Ask Pinkbike: Bikes for Smaller Riders, & Saddle Suggestions

Jun 13, 2018
by Pinkbike Staff  

Here at Pinkbike we get inundated with all kinds of questions, ranging from the basic "Can I have stickers" to more in-depth, soul-searching types of queries like if you should pop the question or what to name your first child. Ask Pinkbike is an occasional column where we'll be hand-picking and answering questions that have been keeping readers up at night, although we'll likely steer clear of those last two and keep it more tech oriented.





Do-it-all Bike for Small-Sized Rider

Question: @okhikeabike asks in the All-Mountain/Cross-Country Forum: I am a shorter rider 5'2", with a 26.5" inseam. Fully geared with a big pack and lots of water, I'm about 175 lbs. The bikes I have been eyeballing are all a little different, and I know everyone says demo, demo, demo, but we don't get many demo events in north east Oklahoma. The terrain I ride varies from chunky technical rocky stuff to relatively smooth single track, no plans to do park or any type of racing, just casual fun group and solo rides.

My current bike does decent, I bought the entry level Specialized Camber 27.5, to test the waters and see if this was for me, about a year and a half ago. I have all but shelved my road bike and try to get out on the mountain bike as much as I can. I bought the women's model of Camber due to my stature, but I feel like the women's RX tune with my heavier build is not working as I had hoped, as its designed for lighter riders. I want to commit to a much more expensive bike now, as this is my primary hobby and I am happy to put the money into it.

My goal is to travel around the region (Utah, Colorado, Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma) to ride, so I want a single bike, that feels good when doing a bit of everything. Most bike shops around me either don't have or won't stock X-small or small frames because they just don't sell well, so again, I won't be able to demo the bikes. I am looking into: 2018 Yeti SB5 Turq SRAM X01 Eagle - extra small; 2018 Santa Cruz - Bronson X01 / Carbon CC - small; and the 2018 Pivot Trail 429 X01 Eagle - extra small.



bigquotesYour choices are all good, and I would add the Ibis Ripmo to your list as well. It's a mid-travel 29er with solid all-mountain performance. Roxy Lo is five foot one inch. She's is a partner at Ibis, so they work twice as hard when they design their small sizes in order to replicate the handling and suspension performance of their larger size options. I'm partial to the Ibis and the Pivot, but reading between the lines, I think that you are looking for specific, useful information to help clarify your final decision. Because all four of these choices are excellent performers, your main concerns relating to small sized bikes will be about suspension travel, dropper post length, and stand-over height. I've listed the most important numbers for each bike below, along with some comments.RC


Yeti SB5 Turq XS
Wheels: 27.5"
Stack: 23"
Stand-over: 26.3"
Travel: 127mm
Dropper: 100mm stock, will fit 125mm
Wheelbase: 43.9"

Pivot 429 Trail XS
Wheels: 29"
Stack: 23.91"
Stand-over: 28.54"
Travel: 116mm
Dropper: 100, will fit 125mm
Wheelbase: 43.7"
Santa Cruz Bronson SM
Wheel size: 27.5"
Stack: 23.07"
Standover: 28.62"
Travel: 150mm
Dropper: 125mm
Wheelbase: 44.9"

Ibis Ripmo SM
Wheels: 29"
Stack: 24.13"
Standover: 27.75"
Travel: 145mm
Dropper: 125mm
Wheelbase: 46.3"


Stand-over height should be optimized, but don't make it a deal breaker. For technical riding, lower is always better. Once you are riding, though, stand-over clearance has little value, so as long as you can safely contact the ground, handling and cockpit fit usually trumps the lowest possible top tube.

Some small-size bikes are shipped with 100-millimeter dropper posts, so you'll want to check if there is enough room in the frame for a longer-stroke dropper post and a short enough seat tube to allow you to achieve your correct saddle height. A call to the four brands listed confirmed that your choices will accept a 125mm post.

Big wheels and lots of suspension travel both contribute to excessive handlebar height (stack). Small sized frames have disproportionately tall stack heights to begin with, so make your choice based upon the type of riding you'll be doing most of the time. Tall stack heights are best for technical descending, while lower stack heights favor efficient power transfer and weight the front end better for turning and climbing.

Wheelbase is also a concern, as the combination of a lightweight rider and a short wheelbase can make a bike bounce through choppy terrain. That erodes control and burns off a lot of momentum that you'll be pedaling to make up. Choose a longer wheelbase if you want a better technical descender.

Finally, wheel-size is an equalizer for smaller riders. Smaller wheels allow for more suspension travel with the same stand-over and stack heights, so consider that for hucks to flat and technical descending. Lightweight riders on shorter-wheelbase bikes do not carry momentum as well as those who enjoy the opposite equation. Larger wheels with slightly less suspension travel will erase much momentum-robbing chop, and can save you loads of energy over the course of a ride.

Tom Morgan and Roxy Lo
Ibis President Tom Morgan stands six-foot, six inches, while Designer Roxy Lo is five-foot, one inch tall and both ride 29-inch-wheel Ripmos. The trick is tuning the geometry and suspension to provide a similar riding experience to both extremes. - Brad Holms photo.




Padded Shorts or a Better Saddle?

