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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello all. I'm making a purchase on my first 29er, and my first bike in general in over 10 years. I'm between 5'7" and 5'8" with a 29.5" inseam. I wear a size 10 Nike sneaker, and size 9.5 in dress shoes.

The bike I'm going to get is a Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc 29er. I went to the LBS and stood over a 15.5 and 17.5 frame. While standing flat foot, my crotch rested on the top bar of the 17.5" frame. The 15.5" frame had a little extra clearance, but not a huge difference. If I wans't flat foot, I cleared either.

I did not ride either frame. Since it's been so long since I've ever been on a bike, and I've never been on a 29er, I'm looking for others advice on what they think might be a smarter choice of frame. Even with riding around the parking lot at the bike shop, I'm not confident I can make the right choice in such a short time.

The guy I worked with at the LBS suggested the 15.5" for the top tube clearance. His advice was to error towards smaller and not larger but the longer reach on the larger frame could make for uncomfortable riding during extended runs. He said other than the top tube clearance and reach, the two frame sizes are pretty damn close in every other measure. The geometry spec's all look pretty close too, with a bunch of them being identical.

Suggestions, thoughts?
 

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welcome to the world of 29ers! both might work for you. it does depend on personal preference, too! you are probably between the two mentioned sizes. i went with a 19" instead of a 21" and i feel a tad cramped sometime but would rather have it too small versus too big.

please do at least ride both sizes around the parking lot. see which one feels better to you. even though you don't have a lot of biking experience recently, you can still feel if it feels good or not. don't worry too much about the height of the top tube- it's more the length and the reach.

good luck!
 

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I agree with Eric Z. I could have fit on either a 19" or a 17" Redline Monocog Flight, but I went with the smaller frame and put a 10 mm longer stem on it. The parking lot test ride was inconclusive at best, but once I hit the trail it all just clicked. It may be my imagination, but to me, the slightly smaller frame gives me back some of the old 26" manueverability. I have no regrets.
 

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I just bought a giant XTC1 29r went for 15.5 frame perfect sizing. Im 5' 6 with 31 inseam. I rode the 17.5 but the reach i found was uncomfortable.The 15.5 had a 1 inch smaller top tube, stand over height wasn't that much difference.
 

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Trail Ninja
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I'm the same height and have the same inseam. I first rode a 17.5 GFisher and ended up putting a 50mm stem and 745mm wide bar on it for a perfect fit. I then researched and noted that its top tube was really long for my height and decided to try a smaller bike since I heard it might handle better and be easier to wrangle.

I got a 15.5 Moto Fly Team29 and it was really fast and climbed really well, but it was terrible on descents and at speed. Its cornering felt a bit sluggish too.

Now I'm back to a 17.5 GFisher and 50mm stem, but with only a 685mm bar and love it. It descents great, have no complaints about climbing, but I thought it would corner noticeably better. At least it doesn't corner any worse. It might be cause I'm over cooking the turns now that I'm faster...

With the 15.5", I had to get a 400mm seatpost since the 350mm was about 20mm too short for good pedaling efficiency height. The 17.5" came with a 400mm seatpost and it's slammed as far as it can be and is a little below ideal height. I went with an adjustable seatpost to be able to lower it and I'll cut and keep the original for race days.

I really like the longer wheelbase the larger bike provides and my stance is more neutral/back. It's much more stable and I have developed a habit of not really trying to control the bike anyways, instead lightly guiding and staying in a centered riding position. Getting a small bike to better get a grip over it in order to manhandle it... it seems to counter the reasons to get a 29er. I guess I prefer a "tank" over a "jeep", but to each his own. I prefer to flow, plow through/skim over the rough, zoom downhill instead of trying being acrobatic, trying to do snake like maneuvering, twisting and unweighing the ends of the bike. It's too much effort to be skitterish, tip-toeing and hopping around. I prefer to get through as fast as possible with minimal effort, being light on the bike and letting it do much of the work and just go along for the ride as an engine.

