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R.I.P. DogFriend
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Helping a fellow rider look for a bike. She's 5'2" and very 'petite' (I would estimate around 100lb to 105lb, but didn't ask ;) ). She just started riding a few months ago (on an older Raleigh M-50 that weighs well north of 35lbs), but has progressed rapidly, and is interested in a new, lighter bike. Local terrain (SoCal) is a mix of hardpack, semi-rocky at times but not really chunky, a litttle sand here and there, and always a fair amount of climbing. She has some budget to work with, but not necessarily going full tilt (which I think is a good idea at this point).

She likes XC/Trail riding and is considering both hardtail and FS bikes. Just wondering if relatively featherweight (being a clyde, that is something I have NO experience with) riders feel like:

1) it's worth it to lug around the extra weight of a FS bike?

2) they are able to tune full suspension bikes to work well for them?

3) for the same amount of money, you'd rather have a hardtail that is 3lbs+/- lighter with better components?

Thanks in advance.
 

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Most air shocks have a workable range that starts about 80lbs and runs past 280#. Most are tuned for optimal compression and rebound adjustments in the 150-200lb range depending upon bike size. L&xl bikes will get a heavier rider tune from the factory than med bikes and s&xs bikes will get a featherweight tune.
There are womens' bikes out there as well. Don't think of them like the dept store girls bikes though.
 

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jeffj said:
Helping a fellow rider look for a bike. She's 5'2" and very 'petite' (I would estimate around 100lb to 105lb, but didn't ask ;) ). She just started riding a few months ago (on an older Raleigh M-50 that weighs well north of 35lbs), but has progressed rapidly, and is interested in a new, lighter bike. Local terrain (SoCal) is a mix of hardpack, semi-rocky at times but not really chunky, a litttle sand here and there, and always a fair amount of climbing. She has some budget to work with, but not necessarily going full tilt (which I think is a good idea at this point).

She likes XC/Trail riding and is considering both hardtail and FS bikes. Just wondering if relatively featherweight (being a clyde, that is something I have NO experience with) riders feel like:

1) it's worth it to lug around the extra weight of a FS bike?

2) they are able to tune full suspension bikes to work well for them?

3) for the same amount of money, you'd rather have a hardtail that is 3lbs+/- lighter with better components?

Thanks in advance.
A nice light FS bike is sure fine. Specialized has a few offerings in that category, at reasonable cost. Stick to coil shock and forks, and send them off to TF tuned or whatever equivalent in your neck of the woods, with the rider weight and frame type explained. They can tune a fork/shock to fit whatever, as long as you stay clear of air shocks/forks, as they need a minimum pressure to work and hold air.

If you want to make it the easy way, and can live with a 3 lbs. penalty, get her an Intense M1. It can be adjusted to work for very light riders, even without having the shock re-valved.
Forks can easily be dealt with, if you pick one of the RockShox offerings that sports a Motion-Control cartridge, as all you really need to do, is to take out the compression valve in the piston, and get a soft spring, to make it suit a petite woman.


Magura :)
 

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HT is okay IMO if the rider will be happy on it. For me, when my husband and I first got bikes, he wanted to ensure that I rode it, which meant making me more comfortable (also a forgiving bike), so we went the FS route.

For a rider that is pretty light on a fully, I'd probably suggest looking at the "WSD" bikes as the suspension is generally tuned for a lighter rider (e.g. a unisex bike made for the general public might have suspension tuned for a 180lbs rider, where as a WSD bike might have suspension tuned for a 130lbs rider). This, along with generally thinner frame tubing are some of the benefits for the women's bikes vs. unisex.

That isn't to say that a unisex bike won't work. I have been a lighter rider on a unisex bike without any special suspension tuning, but she may find that the fit and feel of the WSD fully is more comfortable.

Something to think about!

Either way going from a 35lbs bike to something in the 22-25lbs range will make her fly up hills :)
 

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miss rides a lot said:
Either way going from a 35lbs bike to something in the 22-25lbs range will make her fly up hills :)
She already climbs pretty well and I think the Raleigh is truly closer to 37-38lbs :eekster: It will be downright scary to see her climb on a much lighter bike.

Her stated budget range is currently in the $1500 to $2000 range, but could change to get her on a bike that works really well for her.

My major concern on going to FS is that rear suspension adds weight and I don't know how well it works for really lightweight riders.

Possibly thinking of looking into one of these (@ 14", and 20.1lbs claimed weight w/o pedals) for the time being with the thought that she could continue honing her skills on a hardtail with a bike that has some very nice parts that can be swapped over to a FS frame down the road (trail ;) ):

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/fly_team_xo_20.htm

She has plenty of local support to get it dialed in.

