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  1. #1
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    need advice re: SS MTB for short person

    OK I have finally decided I am a)sick of gears and b)sick of using my bmx as my single-speed.
    Actually I love my bmx but i'm going to be commuting and in all weather and so the bmx isn't gonna cut it for that.

    What I would love to get (or build) is a single-speed mountain bike. The frames have always appealed to me more, plus my commute is going to involve enough off-road that I wouldn't want a road bike anyway. And from the bmx bike, i'm used to being able to ride anywhere I feel like, anytime.

    Here is my problem: I am 5'3" with about a 29-30in inseam. I'm female. But I hate the frame-style of woman-specific frames.
    Other problem: This bike is going to be my daily commuter, even in some rough weather, plus I don't want it stolen, so I don't want to get a $1000 bike. I'd say $700 max, and i'm not sure how comfortable I am even with that. You know, the cheaper the better!

    So far I have been looking at the Redline Monocog 26 but the stores near me (currently living in Richmond, VA) don't have it in stock - they have to order it. So I can't hop on to test the sizing. Standover height is supposed to be 28.4" which is awful close to my inseam.

    The Jamis Exile comes in a 13" with a 26.3" standover, which sounds much better to me. But it's $675 which is right at my money cap. Plus, it has disc brakes and might look better to steal. I guess I could always give it a horrible paint job ;)

    Now, I also have a crazy light aluminium no-name brand 1980's hybrid frame that a friend gave me. It has horizontal drops, and I do have two 26" wheels with surly SS hubs that I could throw on it for an instant cheap SS. But I am worried that the frame is too weak. I am glad it's light, but c'mon. It needs to be able to take a beating.
    Plus, that frame is probably too big for me. When I stand over it, the top tube rests right up at my nethers. If I different shoes on, it might even dig in painfully.
    I haven't had a chance to measure the exact stand-over height of it, but obviously it's around 29 or 30 since that is my inseam.

    Soooo: Should I get the Redline? Even though i'll only have about an inch over the standover? I've read that you should have about 3" over it.

    Or should I spend a bundle on the Jamis for a better fit, but risk having a stealable bike? And I know nothing about maintaining disc brakes - are they tougher to work on?

    Or should I spend 0$ and just convert that aluminum weakling I have, and just hope I don't ah.. hurt myself. How dangerous is it to have so little standover? Btw I am female if that makes a difference :P

    Also: I don't feel like building a bike from the ground up. Putting on new wheels is about as much I really feel like dealing with right now - ie, I don't want to get a frame and then have to get forks, and then have to get the seat tube and seat, and stem and bars, and on and on. It would just be too much time and money to make it a cheaper option, I think.

    So.. help? Anyone? :)

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    BFSSFG old timer riderx's Avatar
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    #1 thing is to get a bike that fits you properly, so scrap the hybrid idea.

    Lock your bike up solid, be smart about where you do it and don't worry about the disc brakes being a theft magnet. Jamis makes good bikes for the money, if it fits then get it. The Monocog is a good deal too.
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  3. #3
    Hello. crushkilldstroy's Avatar
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    I'd stay away from the aluminum frame. Not because it's aluminum, but because it don't fit you. You'll be happier on a bike that fits.

    When I was in your position, I started trolling around on craigslist. Found myself a killer deal on an old Klein Fervor and converted it. You even see already converted bikes go for like 150-200 bucks with good quality components all the time. The market for older MTB's isn't nearly as stupidly overpriced as the market for older road bikes, and you can get yourself a nice mid-late 90's brand name bike for around 100 bucks easy. Another perk for you is the fact that EVERYONE was riding bikes that were too small for them back then, so you should be able to find something that fits.Just take all of the old **** off, get yourself a SS kit from performance bike, build it back up again and you're golden.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jacquie Phelan
    Until mountain biking came along, the bike scene was ruled by a small elite cadre of people who seemed allergic to enthusiasm.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by crushkilldstroy View Post
    I'd stay away from the aluminum frame. Not because it's aluminum, but because it don't fit you. You'll be happier on a bike that fits.

    When I was in your position, I started trolling around on craigslist. Found myself a killer deal on an old Klein Fervor and converted it. You even see already converted bikes go for like 150-200 bucks with good quality components all the time. The market for older MTB's isn't nearly as stupidly overpriced as the market for older road bikes, and you can get yourself a nice mid-late 90's brand name bike for around 100 bucks easy. Another perk for you is the fact that EVERYONE was riding bikes that were too small for them back then, so you should be able to find something that fits.Just take all of the old **** off, get yourself a SS kit from performance bike, build it back up again and you're golden.

