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Discussion Starter #1
I need some help figuring out what bike would be best for my girlfriend. Shes between 5'1" and 5'2" around 120lbs. She currently rides an 06 Gary Fisher Genesister Marlon but its pretty heavy and she occasionally complains of back pain from the rough ride. I want to get her a lighter less harsh riding bike within a $2000 limit. We mainly ride single track thats not to crazy, no big drops or jumps but pretty rooted and twisty. Are "women specific" bikes really women specific? Or are they just mens bikes with women specific colors? Her bike is "women specific" and it weighs more than mine and im a 6' tall man! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
 

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womens Specific

As far as what bike is best for her its really something that she needs to decide. Find some bike demos, or see what you local shops have to rent/ demo and get her to spend a few hours on a few different bikes. Then she can decide what she likes best.

Womens specific bikes vary from manufacturer. Many of them include shorter cranks, smaller reach brakes, different saddles, narrower bars, lower step over height on the frame, etc etc etc. Definatly not just pretty in pink.
 

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^That anthem is a hell of a bike. My wife test rode one and loved it but they wouldnt budge on the price any and it was just out of our budget at the time. But it will most likely be her next one. She has a 2012 Giant Yukon FX currently.
 

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Back pain is probably a fit issue. Get her a good bike fit and see how she feels. You could spend $2k on a 28 - 30 lbs FS or $8000 on a 22lb FS - same difference if they don't fit correctly. $400 or so will get a good fit and, as needed, stem, bars, saddle, post, shoe shims and she'll feel great.
 

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My wife just got a new Specialized Epic Comp 29er f/s. Coming off a 26" f/sTrance, she is riding much faster, and feels more confident on the technical trails. Excellent all-around bike!! She is 5'2" and riding a small.
 

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She might have issues fitting the 'unisex' bikes because of her height. some of the women's bikes come in 14 or 15" frame size. it also depends if she is taller in the legs or torso.

I personally don't like the 29er or 650b. I feel way too high off the ground (I am 5'3"). But that is on more of downhill trails, perhaps on technical flats it would be okay.

She is going to have to get on a few to see how they feel to her. I am not overly convinced that 29ers are for us vertically challenged women. She may not even be able to clear the bar on some of them. I am not sure if there are any women's specific 29ers.
 

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She might have issues fitting the 'unisex' bikes because of her height. some of the women's bikes come in 14 or 15" frame size. it also depends if she is taller in the legs or torso.

I personally don't like the 29er or 650b. I feel way too high off the ground (I am 5'3"). But that is on more of downhill trails, perhaps on technical flats it would be okay.

She is going to have to get on a few to see how they feel to her. I am not overly convinced that 29ers are for us vertically challenged women. She may not even be able to clear the bar on some of them. I am not sure if there are any women's specific 29ers.
Giant just introduced the Anthem 29er W this year.

 

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Discussion Starter #10
Upon talking with my gf iv found a number of factors are hindering her ride enjoyment. 1st: She has a hard time figuring out what gear to use in more technical sections such as hills or log jumps. Her bike being only a 24 speed and rather heavy probably doesnt help either. 2nd: She doesnt look down the trail (as most of us dont) so she finds herself sitting when shes hitting bumps, roots etc. Hence the back pain. Im gonna do a "clinic" with her, try to teach her how to use her bike properly. Im also considering a lighter set of wheels. I think these things will really up her riding ability and enjoyment. Thoughts?
 

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While upgrading her current bike might make things better you might want to make sure its worth putting money into. How many things do you feel need to be upgraded on her bike and how much is that going to cost? Now pit that against the cost of a new complete bike. Technology has come along way in the last 6 years as well. If you go to a $400 wheelset, a $400 fork, another $150 in tires....you're already over the $1000 mark. At that point I personally feel you'd be better off looking at new bikes. The Anthem X 29er 4W for example is $1925 MSRP. There is other similar bikes on the market in that price range as well.


Also teaching her to look down the trail will help ALOT. Tell her it's just like driving down the road. You look where you want to go so you know what you are about to hit so you can avoid it. Also the brain will tell the body to steer the bike whichever direction you are looking. So looking down the middle of the trail will make it easier to keep the bike on course.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks SuperSlow35th! I totally agree with you as far as going crazy with upgrades on my gfs bike. I actually upgraded everything on my own bike (an 06 Fisher Tassajara) as things broke, wore out or I just got better and the components couldnt keep up. So now im into it for way more than its worth and now I want a 29er which, like you said I probably could have bought for what ive spent on my bike. For now Im just gonna teach her how to ride the bike and use the components properly. Im also gonna take her in for a fitting to make sure the bike is set up right. I want her to enjoy riding and be as confident and comfortable on her bike as possible. Couples who ride together stay together! :)
 

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You might check with your LBS and see if they do lay away as well. My LBS did lay away with 10% of the MSRP down and as long as I was making payments they'd hold on to it. Made it not quite as much of a hit to the wallet.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Id like to thank everyone for there help and input but im surprised no one suggested a Specialized Myka or Safire. I was in a shop today and they had a 2012 Myka FSR Elite. Really nice looking bike and seemed to be specd nicely. Another shop suggested a Santa Cruz Juliana, which they would have to order. Id prefer to get the R model over the D cuz it would be lighter for my gf. Is anyone familiar with any of these? I like the Giant Anthem but I feel the combo of full suspension and 29" wheels might be overkill and intimidate my gf rather than motivate her. Its not a done deal though as she would still have the final say.
 

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The safire is going to set you back above your $2000 budget unless you find last years. But, a really nice bike. The shop I worked at used to sell both. You can tell a difference in both geometry and spec on the Safire, it has 120mm of travel instead of 100mm, slightly slacker HTA as well. Myka is a great entry level bike, specialized specs it out nicely even at the non-elite level. She MAY find sizing an issue, I believe they are only S, M, L. The small Might be too big for her. Some brands come in inches, which equates to more sizing options.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Understood about the sizing issue with the Specialized Myka and Safire. I didnt realize they only come in small and up which I confirmed via there website. I wish theyd specify the approx. height for frame size. Id still like to have her test ride the Myka just to see. So I guess its down to the Santa Cruz Juliana R. I understand its pretty much a "mini" Superlight which is one of my favorite full suspensions for its performance through simplicity. No one has any in stock in my area so that makes fitting nearly impossible and id hate to have a shop order one only to have it not workout. It looks like shes gonna be riding her Fisher for a while!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I should also mention that her current bike is an XS or 14.5" and she fits well on it just to give you all an idea of her size. Im just so amazed how heavy such a small bike geared towards a woman is. Makes no sense to me!
 

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I seem to recall the last time I stepped on a Safire that I felt most comfortable on a medium, my current bike is a small. Might be worth her getting on the Myka or Safire, they may fit smaller than size.
 
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