Question: Pinkbike user @witterisms asked this question in the All Mountain, Enduro & Cross-Country forum: I got a new bike at the end of last year and now that the evenings are much longer, I've been able to spend more time on the bike/in the saddle. Increasingly, when hitting the 2-3 hour ride mark I start to get sore in the saddle and then am sore the day after. As far as I can tell I have the saddle in the best position possible, and the body position is comfortable when riding. What's best to invest in? Better padded shorts? Or a new Saddle? From what I know, it's hard to test either.

bigquotesThere are almost as many opinions to this question as there are saddles and chamois (padded bike shorts). Your saddle or your shorts could be your issue but if you've been happy with your shorts in the past then I'd bet more strongly on the saddle being the culprit for discomfort in your case.

A well-fitting and well-adjusted saddle is critical. As far as saddles go, if you can get the one off of your old bike that I'm assuming didn't bother you, it's easy to put that on your new bike and see if that helps. Otherwise, head down to your trusty local bike shop and see if they have a sit pad or something similar to measure your sit bone with. If your sit bones aren't matched to the saddle and it's either too narrow or too wide, you're going to have issues. Different saddle shapes also treat people differently so finding a shape that works for you is ideal. There are a lot of bike shops that will have saddles you can test for a ride before buying one so that may be your best bet. Also, if your saddle height is too high, you can rock side to side more than necessary, which is going to cause soreness after some time, so make sure that your seat height is dialed in.

For shorts, having a quality chamois is going to go a long way in adding more comfort. Some people will ride without one, but if you choose to go that route make sure you're not wearing anything that will bunch up or chafe. Yes, bike shorts can be expensive, but if you wreck your undercarriage by springing for the cheapest one you can, the $50 extra you could have spent for the "Pro" model may seem a bit more worth it. Plus, you can't return a used chamois.

Now, you don't need to get the $300 Italian made edition, but I find that cheap shorts just aren't up for long hours on the bike and tend to fall apart quickly. Chamois do wear out over time so it's good to keep in mind that they need to be replaced from periodically- more often if you ride a lot. A personal favorite of mine is Specialized's SWAT bib - I wear it under baggy MTB shorts. It's fairly affordable and has pockets in the back to stash some supplies...kind of like a road cycling jersey but made for those who wear shirts without pockets and don't like to wear a pack. A few companies such as Pearl Izumi and Race Face make similar that work equally as well.

Also, remember that it's critical to wash bike shorts after every ride. That chamois is an ideal climate for bacteria so if you do get a little irritation, it can quickly turn into a full-blown saddle sore that will keep you off the bike for days. Another note, get out of the chamois as soon as you're done riding...before dinner and beers. The longer you keep it on, the more likely you are to develop unwanted irritation and it's just not healthy or cool to be walking around in a pool of your own sweat and filth.

Keep in mind if your saddle is the wrong width, no chamois will help but with a good saddle and decent pair or three of shorts to rotate between wash cycles you'll be riding happily for longer periods of time.
Daniel Sapp


Anka Martin on the Parvazo trail Just below the base of La Parva outside Santiago Chile.
For the best experience on your bike, having your saddle and shorts dialed in is critical. You'll never get to places like this if you can't sit down without discomfort. Photo: Dave Trumpore



Have some unresolved tech questions? Jump in the Pinkbike Forum and we'll look to answer it for next time.


151 Comments

  • + 106
 Also advising a guy who is 5'2" to buy a 29er seems like borderline malpractice.
  • - 26
flag StackingItSince1991 (Jun 12, 2018 at 13:36) (Below Threshold)
 +100. I have recently moved from a 26 to a 27.5 and for the most part it works well , but I can't believe how many times I buzz my butt on the rear wheel on decents, jumps etc. Going to a 29 would be unworkable for me and I am 5'10".
  • + 27
 Rear wheel buzzing and stack height seem to be completely ignored when recommending 29ers. Especially when they're often recommended to smaller women: shorter legs and torso exacerbates the upright seating position which may not be desirable and increases the potential for wheel buzz.
  • + 43
 If Roxy Lo designed the 29er ripmo to be ridden by herself at 5'1 I think it's fine. Some 29ers are just better than others (for this, and other things).
  • + 22
 @StackingItSince1991: sounds like you may need to work on your body position. 27.5 really isn't much bigger than 26.
  • + 9
 @ratedgg13: never underestimate the pressure to sell......
  • - 2
 Came here to say this... it should be punished with jail to recommend a 29er for people smaller than 5'4 (1.65m)
  • + 5
 Big wheels are worth checking out for some smaller riders. Roxy Lo from Ibis is 5'1", and they put a lot of effort to make sure their small sizes work well for the vertically challenged.
  • + 20
 I think there should be a rule that you're wheels shouldn't be bigger than your inseam.
  • + 19
 @brianpark: It ain't magic. Big wheel, low bottom bracket, short stays, short person -> butt is closer to the tire.

