestones. Cyclists over 1.90 m (6 ft 3 in) often understand the difficulties in hilly races, and realise their talents in cobbled classics from an early age and focus on them for their careers. This includes Johan Vansummeren 1.97 m (6 ft 5 1⁄2 in) Taylor Phinney 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in) and Magnus Bäckstedt 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in). In recent years Paris–Roubaix has been dominated by Fabian Cancellara 1.86 m (6 ft 1 in) and Tom Boonen 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in).

    Smaller cyclists on the other hand tend to become super climbers who dominate mountain stages of Grand Tours. Their lack of body mass helps as it means they have less weight to carry up the steep inclines. Marco Pantani 1.72 m (5 ft 7 1⁄2 in), Joaquim Rodriguez 1.69 m (5 ft 6 1⁄2 in), Riccardo Riccò 1.72 m (5 ft 7 1⁄2 in), Gilberto Simoni 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in), Jose Rujano 1.62 m (5 ft 4 in) and Igor Anton 1.72 m (5 ft 7 1⁄2 in) are examples of pure climbers.

    However none of the above mentioned small climbers are known for their time trialing abilities, and in this slightly taller climbers, known as all rounders often gain the advantage in grand tours. Lance Armstrong 1.77 m (5 ft 9 1⁄2 in), Alberto Contador 1.76 m (5 ft 9 1⁄2 in), Miguel Indurain 1.86 m (6 ft 1 in), and Dennis Menchov 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in) have all won long Time trial stages in Grand Tours they won, and Samuel Sánchez 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in) Alejandro Valverde 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in) and Vincenzo Nibali 1.79 m (5 ft 10 1⁄2 in) are, on top of their climbing and time trialing abilities, 3 of the worlds best descenders.

    In recent years taller cyclists with low builds have become among the world's best climbers, particularly on long gradual climbs. The best examples of this are Ivan Basso 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in) who won on the Monte Zoncolan in 2010, Mauricio Soler 1.90 m (6 ft 3 in) and the brothers, Andy Schleck and Fränk Schleck both 1.86 m (6 ft 1 in) who specialise on the Alpine stages of the Tour de France.

    While there are exceptions to these rules, taller climbers do feature more in cobbled races and smaller riders in mountain stages. But where cycling does become indiscriminate height wise, is in sprinting. Sprints have been contested between Robbie McEwen 1.71 m (5 ft 7 1⁄2 in) and Mario Cipollini 1.89 m (6 ft 2 1⁄2 in), or as the 2010 Milan – San Remo between Óscar Freire 1.71 m (5 ft 7 1⁄2 in) and Tom Boonen 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in).[/QUOTE/]

    I think this sums it up quite nicely, tall riders in my experience are definitely power riders, short steep climbs and wide open shorter sprints in the race. Make sure while racing you play to those strengths, and while training you work on your weaknesses.

    As always it is about the rider not the bike!
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  16. #16
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    At 6'3" on a 29er, I often find myself de-webbing trails, and am usually the one to get smacked in the head by overhang branches. To me this is a major PIA, and one that I overcome by pruning my local trails. Before I hear the term sanitizing, I'll use the word discriminatory.

    For all those doing trail maintenance, please think of other trail users, as it's not fun getting smacked when setting up for a tight turn, or tech section. If you disagree, then know that ticks are most often gotten by brushing against things, and Lyme disease IS for real. If interested, for pruning trails, the AMC teaches one to pretend to carry a 4x8 sheet of plywood to allow for a year's growth.

    Oh and yeah, coming back bloody from every ride is not a sign of gnarlyness, just more of a pain to explain at the office..
    The best is the one you want to ride most often..

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceBrown View Post
    I'm only in the 6'3" - 6'4" height range, but one of the disadvantages for us - no matter what the wheel size - is the canopy overhang and trees where we can hit our heads/shoulders, etc... on tight corners. A less tall rider may not have such clearance issues at all on the same corners. So it is easy to get "gun shy" after a few head or shoulder smacks, but it's simply a matter of improving your skills to get through the tight and twisty. If you've only been at it for a year, it's a given that improvement will come the more you ride into the future.
    That's my biggest issue as well. Many a times I've come through a tight corner only to realize I have to REALLY tuck to get under a low hanging limb or leaning tree. I've had a few helmet scraping situations that could have been ugly if I hadn't reacted fast enough.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by marzjennings View Post
    Same reason a mini will out corner a mustang.
    Bad argument, stick to bike related points.

