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.
Yeti SB5 Turq XS
Dropper: 100mm stock, will fit 125mm
Pivot 429 Trail XS
Dropper: 100, will fit 125mm
Santa Cruz Bronson SM
Wheel size: 27.5"
Ibis Ripmo SM
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.
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.
Have some unresolved tech questions? Jump in the Pinkbike Forum
and we'll look to answer it for next time.