You can see it in the picture, the blue bike has a saddle that at its low point will be about 10" above the tire. The black bike will have the saddle about 2" above the tire.
  • + 15
 Selling bikes to people so their feet hit the tire while turning every pedalstroke seems to be a priority today ...
  • + 15
 @brianpark: does there exist video proof of Roxy riding her Ripmo on challenging Santa Cruz terrain?
  • + 9
 I completely agree. Big wheels are for tall people, period. I am 5'7" and have tried hard to adapt to a 29er without success. I will stick to my 27.5 from now on.
  • + 11
 I just tune in to see what kind of bad advice old mates handing out.
Like telling people that are 5’ tall that they should handicap their riding for the duration of owning a 29’er just cuz 29’ers are hot shit right now.
  • + 3
 They need the aggressive long travel 29er hype running again.
  • + 3
 Then there's the dropper post advice.... A shorter rider doesn't need a long travel dropper post as much as a taller person. My wife is in the 5'3" range. Her 100nm dropper post puts the seat well out of the way and lower than the bars... unlike my 125mm dropper on my XL frame. It's all relative
  • + 2
 I think I read somewhere that Ibis put a lot of work into making their bikes work for short people /advertisement
  • + 2
 I wouldn't knock it until you have tried it. I'm short at 5'7" (28 inseam) and really like 29ers. They carry so much momentum out of corners, have great traction, and good rollover resistance over technical chop. I still like 27.5 for the nimbleness and playful nature. Sometimes I like the 29er for a specific trail, and sometimes I like the 27.5 for a specific trail. Just depends, but both wheels sizes are valid and can be good for all size folks.
  • + 1
 @webermtb: just have to play devils advocate here as I’m 5’6” and really liked the 29er I had. It was a Nukeproof Mega which I made slacker so for my height it was extremely long (450mm chainstays..) and obviously had big wheels. It was probably the quickest bike I’ve ever owned and I never actually had to ‘adapt’ to it. Once I was on the bike it just felt like any other bike but it rolled better and had more grip.
I don’t believe they are just for tall people.
Others have also mentioned tyre buzz etc which I never really had a problem with even though I’m shorter. And I ride loads of jumps and try to ride most of the trail with the front wheel in the air.
My point is I don’t think you can generalise. It’s gonna depend on how you ride, where you ride and what you want the bike to help you do. Just like any other bike.
So buy Ibis, the brand that thinks long about short people.
I take all kinds of payment and have absolutley no morals regarding anything.
  • + 3
 @ThomDawson: Hi Thom, you might be right when you say it will depend on the kind of riding you do, but at least for aggressive trail riding and freeride kind of thing, the big wheels just do not work for me at all.
  • + 8
 It is clearly insane to recommend the same size wheels for both a 6'6" person and a 5'1" person.

I can't believe the mental gymnastics people do to try and justify small people on big wheels.
  • + 1
 @dfiler: what a peculiar statement.
What exactly are the problems you perceive with small people riding big wheels? And what leads you to this closed-minded view?
Is my testimony what you’re calling a justification?
D’you think small people must only be allowed to ride small wheels?
I’m sorry for all the questions but your statement just boggles my mind.
  • + 2
 @dfiler: what if the 5'1" person literally designed the bike herself, for herself? Does she get to make that decision? Or does your keyboard warrior expertise overrule her?
  • + 5
 @bmck: keep in mind the 5'1" person in this article isn't a bicycle engineer or suspension designer. She's a partner, which means her input into feel or ride characteristics will carry a lot of weight. "Designed for herself" in this case means frame surface styling.

Does video exist of this rider attacking suitable long-travel terrain in a manner that would satisfy PB readers?
  • + 3
 My girlfriend is 5' 1"
I built her an XS 650b frame running 26" wheels, 2.35ish tires, and super short cranks. It has the same proportions as a 29er, cant imagine her getting down the trail with wheels that big!
  • + 4
 @twozerosix: bike sizing and wheel size is a personal decision is really my point. my partner is 5'7" but if she ever gets back on a MTB it won't be a 29er because standover, stack, saddle height, etc. all need to be as low as possible for her to feel confident. OTOH, my buddy's similar sized wife is ride or die for 29ers, rides a tall-ass Kona and loves it.
  • + 3
 @twozerosix: Roxy Lo designs the actual frames. Like, where the tubes go, not just "surface styling". She may not be an engineer, but she's not just doing logo design or something, either. www.bikemag.com/features/profiles/breaking-the-mold

No video exists of anything that will ever satisfy PB readers. Everything in absolutes. My understanding is that no one should ever ride 29ers anyway, right? /s /eyeroll
  • + 0
 @bmck: feels like a knee jerk reaction to anything 29” to me. If I was riding more xc type stuff (like most of the lads and lasses around here and like I probs will in 10 more years) I’d still have my 29er. It was great. But despite all the benefits it didn’t really flatter my wannabe-RDog tendencies and that will be the same story no matter how tall or small you are. 29” wheels don’t really necessitate different geometry anymore, at least not nearly as much as they used to.
If ya tried it and ya small and it didn’t work then fair dos. But feels a lot like the same old story here just with a new twist. Now 29ers are ok cus Greg Minnaar. But big wheels are for big people dum dum. Cus Greg Minnaar. I seent it on pootube.
  • + 2
 No mention of chain stay length at all.
  • + 3
 @bmck: What that article says is DW and Hughes do the engineering/angles/lengths/where the tubes go. Meaning, they are the people who decide how to make the bike behave in a given way. Lo is an industrial designer so there's a 3D aspect (probably in addition to the 2D stuff) but that doesn't typically include ride characteristics.

