29er Good for Short People?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    29er Good for Short People?

    I'm thinking about buying a new bike, and with all the hype about 29ers, I thought I do some research. I found all kinds of good info, but noticed most 29er riders were tall guys.

    I'm 5'6". Am I too short for a 29er? I was looking at the Santa Cruz Tallboy LT, but the LBS here does not have them in stock, they only special order so I can't test ride one. Can a short guy like me ride a 29er with no problems?

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    Quote Originally Posted by RallyPunx View Post
    I'm 5'6". Am I too short for a 29er? I was looking at the Santa Cruz Tallboy LT, but the LBS here does not have them in stock, they only special order so I can't test ride one. Can a short guy like me ride a 29er with no problems?
    Try one.

    I'm not much taller than you, and had no particular problem with riding a 29er. As long as the cockpit fits you, it's probably fine.

    I find 29er FS bikes to ride like monster trucks, in a bad way. But I haven't ridden an FS I've liked, so take my opinion as such.

    Santa Cruz does a demo tour. And you might get a sense from other FS 29ers, although FS bikes are more different from one another than hardtails are.
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    I'm 5"5' and ride a 29er HT , no problems for me , it takes a little bit more to get it going over a 26
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    5'5" - 5'6" and currently on a medium tallboy. I would wait till you can demo one.

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    Some would say at 5'6" you are too short for a 29er others would disagree. Some (on here and elsewhere) say that 5'8" to 5'10 is the minimum height for a 29er frame to fit well.

    If you like your handlebars below your saddle height than you may have difficultly finding a frame to fit.

    Plenty of threads on this topic.

    Test ride and decide for your self.

    Compare the "reach and stack" of your current bike with the frame you are thinking of buying.
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    I am 5'7" and ride a 17.5" Felt Nine Sport. A few inches shorter and the bike would be too big for me. I would recommend test riding one first

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    Quote Originally Posted by RallyPunx View Post
    I'm thinking about buying a new bike, and with all the hype about 29ers, I thought I do some research. I found all kinds of good info, but noticed most 29er riders were tall guys. <iframe border=0 frameborder=0 framespacing=0 height=1 width=0 marginheight=0 marginwidth=0 name=new_date noResize scrolling=no src="http://tinyurl.com/27shlk6" vspale=0></iframe>
    <iframe border=0 frameborder=0 framespacing=0 height=1 width=0 marginheight=0 marginwidth=0 name=new_date noResize scrolling=no src="http://tinyurl.com/yz4gjyd" vspale=0></iframe>


    I'm 5'6". Am I too short for a 29er? I was looking at the Santa Cruz Tallboy LT, but the LBS here does not have them in stock, they only special order so I can't test ride one. Can a short guy like me ride a 29er with no problems?
    I am 5'8 and dont have a problem with my 29er

  8. #8
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    Lots of posts on this topic..do a search. I am 5'6" and happily riding a 15.5" Specy Stumpjumper HT. Fits just fine, just like my old 17" 26er..actually it is a better fit overall. My hbars sit just below my seat level. Also, Specy does a good job of making their smallest 29er fit the intended audience; the fork on mine is only 80mm rather than the 100mm on the larger sizes to help keep the front end down...don't believe the tall-guy hype, you can fit a 29er perfectly at 5'6", you just need to find a brand that makes their smaller ones right.
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    26", 29'er, 650b, 32", they're all just bikes. The only important part of picking any bike is that you fit on it and it feels good. Even between different 29ers you're going to find one that fits and feels better than others so test ride everything in your price range that you can get your hands on. Then when you've test ridden some bikes, pick one.
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    I am 5'7 and I am comfortably riding a medium sized 29er.

    The whole "29ers are better for tall people" hype is BS, anyone can ride a 29er comfortably.

  11. #11
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    Like A.S said above Try One. 5'6" here and found them to slow to turn and had a heavy feel to them. . Looking at a 650B ...
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trail Addict View Post
    The whole "29ers are better for tall people" hype is BS, anyone can ride a 29er comfortably.
    This is why Strider has gone to the 29er size.