    I've been hunting on craigslist (and even ebay some) for about 2 or 3 months now with no luck. Just nothing small enough (Which is why I lean towards the Jamis - it seems like the best fitting frame i've seen). Also, where I live, it seems to be nothing but road bikes or brand new wal-mart mountain bikes.

    I might convert that old aluminium bike and sell that to help defray the cost of the Jamis :P What do you guys think is a good price to sell an old frame with nice cranks and nice hubs 'n wheels?
    And i'm in the process of painting a different bike frame - think it would help the selling price of the bike to repaint it too? Cuz right now it looks like arse - makes it look even cheaper than it is, ya know?
    And, if i'm repainting all those bikes - would it be blasphemy to repaint the Jamis (if I get it) and do you think a painted frame looks less stealable than one with Jamis written all over it :)

    Thanks for such quick replies. I'm always amazed by how generally friendly and helpful this forum is.

  5. #5
    BFSSFG old timer riderx's Avatar
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    Don't repaint the Jamis, it's not worth the effort and it won't hold up anyway. Remove or cover the stickers.

    You can check the Richmond MTB site and get some local advise on shops, etc. that will probably be helpful. Maybe even someone looking to unload their bike.

    Also, check this article from Dirt Rag that talks about a bike shop called Richmond Recycles. Might be just what you need.
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  6. #6
    Hello. crushkilldstroy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by krimsonidol View Post
    I've been hunting on craigslist (and even ebay some) for about 2 or 3 months now with no luck. Just nothing small enough (Which is why I lean towards the Jamis - it seems like the best fitting frame i've seen). Also, where I live, it seems to be nothing but road bikes or brand new wal-mart mountain bikes.
    Really? That sucks. There are crap tons of decent enough old bikes on Seattle's CL. Different areas I guess.

    Quote Originally Posted by krimsonidol
    I might convert that old aluminium bike and sell that to help defray the cost of the Jamis What do you guys think is a good price to sell an old frame with nice cranks and nice hubs 'n wheels?
    I wouldn't bother. There just isn't much of a market there. I've seen good frames with $6-700 worth of stuff hanging off of them sell for $300. Sucks for the seller, great for the buyer.

    Quote Originally Posted by krimsonidol
    And, if i'm repainting all those bikes - would it be blasphemy to repaint the Jamis (if I get it) and do you think a painted frame looks less stealable than one with Jamis written all over it
    Wouldn't be blasphemy. Do what you like. I know I wouldn't, but it's just because I like shiny new things.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jacquie Phelan
    Until mountain biking came along, the bike scene was ruled by a small elite cadre of people who seemed allergic to enthusiasm.

  7. #7
    Senior Member deathintransit's Avatar
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    My wife has about the same standover height as you do. We got her a Bianchi SASS complete for under $700. She loves it. If she required more standover, we could put a set of smallere width tires on. Something like a 26x1.75 as opposed to the 26x2's that are on there. Then just put a larger chainring on for a better city gear and you'd have a sweet commuting bike. She also rides a Bianchi San Jose with a Nexus 8 hub. There is a lot to be said for internally geared hubs.
    This is no cross on my hand!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by deathintransit View Post
    My wife has about the same standover height as you do. We got her a Bianchi SASS complete for under $700. She loves it. If she required more standover, we could put a set of smallere width tires on. Something like a 26x1.75 as opposed to the 26x2's that are on there. Then just put a larger chainring on for a better city gear and you'd have a sweet commuting bike. She also rides a Bianchi San Jose with a Nexus 8 hub. There is a lot to be said for internally geared hubs.


    Does she have the 13.5 or the 15.5 (26" or 28" standover)?

  9. #9
    jack of one or two trades Aeroplane's Avatar
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    Get the Jamis and a good lock. Fit is most important. Disc brakes are easier to take care of than rim brakes.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dr Irwin Goldstein
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    the most irrational form of exercise I could ever bring to discussion.

  10. #10
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    If you want cheap, you can always get the Motobecane Outcast 26 (I bought one earlier this year):

    http://cgi.ebay.com/NEW-MOUNTAIN-BIK...QQcmdZViewItem

    The 15in frame should fit you.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moto74 View Post
    If you want cheap, you can always get the Motobecane Outcast 26 (I bought one earlier this year):

    http://cgi.ebay.com/NEW-MOUNTAIN-BIK...QQcmdZViewItem

    The 15in frame should fit you.