Agree 100% sizing is a personal decision. Just pointing out it doesn't follow that just because someone is 5'1" and works in design at a bike company that the bikes will - in brianpark's words - "work well for the vertically challenged" in the intended terrain. Other than shaping the top tube in an artful way to create swayback-donkey standover height.
  • + 1
 @twozerosix: I agree with you that I doubt they’ve really don’t that much to help accommodate short riders on their 29ers besides email PB
“hi, RC and BP we do a lot to accommodate small riders on our bikes. Don’t know if you know but now you know. Here’s $10k buds, love you, Ibis”.
But it doesn’t mean short riders CAN’T ride 29ers. They excel in certain areas for certain riders. The height of the rider isn’t necessarily the most important factor. More important is what the rider wants from the bike, as always.
  • + 1
 @ThomDawson wrote:
"what a peculiar statement.
What exactly are the problems you perceive with small people riding big wheels? And what leads you to this closed-minded view?
Is my testimony what you’re calling a justification?
D’you think small people must only be allowed to ride small wheels?
I’m sorry for all the questions but your statement just boggles my mind."

Are you really that mind boggled by the claim that sporting equipment should be sized to the person using it? And nice try at dismissing someone who disagrees with you as close minded. Or that i'm somehow saying small people aren't "allowed" to ride small wheels. Seriously, you can make an argument without stopping to that level.

Put simply, if a 29er makes sense for someone 5'1", then I should be riding a 36er.
  • + 1
 @dfiler: I can see why our opinions differ - From my point of view at 5’6” having tried all available mtb wheel sizes I don’t necessarily see wheels as a ‘fit’ item. They change the characteristics of the bike, not the size of the bike.
But whatever. Im not 5’1” so how can i say what’d be good for somebody that height.
  • + 2
 @brianpark: vertically challenged ?!?
  • + 1
 @twozerosix: Yeah, she isn't an engineer but she is a designer. From what I read in a few other articles, she does have a lot to do with the design of the frames.
  • + 53
 It's funny how in that Ibis picture Tom Morgan looks like he's just come in from a ride (with what looks to me like dirty socks and all), while the bikes are super clean. If you look closer, there are no pedals on the bikes.
  • + 5
 @rnayel: Image sells.

