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Problem with fit on mountain bike

969 Views 16 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  AndrwSwitch
Newbie to trails/singletrack here. Im trying to do some cross-training for triathlon and TT and living in Colorado there is lots of off road option. My problem is fit. Im 5'6", with short legs and long torso. With my other bikes I was fit to get dimensions, then went and looked for bikes that matched the dimensions I needed, but cant seem to find anyone that does mtb fits. My issue is even going down to a 15" I have no movement up and down under my crotch, and switching smaller leaves me way way cramped. Suggestions will be much appreciated. Ive tried Specialized and Trek thus far.
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Small frame + long stem should equal out the fit for you.
Cross-country MTB fits are somewhat similar to road fits. Do you already have a road bike? Try riding with your hands on the flats. If it's too upright that way, try riding with your hands on the corners of the bars, on the ramps above the hoods, on the hoods, etc. You're looking for the shortest reach that's comfortable for you. Try to match that reach on your mountain bike. The handlebars on my mountain bike are slightly further than the flats on my road bike bars, but about an inch and a half higher.

When you say there wasn't enough movement under your crotch, do you mean you hit the saddle, or you didn't have enough standover clearance? If it's the saddle, can it go lower? What if you cut off some of the seatpost? If it's standover clearance, can you find a brand that tends to have a more radically sloping top tube?

My concern is that while a small frame and a long stem would give you good fit in terms of your body position, and you'd probably get really great climbing performance, too long a stem can make going downhill a little scary. I could see it making it harder to get the front wheel over things too.
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Good advice above... Stem and saddle position can help significantly with a smaller frame. I would suggest looking at some additional companies too. Fisher has historically had long top tubes, and Giant lower top tubes to seatpost length.

Good luck!
You could consider some of the women's specific models out there - some have dropped top tubes to give an extra inch or two of standover. The GT Zaskar W for example.

What sort of bike are you after? Cross country hardtail, cross country dual suspension or a longer travel trail bike?
Looking for front suspension hardtail. Something to hit up singletrack and trails with. Nothing to fancy. This is my first mountain bike so Im a lil in the dark. I plan on it taking a while to get "accustomed" to the position. Im so used to a Tri bike, the sitting up feels weird. Its the standover that is an issue. I figure for reach you guys are right about a longer stem. While you guys are tossing out opinions, will I notice a big difference between "lower end" discs and normal v-brakes on something along the lines of specialized RH or the comparable?
I've got the same issue, and I'm the same height/proportions. Standover height is important, but not the sole criteria in judging a bike. I went for a good fit, and gave a up some on standover height. Trail riding hasn't been and issue.
When I got my Hardrock two years ago, with Avid BB5s, I didn't notice a difference between that and my old V-brakes right away. But when they bedded in, they definitely had better modulation, and performance is more consistent on wet, muddy days. It also facilitates an upgrade to hydraulics later if you decide to do that, although I wouldn't be surprised if Specialized and Trek put disc hubs on their V-brake bikes in order to avoid stocking non-disc MTB hubs.
I agree on the BB5's. They also won't wear your rims to shreds if you ride in the wet and the mud. A 180mm rotor on the front (an easy upgrade) makes the BB5's even more powerful.

Don't get too hung up (pun intended....) on standover - on a light duty cross country hardtail it's not that important to have huge clearance. Even 1" will be fine. As long as the bike is the correct length.
i'm 5'5" and always had problems with my stems since my arms are too short!!
So on every bike i own, i replace it with a shorter stem and 1-2" riser bars.. This always work out well for me =]
What you want ae 2 things:

a good LBS that understands how to fit you using the top tube measurement and cockpit as the guiding principle and

2) you want to find the bike that has that ideal top tube fit.

Frame size, like shoes, is a guideline. Standover is a non-issue, and no you won't die or kill yourself, may riders (me included) have no standover, but hey, we don't stand over the bikes we ride them.

If said LBS doesn't use top tube measurements, walk out and go elsewhere.
Good luck, Jim
JimC. said:
Standover is a non-issue, and no you won't die or kill yourself, may riders (me included) have no standover, but hey, we don't stand over the bikes we ride them.

Good luck, Jim
Standover was a concern of mine when I started looking into getting a bike and while the bike I currently have does not give me that much clearance, isn't standover useful in preventing one from turning into a wishbone on a crash?
If you have a long torso and sitting up seems odd to you then a cross country front suspension race bike may suit you much better. It has a racing position with a longer top tube than recreational bikes. If you look on the Jamis site it has these categorized. I believe Giant may have them categorized as well.
Vtolds said:
Small frame + long stem should equal out the fit for you.
I agree 100%.
Depending by the riding you do,frame size can be cheated by customizing other components.
No a big discover there,you just need to figure out what fits you better.
I'm pretty sure a top tube

doesn't know what kind of bike it's on, it only knows how long it is. A purchaser and the LBS can figure out the correct top tube length, regardless of type of bike, so the rider is a happy camper.

I'd think the purchase of an XC bike (faster, twitchier handling) would not serve someone well who's looking for, say, and AM or light FR bike to ride.

Just my .02, Jim
Not sure what you mean, sorry...

after 15+ years falling down on the Norshore and Whistler, I have not, nor have my fellow riders, banged their privates on the top tube. Standover is nice, but not always possible.

There's this bloody old myth that one needs 4" standover at least, which simply is a load of BS.

Of course, standover applies to being on the ground, apparently. ;), not me.

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JimC. said:
There's this bloody old myth that one needs 4" standover at least, which simply is a load of BS.
!? I've never heard that one. Certainly doesn't apply to any of my bikes - I'm not a big enough person for a bike with full-sized wheels to have a geometry that makes any sense with that much clearance.

I think it's good to have some clearance. I'll frequently stand over my bike with feet planted if I'm hanging out at the start line for a race or I'm at a signal that I think will take a long time to change. But aside from that, I wouldn't worry about it. I'm starting to think about another bike myself, and will be looking for something long and low if I'm going to continue to have any standover clearance.
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