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  1. #1
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    Best bike for short ladies

    I'd love your thoughts on the best bikes to consider for someone 5'2. I've just spent the past year on a hardtail and finally ready to make the jump into a full-suspension.

    I like trail riding and spending days at bike parks like Trestle, but mostly riding around Boulder/Golden, CO.

    My true love bike is a Pivot Mach 5.5, but it's outrageous and I can't seem to find a used one.

    Have any of you shorter ladies ridden the Evil bikes? they say 5'3, but could they maybe stretch smaller or do they run small?

    Or another brand/bike you really loved?

  2. #2
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    My recommendation is something in the 27.5 wheel size, whatever bike you get. I feel I'm on the cusp for a 29er at 5'7", and my similar size buddies say the same. I did a skills class and there was a woman in it who was very short on a long travel XS 29er. It was apparent that she did not have the leverage to do some of the drills and had a hard time.

    But, I'm just some guy in the internet

    A lot of MFRs go into the 27.5 side on smaller bikes, which also shortens chain stays to keep you nimble, with you should be! I have nothing useful to offer beyond this, good luck!

    Sent from my Moto G (5) Plus using Tapatalk

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by tinyclimber View Post
    Have any of you shorter ladies ridden the Evil bikes? they say 5'3, but could they maybe stretch smaller or do they run small?
    Manufacturers tend to push the boundaries of who their frames will fit. If they say 5'3, they probably mean 5'5. Conversely, if they say 6'5, they probably mean 6'2.


    I don't know the tiny bike market, but i'd be looking for <420mm chainstays, a <410mm reach, and a low stack height. I doubt that's possible with a production 29er.


    Also, suspension can behave very differently when you fall outside the 140-190lb weight range. Unfortunately i don't know which suspension bits work well for lighter riders; hopefully someone can chime in. Anecdotally, ladies i know seem to work the rear of the bike more than the front, so the fork ends up being even more fussy.


    Hopefully something here is helpful! If this is your first suspension bike it's going to be amazing no matter what.
    "Things that are complex are not useful, Things that are useful are simple."
    Mikhail Kalashnikov

  4. #4
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    The first Evil Following ran small with less reach than the next version. Same with the Ibis Ripley v1. Height goes with inseam. If you have long legs for your height(longer inseam) you'll need a smaller bike than if your torso is longer. Giant bikes run small. Reach is cockpit space while riding. So that is the important dimension.

  5. #5
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    Pivot claims to have the lowest standover in carbon bikes with their Mach 4. You're really not that short though, there are plenty of bikes available for you. The last time I was on Pivot's website, they had an XS Switchblade for sale as a used demo. Having ridden the 5.5 and Switchblade, the latter would be my choice due to tire clearance but both are solid bikes.

  6. #6
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    I don't really care about standover height, some riders do however. I care more about stack height. I'm 5'3" male, my wife is also 5'3", my daughter is about 5'5" now. We all ride different MFG bikes. I'm on both the Ibis Mojo 3-Med and SC Bronson 2-Small, wife is on the SC Tallboy 3-small in 27.5plus set-up, my daughter rides the Anthem Advanced-small. the Anthem have a longer reach than my Mojo 3.

    If you like the Mach 5.5, I think you should demo the Ibis Mojo 3, both are DW link bikes. You could find a used 2016-2018 Ibis Mojo 3 in size small for a good price. I'm waiting to see what Ibis come up with the next Mojo, need to stick to 27.5 wheel size .
    '18 SC Tallboy CC_Wife
    '17 Giant Anthem Adv_Kid
    '17 Ibis Mojo 3
    '17 SC Bronson CC

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ckspeed View Post
    I don't really care about standover height, some riders do however. I care more about stack height. I'm 5'3" male, my wife is also 5'3", my daughter is about 5'5" now. We all ride different MFG bikes. I'm on both the Ibis Mojo 3-Med and SC Bronson 2-Small, wife is on the SC Tallboy 3-small in 27.5plus set-up, my daughter rides the Anthem Advanced-small. the Anthem have a longer reach than my Mojo 3.

    If you like the Mach 5.5, I think you should demo the Ibis Mojo 3, both are DW link bikes. You could find a used 2016-2018 Ibis Mojo 3 in size small for a good price. I'm waiting to see what Ibis come up with the next Mojo, need to stick to 27.5 wheel size .
    Does Ibis do demos? I haven't seen them or Yeti at a demo event yet!

  8. #8
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    they do have demo, but i think you best bet is to find an Ibis retailer. here in New England there is a retailer (NH) who do Ibis demo in June.
    '18 SC Tallboy CC_Wife
    '17 Giant Anthem Adv_Kid
    '17 Ibis Mojo 3
    '17 SC Bronson CC

  9. #9
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    Yeah. Ibis. Roxy Lo is their designer:

    " I’m only 5’1”, so I literally could not find a bike to fit!”...When I came to Ibis, I wanted to make sure that people who weren’t normally able to access our products could access them,” she explains. “Of course, that means making sure smaller riders can find an Ibis to fit them..."
    Do the math.