They can keep it.
  • + 16
 Maybe the dude just enjoys walking around in muddy socks? Jeez, lay off the guy.
  • + 25
 It’s a new unified cleat/pedal combo. Harder to release since you need to unthread them from the crank but they never accidentally unclip on the downs.
  • + 4
 His saddle height is adjusted for Flintstones style riding.
  • + 8
 @m1dg3t: Dusty prototype ride just out of shot. Probably.
  • + 30
 No pedals wins medals.
  • + 6
 @ltj999: Stryder riding for adults
  • + 96
 Yes, I had just returned from a ride, and my bike was covered in mud. My bike was is an unpainted prototype. So for the purpose of making a nice photo for PinkBike we used a demo bike for a prop (with the saddle height adjusted to my normal ride height). Not trying to fool anyone, just trying to provide a visual for the range of heights that can be accommodated.
  • + 4
 @ibiscycles: Which is more important than dirty socks.... I'll drink to that
  • + 3
 @ibiscycles: Just busting your balls man, great looking bikes. Side note, dirty bikes are awesome.
  • - 13
flag endurocat (Jun 12, 2018 at 16:41) (Below Threshold)
 The small 29er won't work. Bigger wheels need to be separated from each other, it's a known fact that if the wheels are too close to one another the rider has to turn the handlebar a lot instead of just learning into turns.
  • + 6
 @enrico650: Tell that to the little UCI XC girls shredding their XS 29ers
  • - 13
flag fecalmaster (Jun 12, 2018 at 17:43) (Below Threshold)
 I guess it comes down to personal preference and background. There are a ton of 6' plus riders on small frames including me. It probably has to do with the bmx racing background.
  • + 8
 @fecalmaster: I'm going to have to go ahead and disagree with that one.
  • - 3
 @cdmbmw: just imagine how much faster they would go if the wheelbase was longer.
  • + 23
 @fecalmaster:
You should put this on your profile.
6’+ guy who likes small bikes.
Just so everybody knows right away that you don’t know what your talking about.
  • - 1
 @jflb: Hahahaha if I didn't see it I wouldn't believe it either.
  • - 4
flag bikes4kids (Jun 12, 2018 at 20:37) (Below Threshold)
 @ibiscycles: thanks for the photo that shows almost anyone can ride a 29er. Some folks forget that riding is way more fun than spending time looking at every minute detail of a picture. Love the bikes, but gotta run....ride.
  • + 1
 @bikes4kids: It works both ways,, short people can ride wabon wheels and the average hieght ofbmx pro is over 6'. I sound like Randy Newman.
  • + 8
 @fecalmaster: ya! People aren't entitled to personal preference, this is pinkbike you big dummy!
  • - 7
flag fecalmaster (Jun 12, 2018 at 23:30) (Below Threshold)
 @Duderz7: You really need to get some lussy. Do yourself a favor and lay the bike down to get laid.
  • + 3
 @fecalmaster: sarcasm, you big dummy!
  • + 1
 @fecalmaster:
Or you are a mazochist and don't know it yet
6' plus on a small frame is like driving in a shoping trolley and calling it a limo.
Ffs
  • - 1
 I'm happily surprised how easy it is to offend people about frame sizes. How do you explain the average height of pro bmx rider's is over 6 foot.
  • + 3
 @fecalmaster: bmx rider height is somewhat irrelevant to this. They dont make bmx bikes the size of a large mtb because its a conpletly different sport. Nobody over 6 feet is happily riding a small mtb. They would be crunched in the cockpit going down and would have a massive drop from seat to bars going up if they could even get a seatpost long enough. It makes no sense. Nobody is offended, we just know what we are talking about. Its like saying that you could go 4x4ing in a lifted truck with the tires from a mazda miata because the miata drives fine with them on the road.
  • + 1
 @fecalmaster: Short people got no one to love
They got little baby wheels
And they stand so low
can't get a 29er
until they grow
  • + 0
 Hahahaha the only difference is a spade 29erd at any height gets shit on by any pro bmx rider. Just giving you the hard facts jackass.
  • + 33
 Damn, should've read this earlier. Been wearing my chamois for 2 days, love the cushioned seating feel. And the smell of it.
  • + 18
 How's that mushroom crop coming along?
  • + 3
 @number44: Great, guess I’ll be eating homegrown Pizza Funghi!
  • + 26
 The insane part about the Ripmo (and most bikes to be fair) is that the chainstay length is the same from small to xl. Why change every other measurement as you size up but keep the one that controls your ability to weight and unweight the back end totally static. Crazy.
  • + 5
 Norco Range has increased cl through it's sizes and Liteville does this if not from it's beginning for quite some time now. But it's really weird that they keep them the same. I question if travel lenght would be changed through travel what would then happen.
  • + 3
 Definitely not just the Ripmo, but yeah it is strange. Tom is automatically already further behind the center of the wheelbase because all the difference in length is in front of the BB. Some of this is made up my using a shorter stem on the smaller sizes, but in reality, with same size chainstays, the different size frames are going to ride differently when going downhill: a smaller frame is going to put the rider relatively farther forward in the wheelbase, effectively negating some of that longness & slackness.
  • + 12
 Maybe tall people want as short chainstays as possible?
What i don't understand is why a person with the length of Roxy would want a 29-inch bike, it must be as nimble as a schoolbus.
  • + 18
 @Startgas: 5'1" Roxy on a 29er is the same as 6'4" Greg Minnaar on a 36er.
  • + 5
 @employee7 - And you'd think that would absolutely suck - yet here I am on an XL Process 111, and I love how balanced it is fore/aft. And then there's a woman friend of my wife's who's about half my weight and almost a foot shorter than me, riding a small Process 111, and she loves how well balanced it is. Given that they have the same chainstay length, you'd think that couldn't possibly be true. Which makes me think that perhaps there's more to it than that.
  • + 1
 @just6979: Yes and no - shorter riders, especially women, often have more of their length in the legs than taller people.
  • + 6
 @Startgas: Different riding sensations - a 29er, if you're able to lean it aggressively into a turn (which is a matter of strength/size to some extent, but mostly of technique), is tremendously satisfying in turns. Pair that with the bigger wheels allowing you to keep momentum (bigger deal for a lighter person, whose lack of a mass makes them more prone to that choppy sensation when they hit rough trail segments), and you have a different overall feel that might appeal to some riders, whereas other riders are looking for the super nimble BMX like feel and wouldn't touch 29ers in a million years.
  • + 1
 @g-42: What does leg length have to do with chainstay length? In fact it may accentuate what I was saying: more leg length relative to height means shorter torso, and shorted torso means leaning forward more, which means center of gravity is going to be farther forward, combined with also being relatively farther forward due to the long chainstays.
  • + 1
 That's a vast sample size of 1 bike each. She'd have to try some bikes with longer chainstays and some with shorter chainstays to really know.
  • + 3
 Agreed that static CSL can't possibly be the way to go, but the challenge of replicating suspension kinematics with different length chainstays (or a different BB position) makes it a challenge for a lot of brands.
  • + 2
 @just6979: She picked that one out after demoing a bunch of other bikes, including some that, according to conventional wisdom, should have worked better for her. Out of all of them, she liked this one - which goes to show that works for people is pretty rider-specific, and that it's about much more than one geometry number (in this case, chainstay).
  • - 1
 I think it depends on the type of bike and the intended use. Something like a Kona process 111 or the transition smuggler or pure xc bikes then the shortest possible will almost always be best as it leads to the bike being more flickable... no matter how long the front end is as it's less mass rearward of your heals to move about. I think the snag to that theory though is bikes designed with speed and gravity in mind as like you said for enduro or dh bikes you start to lose a lot of the designer intended balance when the front of the bike out grows the rear (the ripmo being a prime example).
  • + 18
 If nothing else, the photo of Tom and Roxy illustrates something I've been saying (albeit inwardly) for a long time. A lot of people argue that there is no need for super long travel dropper posts because slamming your saddle lower and lower isn't the solution to riding rough/steep stuff or whatever.

But one thing that I want to point out, as shown by Tom's saddle height, is that some of us have extremely long legs and need to run our saddles stupidly high to effectively put power down. But in this position, even a 150mm drop post still leaves us (me) a bit prone.

So I get why a super long travel post isn't really of that much use to a lot of people, but from my perspective it isn't about getting the saddle so much lower in the dropped position than everyone else, but more about maintaining the same height dropped position, whilst having a much higher extended position.