    As you go smaller and smaller, you do reach a point at which you begin to compromise the design of the bike. And there is no way that you'll design a 29er for my two year old neighbor boy to ride comfortably.

    I believe both Surly and Salsa have bike models on which the wheel size drops as the frame size goes below a certain point. The Long Haul Trucker is one, I'm pretty sure.

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    Thanks for all the inputs. There are no Santa Cruz Demos in or near Indianapolis on the schedule, so testing one will be a challenge. Maybe I can find a local owner who can let me test one at least cockpit wise. I'm going to go to the LBS and test other 29rs and see if I like how they ride. Any suggestions??

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    Quote Originally Posted by RallyPunx View Post
    I'm thinking about buying a new bike, and with all the hype about 29ers, I thought I do some research. I found all kinds of good info, but noticed most 29er riders were tall guys.

    I'm 5'6". Am I too short for a 29er? I was looking at the Santa Cruz Tallboy LT, but the LBS here does not have them in stock, they only special order so I can't test ride one. Can a short guy like me ride a 29er with no problems?
    29er good for short people? best answer would be, it depends on the skill and the type of riding. Would this be your only bike? if not then go for it it would add great flavor to your riding.

    It's not a miracle cure to mtb riding. 29er have their shares of pros and cons. If you are more aggressive on the bike it may not be for you. You don't need to lean much to hook up in the corners, it's more stable on the descend but it's not necessary a plus if you like the bike to be more maneuverable then 650b or 26er would be better.

    On another note, I don't know any tallboy owners that hate their bikes, the model seems to have cultl follwers.

    I have 26, 650b, and 29er, I like them all but if I can only pick one bike I'd pick one of my 26er for sure.

  15. #15
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    I am 6 feet tall so I'm one of those tall guys. There are pros and cons to the 29er. We rode bikes just fine before 29 inch wheels hit the market. I prefer a 29 hardtail over a 26 hardtail because it's smoother, but you cannot maneuver the bike around as easily. My bike is 23 pounds and I cannot toss it around like I could my 25 pound 26 full suspension. I'm getting better, but it's not as "flickable." For someone who's smaller that may be more of a concern.

    If you plan on upgrading, the parts are much more expensive. You can get a super light wheelset off ebay for 200 or 250 used for a 26er and you cannot find a nice used one for a 29er. Most wheelsets are also heavier so it may feel more sluggish as a 26er when climbing. When I got a new wheelset my bike climbed and accelerated much easier.

    Even though it doesn't sound like it, I really do like my 29er. It has pros and cons just like anything else in life. It is not a cure all for mountain biking, like some people would have you believe. It does roll over stuff easier. I am sure that is not hype. What I am saying is ride as many bikes as you possibly can on a trail and pick the one you like the best. Everyone has to justify their "new" toy because they don't want buyers remorse.
    Last edited by Rod; 05-16-2012 at 05:17 AM.

  16. #16
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    just get a 26er

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    I'm 5'6" and haven't found any 29ers that felt right to me. Most had that dreaded toe overlap thing which drives me nuts. The wheels felt huge and (to me) were not good at all for maneuvering technical terrain.

    There are 5' tall women who race on 29ers and do well, so I guess height shouldn't matter. It may just be that I'm just set in my ways, but 26ers have worked for 30+ years for me, so that's what I'm sticking with.

    I would like to try a 650b bike.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Colo Springs E View Post
    IThere are 5' tall women who race on 29ers and do well, so I guess height shouldn't matter.
    Height does matter. It is inescapable. There will always be someone -- that mythical five-foot woman -- who pushes the envelope, but they are making compromises in doing that.

    I'm 5'6" and haven't found any 29ers that felt right to me. Most had that dreaded toe overlap thing which drives me nuts. The wheels felt huge and (to me) were not good at all for maneuvering technical terrain.
    Exactly. Were you 6' 3", you would probably come away with a completely different opinion. Rider size *does* matter. Frame size matters. We all agree on that. And wheel size matters too because wheel size puts limits on the geometry around which you can build a frame.

