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Old 07-09-10, 12:18 PM   #1
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Frame Size versus Top Tube versus Crown Jewels

Hi All,

I am a total newbie to mountain biking and made a purchase of a 19" Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc a couple of months ago. Foolishly, I went into the bike shop during the last day (hour) of a sale and picked out my bike based on looks, Specialized reputation, and price without testing out any other bike in the shop. I just went with what the sales rep recommended.

My dilemma now is that I don't feel really comfortable with the standover height of the bike. I am male standing 5'9" with a 30"-31" inseam. With my feet flat on the floor, my "boys" are resting on the rear half of the top tube. If I happen to make my way forward on the top tube, it starts getting really uncomfortable. The cockpit seems to be okay though. I might even be able to scoot my seat back a bit for a little more room.

I talked to the store manager and he said it's possible to swap out the frame to the next smaller size, 17". He was roughly my height and said he owned a 17" frame for more technical riding. I rode around the parking lot on a 17" Hardrock and it had the comfortable standover clearance of an inch, but the cockpit felt pretty cramped. A longer stem and pushing the seat back would help, but I've read other forum threads saying the steering would be "heavy" and have a tendency to endo.

I'm a newbie, so I don't know if I'll be doing anything really "technical" anytime soon. Going to ride more mellow fire trails at first and see how that goes. So what should I do?

Option 1: Stick with the 19" and get used to the idea of my man junk feeling perilously close to the top tube, but have ample cockpit length.

Option 2: Swap frame size to the smaller 17", but have to adjust components to create cockpit length.

Option 3: Try to sell my lightly used bike and get a frame that actually gives me both standover clearance and cockpit length. Would lose a good chunk on resale and don't have more money to throw at a new bike.

If you have any ideas, i'd like to know what style/kind of riding you do yourself (i.e. aggressive, casual, technical, downhill, etc...).

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Old 07-09-10, 04:43 PM   #2
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It sounds like you and I have relatively similar builds. I'm also 5'9" with about a 30-31 inseam and a fairly long torso for my height. I rode a 17.5 inch bike for about 8 years and loved it. That said, about 4 months ago I bought a new bike with a 19 inch frame. The cockpit is much more comfortableelf and I feel much more in control riding. When I stand flat footed over the frame, I encounter the same problem.

Its never bothered me, but that may be because I've got pretty good bike handling skills (if I do say so myself) and I've got clipless pedals. I think the clipless pedals severely reduce the likelihood of me racking myself because I can't really slip off the pedals (knock on wood). If I were you I'd slap some new pedals on there and keep the bike. Just my $.02.

FYI, if it makes you feel better, my first two mountain bikes and first road bikes I bought on the spot. Only with my third mountain bike did I research and shop around.

Happy riding!
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Old 07-10-10, 07:47 AM   #3
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Dude, that 19" is too big. Definitely get the smaller frame and a longer stem. The shop may even have some "take-off" stems that will cost a lot less, or even better, they may let you fit one up and try it before committing to that size or particular stem. Talk to them about your concerns and see what they can do for you.

Regarding endo-ing, as long as you're not so stretched out that you can't put your butt back behind the saddle to shift your weight back, you'll not have to worry about it. Not knowing your bike exactly, but knowing how entry-level bikes are set up more for comfort than performance, I'm sure you'll find you can push your stem length out another...oh, 15mm maybe, without any adverse handling effects. Keep an eye on rise, too; dropping or raising the handlebars will affect how you feel on the bike, too, not just reach.

So I vote for Option #2: change the frame out (no charge, right?), get a longer stem, and dial in your saddle position and bar height, and ride the bike until you feel that you've really maxed it out and need more performance, then take your knowledge and experience back to the shop to get something that you really like and that fits like a glove.
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