Anyone else in a similar position?
  • + 9
 I think slamming your seat lower and lower is 100 percent the solution to ride steep stuff. The photo doesnt look like that steep of terrain but if your riding really steep stuff where you are behind the back tire, unless you lower your seat it's going to be hitting your chest when you hit the super steep stuff.
  • + 6
 Look at that seat to bars height difference. Of course the riding position is going to be kinda "prone" even in full drop. The bar height difference between the two bikes is a couple inches, while the raised seat height difference looks like 3 times that. Perhaps Tom (and you) need more bar height.

At the same time, that brings up the argument against big-wheels for short people: Stack height is out of proportion to the rest of the bike, especially seat height. Roxy's raised seat looks to be slightly _lower_ than her bars! I know a few women who currently ride 27.5 XC bikes with a more upright seating position that I have on my trail bike, and now they want 29ers "for the speed" ignoring the stack height. For most XC racers, body position is *huge* for getting max power/efficiency: look how long it took Nino to get on a 29er since they couldn't get his bars low enough initially.
  • + 2
 @just6979: My point exactly. With guys like us needing to run our saddles several inches + above our bars to comfortably pedal, the current crop of "normal" droppers at 150mm leave the saddle way up. Adding some height to the bars makes the seated pedaling position more comfortable due to less craning over forwards, but it doesn't get around the need for a higher saddle than the average rider when extended, but the same height as the average rider when dropped.
Seat height to bar drop is just a way of visualising it, but no a critical factor
  • + 2
 @codfather1234: for me 6.3" bar height (seat to bar diff) is critical for AM/TRAIL. Checking different companies geos and theres so little head tube length diference between sizes L to XL, compared to seat tube length. ending adding 5cm+ of spacers under stem = not so rigid stem/bars
  • + 1
 @codfather1234: I still don't get why you would need it to drop that far (all the way as low as on the XS frame). Yes, you need a bit longer to make sure the ratio of drop to legs stays similar between tall and short folks, but if you _need_ a drop as low as Roxy, then in reality she should _need_ a drop even lower than she has now to get the same feeling. You have longer legs, so you'll be able to flat-foot-stand at a much higher dropped-height, and be able to easily get off the back at a higher dropped-height.

I agree tall people need longer droppers (ratio of leg to drop should be constant through the sizes), and that's why Ibis made a point to leave room for 175mm posts on the L & XL sizes in the HD4 & Ripmo. But to say you need the same full-dropped height as on the XS makes no sense.
  • + 1
 @Kitejumping: if you are that far behind the saddle I’d be much more worried about the rear tyre hitting me... more often than not, bails on steeps are caused by being too far back. Yes I do have Squamish grade steeps on my trails. Just look how high dh pros ride their seats. It’s all cool with dropping the saddle 200mm until your tyre hits your arse.
  • + 3
 +1 Imo the Liteville integrated Eightpins dropper is the way of the future - slammed to the seat tube for descending and no compromise on the climbs.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: you learn to know exactly where the tire is, for example really good trials riders doing a pedal up to rear tire are actually initially behind the back tire when their rear tire hits the edge of what they are climbing. There isnt an issue bombing down steep stuff with wagon wheels and a high seat, the pro downhillers have proven this, but I think you have a lot less room for errors having less space to move around.
  • + 2
 Yes dude, it's the plight of anyone above 6'.... I'm 6'3 and a 175 post is perfect for me
  • + 1
 I'm 188cm and have exactly the same issue. See my post above re my much shorter wife's bike She gets away with a 100mm drop while I battle with a 125mm travel dropper and a too low stack height on my XL...
  • - 2
 @headshot: bring back the super long headtubes on Giant Reign
  • + 10
 I literally don’t know how people can do long rides without a chamois, that and some buttonhole cream are like must haves for me on anything over 2 hours.
  • + 42
 You talking biking?
  • + 2
 2 hours? man you last a long time.
  • + 2
 Get a fitted saddle
  • + 8
 I think if your actual hole is hurting, definitely need a new saddle, or maybe need a saddle, period. Chamois are really for chafing along your leg to crotch seam area, not padding for your hole.
  • + 1
 @just6979: buttonhole cream is the brand name of the chamois cream I use. Wink
  • + 2
 I don’t think so @bishopsmike:
  • + 5
 I don't wear chamois if it's under a 4 hour ride, road or mountain. I just grew up like that and never bothered me, chamois always felt constrictive and hot. Now I've got a grundle like a baseball glove.
  • + 1
 i think you forgot to install the saddle on your seat post dude
  • + 1
 Butter from Hole foods has never let me down.
  • + 7
 Is it just me, or did they totally miss the mark responding to the bike size question? It wasn't about sizing, it was about finding a small enough bike with a shock tune that would hold up to the 175lb rider weight. Most air shocks on xs bikes have their damping tuned for very light riders, and many leverage curves only make it worse.
  • + 2
 That's not true. Most brands use the same shock tune across all sizes, unless otherwise specified. E.g. women's models like Juliana.
  • + 9
 Saddle ? am i the only person who calls it a seat ? after all it goes on a seat post not a saddle post.
  • + 4
 I don't quite agree that low standover doesn't matter much when riding. Standover in the absolute sense yeah I agree. But the (yet unnamed) difference between standover and bb height determines how much room you have to play with when cornering etc. I realize I may be alone here because I haven't heard anyone else call for this. But I'd say at least take this into consideration. Check (or have someone else check) your riding style and see how much you use the room above the top tube when cornering.

