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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    32

    what mtb for a beginner who is short?

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    I am 4'11" and just a beginner. I went mtn biking a couple of times but the bikes I borrowed (from friends) were too big so it was not really fun but I would still go again.
    I tried the Trek Lush SL WSD with the 26" wheels. It has FS but everyone tells me to get a hardtail because I am a beginner but I can't seem to find one that would fit. I would like to get a mtn bike so I could go with friends and switch it up from riding road.
    Is the FS overkill for a beginner?
    Can I actually find something my size?

    What do you suggest?

    I work at a bike shop an employee recommended it because it is the best that I would get. But then another employee kind of had a kick out of it and laughed and said I would ruin the bike because I won't learn anything from a FS.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Houston
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    Re: what mtb for a beginner who is short?

    I'd ignore those people. We bought entry level 26" hardtails, had them a month and a half when we traded them in for full suspension.

    Go for what is most comfortable for you and ignore what others say. There is no wrong choice and saying you won't learn anything on a FS is just bs.

    I got a bike that was far above my ability level, but because of that I was willing to try things that I wouldn't even consider on the other bike.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
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    6,132
    I've heard different schools of thought on HT versus FS bikes for beginners. Some believe that if yoiu learn on an HT, you'll develop better habits in terms of clearing obstacles and picking a good line. Others believe you should use a FS if it'll make riding more enjoyable and/or if the trails in your area necessitate it.

    I learned only briefly on an HT before getting a FS bike. I'm sort of the of the mind that the best way to learn good technique is to take at least one comprehensive skills clinic and practice, practice, practice. Riding a HT doesn't, in and of itself, teach you good skills. Similarly, riding a FS doesn't necessarily mean that you don't have good skills. In the end, I think it's far more important to get a bike that really fits, regardless of the type of bike. Ideally, it'll be one with components good enough that they won't leave you frustrated on the trail. I had trouble shifting on my HT, which has lesser components than my FS (I have a Santa Cruz Juliana). But both bikes fit me though and I arguably could have continued to ride on the HT. It's just that my bike lust won out.

    If you're in a position to test ride (on trails) a bunch of bikes, do that. But keep in mind that it takes a little work to get a FS dialed in all the way, so it can be hard to judge. Hopefully though you'll at least get a feel for how each bike handles and whether it fits. When you test ride a bike, make sure that you get out of the saddle and actually move around the bike in the way that you'll actually ride it. Don't just sit and pedal.
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    32
    during a test ride.

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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    the dry side
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    what mtb for a beginner who is short?

    Well, you won't ruin the bike. That was a really lame thing to say. And, if you never bother to learn any MTB skills, (clinics etc) learning on a FS can make you a lazy rider, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. You should just be aware that it takes a little more effort to learn to use your full body as its own suspension in concert with the bikes suspension.

    MTBR.com's Women's Lounge has some really excellent, extensive threads on bikes for small women. You might pop in there and read up on more options.

    I just helped a friend who is 5-2" pick out a bike. Really I just hung out while she test rode. You need to make sure that you have enough stand over room, and that the cockpit isn't too long. You will understand this by trying several bikes.
    Last edited by Irulan; 07-26-2013 at 07:54 AM.
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
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    the dry side
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    Quote Originally Posted by amyp View Post
    during a test ride.



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    It looks like you have very little standover room. Ideally you should have a couple of inches of clearance.
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    6,449
    Quote Originally Posted by Irulan View Post
    It looks like you have very little standover room. Ideally you should have a couple of inches of clearance.
    I was thinking that too, looks iffy if you have to dismount quickly.
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Rowland Hts, CA
    Posts
    473
    As a 5ft1in woman with short legs, the good news is that there really are not many bikes to choose from because of our size....thus you will have limited options and have to pick from a few instead of a ton of choices.

    That said, I am thinking hard about switching from my full suspension to a hard tail. I still have not yet had a chance to ride a hardtail 650B yet.

