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Mountain Bike advice, please

FunSize2011-09-22 22:14:44 +0000 #1
Hi there. My boyfriend recently rebuilt his old mountain bike and really wants me to get one, too. He thinks that I would really enjoy mountain biking. I've only even been road biking for about a year and a half. But I love descending and am not super scared of falling off my bike. those are good mountain biking indicators, right?

I don't know anyone else who mountain bikes except him. So i kind of just blindly listen to whatever he says. He's been biking for 15 years, so he is pretty knowledgeable, don't get me wrong. I just like having extra opinions.

HT or FS?

He has a HT mountain bike. He thinks I should get a full supsension mountain bike. His reasoning is that since we don't live near enoughto mountain trails to be able to practice handling skills, it would make sense for me to have a FS bike. HE also says it would just make it a more enjoyable and smoother ride for me. I guess for a newbie, what are the pros and cons of each? I have a general sense. I just don't know what would be the best for me.

Sizing

I have really short legs. I roughly measured once and it was at between 26-27in. so i definitely need a small bike. (Or xs bike or xxs). But i have a longer torso and shorter arms (but not as freakishly short as my legs). I've only found a couple bikes in my size and have resigned to the fact that I will be spending 1600 on a new FS bike. I don't really know a whole lot about bikes, but I'm pretty sure I want at least 100mm of travel.

Bikes

In my price range, i have basically two choices. The Santa Cruz S (the difference in standover of the S and XS is only 0.1 on an inch. The top tube is what is most different). And the Jamis Dakar XC Comp. My boyfriend is NOT super excited about the Jamis. I think he thinks that the Santa Cruz is the better bike over the Jamis. No bike shops near me have these to try.

I have looked at the Titus X but they are impossible to find or get too expensive.

I guess I just want to know what you all would recommend for someone who has never ridden a Mountain bike before, is looking for a FS in midget standover sizes, and is willing to pay 1600. Or, do you guys thinks I've been on the right track and I just need to make a decision now?


Catrin2011-09-22 22:23:05 +0000 #2
First of all, I am just as new as you and apologize for the lengthy response

I just learned how to ride a bike, period, 1.5 years ago - I have had a women's mountain bike clinic and a grand total of ONE trail ride outside of the clinic - but I am hooked.

It sounds to me like you are on the right track and just need to decide

There are differing arguments between HT and FS, but this is how I decided to get the FS. Some say that a HT forces you to learn better technique more quickly, but it will also beat your body up more than a full suspension. I am 51 and have multiple body parts that hurt. Everyone I know encouraged me to get a FS because it will give an overall more enjoyable ride and helps me to be more confident to try more things on the trail.

I purchased the Jamis Dakar XC Comp and am very happy with it. I don't know what your SO thinks about it, but it is a good solid bike that rides like a dream, climbs like a mountain goat when the engine is up to it, and though I have apparently been trying to break it have so far been unable to do so

I also love the SRAM 10-speed drivetrain.

I don't know anything about the Santa Cruz, others here will be able to speak about that bike, I suspect either bike would be a good choice for you. I consider the Dakar Comp to have been a great first FS choice for me that I won't outgrow anytime soon.

See if you have an LBS that stocks the Jamis Dakota 14-inch. The dimensions of that HT is, basically, the same as the 13-inch Dakar XC Comp. That was what my LBS had me ride to see if the smallest Dakar would fit or be too small.

I must say that, on paper, the TT on the 13 inch Jamis Dakar XC Comp appears to be much too long for me. My fitter, who is also an avid mountain biker & IMBC instructor, explained that the different geometry and riding position made that possible. My road bike is VERY upright, (basically a rigid mountain bike with a road fork).

Frankly the Jamis is one size smaller than what he would usually recommend for someone my size, but because of back flexibility issues and a few other things, I require a short reach... and it fits fine. The point I am trying to make in my wordy way is the importance of finding something to test-ride, and your TT length may be quite different between your road an mountain bike.
Artista2011-09-22 22:51:44 +0000 #3
Absolutely full suspension!!! I'm a smidge bigger than you are & have ridden rigid bikes, hard tails & FS. I'm no expert on mountain bikes but here's what I learned in my quest to find the best bike for me.

I chose FS over a hard tail for safety reasons. FS maintains better rear wheel contact with the ground which improves the bike's handling. Tiny people, on small, hard tail bikes, tend to bounce around more than normal size people on larger bikes. The excessive bouncing makes it even harder for tiny riders to acquire the necessary handling skills & increases our risk of injury.
It seems that many FS bikes have more stand over clearance than hard tails in the same size. This is an important consideration if you've hit the top tube as many times as I have when coming off the bike hard & fast. I've never hit the top tube on my new FS bike that has more stand over clearance than my old bikes did.
I wouldn't worry too much about 80mm vs 100mm of travel. The 20mm difference equates to only about 5/8". It is unlikely that you'll notice that 5/8" at your size. Also, the shorter travel forks keep the top tubes closer to the ground for more stand over clearance. This may be a moot point if you're shopping for a new bike since all of the newer models seem to have 100mm anyway. (ETA: Turns out that 20mm is closer to 3/4". I still don't think you'll notice a lot of difference in the travel at your size unless you are a very aggressive MTB'er.)
The bottom line is that FS bikes are safer & more fun to ride than hard tails...especially for us small women. Life is short...have as much fun as possible soon as you can. That means FS asap
Catrin2011-09-22 23:12:59 +0000 #4
Quote:

Originally Posted by Artista

...

The bottom line is that FS bikes are safer & more fun to ride than hard tails...especially for us small women. Life is short...have as much fun as possible soon as you can. That means FS asap

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