So I think I am confused on how to properly size a bike. I know the best way is to go get on the bike, but I am trying to get a feel of what I want to look at based on specs. Plus its hard to locate all the bikes I am interested in, in the sizes I would need. I have a Trek 7200 hybrid in a 25" frame right now. It has a stand over height of 34" and an effective top tube of 23.3". Overall this bike fits me well, when riding on the road that is. I tried taking it on the trails, and it didn't handle well for a few reasons. One of my biggest complaints was that the top tube seemed to be in my way. This really sucked because I felt like I couldn't stand up to pedal when needed on climbs. The bike just felt big and cumbersome on the trails.
I am 6'8", 285lbs. and have a 36" pants inseam. I tried measuring true inseam and got about 37", maybe 38" with my tallest shoes. Standing over my 7200, it feels tight on. I am guessing I need at least 1-2" more of clearance. I read a few places that you should have at least 3-5" of clearance between your inseam and stand over height, others say 4-6" or 2-3". It seems like some of it is preference, but I am wondering if there is more of a standard of what to look for.
I am looking at a few bikes...
Gary Fisher Cobia 29er
25.3" effective top tube, 31.7" Standover
Trek 69er 3x9 21.5"
25.1" Effective Top Tube, 32.2" Standover
Trek 6000 21.5"
25.2" Effective Top Tube, 32.1 Standover
Trek 4500 24"
24.2" Effective Top Tube, 35" Standover
Specialized Rock Hopper 29er 23"
26.4" Effective Top Tube, 34.4" Standover
Specialized Rock Hopper 29er 21"
25.6" Effective Top Tube, 32.9" Standover
I worry that the Trek 4500 and Specialized Rockhopper have too much stand over height. The Specialized seems to have the best top tube length for me, but it has .4" more stand over height. Seems like the Trek 21.5" size has the most "ideal" top tube length to stand over height. I think the Gary fisher would work too. By specs alone, they all seem like they would work because they all have a longer effective top tube length than my 7200. Granted, its more of an upright riding bike with different stem and handlebar setup, but still.
I sat on a Gary Fisher 26er 21" and it wasn't bad. The stand over height is only .2" of a difference between the 26er and 29er, so it was a close approximation. The guy at the bike shop thought the handle bars were too close to me, and it wasn't the best fit. He suggested the 24" Trek 4500, but looking at the specs, it does have a shorter top tube length. The stem on the trek might be a little longer though, but I am guessing that would come out to be the same. I am just wondering if it looked funny though, and if the fisher bike had 29" wheels if it would look more appropriate with me on it.
I guess my question is, am I looking at this right? My thought is that if the handlebars are a little short on the fisher, I can extend them out a bit. The guy at the bike shop recommended against it saying that I would have less control over the bike. So not really sure what is ideal. I do know that it seems the larger you go in frame size, the more parallel the top tube seems to be. This worries me based on my experience with my 7200.
For instance, here is the Specialized Rockhopper Expert Disc 29er in a 23" frame....
versus how its shown on the website...
My thought is the bigger the frame size and stand over height, the more parallel the bar will be and I would probably have the same climbing issue while standing up and riding. I am thinking its worth the sacrifice in an inch of effectivie top tube length in some cases, because I could always modify the stem to work.
Based on my research, that has been my logic thus far. I am thinking about this the right way? I would appreciate any advice, because again, its hard to find all the sizes I am looking for. It would be helpful to get an idea of what to look for so I can find those bikes at particular shops and try them out.