    Why am I thinking of switching from a full suspension to a hard tail? Because I want to climb better. I hate going downhill fast. Since I usually am not jumping over things and not sitting much going downhill anyways, maybe a hardtail would be better for me overall.

    Ride the bikes over curbs and bumps and up hills and see what your body favors the most.

    As to "damaging" the bike as a newbie...these are mountain bikes. They are made more durable. As a clumsy newbie, so far, my bikes have not broken yet.

    Plus, a lot of us are upgrading as soon as we buy a bike due to bike lust. So, I would just get the best bike that fits in your budget. The more expensive bikes are more enjoyable because they are lighter and shift better which means more fun to ride.
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    32
    I've been told a 650b would be too big for me. I had ok clearance. It was up higher because of the travel? I don't know a lot of mtb lingo. I guess I should have rode it up the curb too and get a feel for it but it was only in the parkig lot

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    6,132
    @TigerMom, have you thought about just upgrading the wheels and/or going with tubeless instead of getting a brand new bike? You might get more weight savings (if that's what you're aiming for) going that route than you would get with a HT. I'm sure there are exceptions, but a lot of the HTs on the market that fit small riders are lower end and heavy.
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

    --Mary Anne Radmacher

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Rowland Hts, CA
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    473
    My bike shop calculated the weight savings of getting a new wheelset with tubeless wheels would cost me about $1000 for a 1 pound weight savings.

    My current full suspension, size small, Santa Cruz Juliana weighs about 27.5 pounds with pedals.

    As to the hardtails, I am thinking about going with a Chinese brand called Triace that has a 14inch Carbon Hardtail 650B's with XT that weight less than 21pounds for about $2000 if I buy a DEMO bike. I have still yet to test it out yet. I am just in the thinking phase, worrying about poor quality/carbon cracking, warranty etc because I have never heard of this brand before.
    Last edited by TigerMom; 07-26-2013 at 04:56 PM.
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  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
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    It looks like Triace is owned by some arm of Wal-mart as it's out of Bentonville, AR. For me, that would give me great pause. Quality aside, I just don't like a lot if their employment practices.
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

    --Mary Anne Radmacher

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
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    I can definitely see the advantage of a hard-tail in the skill-development department. The little off-roading I've done has been with a cyclocross bike (so NO suspension), and I quickly found out that I had to be very careful in picking my lines. (And I have a lot of bruises to show for it.) With a full suspension, I could probably have been a bit less careful. "Body English" and bike handling become very important with a hard tail. (And here, full suspension isn't strictly necessary. Not so many rocks.) However, I'm also not a big believer in beating oneself up. You're not being paid to suffer. If full suspension would make you more comfortable and let you enjoy riding rather than feeling like you're being beaten up as you ride, get the full-suspension.
    Last edited by Owlie; 07-27-2013 at 02:33 PM. Reason: Words are important. Some of them have different meanings.
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  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Oregon
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    I had a FS and sold it and now both my mtb's are HT. I just like them better. You really should try both and see which you are more comfortable with.
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  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
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    what mtb for a beginner who is short?

    Quote Originally Posted by amyp View Post
    I've been told a 650b would be too big for me. I had ok clearance. It was up higher because of the travel? I don't know a lot of mtb lingo. I guess I should have rode it up the curb too and get a feel for it but it was only in the parkig lot
    It might have felt bigger due to the wheels but there are any number of factors that affect the size. Wheel size (26, 650 which is the same as 27.5, 29) has nothing to do with "travel". Travel is the amount of movement you get in the suspension on on the bike when you activate the front and rear suspension. Fit come down primarily to the frame geometry which means the various angles that are used in designing the frame.

    It sounds like you may want to learn a little more before you plunk down money on a bike. You want it to be the right one! Do you know someone who is an experienced mountain biker that could help you shop? Hint- not the person that told you that a beginner on a F'S would break the bike...
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