Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Where's the Length?

Speaking of top tubes here. If 29ers are for bigger/taller guys, and they certainly are, then why do the sizes of the larger frames stop at under or just at 25"?

Last night I was riding with a few guys, one of them being a 6'4", relatively new rider. He is on a 26" wheeled HT that is the biggest frame size they make, a fairly rangy 21" frame with a 25.25" TT. He has a 100/120mm stem (est) and an offset seatpost with the saddle slammed all the way back. He is juuuust a bit cramped. He also had just put a deposit down on an Ellsworth 26er FS that he found at a great price in a local shop, a local shop which likely is not too pleased with me right now.

When he was talking about his new bike, I did not want to get into 29er evangelizing and cast doubts on his new purchase. But then I heard that he had not actually bought it yet. Well then, that is different.

So I asked him, "have you ever ridden a 29er? " He said no. We were at the top of the hill by then and headed down a swoopy singletrack, so I gave him the keys to my Lev and we traded bikes. His hardtail is the heaviest non-FS bike I have ever ridded. Good lord....35 lbs if it is an ounce. So my 28 lb Lev felt like a vapor in the climbs and he was amazed at how smoothly the big wheels rolled. But, the key here is how he looked on my bike...proportional. Yes, the cockpit was a bit short for him as is it set up for me at 6'2", but it still was waay less clown bike looking.

So we got to talking bikes and he asked for suggestions as to what to look at in a new 29er. I knew right away that there would be an issue getting them long enough for him since he is not into the custom frame budget arena. I knew that Specialized builds big bikes and Turner as well, but a 2009 Sultan is what, 2500 clams? Wow.

No Canzo for him, Kona barely hits 25" as does the Salsa Big Mama. The RIP is a bit all mountain for his use but it barely gets there as well. Most other stuff is too pricey like a Ventana or such thing. And, what really sucks is that Specy stole the Brain shock off of the FSR for this year, which, IMO, really hurts the performance of that bike. I loved it with the Brain on there.

Anyway, to my first point. If you are going to naturally attract the taller riders to the bigger wheels, the frame sizes need to go another notch up into a TRUE XL, not just a bit taller at the seattube, but stretch those babies out there into the 25.5" range. Better to run a shorter stem and a non-offset post if that is the set-up then get into 120mm stems and saddles all the way off the back of the rails.

My new SS frame has a 25.25" TT and a 100mm stem. It is a bit of an experiment to see how that works out from the 24.25" KM size. Will I like it? Time will tell as I am not that tall compared to the 6'4" to 6'6" guys that I see on 29ers that still are not as stretched out as they should be. But, if I was 2 to 3 inches taller, I would still be out of the sweet spot as far as frame fit, wheel size not-withstanding, and that needs to change.

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