  10. #10
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    You should try a mini mullet. I'm 5'8" and love the way 26/27 handles. Just drop a 26" rear wheel in any 650b frame you like. If you find reach to be too long on whatever frame you go with check out pacenti p dent bar/stem combo . I'm not convinced it's a great option because I don't like the steering feel produced when your grips are inside your fork offset, but if it's the only way to achieve a good fit so be it. Going used should help in the reach department too. It seems just about every company's size S has become last year's M. Like Scott mentioned, if you weigh under 130 you would benefit from a custom shock tune. A custom shim stack for your weight will transform any bike. Push would be your local tuner I guess. Avalanche does a great job too.

  11. #11
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    Most smalls from most brands will fit, and most bikes these days are pretty amazing. I think you'd have to try some 29ers locally to see how you feel. You may feel that you fit them plenty well.

    I cant gush enough about my orbea, and most people who give one a shot feel similar. Great kinematics/pedaling manners, well made and very light frames. The rallon gets amazing reviews. I love my occam.

  12. #12
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    Top recommendation:

    Canfield Riot (AKA Toir) - well balanced geo and suspension kinematics will inject your ride with radness. Makes most other bikes seem like high-end "beach cruiser mom bikes". Trail riding - check, Trestle bike park - check, Boulder, Colorado area - check...



    Runners-up:

    Guerrilla Gravity Shredd Dogg - between this and the Riot, I don't think this is worth the extra money, considering you can find good used/demos of the Riot for 2200-2600 complete, well equipped. The Riot's suspension is worth more than carbon and boost rear.

    Intense Recluse - worthy mention if you want to stay more on the trail side of things, to be more of a hare than a tortoise. More ideal for shorter quickie rides, than 2+ hour outings.

    Cannondale Jekyll (27.5) - has some downsides, like proprietary Ai Offset drivetrain and rear wheel and extra complication like the suspension modes, but it's the only choice short of a Spec Demo or 26" bike if you're looking to do more freeride style stuff and want more travel to reduce the fatigue from impacts.



    Pickings are slim for short riders, sadly, if you want to enjoy truly balanced geo that allows you to ride with confidence, rather than defensively curled up behind the bars to avoid going OTB. Hard to ride when you need to be back there any time you're on the brakes, almost buzzing your butt when it gets steep. When you have confidence, you discover what it's like to look further ahead up the trail and take turns without the brakes... it gives you a certain freedom of flying that you will rarely ever feel on your current ride, except on the least challenging trails (or paved road).

    I think it's just by coincidence that these bikes are fitting, as most bikes are prototyped for average height pro athletes (5' 9"?) and have the other sizes "extrapolated" from that one mule, by adding/subtracting 2" from the seat tube and 1" from reach/top tube. Wait until you discover that a big source of your fear is from shit geo and suspension, by riding one of the bikes above...

    Sadly, you'll have to take my word for it on these bikes, as all of them are hard to get your hands on to test ride. I can only offer words to assure that these choices stand above the rest as *mountain bikes* in size small. It's more of a matter of delivering a mountain biking experience that is not compromised, compared to your taller companion's, rather than a matter of "perfecting fit". Humans can adapt to many things, but the shittier the conditions/setup, the more effort you have to put up to adapt. Wish others understood the difficulties that this presents in progressing as quickly as they expect you to; can sound all positive about it, but it's a severe disadvantage that can't be ignored. Remove those shitty characteristics from those bikes, and you end up reducing your short list of bikes to the ones above.

    Taller folk have the pick of the litter and wouldn't understand, as they can just go eeny, meeny, miny, moe and end up with a bike that has very close to truly balanced geo in size large, as long as they are out of the "replica mountain bike with beach cruiser geometry" price point.

  13. #13
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    ^ You also think everyone needs 900mm of reach or the bike will tip over and kill you

    At 5'2, you have an enormous amount of very good options. You're not even dipping into XS bikes.

  14. #14
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    A rider on a mtn bike is like a tower on wheeled platform. Where on the platform do you think is the optimal place for the base of the tower, to get the setup to handle how you like over obstacles and terrain? Dead center? Slightly rearward? How would you describe it in terms of weight on the forward and rearward wheels? 60% rear, 40% front? 55 rear, 45 front? 50-50?

