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  1. #1
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    Questions about starting out...

    I just picked up a bike for me an my girlfreind.

    I am a former Marine, and she is an avid CC runner... She still runs, but I broke my back and both legs (Back in and Legs after the Corps) and gained about a mess of mass (220lbs now), and wanted something lower impact than running, but still potential high intensity to help me get active again - golf was not cutting it.

    I got a '10 Fisher Marlin and I got her a Novera Bonita on Tuesday after looking around for decent entry level bikes at decent deals (she is in grad school, and I am not doing very well in the economy).




    1. I feel like the Fisher is about a size too big, and I am thinking about going to the shop owner and chewing his ass a little...
    • They assured me it was "OK" but I have the seat low and get about a half inch standover.
    • I feel like I am reaching a little, but I have never been properly fitted, so I have no idea how it should be
    • I am worried that I am going to crush my manbits all the time.
    • ------ How would I be able to tell if the bike is too large without relying on the bike shop?


    2. My arse is in some serious hurtage after one short ride... I assume that I should just suck it up and give it a short rest between rides? Should I get a soft saddle to start out?

    3. My last bike (15 years ago?) had bar ends and I loved them. Any reason that I should not get them? (in terms of some advancement of technique or style or whatever).

    4. I am taking it easy right now to get the feel of riding (the slightest upgrade kills me, and it is HIGHLY discouraging being so out of shape). Any advice on how to ride to maximize my getting into shape?

    5. Finally, I am naturally WAY more aggressive than my lady. How do I get her to understand the gearing and be a little more confident?



    (I dont want 5 threads, but maybe I should have... Thanks in advance...)

  2. #2
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    I'm a relative noob to the MTB scene, with lots to learn about the skills and what components are best for what type of riding, however I have a lot of experience with road bikes and bike fitting.

    The way you describe the fit would be par for the course (a little golf lingo to make you feel comfortable) in a department store - but is totally unacceptable for a bike shop.

    The rule of thumb for a road bike (where there are very few emergency offs) you want to be able to pick up the front wheel while standing flat-footed over the top tube. (This is the bare minimum and has nothing to do with actually fitting you to the bike.) On a MTB, you MUST be able to get some fresh air down there! If you don't have a handful of seatpost showing, you are asking for serious trouble - for one thing you need to be able to lower the seat when you are descending over rough stuff.

    For reach, the cockpit of a MTB should be much tighter than for a road bike - you want a pretty upright position, not stretched out over the top tube. On a road bike you shoot for 60 degrees between back and arms. For a MTB it should be 45-50 degrees. This is a factor of top tube length, stem size, and seat placement for and aft, which is mostly to get your knee over the pedal axle.

    All this gets to the point that they sold you what they wanted you to have, not what was right for you. You should take the bike back, get your money back and go to a shop that includes at least a basic fitment on a trainer (holds the rear wheel of the bike of your choice off the ground). There are 3 bike shops that offer this service in the relatively small town of Flagstaff!

    Just my .02
    Fran & Nanette McQ
    His: Roubaix S-Works, TriCross Comp, Rockhopper Expert
    Hers: Ruby Pro, TriCross Comp, Myka Pro

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcqz
    I'm a relative noob to the MTB scene, with lots to learn about the skills and what components are best for what type of riding, however I have a lot of experience with road bikes and bike fitting.

    The way you describe the fit would be par for the course (a little golf lingo to make you feel comfortable) in a department store - but is totally unacceptable for a bike shop.

    The rule of thumb for a road bike (where there are very few emergency offs) you want to be able to pick up the front wheel while standing flat-footed over the top tube. (This is the bare minimum and has nothing to do with actually fitting you to the bike.) On a MTB, you MUST be able to get some fresh air down there! If you don't have a handful of seatpost showing, you are asking for serious trouble - for one thing you need to be able to lower the seat when you are descending over rough stuff.

    For reach, the cockpit of a MTB should be much tighter than for a road bike - you want a pretty upright position, not stretched out over the top tube. On a road bike you shoot for 60 degrees between back and arms. For a MTB it should be 45-50 degrees. This is a factor of top tube length, stem size, and seat placement for and aft, which is mostly to get your knee over the pedal axle.

    All this gets to the point that they sold you what they wanted you to have, not what was right for you. You should take the bike back, get your money back and go to a shop that includes at least a basic fitment on a trainer (holds the rear wheel of the bike of your choice off the ground). There are 3 bike shops that offer this service in the relatively small town of Flagstaff!

    Just my .02
    Thats what i thought.

    It pisses me off that REI had better service than this shop. The owner seemed like a good guy, but he was not there...

  4. #4
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    How tall are you? What frame size on the Marlin?

    Don't get too hung up on standover. Reach to the bars is more important, and the effective top-tube distance has a lot to with that.