  19. #19
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    First of all yes at 6'8" you're going to have a disadvantage on tight corners of the trail, but don't be discouraged. If you train properly you can learn to be faster than 99% of the recreational riders on that trail, faster than you think you possibly could go.

    Being very tall can have its advantages, in fact it seems the prototypical XC racer these days is around 6'2". It's quite normal to see pro racers on the road and trail that are over 6 feet tall. I'd say it's more common to see pros that are above average in height than below. Here are some famous tall XC racers:

    Todd Wells - 6'2"
    Jaroslav Kulhavy - 6'2"
    Geoff Kabush - 6'2"
    Ryan Trebon - 6'5"
    Barry Wicks - 6'4"
    Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski - 6'2"

    Some general recommendations:

    1.) You're 47 years old. I know plenty of fast guys in their 40s; cycling is a great activity for extending one's athletic prowess, but without a base established years ago, you're not gonna catch the fastest guy on your trail. It'll take you at least 2-3 years to get really fast. Cat 2 and Cat 1 racing is much, much faster than the average recreational trail ride. So have fun out there training and then competing against guys in your age group.

    2.) You need to take advantage of your great length, use 180mm cranks or better. You owe it to yourself to evaluate some even longer cranks than that; PM me for suggestions if you're interested.

    3.) 225 lbs at your height is not bad but fast guys are skinny. Ryan Trebon weighs in at 175-180lbs. A realistic goal of being 200-210 pounds in six months for you would make you much faster uphill and through the corners (less weight to move in another direction).

    4.) Once you've earned it with developing skills, I suggest a full-suspension 29er with 700mm bars (and with a higher bottom bracket for those long cranks). It will help someone heavier (with slightly slower reaction time) keep momentum and change direction in corners more smoothly. Plus, your biggest advantage will be an excellent power-to-weight ratio, a bike's weight won't matter as much to you as a guy in the 5-foot range.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by hysteriamk2 View Post
    I think the tall guy on the 29er named Kulhavy would disagree with you this year in the world cup.
    He's a great racer, just checked out one of the races on line. It's a much faster trail than what we have. Ours' is much turnier and way narrower
    UCI World Cup 2011 XCO 6 - Nove Mesto Na Morave CZE - REPLAY - Mountain Bike Videos - Extreme.com by Freecaster.tv - Where the world is watching action sports LIVE

    While he's taller/heavier than most in the field, I've still got 5" and 45lbs on him.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTR2ebike View Post
    Bad argument, stick to bike related points.
    Why? In general the smaller more nibble vehicle will out maneuver the larger vehicle regardless of number of wheels or engine type.
    It's not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what's required.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceBrown View Post
    I'm only in the 6'3" - 6'4" height range, but one of the disadvantages for us - no matter what the wheel size - is the canopy overhang and trees where we can hit our heads/shoulders, etc... on tight corners. A less tall rider may not have such clearance issues at all on the same corners. So it is easy to get "gun shy" after a few head or shoulder smacks, but it's simply a matter of improving your skills to get through the tight and twisty. If you've only been at it for a year, it's a given that improvement will come the more you ride into the future.

    Having a bevy of cornering techniques available for each situation helps. Some corners you can really lean and carve the big wheels with no clearance issues to worry about, others will require a different Body English and balance where the body stays very upright and you lean the bike hard - but mastering all available angles will allow the tall rider to zip through corners pretty much unhampered by their height. And even experimenting with handlebar width helps. Seems like the latest trend has been to load up a singlespeed with a 700+mm bar. Nothing wrong with a 600mm or 620mm or even a 660mm width.

    You may never drop the 5 minutes compared to the lighter rider just based on the power/weight ratio difference, but you certainly can continue to shave off time and improve your skills to turn the loop quicker. Continue to work on your momentum where you brake less and don't have to stop and accelerate out of every single corner. As your skills improve, your confidence will be boosted. And as your confidence increases - so too will your skills grow to go through the turns in the tight and twisty quicker. And, join the trail work crew and make sure the canopy overhang is trimmed to your satisfaction for taller riders.