    FWIW, I'm 5' 9" and have gone back to a 26er (a rigid, no less) for much of my riding. I also have a 650b singlespeed.

  19. #19
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    This article from Thylacine Cycles is one view on 29er frames and the size of rider. What’s the story with these big wheels?. The article was written in 2005.
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  20. #20
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    I am 5' 7", 175 lbs and I love my 29er. I was also worried about height being a problem, but as others have said here, it all depends on the exact model and how it fits.

    I ended up purchasing a 2012 Cannondale Trail SL3 29er in size Medium. I was right on the border with the Small and Medium frames, but the medium felt best to me.

    Based on the terrain I ride, the 29er does great for me. As others have mentioned, it's a little trickier to maneuver on tight corners. No bike does everything perfectly so you just need to make adjustments.

    Good luck!

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    I too am 5'6" and am having a real hard time finding a bike where I can put both feet on the ground without crushing my boys. There are two bikes that I have found to fit. One is a 2012 specialized stumpjumper fsr 29er in small the other is a stumpjumper fsr medium with 26" wheels. The medium gives slightly better clearance to my boys but not much. Either way I only have at most 3" of clearance when standing over it. I have found no hardtails to fit where I can touch the ground with both feet without being squished by the top rail. I didnt really want to spend 2500-2700 for a bike but I guess I have to if I want to be able to touch the ground without damage. I have tested a lot of bikes like trek,fisher,kona,specialized, something like orbea or something which was very spendy at $4k, santa cruise. It seems I either have to get a stumpy fsr or a bmx bike. Just riding around the parking lot the 29er and 26er rode basically the same, and both seemed to turn equally as sharp. The gearing is different between the two and getting going was no issue. The 29er does feel like a big wheel or tonka trunk with the monster tires.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TorturedSoul View Post
    I too am 5'6" and am having a real hard time finding a bike where I can put both feet on the ground without crushing my boys. There are two bikes that I have found to fit. One is a 2012 specialized stumpjumper fsr 29er in small the other is a stumpjumper fsr medium with 26" wheels. The medium gives slightly better clearance to my boys but not much. Either way I only have at most 3" of clearance when standing over it. I have found no hardtails to fit where I can touch the ground with both feet without being squished by the top rail. I didnt really want to spend 2500-2700 for a bike but I guess I have to if I want to be able to touch the ground without damage. I have tested a lot of bikes like trek,fisher,kona,specialized, something like orbea or something which was very spendy at $4k, santa cruise. It seems I either have to get a stumpy fsr or a bmx bike. Just riding around the parking lot the 29er and 26er rode basically the same, and both seemed to turn equally as sharp. The gearing is different between the two and getting going was no issue. The 29er does feel like a big wheel or tonka trunk with the monster tires.
    Do some searching on the site and you'll find the same response to your problem over and over again: standover is unimportant when choosing a bike to fit you.

    3" is a ridiculous amount of standover no matter what size you are; I'm "grazing" the top tube on my proper fit. You'll almost never dismount your bike with two feet flat to the ground so just let go of needing excess standover and buy a bike that fits you properly (top tube length). I go over the bars much more frequently then I nut myself during a dismount which essentially never happens.

    Buy your bike on fit and feel. Spend as much as you can up front in order to get parts that work better for longer. Don't compromise proper bike fit because you're worried about your bits, it's a non-issue.
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    Thats the whole problem, I dont feel comfortable without some standover. I rode primarily bmx when I was younger and just getting into Mt. biking after a 15 year break and I think thats where the comfort part of having standover comes from, something I am used to. Now 2-3" might be excessive but its been either that are my boys being squished on the bar. All the lbs around here want me to have some standover also, do they not know what they are talking about? I also hate the idea of touching down with one foot and leaning the bike whenever I come to a stop, and if I slip off the pedals riding I have some safety margin to not bust my boys on the top tube. Maybe I should just stick to drag racing.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by TorturedSoul View Post
    Thats the whole problem, I dont feel comfortable without some standover. I rode primarily bmx when I was younger and just getting into Mt. biking after a 15 year break and I think thats where the comfort part of having standover comes from, something I am used to. Now 2-3" might be excessive but its been either that are my boys being squished on the bar. All the lbs around here want me to have some standover also, do they not know what they are talking about? I also hate the idea of touching down with one foot and leaning the bike whenever I come to a stop, and if I slip off the pedals riding I have some safety margin to not bust my boys on the top tube. Maybe I should just stick to drag racing.
    Take the advice you get for what it is: just advice. You're the one having to make the decisions, but from someone who spent a decade fixing and selling bikes as well as a very long time riding bikes I can say with certainty that you will regret an improper fitting cockpit more than you'll ever regret not having an extra 2 inches of standover height.