I think you can go with either. It's a good thing being in between sizes, IMO. You can get a good fit on either and have extra options... if you're using to riding smaller wheels, you might like the smaller bike. But if you are going 29er to really take advantage of everything the wheels have to offer, then big might be better. The only downside is a longer wheelbase can't make tight corners as well as a shorter wheelbase bike can, but technique can make up for that, such as drifting the rear wheel. The bigger bike will not like to get as much air either... not a good thing if getting air is one of your highlights for fun, but a good thing if you prefer to stay on the ground.
 

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all good info....i've been mulling over this myself for some time, esp. now that my wife ok'd me getting a 29er after having bought perhaps too many bikes in the last year (?)! this will fill a niche and will be the better off-road, rigid bike instead of my old steel 'cross bike.

i am looking at the GT Peace 9r at Nashbar...$499 plus i have a 25% off coupon...they have the medium and small only...i am wondering what the difference might be for these two...big wheels will be a different experience for sure....but will there be much difference in reach, handling, smoothness of ride on descents? i know, tons of variables and then we all have our own threshold of what works. i want this to be a fun, aggressive bike...heck, it's steel (i think) and a 29er so it'll be a bit heavy i know.

just don't want to be all cramped in if i get the small. that's what i'm leaning towards...i'm 5'8"+...143 pounds...standover not an issue. how much smoother a ride is the medium? how much lighter is the small?

thanks folks
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I visited the LBS this morning and rode a 15.5 and 17.5. Good thing I did. Because it became very clear what to get, the 17.5.

Downsides of the 15.5 that where not an issue on the 17.5
- Toe overlap (depending on foot position on the pedal)
- Cramped Reach, I had to seat further back on the saddle to be comfortable on the interior reach, and that was uncomfortable position on the saddle. Could have possible dealt with this with a different stem? I also just felt like I was squished when riding sitting down.
- Stability - The 15.5 just did not feel stable when I was pedaling while standing up. Lots of wobble. I'm sure it's something that would get ironed out after getting more accustom to the bike, but based on first impression, I just felt more comfortable on the 17.5 from a stability standpoint.

Upside to the 15.5
- top tube height with slightly more clearance when flat foot than the 17.5. On the 17.5 ,my junk rests on the top tube, on the 15.5, there is maybe 1-2cm of clearance is my guess. The saddle was also right up in my rear on the 15.5 when standing over the top tube. Either one was ultimately fine for just standing at rest over while flat foot, but on either bike, I'm going to have to pay attention to "jumping off" over the tube, and try and stay on my toes and not go flat foot with any kind of acceleration, ya know what i mean?
 

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man, that just makes me wonder again...but then, i should just go to a local GT dealer and see if they have both sizes...

here's the specs from Nashbar that i forgot to paste in; of course, the GT small is a 16...not a 15.5...again, it's down to molecules and wave particles!

Sizing:

* Seat Tube Length: 16, 18, 20"
* Standover Height: 26.7, 28.6, 30.4"
* Effective Top Tube Length: 590, 612, 633mm
* Seat Tube Angle: 74, 74, 74°
* Head Tube Angle: 71, 72, 72°
* Wheelbase: 1097, 1109, 1131mm
 

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Trail Ninja
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Now that you mention it, my 15.5 did have toe overlap issues. I only ever buzzed my shoes on the climbs though. It's pretty rare to have a foot forward when you turn the wheel enough to cross. The GFisher 17.5s had no issues with that. The moto didn't have any standover clearance either, which I didn't care for anyways until I went off the side of the trail which was a 6' drop and came to a complete stop upon landing... my feet weren't on the pedals, so... GFishers have pretty good clearance despite being a size bigger and I appreciate clearance now. A few months ago, I fumbled in a deep rut on a downhill and my left foot slipped off the pedals. i was doing the Flintstone dance for a moment there trying to recover and I'm glad I had the standover clearance to manage to do the dance rather than slam into it and fall over from the pain.

My 17.5 GFisher has an ETT of 597 and wheelbase of 1118 (moto 570 1084). That's about as long as I'd feel comfortable on. I'd say go with the 16" GT if you go that route.
 