As for the absolute standover, remember it is not just about standing above the bike on level ground. When you want to bail on a descend and put a foot down, the ground is suddenly a whole lot further away. Especially when the rear suspension extends as you transfer weight onto the ground.
  • + 2
 Agreed - it's nice to be able to run a long dropper and have the seat (and the top tube) out of the way to so you can lean the bike over more.
  • + 1
 @g-42: agree, but dont forget hips need to rotate/displacement when leaning the bike, and your legs bend easier without needed that much standover
  • + 2
 @Lagr1980: Sure, hip rotation is great, and if you have perfect technique, that's the way to go. But sometimes you get bent out of shape a bit - and a lower top tube and seat can in those circumstances allow you to get away with stuff that a higher top tube and seat won't. More degrees of freedom.
  • + 1
 After my first mountainbike, every time I got one with a lower top tube because I felt it allowed me to move further and tilt the bike more. But at some point I still found the top tube would touch my leg. So for my latest build I wanted to have the top tube so low that even with my cranks level, I'd still have both knees above the top tube. Because I feel I can use those hips much better when I do have the cranks level rather than needing to drop the outside foot (so that the inside foot goes up) to get enough space. Sure I still drop the outside foot when I have to, but it is nice to be able to keep the cranks level is some other corners to push into and still have the room when I suddenly lose it or need to put in a small stroke to get me through a soft spot.
  • + 4
 As a small guy with short legs (27" inseam, 145lbs) I tried a couple of 29ers and a couple 27.5ers. I ended up going with the 27.5, and not only that, I went with the SC / Juliana Strega for the lighter shim stack. What i ran into on the 29ers (and trust me i wanted to get a 29er) was that because i have short legs and i am quite inflexible, is that when i got behind the bike on a steep rollover my shorts/crotch would get buzzed by the rear tire. I almost got sucked into the seat tube. My point is that short legs, coupled with other kinesiological impairments, can make AM riding a 29er a possible problem. As a trail bike, 29er every time. Another consideration is that legs are "suspension". Therefor, I find that having more travel helps me land jumps easier, almost equal to longer legged riders on trail bikes.
  • + 4
 Add Evil’s The Following MB in a size small too.
Wheels 29
Stack 23.23
Standover 27.40
Travel 120mm (feels like way more)
Dropper 125
Wheelbase (X-Low) 44.27
Also note at the Following’s BB height is crazy low Ingrid this bike to be a mad carving machine putting you “in the bike” versus atop it.
  • + 5
 Uhhhh...chamois butter? Anybody? Makes a world of difference in my opinion. Also, GET YOUR CHAMOIS OFF IMMEDIATELY AFTER YOU RIDE...SERIOUSLY.
  • + 5
 How am I going to talk enduro, while looking enduro, crushing brews and burgers at the pub after the ride though!?
  • + 3
 100% synthetic boxer briefs + BodyGlide = no chamois needed, in my experience. Makes frequent riding waaay easier logistically.

5'6", 27.5" wheels, smacked my rear tire HARD with my crotch at Snow Summit on Friday. Rode through it on Sat and Sun, but it still feels like I've been punched in the sack, Tuesday. Yes, user error, but my 6' riding buddy and I were noting how much closer I am to my rear tire than he is to his. Until they show video of Roxy shredding on a 29er with pedals, consider a 27.5" ride.
  • + 2
 I have this issue too at 6’1” on 27.5 DH bikes. I don’t think it is user error since i didn’t have that problem for 10 years on 26” bikes, or even my 27.5 enduro.
  • + 3
 For seat/saddle comfort, try one of those sit bone measurement tools, and find the right size & shape for you, and that's it. All the padding in the world won't help (and might make things worse by chafing other areas) if the seat doesn't fit correctly.
Size (width) is usually the most important, but don't ignore the shape too. For example, I can't put a seat with an up-swoop/scoop in the back on my trail bike, because it bothers my tail-bone, but it's OK on my road bike because I'm leaning farther forward.

It's tough to ever recommend a seat because everyone is different, but if you have a Trek shop nearby, Bontrager makes a decent range of shapes and sizes, and offers a 30-day no-questions-asked return policy. I never would have bought a titanium railed saddle unless I knew I could return it if it didn't fit me.
  • + 2
 WTB had a think with a lot of their retailers that provides loaner/tester seats. Check it out for a long ride, make an informed decision. That, right there, is the sort of thing that can keep LBSs in business even in these days of ecommerce.
  • + 2
 We should not over look the Pivot Mach 4 XS.

