While at a local shop recently kicking tires before my first purchase for a long time, the guy working there said I had a long torso. Are there any bikes better suited to riders with this type of build? I am 5'8" and looking to do general XC riding. Thanks.
In general, a Med should fit you fine. But if you are so disproportion, you may not fit you can always swap out longer stems, say the bike come stock with 100mm stem, if you put 120mm it would feel significantly difference. I don't see that as a problem though.
I'm a long torso guy too, and I've always felt good on Giant bikes, but I've never researched the geometries, so I can't give you any solid recommendations. But I'd totally suggest sizing up and test riding the larger bikes. Personally, I've never minded my balls touching the top tube, cause honestly, how often does standover height matter? I mean I figure I'm either clipped in, or I'm not riding, right? So I'd suggest going with what feels good when you're actually peddling.
I'm 5'8", 31.5" inseam - so a shortish torso, I think. Certainly longer legs than the OP (Unless his pants don't fit. .) I was on the cusp between a 17" and a 19" Hardrock when I bought mine in '07, and their sizing was still the same as the Rockhopper.
Generally, people with longer torsos get larger frames for their height, although, especially on an entry-level bike, there can be problems like too large a head tube making it difficult to get the handlebars low enough.
Other things to think about are that the relationship between your weight and power output will effect your riding position, as will your flexibility. Elite riders aren't riding low and long because they're trying to stay out of the wind - it's to counterbalance the power they're putting into the crank. AM and DH riders like a shorter reach because it's easier to get behind the saddle on a descent, and a shorter stem because it's easier not to endo or dive the front end.
Luckily, our bodies are pretty good measuring sticks for bike sizing. It's good if you can do enough of a test ride to try riding at a high power output, which may reveal too small a frame, and popping some wheelies and riding down some stairs, which may reveal too big a frame. Of course, demoing on dirt would be ideal, but it's rare to get that opportunity.
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