Thanks all for the comments so far.
 

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A SID fork is air sprung, which will be a nightmare running very low pressure, so the bike in the link is not something I would recommend.


Magura :)
 

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I would still suggest going with an air fork/shock over coil, which is likely to be more expensive. When I was racing DH I had coil fr/rear (Fox 40R and Fox DHX 4.0) and wound up having to purchase lighter springs for both = more money, and the coil is going to add weight overall.

As for the bike, really that comes down to what fits her and what she feels comfortable on, which I realize she can't test out an internet purchase.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
miss rides a lot said:
I would still suggest going with an air fork/shock over coil, which is likely to be more expensive. When I was racing DH I had coil fr/rear (Fox 40R and Fox DHX 4.0) and wound up having to purchase lighter springs for both = more money, and the coil is going to add weight overall.

As for the bike, really that comes down to what fits her and what she feels comfortable on, which I realize she can't test out an internet purchase.
Hey, didn't realize you were 'you' until I clicked on your blog link ;)

You know the terrain we have here (what you rode at the FTF in October). Do you have any thoughts on the 29 vs. 26, or 29FS vs. 26HT, for smaller / petite riders?
 

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jeffj said:
Hey, didn't realize you were 'you' until I clicked on your blog link ;)

You know the terrain we have here (what you rode at the FTF in October). Do you have any thoughts on the 29 vs. 26, or 29FS vs. 26HT, for smaller / petite riders?
I think my best advice would really just be to have her try out various bikes either through demo days or at the bike shop riding over curbs, etc. She would easily be happy with any and all of the above, so long as she feels comfortable pedaling it and it fits her!
 

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Mr.Magura said:
A SID fork is air sprung, which will be a nightmare running very low pressure, so the bike in the link is not something I would recommend.


Magura :)
While it will be harder to tune as smaller changes will have a larger impact on bike performance and feel. She is in no way close to pressures that any reasonable o-ring our quad ring seal will keep from leaking past during operation.
 

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I'm her size and started with a 35 lb hardtail which I rode for a year. Once I got familiar with the bike it was fine and the weight didn't bother me but then I went to a FS, and when I had to ride the HT again it kicked my butt. The ride is just so much smoother and it makes the longer rides more comfortable for me. I know bikes ride differently so if I could find a smooth'ish HT (there probably is no such a thing) I'd consider it just for the weight save. My FS is still a 30 lb beast but I'd rather be comfortable and enjoy the ride and honestly I'm so used to it, the weight doesn't bother me.
 

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Found out that she is actually 120lbs, but doesn't look like it. She says she has been a weight lifter, so maybe she has more dense muscle tissue than the average person. IDK, just stabbing in the dark as to why :) My own daughter is 5'9" and weighs 124lbs (so she told me on Mother's day), so that was my frame of reference.

miss rides a lot said:
I think my best advice would really just be to have her try out various bikes either through demo days or at the bike shop riding over curbs, etc. She would easily be happy with any and all of the above, so long as she feels comfortable pedaling it and it fits her!
That (demo some bikes) was the conclusion we arrived at for the time being.

She had made some comments that made me believe we possibly had a Class 1 "goat'r" (climbing junkie) on our hands. I asked some more questions trying to confirm that, when she said she really wants to "make it easier to pedal up the hills because once she gets to the top, it is so much fun going down the hill."

Whew! She's 'normal' :p
 

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jeffj said:
Found out that she is actually 120lbs, but doesn't look like it. She says she has been a weight lifter, so maybe she has more dense muscle tissue than the average person. IDK, just stabbing in the dark as to why :) My own daughter is 5'9" and weighs 124lbs (so she told me on Mother's day), so that was my frame of reference.



That (demo some bikes) was the conclusion we arrived at for the time being.

She had made some comments that made me believe we possibly had a Class 1 "goat'r" (climbing junkie) on our hands. I asked some more questions trying to confirm that, when she said she really wants to "make it easier to pedal up the hills because once she gets to the top, it is so much fun going down the hill."

Whew! She's 'normal' :p
Not sure of her price range, but a nice light full suspension sounds like it might be the ticket :thumbsup:

Many people recommend HT's at first, but I went fully and still love them! 29er HT might be more forgiving than 26" HT.

Either way, I hope she finds a bike that fits her and loves it!! There is also the STR swap meet tomorrow, which I know is a way's south of you guys, but an option for used bikes. Wish I had something to offer!
 