    I've done this test on my own stable of bikes, and found that a number of them had ~67.5% rear and ~32.5% front, when sitting in the saddle. When standing up in a neutral/pedaling position, that shifted to ~52.5% rear and ~47.5% front. Cruiser bikes exaggerated this pattern, with more than 70% weight on the rear when seated, and less than 50% weight on the rear when standing up. XC hardtails were very similar to the cruiser bikes. The Ibis Ripley V1 was close to 50-50 out-of-the-saddle in size M. From my own preferences, trying to pick which one out of all the bikes in my stable that I liked the most for bike parks and "freeriding", I found that the ones which approached 60% weight on the rear out-of-the-saddle felt increasingly radder.

    A rider that is more free to move on the bike, works better to absorb impacts, like how tuned mass dampers reduce oscillations/swaying in skyscrapers. To take advantage of this, why not put ther rider in a position to have more freedom of movement, being centrally located, rather than forced rearward? The BB represents the place where the rider is placed on the wheeled platform, if they have a heavy-feet and light-hands riding style. The straight-forward solution to this is to adapt the bike's geo to get this sweet-spot balance naturally, rather than have the rider move themselves into it.

    Can estimate the weight distro by simply finding out where the BB is in relaton to the wheel axles. On the geo chart, I can figure this out by comparing the chainstay length to the wheelbase. A 415mm chainstay with a 1100mm wheelbase will feel too forward biased, with less than 55% weight on the rear. A 415mm chainstay with a 1200mm wheelbase will feel too rearward biased, with more than 60% weight on the rear. It'd be great if you like having your wheel up in the air, but you'd risk front wheel wash-out and would have to compensate with a super grippy tire like a Kenda Hellkat. With 1150mm wheelbase, the 415mm chainstay results in 57.5% to 60% weight on the rear. If 435mm chainstay were as short as a designer could make a bike with 160mm travel, with 29er wheels, they should tweak the wheelbase to get the balance right, with 1230mm getting similar balance to the 415mm CS and 1150mm WB bike.

    If anyone believes what I'm saying, it should then imply that only certain sizes hit the optimal balance, due to how short-sighted designers size their bikes. The brands that have tuned chainstays to change by 4-5mm between sizes have the right idea, at least for out-of-the-saddle handling. The next step is to reduce the massive weight shift between standing and sitting by getting seat tubes steeper, which affects things like how likely you are to get a rear flat when you're lazily sitting in the saddle while crossing a large rut perpendicularly (square-edged impact) and how much the bike's rear susp squats when climbing (contrasting with how firm it feels out of the saddle). Steep STA shouldn't be a problem now that dropper posts are more of a norm, able to get the saddle out of the way to move around easily. Also, riding style determines the "sweet spot"... some people genuinely prefer the defensive position and find it hard to break out of habits, so that 50-50 balance of the Ripley might be "comfortable/natural" for them. I'm just basing recommendations off a generalization that someone interested in bike parks and areas with significant elevation change would be interested in balance tuned for getting rad, from a mechanical perspective, rather than attributing opinions to Roxy Lo, who is short and designed the Ripley.

    P.S. angle tweaking headsets and fork length extending can give you about 1" in extra wheelbase, equivalent to going one size up in terms of fore-aft balance.

  15. #15
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    That would be great and all, if you only rode on flat trails.

    But we dont, so that doesnt matter, and it becomes abundantly clear why manufacturers dont make bikes how you're describing.

    We regularly have close to 100% of our weight on the front wheel. And regularly have close to 100% of our weight on the rear wheel. And everything in between.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by tinyclimber View Post
    I'd love your thoughts on the best bikes to consider for someone 5'2. I've just spent the past year on a hardtail and finally ready to make the jump into a full-suspension.

    I like trail riding and spending days at bike parks like Trestle, but mostly riding around Boulder/Golden, CO.

    My true love bike is a Pivot Mach 5.5, but it's outrageous and I can't seem to find a used one.

    Have any of you shorter ladies ridden the Evil bikes? they say 5'3, but could they maybe stretch smaller or do they run small?

    Or another brand/bike you really loved?
    The only real way you'll ever know is to go try one out. I have a Following (medium) and their reach numbers are on the more conservative side...but the standover isn't super low...maybe if you're standing directly over the dip in the top tube you'll have some clearance. I'm 5'8" with a short inseam. I have a longish torso so I have to size up to a medium on all my bikes. I touch the top tube on all my bikes.

    Pivot is one of the companies out there that make bikes in XS sizes. The Canyon Neuron I believe has a 29r option in XS if you're looking for something similar to a Following. Their prices seem more reasonable than Pivot too.

    The problem with full suspension bikes is that once the travel increases...the standover will increase too.

    I would honestly just to into a bike shop and go from there. If you're in CO...you should have some pretty good bike shops to choose from. From what you've already seen...this thread is about to become a massive cluster fvck of personal options of what type of bike you should buy.

  17. #17
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    I have to find a smaller bike for my wife also... she is 4’11” and did a dirt school this past weekend where the instructors all said the bike was too big. She is on a 14” frame Trek FEX5 women’s edition, so I’m going to be looking for XS (smaller than 14”) and less weight than that FEX.

