Here's the basic info, I'm 5'9" with a 30.75" biking inseam (via book between legs method) and around 165 lbs. Seems that I'm more short leg, long torso type. I've been to three bike shops and have been quick fit to 17" - 19" bikes and am unsure which bike works better, and I realize that the fit can be changed by moving around the seat and changing the stem which leads me to my question... Should I go after the 17" bike and change to a longer stem or the 19" and possibly shorten the stem? The biggest problem I see on the larger bike is my lack of leg length as most of the 19" bikes have 30"+ standovers.
Here are the bikes I've tried, assume that the seats are all basically in middle position and factory stems. It'll probably be information overload.
17" Spec Rockhopper '09 - I like the body position but I find myself trying to push my backside further back on the bike a cm or so.
19" Rockhopper '10 - Felt a hair stretched out. Has a 31.4" standover so standing over the top tube right in front of the seat the bits touch but there's no pressure with feet flat on ground.
19" Rockhopper 29er '10 - Definately felt stretched out in the 5 min parking lot ride and it's standover is probably too tall.
17" GF Wahoo '09 - Again felt a little cramped and trying to slide my butt back a little bit. A bit more upright vs the Rockhopper but still a comfortable body position.
17" GF Coriba 29er '09 - Felt more upright vs the Rockhopper but the fitment seemed pretty good.
19" GF Piranha '09 - Didn't really feel stretched out, but just felt like a big bike if that makes sense.
18.5" Trek 4500 - Felt way too upright, almost felt like a comfort bike.
19" Jamis Exile 29er '10 - Position and standover wasn't bad surprisingly but for the price I think the spec is a bit low so I might eliminate this one.
I'm coming from a 15 year old Mongoose steel rigid bike that's an 18" but for whatever reason it's too small (can't get KOP and feeling cramped but don't want to upgrade it). It's also got a bit too much forward lean for my preference. With the mindset of doing singletrack & fireroads should I go after the smaller bike and use stems and saddle position to make it larger or should I go with the larger bike and use a slightly shorter stem?
Thanks in advance as I know I put way too much info down here.