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PermaGrin said:
I'm her size and started with a 35 lb hardtail which I rode for a year. Once I got familiar with the bike it was fine and the weight didn't bother me but then I went to a FS, and when I had to ride the HT again it kicked my butt. The ride is just so much smoother and it makes the longer rides more comfortable for me. I know bikes ride differently so if I could find a smooth'ish HT (there probably is no such a thing) I'd consider it just for the weight save. My FS is still a 30 lb beast but I'd rather be comfortable and enjoy the ride and honestly I'm so used to it, the weight doesn't bother me.
This conforms well with how the Mrs. feels about bikes. She actually uses my DH/trail bike when she can get away with it, which is anything but light. Comfort wins over performance in her book.



Magura :)
 

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A late reply... I'm 115lbs on a 5" travel bike. FS works great for smaller sized people and I do get all my travel. But I'm still trying to get the pressure adjustment just right. There are widely varied opinions from the different "experts" I've gone to (including Fox Shox at Sea Otter) and my pressure has been adjusted up and down multiple times.

Any bike over 30lbs is a beast to anyone that light. I started with a 32lb bike and it was bear to climb with. Mine is currently ~26lbs and much better... although if you do the math of bike to rider weight ratio, a 26lb bike on a 115lb rider is still much more weight to carry than say a 35lb bike on a 190lb rider (my bf). With a lighter bike, I also feel that I'm much more in control of the way my bike handles.

Hope she finds one that fits the budget!
 

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JeffJ, is this Christy, the climbing monster on The Beast last Monday that I had to go back for after her superman OTB off the waterbar? That girl doesn't look a pound over 98, I'd swear she's still not triple digits.

I think you got your answer, it's a FS after seeing her climb on that Gary Fisher FS....

I think, from what I've seen, that the rider is question could adapt quite easily to whatever you put her on, FS or hardtail. Unless she plans on racing, I'd put her on as light a FS as her budget would allow. I think for where she rides, and her core strength, a Tall Boy in a small, built at around 26.5 pounds would fit her to a T. Might not fit her budget right now and it would be worth saving for, but if she looked around for one slightly used, rebuilt the drivetrain with new chain, cassette and ring gears, she'd be very happy. Or find a used frame, and go from there on the build up, with the 120mm fork up front. With a good light Stan's wheel build of course, some 355's or Crests, to lighten up the mass she has to spin up.

Or find an older 2007 or 2008 Small RIP 9, like you did for Kendra a few weeks back. We both know how well that worked out for Kendra, like a duck to water.

I know our opinions vary on bikes, but we both know how well 29'ers work for where we like to ride, and that girl either has the core strength or will build it up very quickly. I've never ever seen anyone as new as her attack The Beast and clean it without resting like she did, on platforms, no less, not even clipless.

The rear suspension can be made to work quite easily by changing the size of the can on the rear shock. A light person on a HV1 or HV2 RP23 can will get the full range of travel. It just depends on how progressive or how linear they prefer the travel on the rear shock. Small cans are more progressive, HV can's more linear. If price is more important that weight, put her on a new Marz TFT2 Bomber 44. I'm sure you know enough folks over there at Marz to get it dialed in for her. ;)

Another option, probably worth waiting for... sign up for OuterBike, demo any and everything you want for 4 or 5 days in Moab for a very reasonable price.
http://outerbike.com/

She's sure to find something that fits her there.
 

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She needs a high leverage frame. Dont worry about coil vs air vs dampers vs tunes or anything like that. a 120lb rider on a 2:1 bike will never get that thing dialed for them. Its kinda like the difference between buying pants that fit, and buying huge pants and using a belt and rolling up the legs.. They both work, but you really should buy the fitting one. If you're looking for 4 inch bikes, look for ones with 1.5 inch stroke shocks. 5 inch bikes are a bit harder, the trance x uses a 1.75 inch stroke, as do some spec bikes now.

Once you find a high ratio frame, look for lower comp tunes and then bigger sleeves if necessary. RS dual air forks are notoriously good for light riders, fox floats notoriously bad for them.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks turtol!
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R. B., yep, that's her. I (as you can see in the title) didn't think she was anywhere near a buck-twenty either.
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Yeah, a high leverage ratio is probably a good idea.

For now, I think she's just going to hang back on purchasing something until she can test ride some more bikes. Probably a good idea.
 

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As a smallish woman, I can vouch for light!

In socal, I find that a hardtail works fine for most stuff around here. HOwever I did use to have a FS bike and I did enjoy that quite a bit as I gained fitness/experience, and figured out what kind of bike really suited me. The FS does jump start your skill set by making things easier (tech up and down).

I guess the bottom line is, either is good!

BTW I still have to get up that way to ride with you. Funny enough I was considering hitting pinos on tues or wednesday...
 
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