I know many folks riding it and the fit is very good.
I do not get why industry wants the low, long, slack config. It’s not for everyone!!
Why does one need a 29’er with that rider spec?
  • + 5
 Save money, measure your sit bones, get a SQlab Ergonwave, and ditch ol'dirty shammies, period.
  • + 1
 Or a leather seat like a brooks / selle anatomica for all day adventures.
  • + 2
 @Kitejumping: That said though gotta make sure you take care of it and don't let it rot away flinging mud up from your rear tire.
  • + 2
 Second that- I got a SQLab “611 Active” saddle this spring and it is the shizz. Worth the high price.
  • + 2
 So.... why do we buy expensive padded saddles, or lighter/lack of padded saddles, only to put padding on our butt? why buy 1 saddle and 5 chamois shorts? why not just one saddle with more padding if that is what is needed? is it to say our bike is so light, then add the weight to our butts instead?
  • + 1
 So the bike industry can sell more gear and make more money off of us. I ditched the chamois years ago, but seats are like bar grips, everyone likes different setups and you wont really know what works for you until you try a few.
  • + 1
 @Kitejumping: just seems very counter-intuitive to be putting pads in shorts... why not look around for a saddle that fits good without need for chamois. maybe it's just a look thing and everyone wants a sleek streamlined saddle and not to ride one with a little padding on it.
  • + 2
 The primary reason I wear a chamois isn't padding but for moisture control. They're designed to wick moisture well away from the skin to minimize irritation due to moisture. Easy to illustrate, rub your hands together when super dry and compare to rubbing them together when moist and clammy. The padding is nice for longer rides, but the moisture control is the primary value of a chamois, imho. I sweat like crazy... no chamois on a long sit down ride is almost a guaranteed sore taint for a few days.
  • + 6
 I have a question: “will Waki ever go away?”
  • + 15
 More chance of my Gonorrhea clearing up Smile
  • + 13
 But what would you do with your entire day Waki?
  • + 4
 @shutupWAKI: And what would you do with your account?
  • + 5
 @Clarkeh: Quantum singularity
  • + 5
 slow day huh?
  • + 1
 Only Waki post I have ever upvoted.
  • + 4
 Answer 1) Small stature? Buy a DJer and ride the piss out of it!

Answer 2) Deity Speedtrap AM saddle for the oh-so-comfy, no-chamois-needed win.
  • + 1
 You'll have a hard time finding a Ripmo unless you have a good connection or don't mind waiting until the end of the season. I ordered my frame at the beginning of April and was included in the initial order for my local bike shop. I was told two weeks was the wait time. After numerous periods of "two weeks" I was told that my delivery date would be early July. I know companies love to be like Apple by reducing supply and thus increasing demand. However, that is simply ridiculous that a pre-order is taking that long to fulfill. I have a hard time figuring out the business model for the Ripmo. Maybe they are happy selling only a handful of bikes throughout the season. However, once the next big bike comes out then the Ripmo's demand will be lower and they'll be stuck with a bunch of inventory.
  • + 1
 My wife is 5' nothing and rides a small Rocky Mountain Altitude 27.5 and it fits her very well, though we had to replaced the stock 125mm dropper with a 100mm dropper, but the shop did this free of charge.
www.pinkbike.com/photo/14961928
  • + 1
 Me, 5"10, with 31"inseam, had two 29ers, Stumpy and Jeffsy. Both the same problems, rear wheel buzz on arse, and calf buzz from front. This was on top of horrible handling in the tight and tecy ,constant stalling on rough climbs, and general all round sluggishness(is that a word?!?)....Some people will adapt,and love anything, me ,I sell it...
  • + 1
 Im a short rider too. 5’ 3”, 27” inseam, 150lbs geared up. I recently purchased a Scott Genius 930 and have no issues with size. There’s no way I would want to go any smaller on the bike sizing, I actually had to push my saddle back to not feel cramped while on the saddle. And when people ask about being short riding a 29er, I find it makes little to no difference compared to the 26ers I’ve been on prior to this. What I mean is, the added benefits I have with the larger diameter wheel is noticeable, but I’m not getting the drawbacks that I thought I would. The bike rips, and handles climbs well without unnecessary flop (65 deg head tube). My only drawback is the limited amount of dropper travel. I had 150 on my last bike and being back to 100 sucks...
  • + 3
 29er lol, sales must so slow cause smaller riders are sticking with 26, it just makes sense in all levels!
  • + 1
 the Pivot Mach 429 Trail wasn't offered in XS. The geo specs you posted appear to be from the S. the new Pivot Trail 429 is offered in a XS with standover of 26.3, which matches the lowest standover listed in the article.
  • + 1
 The RX tune on the Specialized can be changed by any competent suspension shop. It most likely just has a light compression tune, and can be swapped out for a few dollars of shims & a service.
  • + 1
 Sorry they don’t really make bikes geared towards the Hobbit market. Mordor hasn’t allowed that development to enter the country yet.
  • + 1
 Also look at Giant/Liv, price points are the best or close for specs in the industry...LIV's XS is pretty short AND designed by women, ask at a GIANT Store nearby...
  • + 0
 I am 5'5" and I ride a medium size Rocky Mountain Altitude. 28" Inseam so small should be great for you!

Sooo much fun... #lovetheride
  • + 1
 OMG who doesn't wash their bike shorts after every ride?!?!
  • + 1
 Oneball Stantion Lube is great for those saddle soars.
  • + 1
 no mention of the scout in this? come on guys...
  • - 3
 Let’s be real about chamois, they are disgusting! They promote bacteria growth on your skin that can spread in your bloodstream! Also, yeast infection you say! People wonder why they are sick all the time, yeah check your chamois?
  • + 0
 Can I have some stickers?
  • + 0
 Roxey rocks

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