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A longer stem on the smaller frame would stabilize the bike during standing sessions, I'd ask to try the 17.5 stem on the 15...
after selling specialized for several years I secretly hate selling the hardrock to adults (its kinda like a kids bike with throwaway componentry). The rockhopper is such a better investment towards the sport even at base level..
Regardless, welcome back to two wheels.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The 17.5 hardrock is already ordered, so I'm sticking with that. I went with the Hardrock Sport Disck 29er, 2011 model, so I tried to go as high as I could and stick to a budget. The cheapest 29er Rockhopper is still $300 more, and that extra $300 is going to pay for my other "buy in" stuff like a trailer hitch and bike carrier.

My LBS has a decent trade-up policy.Minimum of 50% of orignal purchase value applied towards a new bike, assuming good condition on the trade-in. IT can be more than 50% depending on age. if I decide I want to really get into moutain biking, I will just trade up. I have a few friends who got into pretty big over the past 6 months, so I suspect that within a year or less, I'll know if I need to upgrade, and will probbaly get 60-75% of my original purchase value back. Not a bad deal IMO.
 

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I am the same size as you and I ride / am comfortable on a 16.5 frame. Anything bigger is just too long and becomes a pain to throw around the trail.

I wish I could go smaller. So if I were you, I'd shop around a bit more and buy the smallest frame you can get away with.
 

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Trail Ninja
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I started off on mtn bikes, from a little kid riding on a Huffy 26", I got used to riding a bigger bike and liked going fast and far and up/down/through rough terrain as opposed to doing BMX type stuff. If you grew up riding BMX, I could understand your preference for smaller bikes, but why even go 29er if you want a BMX feel? That's what doesn't make sense to me, knowing 29ers a bit more now, but that's my perspective. My first real mtb was a '95 18" Giant ATX 860 which I rode nearly everyday for 5 years, rain, sleet or snow. My first experience on a real trail was on a 18" Schwinn Homegrown which I rode for 12k miles, mostly on roads. My first 29er was a 17.5 GFisher... that's where my preference comes from.

I have a feeling that the OP has come from the same background, considering his initial impression from testing both sizes. Sounds like he prefers the stability more. If he had tight twisty trails with a lot of switchbacks and things to get air off of and liked to do wheelies and other tricks, a 26" bike probably would've served him better, else he would've been wishing he could've gone smaller. Would help to know the pros/cons of 29ers before buying into it. I assume you're happy on your 29er for some reasons, but not for some others? It's this reason why people have multiple bikes, since that "happy medium" sometimes isn't that happy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
OP here. My background on bikes is limited at best. I had a GT Performer as a kid. I think that was back when I was 11-14 age. I got an inexpensive Mongoose MTB after that, but have no clue on the frame size, but it had to be a 26er. I rode it a lot when I was 15 and 16, and that was about the last time I really rode a bicycle. I rode it a few times in college, and now it's about 12-13 years later and I've not been on a bike.

It was interesting just getting on ANY bike for the first time for that long. I specifically road the 15.5, than 17.5, and then back to the 15.5, because I wanted to make sure that I didn't feel the 15.5 wasn't as stable because it was my first time on a bike. That was not the case here, the 15.5 just did not feel as stable to me when standing up. Seated, no difference in stability, but up right, it just wobbled a lot more. Outside of that, the general reach issue that caused my bottom placement on the seat was not comfortable on the 15.5. Even thought that may have been able to be fixed with a longer stem, there would still be the stability issue.

Given that I'm in the Central FL area, I suspect that even the more extreme trails one could ride around here are pretty tame compared to other parts of the country, just based on the topography of this reason. There may be some more extreme heavily human altered stuff, but based on a few friends who have gotten into riding the local trails, nothing sounds overly extreme.

Anyway, the main reason I'm on a 29er over a 26er is that I started out looking at Hybrids with 700c tires, and a variety of people recommended going with a 29er MTB, as it would be more versatile for off-road use, while still being perfect for casual use on-road, with the ability to swap more road oriented tires.