    Looking at LIV, and from above may need to look into IBIS too. Any other super small bikes to look at, she is a beginner.

  18. #18
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    Santa Cruz does xs, pivot too. I think Liv might be the most affordable though.

  19. #19
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    Common sense is that mainstream stuff is optimized for average riders...

    For someone 4' 11", you're likely going to be choosing from extremely compromised options that gimp the rider's rate of mtb skill progression. I suggest that you go custom.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by tinyclimber View Post
    I'd love your thoughts on the best bikes to consider for someone 5'2. I've just spent the past year on a hardtail and finally ready to make the jump into a full-suspension.

    I like trail riding and spending days at bike parks like Trestle, but mostly riding around Boulder/Golden, CO.

    My true love bike is a Pivot Mach 5.5, but it's outrageous and I can't seem to find a used one.

    Have any of you shorter ladies ridden the Evil bikes? they say 5'3, but could they maybe stretch smaller or do they run small?

    Or another brand/bike you really loved?
    No one here can answer these questions. Internet fits are impossible. With that said, there are a bunch of very good FS bikes that will fit someone your height. But the only way to find your perfect bike is to test ride or demo. This helps you identify bike geometry and characteristics you like. For example, my wife (5’-3”) tested, demo’ed and owned so many different bikes (including most already mentioned in this thread) I started to think she would never find the perfect bike. The owning part was some very expensive trial and error. She found her unicorn bike by accident! We were on our annual MTB vacation in Arizona and she rented a Trek Fuel EX WSD and after the second day she looked at me and said “I found it! This is the perfect bike for me!”

  21. #21
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    My wife is 5'2" and we tried a few different bikes before finding one she really feels good on. (Actually, we found it early on but wanted to make sure we didn't miss something even better.) For her, it is a XS Juliana (the Furtado model for her though it sounds like you might want something with more travel). According the the sizing chart, she should fit on the small frame, but it really didn't feel good compared to the XS. We both just demo'd the Ripley v4, with her on the size small. I think it fit pretty well, though there wasn't a huge amount of standover clearance. She also felt very "tall" on the bike, which likely is due to the 29" wheels compared to 27.5" for the Juliana. Of course, everyone's body proportions and fit preferences are different, but maybe that gives some useful perspective.

    BTW, for people who say standover doesn't matter, I think that only works if you have enough standover. From my wife's perspective, it definitely DOES matter. If you really don't have enough standover clearance, then a quick dismount on the trail, especially a steep and/or uneven trail, not only results in smashing into the top tube but also means tipping over until your foot can land on the ground - not a good situation!

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by agoura_biker View Post
    My wife is 5'2" and we tried a few different bikes before finding one she really feels good on. (Actually, we found it early on but wanted to make sure we didn't miss something even better.) For her, it is a XS Juliana (the Furtado model for her though it sounds like you might want something with more travel). According the the sizing chart, she should fit on the small frame, but it really didn't feel good compared to the XS. We both just demo'd the Ripley v4, with her on the size small. I think it fit pretty well, though there wasn't a huge amount of standover clearance. She also felt very "tall" on the bike, which likely is due to the 29" wheels compared to 27.5" for the Juliana. Of course, everyone's body proportions and fit preferences are different, but maybe that gives some useful perspective.

    BTW, for people who say standover doesn't matter, I think that only works if you have enough standover. From my wife's perspective, it definitely DOES matter. If you really don't have enough standover clearance, then a quick dismount on the trail, especially a steep and/or uneven trail, not only results in smashing into the top tube but also means tipping over until your foot can land on the ground - not a good situation!
    Reminds me of this post:

    https://www.reddit.com/r/MTB/comment...wife_has_made/

    I'm seemingly the one and only person pointing out the body position in this case (out-of-the-saddle, but still behind saddle, on relatively flat ground).

    This is a large reason why progress is slow, since the rider is expending similar effort to ride this stuff, as expert riders expend for faster, steeper, gnarlier stuff, due to the positioning. This is also why I advocate for proper fore-aft balance... getting shorter chainstays would be a viable solution, but some bikes can't go any shorter, so the only other way is to lengthen the front center.


    Also, I'll add to the preaching that standover clearance does wonders for confidence. The top tube is something that reduces the rider's ability to get off the bike cleanly; if the top tube were lower and more out of the way, there would be less of a chance to tripping over it. Essentially, a tall top tube is seen as something that's tied to the penalty for failure for just getting on the bike. Having a shorter top tube will increase the chance of putting a foot on a ground to prevent a bad fall--with clipless pedals and tall top tube, riding a bicycle is ridiculous prone to upper body injuries similar to if someone had just tripped. Collarbone breaks are just from trying to break a fall with locked outstretched arms... that'd be different story if one could put a foot and knee down to spread the impact force out.

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