    It's cheap, but i've heard it's kinda crap. If I wasn't worried about height as much i'd rather spend the extra $100 for a Monocog. But the standover for the Monocog 15" is a full inch greater than the 15" Outcast so i'm not sure it's still in my fitting range.

  12. #12
    BFSSFG old timer riderx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by krimsonidol View Post
    It's cheap, but i've heard it's kinda crap. If I wasn't worried about height as much i'd rather spend the extra $100 for a Monocog. But the standover for the Monocog 15" is a full inch greater than the 15" Outcast so i'm not sure it's still in my fitting range.
    You need to go try these bikes out. These bikes are going to have sloping top tubes, going strictly by the published numbers is good to get a frame of reference, but you need to actually straddle the bike - the standover can vary quite a bit along the top tube. Also, just as important as standover is the top tube length, so keep that in mind too.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by krimsonidol View Post
    It's cheap, but i've heard it's kinda crap. If I wasn't worried about height as much i'd rather spend the extra $100 for a Monocog. But the standover for the Monocog 15" is a full inch greater than the 15" Outcast so i'm not sure it's still in my fitting range.
    Yeah, the components aren't the greatest but they won't break right away. So far I've replaced stem and handlebars due to a crash that bent them. The wheels are out of true but they're holding up ok. If this is a daily commuter then this bike would probably be better than the Monocog because of the gearing: it's 42:16 while the Monocog is 32:16...that makes for a lot of pedaling on the street. But if you're gonna change out the drivetrain anyway then I guess it doesn't matter. And like riderx said, these are sloping tob tubes so the standover isn't really a big issue. I think the standover is measured at the center of the tob tube so if you stand closer to the seat then you'll have more room.

  14. #14
    dc pirate, 4evah. chimblysweep's Avatar
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    +1 on the SASS. I have the 15.5" (I ride a 48cm track bike) and it's a little too big. I'd stick with the 13.5" if I were you.

    the only thing I'd say about the SASS or the Jamis is, you're paying alot for disc brakes. It sounds like you're not going to be riding trail, so that might be a waste of $ for you. they're easy to maintain (the BB7's) when you get used to it. it's the hydraulics that are a super pain, and you're not in that price range.

    the 3" standover clearance idea comes from people who ride on trails. you need that space to move the bike under you and corner/ride technical stuff better. if this is just for a commuter, you should be fine with 1" of standover. it'll be too long for you too, though, so you'll prolly want to buy a shorter stem.

  15. #15
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    Not to drag this post from the dead, but i've got my money ready, have fitted a couple bikes, and am pretty much ready to buy.

    But here is my problem (woe!):

    I've got 2 bikes in mind that will fit me, and with different pros and cons:

    Jamis Exile 13"
    PRO: at $675, it's probably a good deal (last year's model).
    PRO: gives me an extra inch of standover.
    PRO: steel frame
    PRO: ships assembled (which I actually might consider a bit of a con)
    CON: at $675, plus possibly cost of brake upgrade, is alot more than the Motobecane.
    CON: Hayes Solo Hydro disc brakes - I guess this could also be a pro, cuz they're disc brakes, but i've heard a lot of mixed things about hydro's, and i've read some stunningly bad reviews of the Hayes Solos. I reckon I could upgrade them, but don't know how hard that'd be to do myself, or how much it would cost the LBS to do it.

    Motobecane Outcast (26er) 15"
    PRO: cheap! at $340 shipped, it comes in over $300 cheaper than the Jamis. Although I can afford it right now, so... *shrug*
    PRO: brakes are a type more familiar to me.
    CON: assembly required - i've fiddled with my bikes but never put one up from scratch
    CON: hideous yellow color
    CON: probably can't upgrade to disc brakes if I wanted
    CON: probably cheap components, might have problems in shipping or manufacturing defects

    I am completely torn. I need some kind of advice to push me over the edge towards one or the other, cuz right now i'm coming up with nothing.

    If it helps, I will be riding in some pretty icky weather (Boston).
    I will be on the road a lot, commuting (hope both of these frames can support a rack), but plan to do some offroad as well. Nothing too technical, but still. Weekend warrior, that kind of thing.

    So if you were me, would it be the Jamis or the Motobecane and why?