    About saddle pain: To some extent, you must give your body time to adapt. How long can you ride before pain sets in?

    The other thing with saddles, is that sometimes you just need to experiment. I have found that flat saddles are a better match for my body than rounded saddles. I had a rounded over saddle once, and it caused pain within just a few miles. A simple saddle swap solved the problem.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by WACK-A-n00b
    4. I am taking it easy right now to get the feel of riding (the slightest upgrade kills me, and it is HIGHLY discouraging being so out of shape). Any advice on how to ride to maximize my getting into shape?
    I sucked at hills when I bought my first true mountain bike. I could not even ride the four blocks uphill to my house. Today (literally today!) I can race my son uphill and make a good showing. Just keep at it. When you ride hills, try to find a low gear that you can sustain, and just grind your way up. Keep at it. Over time you will improve.

    My first winter made a big difference. I ran studded tires one winter and just did a bunch of short rides around town to run errands. Most were less than a mile duration. But riding all winter on studs on snow-covered streets really built up my endurance. When I took the studs off in spring I felt like I was flying.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonathanGennick
    How tall are you? What frame size on the Marlin?

    Don't get too hung up on standover. Reach to the bars is more important, and the effective top-tube distance has a lot to with that.

    About saddle pain: To some extent, you must give your body time to adapt. How long can you ride before pain sets in?

    The other thing with saddles, is that sometimes you just need to experiment. I have found that flat saddles are a better match for my body than rounded saddles. I had a rounded over saddle once, and it caused pain within just a few miles. A simple saddle swap solved the problem.
    5'11", 30 inch inseam

    19 inch frame


    I rode ~5 miles (from the top of Golden Gate park to the ocean and back) on my first ride, and of course the next day was considerable annoying. I just want to be sure I am not going to injure my bottom, and have to rest it for substantial time... I would rather break it in on my terms, not prison's terms.



    Just to be fair, my inactivity over the past couple of years has been quite substantial

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcqz
    for one thing you need to be able to lower the seat when you are descending over rough stuff.
    Highly debatable info here.
    You do not need to drop your seatpost for descents. Yea it can give more clearance but stopping to drop is a PITA. I've never dropped the post, never had a need to. Keep in mind the OP is new so keep it simple.

    First thing, go to this website
    http://www.competitivecyclist.com/za...LCULATOR_INTRO
    Have your girl help in taking measurements.
    Compare the results against the geometry of your Marlin
    http://fisherbikes.com/bike/model/marlin-disc
    find the frame size that bests fits you based on the calculator.
    See if the bike shop sold you the right size frame.

    Things can be changed to make the bike fit better. Longer/shorter stem for one.
    standover height is a minor concern compared to proper bike fit.
    case in point, on my DB 29 I barely have jewel room while checking it in my home. Yesterday while riding I unintentionally tested the standover a few times, the boys were unscathed. the sloping toptube helps.

    As for the saddle, that is a personal matter. Nobody can really help there. You can try moving the saddle fore/aft and tilt the nose a bit. that may help. Keep in mind that you have to get your butt used to a saddle, and that takes time. A softer saddle may not help (it sure didn't for me). A deep groove or opening in the saddle lengthwise may help.

    No reason not to use bar ends. Heck I love my 19yr old Onza barends so much I put 'em on my new ride.

    Everytime you get out and ride, you will improve. the more you ride the faster the improvements. It only takes time.

    Gearing, not sure how to help with that. Smaller chainring on front and larger cog in the back for climbing, opposite for flats and downhill.
    One thing, never change gears with a lot of pressure on the pedals. thats a good way to break things. ease up on pedal pressure while switching gears. best to practice on a slight incline.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by WACK-A-n00b
    5'11", 30 inch inseam

    19 inch frame
    Is that a pants inseam? With bikes, it helps to know the distance to your pubic bone. One approach is to shove a book up between your legs as far as it will go, and measure from the top edge of the book to the floor. For example, I am a 29" pants inseam and a 32" cycling inseam.

    Just from the above, and without seeing you on the bike, I would say that you are in the "zone of reasonableness" for a 19-inch frame. That's assuming 30 inches is your pants inseam.

    FWIW, I am 5' 9" and I ride frames that are 17.5" and 18". I am looking at an 18.5" frame for my next purchase. I find 17" frames too small for my tastes, but some people my size prefer them. There is actually room for preference when it comes to how stretched out one wants to be on the bike.

    If you feel you are reaching too far, then try swapping in a slightly shorter stem. Your dealer might be willing to do an even swap for you.

    You might also try a set of bars with a higher rise to them. A shorter stem and a slightly higher rise bar will put you more upright with less reach. Many aggressive riders prefer such setups.