    BB
    Great input, thanks Bruce !
    Our vegetation grows so quickly, it's hard to keep up. I volunteered a couple of times for trail maintenance, but the city took over recently and now they are "handling", so you can imagine it's not ideal for going fast.
    I didn't mention previously, but the trail is mainly sand/dirt and can be very good after rain, but will dry out fairly quickly and get quite loose. In addition, we have a lot of palmetto roots (3-4" diam.) to navigate, both in straights and turns.
    My 29er has stock DT 450SL wheels and while they are holding up well, I wonder if they are flexing too much under my weight ????(Ardent 2.4 front / Control 2.2 rear)

  23. #23
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    Some general recommendations:

    1.) You're 47 years old. I know plenty of fast guys in their 40s; cycling is a great activity for extending one's athletic prowess, but without a base established years ago, you're not gonna catch the fastest guy on your trail. It'll take you at least 2-3 years to get really fast. Cat 2 and Cat 1 racing is much, much faster than the average recreational trail ride. So have fun out there training and then competing against guys in your age group.

    2.) You need to take advantage of your great length, use 180mm cranks or better. You owe it to yourself to evaluate some even longer cranks than that; PM me for suggestions if you're interested.

    3.) 225 lbs at your height is not bad but fast guys are skinny. Ryan Trebon weighs in at 175-180lbs. A realistic goal of being 200-210 pounds in six months for you would make you much faster uphill and through the corners (less weight to move in another direction).

    4.) Once you've earned it with developing skills, I suggest a full-suspension 29er with 700mm bars (and with a higher bottom bracket for those long cranks). It will help someone heavier (with slightly slower reaction time) keep momentum and change direction in corners more smoothly. Plus, your biggest advantage will be an excellent power-to-weight ratio, a bike's weight won't matter as much to you as a guy in the 5-foot range.[/QUOTE]

    Thanks Lynn, I appreciate the input.
    1) Prior to returning to riding, I had been maintaining a pretty decent fitness level (for an older guy....lol) by training on my elliptical and versaclimber machines, but at the same time, I can clearly see that my muscles have really changed in the last year and certainly everything has improved since I first started.
    2) I have 180's on my SS and 175's on my FSR......I do prefer the 180's
    3) I could see getting to 210, but not much below.
    4) I have a Spec SJ FSR Expert 29er, but use it more to have fun on, so yes, I am definitely looking at more of a race-oriented XC 29er for 2012. Top of my list is the Superfly and Carbon Camber, and also possibly new RDO or even the TB.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Surfdog93 View Post
    Some general recommendations:

    1.) You're 47 years old. I know plenty of fast guys in their 40s; cycling is a great activity for extending one's athletic prowess, but without a base established years ago, you're not gonna catch the fastest guy on your trail. It'll take you at least 2-3 years to get really fast. Cat 2 and Cat 1 racing is much, much faster than the average recreational trail ride. So have fun out there training and then competing against guys in your age group.

    2.) You need to take advantage of your great length, use 180mm cranks or better. You owe it to yourself to evaluate some even longer cranks than that; PM me for suggestions if you're interested.

    3.) 225 lbs at your height is not bad but fast guys are skinny. Ryan Trebon weighs in at 175-180lbs. A realistic goal of being 200-210 pounds in six months for you would make you much faster uphill and through the corners (less weight to move in another direction).

    4.) Once you've earned it with developing skills, I suggest a full-suspension 29er with 700mm bars (and with a higher bottom bracket for those long cranks). It will help someone heavier (with slightly slower reaction time) keep momentum and change direction in corners more smoothly. Plus, your biggest advantage will be an excellent power-to-weight ratio, a bike's weight won't matter as much to you as a guy in the 5-foot range.
    I generally agree with everything here, except that I’d suggest going for the mechanical upgrades sooner rather than later. It’ll boost confidence and longer cranks take a little bit of retraining to get used to. I’d also suggest figuring out what your average cadence is after using longer cranks for awhile, and if you’re a slow pedaler by nature, upgrading to Q-rings as this will help eliminate the dead spot that becomes more apparent with longer cranks.

  25. #25
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    With practice/training and experience, you can drop 5 minutes off a trail of that length no problem. I've only been riding for about 2-2.5 years, and only "training" since last winter. I do a loop that I started out for the first year and could never go faster than 1 hour 25. Even at the beginning of this year, that was the best I could do. Now I'm down to 1 hour 4 minutes. I didn't think that was possible either. I'd like to do it under an hour at some point.

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