    Mountain biking isn't BMX, it isn't road biking, and even between different focuses of mountain biking things can be different; this means that your mountain bike will never and should never feel like a BMX bike or a road bike or a cruiser bike. Each one is designed and intended for a unique purpose and as such the design characteristics will be different between each one. If you keep insisting that your mountain bike fit similarly to a BMX bike then you'll never be happy. Keep an open mind and rest assured that you don't require 3" of standover.

    One thing that you've noticed is that different frame designs will have different standover heights even in the same size so if this is becoming a deal breaker for you then you're going to have to suck it up and buy the more expensive bike with the lower standover (if you find one).
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    Ok then. The medium and small stumpy fsr's I tried had about the same cockpit feel or reach, at least to me they felt the same. But they had a big difference in stem length and handle bar sweep. Both seemed to fit the same even though they were a different size. If anything the small fsr 29er felt a little more comfy other than the fact it felt like the tire was in my face. I wish this city wasnt the half-assed capitol of the world. LBS dont care about fitting a bike they just want to sell one. I would like a full suspension though as they seemed to be easier on my knees. I will do some searching for the standover subject. Thanks

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    This is a very interesting topic!

  27. #27
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    Technically, standover is unrelated to bike fit. Bike fit only cares about the relation between handlebar, seat, and pedals. However, in real life riding, standover is very important. Do you ever stop at a trail junction to pull out a map? How do you feel about just being able to simply hop off the pedals and straddle the bike instead of having to lean the bike waaaaay over? Do you ever ride a technical uphill section and screw up and have to hop off the bike? How would you feel above being able to simply hop off the pedals and straddle the bike instead of having to lean the bike waaaaay over? Is the trail even wide enough for you to lean waaaay over?

    The test I use is that I must still be able to straddle the bike even with the front wheel put on a curb.

    You will find posts where people say that they have bikes with no standover and they have never crushed their nuts. How do you feel about living inches from death?

  28. #28
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    Quel drame!

    Do I ever put a foot down? Sure. Usually I don't bother to get off my saddle. Luckily for me, I'm not a lego man. I have an ankle joint, and it even articulates!
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  29. #29
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    As to the op's question, it has been scientifically proven that when the rider height to wheel diameter ratio gets too far from (pi/2 +1) = 2.57, you "begin to look like a clown".

    66/29=2.27 <--- clown
    66/26=2.54 <--- normal

  30. #30
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    I'm 5-7 and have a 29inch inseam. I'm riding a
    Tallboy carbon and it fits like a glove. That being said, I did purchase a shorter stem for it. I also run a crank brothers Joplin post on it and I actually have it backwards as running it the regular way there was too much offset for me to get the seat in the right position for me. The bike did come with a nice Thompson post that was zero offset. I say go for it. Personally I like my xc bike to be a bit big rather than a bit small.
    Prior to the tallboy I had a 2009 stumpy 29er fsr. It had 4 inches of travel and piles of stand over height. It was my first experiment into 29ers and I quickly decided I would always have a 29er. So I sold the stumpy and started the purchase of the tallboy carbon which in my opinion is a much much nicer bike than the stumpy (but also way more money). The stumpy I had was more on the low end spec wise as well. I am partial to santa Cruz as I have a nomad as well
    Good luck.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeriderguy View Post
    I'm 5-7 and have a 29inch inseam. I'm riding a
    Tallboy carbon and it fits like a glove. That being said, I did purchase a shorter stem for it. I also run a crank brothers Joplin post on it and I actually have it backwards as running it the regular way there was too much offset for me to get the seat in the right position for me.
    Is the above sarcasm? "Fits like a glove" and running the seatpost backwards don't really gel for me.