    Thanks! Soon i'll buy one and then i'll shut up :P

  16. #16
    jack of one or two trades Aeroplane's Avatar
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    I hate the idea of a bike that will be used both as a commuter and for mountain biking. You inevitably wind up with a compromise that does neither well, and just turns you off of both commuting and mountain biking, especially in the case of single-speed bikes.

    So, going with that supposition, I'd go with the Outcast. Odds are you will make changes to it (taller gearing, skinnier tires) to make it better for commuting, and not MTBing, so rim brakes will be fine. The assembly required on a bike like that is pretty much a no-brainer for anybody with bike experience. Go to bostonfixed.com and have somebody help you.
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  17. #17
    dc pirate, 4evah. chimblysweep's Avatar
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    I'd say the opposite- hit up that Jamis. here's why:
    1. Those brakes... pull them and sell/trade them for BB7's. No prob. Switching 'em out takes removing your rotors (just bolts) and removing the brake itself (again, bolted on.) You may need help getting the bb7's aligned right the first time, but after that, they're super simple. You'll want disc brakes for trail riding. (ask me about steep downhills on muddy rainy days- rim brakes are the suck.)
    2. That inch of standover is a world of difference, esp when you're doing flow stuff on a trail and moving your bike under you.

  18. #18
    jack of one or two trades Aeroplane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chimblysweep View Post
    Switching 'em out takes removing your rotors (just bolts) and removing the brake itself (again, bolted on.) You may need help getting the bb7's aligned right the first time, but after that, they're super simple.
    Swapping rotors is a PITA and unnecessary. Just put the rotors and bolts from your new BB7's in the bag with the hydro stuff. A 160mm rotor is a 160mm rotor.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dr Irwin Goldstein
    Men should never ride bicycles. Riding should be banned and outlawed. It is
    the most irrational form of exercise I could ever bring to discussion.

  19. #19
    thomas masini lives
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    id not buy the outcast

    mostly because i dont buy bikes in that price range unless they are used

    the cheap parts dont appeal to me

    i also wouldnt want to deal with hydrobrakes on a commuter bike

    if you can swing the time and money go the chumblysweep route

    if not find something else

    ps what are you riding now?
    not a 2ksuck'r

  20. #20
    BFSSFG old timer riderx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chimblysweep View Post
    I'd say the opposite- hit up that Jamis. here's why:
    1. Those brakes... pull them and sell/trade them for BB7's. No prob. Switching 'em out takes removing your rotors (just bolts) and removing the brake itself (again, bolted on.) You may need help getting the bb7's aligned right the first time, but after that, they're super simple. You'll want disc brakes for trail riding. (ask me about steep downhills on muddy rainy days- rim brakes are the suck.)
    2. That inch of standover is a world of difference, esp when you're doing flow stuff on a trail and moving your bike under you.
    I'm with Chimbly on this when leaning towards the Jamis.

    The brakes on that bike aren't great but they won't kill you either, especially for a commuter. When you get to riding in slush in freezing weather, ice will build up on the rims quick. The disc brakes will be much better in those conditions. If you can afford to upgrade to the BB7s, do it. Not because they are cable actuated, but because they are just a better brake. Otherwise, just ride what it comes with. I'm not sure why doofo wouldn't want to deal with a hydro brake on a commuter, you deal with hydro maintenance less than cable discs.
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  21. #21
    thomas masini lives
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    only personal ineptitude

    i am fully capable of regular maintenance on a mechanical brake

    even if it happens more i prefer it to dealing with fluid
    not a 2ksuck'r

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by doofo View Post
    id not buy the outcast

    mostly because i dont buy bikes in that price range unless they are used

    the cheap parts dont appeal to me

    i also wouldnt want to deal with hydrobrakes on a commuter bike

    if you can swing the time and money go the chumblysweep route

    if not find something else

    ps what are you riding now?
    Right now i'm riding my old bmx bike, which really doesn't cut it

  23. #23
    Hello. crushkilldstroy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by doofo View Post
    only personal ineptitude

    i am fully capable of regular maintenance on a mechanical brake

    even if it happens more i prefer it to dealing with fluid
    I'm the same way. I had hydros on a beater trek for awhile (weird, I know) and I was always super ****ing messy with them any time I had to deal with maintenance. Now that I live in a little baby studio apartment with my wife and a dachshund, I don't think it'd be too much fun slipping on oil in the kitchen. I like my cables. Of course, I don't even have any bikes with disc tabs anymore, so I don't really have to worry about that.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jacquie Phelan
    Until mountain biking came along, the bike scene was ruled by a small elite cadre of people who seemed allergic to enthusiasm.

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