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  1. #1
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    Help me pick a HT?

    Hi, I need some help!

    I have analysis paralysis and Iím afraid I am never going to pick something.

    Upgrading from my 2004 26Ē GF Big Sur. Looking for a light, fast hardtail.

    I donít race, just want a fun bike for the trails near me which are mostly XC, not super technical. Looking in $2000-2500 range and I am about 5í4Ē. Thoughts about these or ideas on others to look at? Iím having trouble finding bikes my size to actually try near me....

    - Trek Procaliber 9.6
    - Kona Hongo AL/DL
    - Cannondale FSi 5 (didnít love the fit though)
    - Santa Cruz Chameleon
    - Liv Advanced

    How do I decide, especially if I canít find them to try???

  2. #2
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    Of that list, the only experience I have is with the new generation Chameleon. My buddy has a 27.5 in a medium frame (he's 5'6") and he absolutely loves it. I got a chance to ride it and I found it to be really nimble and light. I'm about 5'5.5" and it fits me just fine. Another bike I've tried and really liked is the Nukeproof Scout 275 in a medium. It's pretty similar to the Chameleon, just slightly smaller. I think you might be better in a small frame if you went with the Scout.

    Can you do a geometry comparison of your Big Sur with those on your list? That would help you get something in the ballpark to what you have (assuming the Big Sur fits you fine, that is)

  3. #3
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    Thank you so much! Checking the geometry of my current bike is such a good idea - will do!

  4. #4
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    At your size, I'd say you'd safely be on a small on most of those although I don't know anything about Liv, that's a women specific brand.

    You may want to check out Trek's WSD if you are a woman.

    There's a big difference in some of those bikes you list. Mainly the Procal. That's a really light, and expensive carbon bike. The others (Kona and SC - I'm ignoring the Cannondale because you already don't like it) are aluminum, and also pretty different bikes.

    The Procal is Treks XC race bike. The geo is pretty good. On the small, it'd come with 27.5 wheels, which is a big difference. Maybe not so much for perfomance, but perhaps for fit. Also if you look into the WSD Treks, they will have 27.5 in the two smallest sizes but have increased standover over the unisex version. You can't get a 9.6 in WSD. I forget what the highest one is, but you should be able to look that up.

    The Honzo and Chameleon will be more similar, and honestly aren't that light. They are more focused on strength and aggressive geometry. I'm pretty sure a medium would be too big in either one at 5'4". Also you'd probably have to do some tweaking to the bar width and such to fit your frame. Honzos come with really wide 780mm bars that aren't great for smaller riders. Easy to trim though.

    I have a friend who has a Procal 9.8 SL and he just bought a Carbon Honzo CR. He and his wife are riding both interchangeably, both ride medium/17.5 in the Trek, and both are seeming to favor the Honzo, even though it's a bit heavier bike. It has a bit more travel up front, is a bit plusher, has some aggressive tires and nice geometry. I'd recommend looking at the carbon frame if you want the lightest weight. The AL/DL will be a bit heavier than the CR.

    I think the SC seems like a good bike and it gets rave reviews. It's expensive for what it is, but perhaps that's to be expected from SC.

    Check your sizing on your other bike and report back. It might be more about figuring out if you want a more XC race bike or a trail bike though.
    Life is too short to ride a bike you don't love.

  5. #5
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    Great choices you have there.

    If you're looking for a light and fast hardtail, I suggest you look for something with an XC geometry (in small? As you're 5'4") which leaves us with the Trek and Liv as you don't like the fit of the Cannondale. I believe the Kona and SC has a trail geometry. I have a Giant Advanced (not the advanced+) and its like a rocketship, I think it isn't that far from their women specific Liv Advanced. I haven't tried the Trek though but it also has the XC geometry which you may like. Go for CF for the lightness.

    Good luck on your purchase.