So, that's my back story. I've really excited to get back into riding a bicycle for general enjoyment and exercise, and I'm looking forward to see how what I think about trail riding and off-roading. The last time I did anything like that was back on my GT Performer at a local park when I was about 12 or 13, and I remember that being a ton of fun. Ultimately, I will have to see what avenue of cycling I get into the most, and I'm fairly certain I will end up on some other kind of bicycle. I simply won't know what works and doesn't work until I can get more seat time in different environments. There was only so much I could tell by riding around the parking lot.
 

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Trail Ninja
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FL is actually where I racked up much of my miles. My Homegrown with 12k+ miles was my main commuter. Nearly everyday I rode from Ft Walton Beach to Eglin AFB and then some to get to the track for PT.

I hear a lot about the trails being made out there on swamps and trash dumps. About how they build hills out of trash heaps and a table top jump out of a dumped washer machine. I haven't ridden any down there though. I discovered real MTBing in NY, in the Hudson Valley.

I lived in Winter Park (Orlando), FL to go to college and there was a nice path cut through town. I never felt a need to get a car ever. I actually stopped riding my first real MTB when I got a car in '99 and went carless in the military and until I moved to SoCal over 8 years later. Winter Park is where I used my 29er for commuter use. Shout out to Dano at Retro City Cycles for hooking me up down there. Looking at your profile, I see you live nearby there.
 

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UBUgoat said:
all good info....i've been mulling over this myself for some time, esp. now that my wife ok'd me getting a 29er after having bought perhaps too many bikes in the last year (?)! this will fill a niche and will be the better off-road, rigid bike instead of my old steel 'cross bike.

i am looking at the GT Peace 9r at Nashbar...$499 plus i have a 25% off coupon...they have the medium and small only...i am wondering what the difference might be for these two...big wheels will be a different experience for sure....but will there be much difference in reach, handling, smoothness of ride on descents? i know, tons of variables and then we all have our own threshold of what works. i want this to be a fun, aggressive bike...heck, it's steel (i think) and a 29er so it'll be a bit heavy i know.

just don't want to be all cramped in if i get the small. that's what i'm leaning towards...i'm 5'8"+...143 pounds...standover not an issue. how much smoother a ride is the medium? how much lighter is the small?

thanks folks
I'm 5'6" with a 32" inseam. I went with a medium size frame based on geometry numbers and have exactly zero regrets. The bike rides like a big (really big) BMX bike. It's easy to pop the front end up and it turns without protest. It's my weapon of choice for the flat twisty trail closest to home.

To the OP, I think you made a good call on many levels. Hope you enjoy the ride:thumbsup:
 

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Stability is relative to how good / bad a rider you are. I know people like to argue that being on a bigger bike makes you more stable, but I think that is bunk. Bigger, heavier wheels whirling around give added gyroscopic stability, but frame size really isn't that big of a stability factor.

Mountain biking is a volitle riding style. You are standing, then sitting, you are over the front end, you are behind the seat... you are all over the machine. This is why I think people should go as small as they possibly can get away with.
 

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I think I'm past that stage. I used to make a conscience effort to lift, unweight, pump, twist, etc. but now it's all natural and I'm working on maintaining a position to do it all with minimal effort. I'm all over, but I guess I don't really notice it.

You're speaking with generalizations, which aren't too useful. I got a small bike for similar reasons but found that there wasn't any real advantage to it. It's all about being centered according to the BB. When you really push and find yourself next to the stem getting your weight into every power pedal stroke in a sprint on an incline, the extra tt length may be appreciated. Don't need to get as far back either, due to more of your weight balance being rearward... I prefer to get low instead anyways. Only time I really get back is to lighten the front when I'm about to drop it down something steep before my rear tire goes over, which then I recenter myself.

I def notice differences in stability, owning 3 bikes now with my latest 29er FS being most stable. It's the longer wheelbase. When you hit a bump, the bike's angle doesn't tip as much with a longer wheelbase and long-wide corners feel so controlled.
 
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