    Do consider going back to your dealer for help with bars and stems. He may have other suggestions as well. The thing is, don't go in assuming he sold you the wrong size bike. It seems to me more of a matter of just making some adjustments to dial in the fit. Such adjustments are normal to have to make.

  9. #9
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    Thank you for your service

    Everyone has given you good advise
    There....Are... Four...Lights!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Whacked
    Highly debatable info here.
    You do not need to drop your seatpost for descents. Yea it can give more clearance but stopping to drop is a PITA. I've never dropped the post, never had a need to. Keep in mind the OP is new so keep it simple.

    First thing, go to this website
    http://www.competitivecyclist.com/za...LCULATOR_INTRO
    Have your girl help in taking measurements.
    Compare the results against the geometry of your Marlin
    http://fisherbikes.com/bike/model/marlin-disc
    find the frame size that bests fits you based on the calculator.
    See if the bike shop sold you the right size frame.

    Things can be changed to make the bike fit better. Longer/shorter stem for one.
    standover height is a minor concern compared to proper bike fit.
    case in point, on my DB 29 I barely have jewel room while checking it in my home. Yesterday while riding I unintentionally tested the standover a few times, the boys were unscathed. the sloping toptube helps.....

    Thanks for posting the Competitive Cyclist Fit Calculator link.

    When shopping for my last bike, some had suggested a 19" frame, but riding experience and test rides proved those suggestions wrong.


    At 5' 10" with a 30-inch inseam (in addition to all of the other fit measurements), the Fit Calculator confirms that my 17.5" (Medium) Gary Fisher X-Caliber is the correct size.

    Most importantly, the recommended Virtual/Effective Top Tube of the 17.5" (Medium) is correctly sized for my measurements.


    As the Competitive Cyclist Fit Calculator states about the "Virtual/Effective Top Tube" measurement:

    "This is not a measurement of the actual top tube itself. Rather, this corresponds to the mountain bike industry standard of measuring an imaginary line drawn parallel to the ground along the length of the top tube from the midpoint at the seat tube to the midpoint at the head tube. This is also known as an "effective top tube."

    No single piece of frame geometry has a greater impact on comfort than your top tube. If you plan on paying attention to one measurement and one measurement only, make it this one."

    -----

    To the OP, you should not feel like you are "reaching" or stretched-out on a Gary Fisher Mamba, given that one design point of the Mamba's G2 geometry is providing the rider with a reduced cockpit reach, thereby allowing the rider the ability to more accurately control and effectively weight the front wheel.

    Visit the link Whacked provided and compare the results with your personal riding comfort, control, and feel.

  11. #11
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    Awesome feedback. Really appreciate it.


    I feel much better about my bike now.

    About the seat; Another bike shop I went to today recommended real bike shorts to help with breaking my seat-part in. He said I would want them eventually anyway, and it might be enough to avoid buying and returning saddles trying to replace something that might end up not being a problem at all...


    So far, riding around my block (I live on a small slope) has been kicking my ass, but I have been touring around the area and loving the feeling of tired muscles. I am hoping to get strong enough to hit a real ride in a few weeks...

  12. #12
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    yea, real cycling shorts with the chamois padding helps
    Dont forget a good shirt. cotton shirts dont cut it when you get hot and sweaty. No need to buy a cycling jersey, they are kinda pricey to begin with. I went to Target and bought several 'exercise' type shirts for $12 ea. they are made of the same material as the expensive jerseys only plain color and no advertisement printed on them. they dont have the cycling cut but mine do a good job of covering my crack.

  13. #13
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    I'm late to the party but I want to try and help..

    2. My arse is in some serious hurtage after one short ride... I assume that I should just suck it up and give it a short rest between rides? Should I get a soft saddle to start out?

    Bike shorts and sore ass are two different things. Bike shorts should help prevent chafing, and their seams should be placed in areas that don't increase chafing or pain. Regardless, when you're just starting out, or if you take a break and you're getting going again, it's going to hurt. In the short term, it doesn't matter what you wear (though jeans/pants will probably hurt more).

    3. My last bike (15 years ago?) had bar ends and I loved them. Any reason that I should not get them? (in terms of some advancement of technique or style or whatever).

    Today, bars are wider than they were back then. That said, bar ends still have a purpose, are still sold, and I like them. If you think they'll help, rock 'em.

    4. I am taking it easy right now to get the feel of riding (the slightest upgrade kills me, and it is HIGHLY discouraging being so out of shape). Any advice on how to ride to maximize my getting into shape?

    You're a (former) marine right? Rock it, dude. IMO, a huge part of cycling is mental. Climbing hurts. It hurt when I started, it hurts now. The difference between then and now is that I know it hurts, I know how it hurts, I expect it to hurt, and I know I can push through it. Stick with it and you'll get there.