  6. #6
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    I dunno if Giant does it on this Liv frame, but they have a tendency to change the names of the same size of bike between their Liv and Giant version of the same bike. I've seen them do it on some of their road bikes. For example, a L Liv frame might be a M Giant. Definitely don't just look at the names of the sizes.

    As was mentioned above, compare geometry numbers. That might be tough if you're not really used to doing it. I found that doing fit measurements helped immensely with figuring out bike sizes from geo charts. Wrench Science and Competitive Cyclist have online fit tools where you can measure your body dimensions (some require help) and the tool spits out some frame fit numbers that you can translate to actual bikes.

    http://www.wrenchscience.com/
    http://www.competitivecyclist.com/St...ulatorBike.jsp

    Also, you've got both go-fast xc race bikes as well as some more rugged trail bikes. I'd recommend figuring out which style you'd like to aim for most. Doing so will eliminate some bikes from your list of options, and will help us recommend more like those.

    As for the other part of your question, finding bikes to try, that's tough. Small (and extra small) frames are hard to find in stock anywhere. Hardtails can be difficult to find on demo trucks, which is a common recommendation. Some demo trucks have some models, so if there's a specific bike you're after, it can be worthwhile to find a demo event where that brand will be in attendance, and specifically ask them if they'll have that bike in the size you want. You may have to travel. My wife is little, and was specifically looking for a demo ride on a Juliana Furtado xs frame. We had to drive several hundred miles to go to a demo event where she could try one out.

    Another option is to use forums (like this one) to find an owner of the bike you want, and ask if they'd be willing to let you try out their bike. I recently did just that (for a Guerrilla Gravity Pedalhead, which comes in an xs, even, and would be worth considering if you want a more rugged trail-oriented hardtail), and after arranging for a test ride, I found out that the guy was planning to sell his frame in a couple of months. I still had to travel some to meet the guy, so be prepared for that.

  7. #7
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    Check out the Specialized Chisel Expert, picked one up for my kid this year and he loves it.

  8. #8
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    You have all been really helpful! I think I am leaning toward XC. I really just ride for fitness and fun and want a bike that is going to roll well over stuff and not be too heavy to push up the hills.

    This sounds like me!
    " CROSS COUNTRY (XC) RIDING
    First off, letís limit some possible confusion. Cross country riders do ride on trails. These trails range from fire roads to technical singletrack. Cross country riders participate in everything from short, hard efforts to longer endurance events. A cross country rider generally enjoys twisty singletrack, hilly efforts, the occasional jump or rock drop and smaller adrenaline inducing trail features.

    A group of cross country riders may find pleasure in putting the hurt on each other to see who gets to the top of the hill the fastest or who hard charges to win the race. They may also challenge each other on who can clean the trickiest uphill section of a trail."

    Going down to Ithaca this weekend to see if I can find some small bikes to try! Syracuse, NY is not a hot spot for demos!

  9. #9
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    Just wanted to chime in and recommend the Liv Obsess Advanced. My wife just got one. Like you she's mostly into XC riding and her old bike was a really old 26" hardtail with the old school geometry.

    She loves this new bike. It's fast and stable and the bigger wheels rock. And she really likes the new geometry. It's slack enough that she's ripping through sketchy downhills in ways she never did on her old bike (and she is not a timid descender, she's just so much smoother and faster now), but it still rides snappy on the climbs and tight singletrack sections. So if you can try one, it might be a great option.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mjrnner View Post
    Going down to Ithaca this weekend to see if I can find some small bikes to try! Syracuse, NY is not a hot spot for demos!
    Try Rochester. It's about the same distance and has many more bike shops. I would recommend calling ahead to see what is in stock though. They'll probably have lots of low end bikes in stock, but you might be able to use them to figure out the sizing.

    Tryon sells Kona - (585) 413-4444

    Park Ave sells Liv and Santa Cruz - (585) 381-3080

    Bert's sells Cannondale and Trek - (585) 424-2777


    I know Tryon has some demo Honzos, but I don't know if they have any small bikes.
    Life is too short to ride a bike you don't love.

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