Full squish + dropper bike recommendations for my beginner 5'1" wife?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Full squish + dropper bike recommendations for my beginner 5'1" wife?

    I am looking for bike possibilities for my wife who is a beginner and probably will never do anything too crazy. I just want the most comfortable bike with a dropper to help her feel comfortable on the descents.

    We tried out a Liv Embolden XS and while the bike was the right size, the dropper base could not be lowered in the seat tube very much so was pretty much useless to her.

    Anyone have any suggestions for beginning short riders with droppers?
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  2. #2
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    Any 27.5 bike that comes in an extra small will be fine for her.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrettG View Post
    I am looking for bike possibilities for my wife who is a beginner and probably will never do anything too crazy. I just want the most comfortable bike with a dropper to help her feel comfortable on the descents.

    We tried out a Liv Embolden XS and while the bike was the right size, the dropper base could not be lowered in the seat tube very much so was pretty much useless to her.

    Anyone have any suggestions for beginning short riders with droppers?
    Was it useless because the seat was too high or because it doesn't drop enough? If it's because it's too high, you might want to focus on XS bikes with particularly short seat tubes. That may or may not be female specific.

    Edit: You may want to take a look at mLeier's new post in this forum on the Liv Intrigue.
    Last edited by MSU Alum; 07-11-2019 at 06:39 AM.

  4. #4
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    Why does a beginner need a dropper? In my experience, they have enough trouble sorting out how to shift and which brake to use to prevent going over the bars. I would think a dropper would be one more complication to make riding more confusing/stressful while learning.
    I drank the 29er koolaid- turns out it was POWERade :)

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by MSU Alum View Post
    Was it useless because the seat was too high or because it doesn't drop enough? If it's because it's too high, you might want to focus on XS bikes with particularly short seat tubes. That may or may not be female specific.
    The whole thing was too high but not because of the height of the seat tube. It was because the frame has a bend in it that does not allow the dropper post to be inserted all the way in/down.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtbRN View Post
    Why does a beginner need a dropper? In my experience, they have enough trouble sorting out how to shift and which brake to use to prevent going over the bars. I would think a dropper would be one more complication to make riding more confusing/stressful while learning.
    Because otherwise they feel like they're cheating death on the descents. I've taught a number of new riders, all of them learn how to use the dropper quickly and they use it! I thought the same as you at first, but getting low is such a benefit that they quickly figure it out.

    How much brake to use depends a lot on center of gravity.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtbRN View Post
    Why does a beginner need a dropper? In my experience, they have enough trouble sorting out how to shift and which brake to use to prevent going over the bars. I would think a dropper would be one more complication to make riding more confusing/stressful while learning.
    Interesting thought. Maybe she doesn't. My first bike had a dropper so it's the only thing I know. I figured letting her get the seat out of the way for the mild descents that she may do would make it less stressful.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by twodownzero View Post
    Any 27.5 bike that comes in an extra small will be fine for her.
    The Embolden that we tried is a 27.5 extra small but it didn't work because the dropper couldn't be inserted into the frame all the way. The shop is trying out a shorter dropper and we will see if maybe that will work.
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  9. #9
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    A beginner may not need a dropper, but after about 10 rides, she'll probably want one. My wife started late in life - at age 58 - and very early on decided she couldn't live without one. Get it now, or get it later.

  10. #10
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    What MSU Alum said... .you'll have to focus on a XS frame that will allow for the drop you want out of a dropper.. Your field of choices will be very narrow, I'm afraid. I have some very small friends (4-11 etc) that have waited years for their dream bike because of the constraints on an XS frame. Keep in mind that as the top tube is lowered, the dropper does not need to be slammed to get the required effect. Looks can be deceiving - how does it function? I ride a Liv Intrigue and because of the way the seat tube is, same thing, can't slam the dropper but trust me, it goes down plenty for this expert rider.

  11. #11
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    No matter what bike you try, and have try her any and all in her size. You’ll still probably run into the dropper insertion issue. Look into a ks lev integra, and the new oneup both have shorter bases so they will be able to be inserted further into a short tube. The Bontrager dropper has spacers you can put in and makes the travel shorter so that is a different way to get the right pedal height for us short folks. I have used both the ks lev and the Bontrager with a spacer for my bikes because At my height I have issues with dropper heights and insertions as well.

  12. #12
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    She'll likely only be able to fit a 100mm dropper and it won't be slammed (this is about the only thing I dislike about my Ibis - the location of the linkage means I can't get full insertion on a dropper). While I wish my dropper would go lower, it doesn't really hamper my riding, though it does get in the way when I'm really trying to work the pump track hard. On the trail it's been fine, but if anyone comes up with an alternative dropper mechanism that takes up less room I would buy one.

    Don't skip the dropper though. I took a couple of newbies for a ride last year... one picked up the dropper immediately and the other one didn't, but was glad she had it when things got sketchy.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrettG View Post
    The Embolden that we tried is a 27.5 extra small but it didn't work because the dropper couldn't be inserted into the frame all the way. The shop is trying out a shorter dropper and we will see if maybe that will work.
    A 100mm dropper can be had on Amazon for $139. That shouldn't be a barrier.

    I helped a young lady buy a bike very recently. She got the Juliana Furtado. Hers uses a 125mm dropper, but she's on a small. A 100mm dropper for your tiny lady will be plenty!

    I did look at the Liv bikes for her, but the other bikes are slacker in the front and descend better. For a tiny rider she may find the steeper head tube angle more flickable, and 67.5 degrees isn't that steep, just not as slack as most trail bikes in the 66-66.5 range. It really depends on what she wants, but even the Embolden 1 still uses a 2x10 drivetrain. Beginners really should be a on a 1x so they have just four controls, two brakes, a shifter, and a dropper.

    What's her budget?

  14. #14
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    Thanks everyone for all the input. We ended up going with the Embolden 1. The shop was able to swap the stock dropper with a KS Lev one that they were able to get a couple inches further into the frame and that made it just right. We got a credit for the stock dropper so it only cost $100 more for the KS Lev. I wasn't crazy about the 2x drivetrain but since my wife is not a strong pedaler yet we just keep her on the 26 tooth up front and for now I told her to not even touch the front shifters. 26 x 42 is almost the same gearing as 30 x 50 on a 1x so she should be good for all the climbing around here is SoCal. We went on the first ride and she did pretty well getting used to having the dropper.

    Assuming the frames had similar geo (which on paper they do), the 2020 Intrigue probably would have been my preference (1x drivetrain, better suspension) but the shop was having a sale on in-stock bikes and the Intrigue was not in-stock in XS. Would have cost us about $800 more for the Intrigue.
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  15. #15
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    Any updates? My gf also has the liv embolden in XS and we are having a hard time looking for droppers. She is 5 foot. She literally needs about 50mm in drop.

    The maximum insertion in the seat tube is 150mm or 15cm and to make things worse, there is no "hole" for an internally routed dropper.

    I'm thinking about drilling a hole in the seat tube and possibly putting a one up dropper shimmed to 100mm OR buy the externally routed KS lev with 65mm of drop.

    Yes or no?

  16. #16
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    Is this an older Embolden? My wife's Embolden is capable of internal dropper routing. We put the 80mm KS Lev Integra on it and that has worked great for her. It puts the seat rails about 180mm above the seat post collar with the dropper fully extended and it as far into the frame as it will go.
    2018 YT Jeffsy 29 CF Pro Race

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