    5. Finally, I am naturally WAY more aggressive than my lady. How do I get her to understand the gearing and be a little more confident?

    When I ride with my wife, I follow. I encourage her, I let her ride how she wants and I give advice when she asks, or if she does something wrong that would make a big difference in her ability the next time. Other than that, I enjoy that she's out with me and I STFU .
    :wq

  14. #14
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    I have the same measurements as you. 5' 11" and 30 inch inseam (that's pants) and I also have a Marlin but I got the 17.5 and it fits just right. I tried the 19 and it really was too close to everything when i stopped.

    The hills do get easier with time but i don't settle for that and when the ones I'm used to get easier I find bigger ones. Not steeper just longer.

    Try different saddles to help with the butt pain but time on the saddle will do alot for that. I get sore sitting bones after about 30 miles now but it used to be after 5 I spent more time standing on the pedals than seated. I still weigh around 250. I tried different 6 different saddles on my previous bike in all shapes, thicknesses (padding), and widths but now the one that came on the Marlin is my favorite I've had.

    Bar ends are all up to you they can help to give you different grip positions that can actually change your stance in the saddle depending on what ones you get and how you mount them. I got a pretty crazy handlebar/bar end set-up but I love it.

  15. #15
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    ... and if we just ...

    [QUOTE=nachomc] a huge part of cycling is mental. Climbing hurts. It hurt when I started, it hurts now. The difference between then and now is that I know it hurts, I know how it hurts, I expect it to hurt, and I know I can push through it. QUOTE]

    Amen to that.
    I've been riding and racing for 23 years - Climbing NEVER gets easier

    It just gets FASTER

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by WACK-A-n00b
    I just picked up a bike for me an my girlfreind.

    1. I feel like the Fisher is about a size too big, and I am thinking about going to the shop owner and chewing his ass a little...
    • They assured me it was "OK" but I have the seat low and get about a half inch standover.
    • I feel like I am reaching a little, but I have never been properly fitted, so I have no idea how it should be
    • I am worried that I am going to crush my manbits all the time.
    • ------ How would I be able to tell if the bike is too large without relying on the bike shop?
    This is probably a silly question but when you say "stand over" you are referring to standing over the top tub not the seat correct? Cause if you're talking about being able to put both feet on the ground from your seat that would explain a lot. Probably not the case but I've seen a lot of folks around here that feel the correct set up is to be able to put both feet firmly on the ground while they're sitting on the seat which makes climbing tough to say the least....

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by vtmusher
    This is probably a silly question but when you say "stand over" you are referring to standing over the top tub not the seat correct? Cause if you're talking about being able to put both feet on the ground from your seat that would explain a lot. Probably not the case but I've seen a lot of folks around here that feel the correct set up is to be able to put both feet firmly on the ground while they're sitting on the seat which makes climbing tough to say the least....
    Forward of the seat over the bar.


    Anyway,

    ry different saddles to help with the butt pain but time on the saddle will do alot for that. I get sore sitting bones after about 30 miles now but it used to be after 5 I spent more time standing on the pedals than seated. I still weigh around 250. I tried different 6 different saddles on my previous bike in all shapes, thicknesses (padding), and widths but now the one that came on the Marlin is my favorite I've had.
    This is currently what I am doing. I spend about 90+% of my short rides standing on the pedals... I assume that is wrong from the way you said it.



    With the hill climb, I am "taking it easy" as in avoiding a heard attack. I dont shy away from hills, and the bay area has plenty. Matter of fact, yesterday I tried to climb a monster that has always killed my walking up it. I failed but got farther than I did when I got the bike on Tuesday.

  18. #18
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    Yeah bar ends pretty much rock. They were on just about every mtb in the 90's and early 00's but they seemed to become upopular. I had them for a while on my hardtail and I loved them and wish I had them on my dualie. Maybe I'll dig mine out and put them on. They are great for extended stand-up climbs as it puts your hands in a more natural position.

    Rock on dude

  19. #19
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    Not bike related, but General Amos did what should have been done from the begining- There are no former Marines. Errah!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by beastie_3
    Not bike related, but General Amos did what should have been done from the begining- There are no former Marines. Errah!

  21. #21
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    [QUOTE=jeffgre_6163]
    Quote Originally Posted by nachomc
    a huge part of cycling is mental. Climbing hurts. It hurt when I started, it hurts now. The difference between then and now is that I know it hurts, I know how it hurts, I expect it to hurt, and I know I can push through it. QUOTE]

    Amen to that.
    I've been riding and racing for 23 years - Climbing NEVER gets easier

    It just gets FASTER
    Thank you both for the above advice. This was very helpful on a hill specific training day. I tried to just 'Embrace the Suck' and it was definately a different mental experience than hills had been before. Wack-a-noob, the quotes above are great advice. Keep on pedaling brother!

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