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Old 04-05-07, 10:12 PM   #1
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I'm a weird-shaped dude

Hello all,

Noobie here with a question. I'm looking at purchashing my first real mountain bike. I'll be spending a lot of time on pavement, but I'm looking for greater versatility than a road rig can offer. I like shortcuts (not always paved), gravel and the housing developments that sprawl across suburbia. I'll also be hitting trails as often as possible, maybe once or twice a month since the serious dirt is further away.

I need some help on sizing. I'm almost 5'8" tall with short legs, short arms, and a long torso. This is a nightmare for bike geometry. My cycling inseam is 30.5" but since my trunk is overly long, I've got some problems.

Right now I'm looking at the Specialized Rockhopper with Deore shifters, disc brakes and a Rock Shox fork. I love the look and feel of the bike but am uncertain which size to get. The 15" frame gives me the right standover height but requires a custom stem to get the cockpit dimensions long enough for my weird-ass body. The 17" frame gives me about 2" of standover, but only requires some aft seat adjustment to get me where I need to be. It also feels like a better, more comfortable ride for me. Not by much, the 15" is good, but there's something about the 17" that just feels better.

I've been told by my lovely LBS that either will be fine for me. The 17 will be better and more comfy on the street, while not quite as snappy in the woods, while the 15 will be slower and more cumbersome on pavement, but easier and faster off-road.

In most of life's dealings, I'm a medium sort of guy. I'm not sure if Specialized's small bike is the right choice. I also don't want to get something just a hair too big. I've used all the equations on the various websites and books and, since they all differ just a bit, I never get a single measurement. According to Zinn's website, I need a 16.5. Another says I need a 15.3, and several say I should buy a 17.8.

Any suggestions from the veterans? I know measurements are important; I also know you should usually go with what intuitively feels the best for you, as all riders are different. I would welcome any input, though.

If it makes any difference, or breaks any ties, the 17" is a WAY cooler color.

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Old 04-05-07, 11:19 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by ZenSlinger
I also know you should usually go with what intuitively feels the best for you, as all riders are different.
That right there is the most important part. If possible, see if you can take each size out for a few hours to get a really good idea of how each fits you, and decide from there. Also think about what things can be fixed by adjusting seat height/seat, and replacing the stem/handlebars.
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Old 04-06-07, 12:28 AM   #3
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Im jumping on the take-them-both-for-a-spin bandwagon :]
That way you should ge a nice feel for them both, and be able to make a more informd decision.
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Old 04-06-07, 08:02 AM   #4
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You might try a Gary Fisher. When i was testing bikes the salesman said i didn't look like i fit them as they are usually for guys with longer torso's. i tried every size 16" to 23" and they all felt terrible (i don't have a long torso). the "right" size for me was a 19" but it already had a long stem and still felt too small, it would have needed a really long stem and a seatpost with lots of setback and move the saddle disturbingly far back. so i settled on a 21", the geometry felt great with no adjustments, though i have like -1" standover

I wanted a do-it-all geometry because this one bike is my commuter, long-road rider, light family xc-er, and aggressive better-bring-a-first-aid-kit xc-er.
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Old 04-06-07, 08:37 AM   #5
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Test ride more bikes - it's the only way to Know what really fits well. Also, I'd recommend Gary Fisher as well, since their top tubes are about an inch longer than standard. Oh, or a Rocky Mountain Blizzard - so long, so sweet.
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Old 04-06-07, 09:01 AM   #6
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Heh. Sounds like we have the same problem. ( see this thread: )

I am down to the Specialized Hardrock or te Marin Bolinas Ridge. But I'm also going to check-out the Gary Fishers. I have ridden an Opie before, and though I am looking for an XC bike, I think the low standover height will be good for my short legs. And the bombproof frame will be good for surviving my 300 lb weight. I think a few more pounds of frame don't make much difference when you have that much rider weight.
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