Thanks for the good words MD916.
We have done bikes for legitimate clydes; we also done bikes for 4'10" tall ladies too. The biggest problem is usually budget because when you get to the outer ends of the "bell curve" there are just not too many options that work well. The ones that do are usually not cheap. But when I talk to people in this category most just nod their head and say they understand because its always been this way for them.
All that being said, we've had very good luck with Ventana. They keep up to their biggest sizes in stock at most all times. So we get them quick and no extra custom charges. I almost always recommend an El Cap because they now come stock with the heavy duty seat tube. They also use the heavy duty CS and quad bearings are std too. An added bonus is that it comes stock as a 5" travel bike. This set up is hard to beat.
Knolly makes a very stout and great performing bike too. But not in nearly as grande sizes.
Lenz and Zenn do big bikes too and have heard good stuff about them.
Below are some photos of a bike we did for a guy 6'6" 265lbs. He ended up getting (not by us) the Fox 36 fork mod and has had very good luck with it.
Thread about his bike: http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=453590
Yep that's my bike! I'm 6'6" 265 and LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!
I customized it as the thread states and made sure the Xbar was beefed up along with some other modifications, mentioned in Cody's Hammerhead Shop Video on their Home Page. http://www.hammerheadbikes.com/
Check it and them out!
I'm taking some decent drops and riding stuff I never thought possible (more up than down).
The 29 and the geometry of the frame really does make me climb better and ride faster. I just fit soo much better on this bike.
I didn't like the Turner Sultan when I demoed it on the Barton Creek Greenbelt. Too light for me. Scared me. :eekster: Thought it would break at any moment. I had no confidence on the downs and drops. (I was also coming from a Titus Super Moto with 7" of travel front/rear aka "the couch". So I was pretty confident on that bike, it was just waaaaay too short TT for me at 23.5). I did the sway backon my SM to try to make it fit, but the sway backs will mess up the geometry and physics of the ride. I wouldn't do it again or recommend it.
If you need a swayback on a frame, you shoulda got the next size up.
I read the reviews and took a chance with the TALAS 36 and the mod and couldn't be happier. Fox needs to get their heads from out of their butts and make this an adjustable 29er fork. It's rock solid, no issues outside of some mud clearance at Porc Rim (over a year ago). Alex (aka BCD) did my mod out of Amarillo. Great guy. Awesome work.
One thing I will warn you about is drivetrain. Holy smokes have I been blowing thru Cassettes, rings and hubs on my 29er and . I've been thru 6 SRAM 980s or 990s in 2009 alone. 2 different Hadley Hubs with the heavy duty body. A freaking nightmare. Just upgraded to thru axel rear hub. When I can ride on the trails, I'll let you know how it goes.
The longer chainstays and bigger diameter wheel are not a friendly duo but something I'm learning to live with as I can't see myself every riding or fitting on a 26er, now that I truly fit on a bike for quite some time, if ever.
I went with the 20T 30T and 40T custom rings in the front and 11-34 gearing in the back to widen my gear ratio on the bike. Let me tell you. MUCH BETTER! and I got an extra granny gear or two. My "Great granny". Definitely adds to the "goatness" factor
So for sure ring up Cody and the gang at HH. You can ask them about all my research and what I've gone thru. I'm close with the shop and constantly asking questions, giving feedback etc. Great shop . You won't be sorry.
If you're in the Austin area, and its a weekend that I don't have my kids, look me up I'd meet you out for a demo ride.
If I broke my fork, I'd buy a 2010 TALAS 36 and mod it.
If I broke my frame, I'd get another El Cap with the customizations I did with minor modifications or corrections as needed.
Yep, they're both THAT GOOD!
I love my ventana, how it feels, fits, and rides. I'm definitely taking my riding up a notch or two.
PM me for more information or answers.
Best of Luck!