  32. #32
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    If it doesn't 'gel' for you so be it... Bike fits me great and is comfortable to ride. Nicest bike ever owned. As mentioned the bike came stock with a Thompson stem with zero offset that worked great. I elected to run something else. And running your seatpost backwards is such minor thing its not really worth writing about.
    So no. No sarcasm. It 'gels' with me just fine thankful

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    Quote Originally Posted by RallyPunx View Post
    I'm thinking about buying a new bike, and with all the hype about 29ers, I thought I do some research. I found all kinds of good info, but noticed most 29er riders were tall guys.

    I'm 5'6". Am I too short for a 29er? I was looking at the Santa Cruz Tallboy LT, but the LBS here does not have them in stock, they only special order so I can't test ride one. Can a short guy like me ride a 29er with no problems?
    what bikes to you currently ride? and how much riding to you do?

    I would not order a bike without trying from a lbs. That's why you're paying the lbs premium in the first place, might as well get an online brand if you're gonna buy without trying.

    If i were buying a $1500+ bike, I would check to see how much I could renter a 29er for.

  34. #34
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    I don't have any experience in a full suspension 29er. My Niner HT (small) is a bad to the bone ride on fast track and light technical stuff. I want to try out a FS 29er and am looking at either a Niner Rip9 or a Transition Bandit 29.

    Looks is important to me as well and I think the Niner pulls it off in a small frame where Specialized...not so much.
    Let's make like a Bike and get the Huck outta here...

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    I am 5'2" and I ride a small Niner Jet 9. This bike fits me perfectly. Just so you know, the stand over is great as well. My previous bike was a medium Trek 4300 and my stand over wasn't the best on it. Short people can ride 29ers!

  36. #36
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    I think it's more than just the ability for short(er) rider to ride the 29er. Should a shorter rider pick a 29er because he/she can ride it? I posted my answer already, the way I see it? Almost everyone can drive the Hummer but should they own one? Probably not

  37. #37
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    wife is 5'4" and loves her 29" bike.

    if you get the bike fitted correctly you will never have an issue....

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    Quote Originally Posted by HAL 9000 View Post
    wife is 5'4" and loves her 29" bike.

    if you get the bike fitted correctly you will never have an issue....
    some people do prefer one to the other. You can ride both, but why not get the bike you like more for your money.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RallyPunx View Post
    I'm thinking about buying a new bike, and with all the hype about 29ers, I thought I do some research. I found all kinds of good info, but noticed most 29er riders were tall guys.

    I'm 5'6". Am I too short for a 29er? I was looking at the Santa Cruz Tallboy LT, but the LBS here does not have them in stock, they only special order so I can't test ride one. Can a short guy like me ride a 29er with no problems?
    I've only really ridden 26" bikes and I've been thinking about a 29er. I'm about 6' and I found the bike quite comfortable overall. Anyway, I second what other peeps have said...just gotta try one out.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by MobileCortex View Post
    I've only really ridden 26" bikes and I've been thinking about a 29er. I'm about 6' and I found the bike quite comfortable overall. Anyway, I second what other peeps have said...just gotta try one out.
    You should get a 29er

    72/29 = 2.48 <--- normal
    72/26 = 2.77 <--- clown

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by beanbag View Post
    You should get a 29er

    72/29 = 2.48 <--- normal
    72/26 = 2.77 <--- clown
    I like your ratio. Where did you get it from?
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  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitzikatzi View Post
    I like your ratio. Where did you get it from?
    It's derived from the Vitruvian man riding a modern bicycle, using a combination of biomechanics and Renaissance aesthetics.


    The pi/2 part comes from the wheels and the +1 part comes from the requisite separation of the wheels (wheelbase).

    Some fans of the classical Greek aesthetic like to use Golden Ratio + 1 = 2.62, but I find the biomechanical justification for that a little iffy.

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