Help with an unusual bike sizing problem.-
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  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jun 2020

    Help with an unusual bike sizing problem.

    Hi folks, I'm wondering if anyone here can help me with a bizarre mountain bike sizing problem. I'm six feet tall, but I have a 29 inch inseam. Basically I've got the arms and legs of someone 5' 6" stuck on the torso of someone 6' 5".

    This wasn't really a problem with my ancient 17" 26er, but when I bought my last bike I contacted the manufacturer just to be sure. I don't think they quite believed how extreme my body proportions are; they said the minimum frame size I should consider was 18".

    When I got the bike I found I couldn't straddle the top tube. I actually don't mind that; the real problem is I don't feel like I have room to move around. I have trouble clearing obstacles I used to hop over easily on my 26er because I can't shift my weight back far enough. I've improved things somewhat by cutting down the bar to 650mm and putting on the shortest stem I could find. On the plus side, climbing is oustanding.

    It's time for a new bike, and I'm wondering how I could choose and set up a bike to fit better this time. I'm in the market for a hardtail for casual trail riding on intermediate trails, but I'd like something I can push the technical difficulty on a bit. I'm looking Salsa's Timberjack, because apparently it allows you to tweak the chainstay length.\

  2. #2
    since 4/10/2009
    Reputation: Harold's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Sounds like it's the short arms in particular that give you the range of motion troubles. My wife has short arms, as well. EVERYBODY tells her that based on her height, she should be on a small frame. But she has zero range of motion on a bike like that. Works fine for road riding, I suppose, but on a mtb, it's a deal breaker. She has to size down as a result, to an XS frame. Which, of course, isn't a size many manufacturers even offer these days.

    You're probably going to be pretty sensitive to bike length dimensions of ETT and Reach. I would go out test riding with the objective to bracket those dimensions. Find what is obviously too long. Then what's obviously too short. Narrow your search until you hone in on a range of "acceptable" frame dimensions. It's entirely possible that you could still wind up with frames that don't work due to OTHER dimension issues like seat tube length, stack, etc. Do the same there. What's too long? What's too short? You may well have to throw out price as a decision factor. Once you run through that process of narrowing things down, you'll probably wind up with some obscure stuff and other frames you can't ride. They'll probably be boutique or semi-custom, and who knows, your best bet might be a custom made frame.

  3. #3
    CEO Product Failure
    Reputation: bingemtbr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    This might be reason to call Sherwood or Teresa at Ventana Mountain Bikes USA. All bikes are hand crafted near Sacramento. They offer stock, semi-custom, and full custom options. Definitely worth a conversation to see what's possible. Unsure on your budget. As an owner of (currently) 3 Ventanas and having a Ventana as my primary bike since 2003, I can confidently recommend them.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mack_turtle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    when you say inseam, are you talking about your pants size, or the actual height of your pelvis? look up "cycling inseam" to get a better idea. it's likely quite a bit higher than your pants inseam.

    most modern mountain bikes are being designed with EXTREMELY low top tubes. you'd be hard-pressed to find a bike with a top tube too high, unless you're looking at junk-level bikes that are not designed to be ridden on trails.

    standover height is truly over-rated. I am 5'9" and I never expect a medium from to give me more than 1/2" of clearance before I actually rack myself on the top tube when standing directly in front of the saddle. so long as it's possible for me to stand flat-footed somewhere over the bike, that's all I can ask for. with suspension forks, 29" tires that are nearly 2.5" in width, it is nearly impossible to build a bike that has "generous" amount of space.

    650mm handlebar? is that a typ-o? holy moley! is there even room for two full-length grips on that?

  5. #5
    mbtr member
    Reputation: scottzg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Quote Originally Posted by grumpynerd View Post
    I don't think they quite believed how extreme my body proportions are
    I don't believe you either. There's no way you have a 28" inseam at 6' tall. For every person who has truly odd proportions there's 50 that have convinced themselves so. Also, the taller you are the less likely it is that your weirdness is short long bones.

    Typically leg length corresponds with arm length, and they somewhat cancel each other out for fitting.

    REI has fit-kit tools, and they do free fittings. (i think they sell salsa, too) Call them up and find out when the employee who is handy with the fit tool is working. Wear some basketball shorts, and go get yourself measured. In the extremely unlikely event that you're the freak you say you are... i would go custom.

    650mm bars wtf.
    "Things that are complex are not useful, Things that are useful are simple."
    Mikhail Kalashnikov

  6. #6
    well mannered lout
    Reputation: MOJO K's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    I would go out test riding with the objective to bracket those dimensions.
    This is exactly the right answer.

    I am curious how old was the 17" 26er that you were comfortable on?
    Well my days of not taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle.

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