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Attackpoint AR - performance and training tools for adventure athletes

Discussion: Bike Suggestions

in: Adventure Racing; Gear & Toys

Mar 22, 2017 4:07 PM # 
I'm (maybe) in the market for a new bike (or at least a new frame) for AR. Currently riding a Salsa El Mariachi XS frame, which is totally functional but also a fair bit heavier than I'd like (and than I was anticipating when I bought it).

I'm looking for a light hardtail 29er that would work for all 5'2" of me. Niner has a couple options but my bike shop stopped selling Niners a number of years ago, so trying to figure out what else is out there. Most of the models I've looked at won't work for someone my height.

Would welcome any suggestions!
Mar 23, 2017 2:11 AM # 
dang, not a lot of short people on here, eh?

Erl used to ride Ellsworth and I know they built a tiny bike for YS's Chelsea but looking on their website shows their HT only in M or L. bummer.

an STL shop just started carrying Rocky Mtn Bikes ( did they end up w as their homepage? incredible). seems like their HT comes in XS and S. might be something to look in to if your shop can acquire?

what brands does your shop carry?
Mar 23, 2017 2:20 AM # 
oh one more thing, Alpine Shop just started carrying Felt and their race HT is the "Nine". nice looking bike.
Mar 23, 2017 11:01 AM # 
Thanks, silky! I'll look into Rocky Mtn and Felt now. For mtn bikes, I know that our shop works with pivot, salsa, santa cruz, and moots. There may be others as well - they're rebuilding their website right now so I can't look at what they stock. They stopped carrying Niner because they had so many customers experience frame cracks in the scandium models. Not sure if they've reevaluated that, since the company did away with scandium.

The shop is an hour away from home so we don't go down very often, but we're actually driving down there today for Brent to pick up a new bike, so I'm going to have a longer chat with them then. I just wanted to go into the conversation with some idea of what I'm looking for.
Mar 23, 2017 11:09 AM # 
Interesting. Santa Cruz has a whole women's branding line, Juliana, except they make zero hardtails.
Mar 23, 2017 11:31 AM # 
Yeah, I was looking at the Juliana bikes after riding a friend's. It was great, but I'd really prefer a hardtail so I never pursued looking at frame weight, etc...
Mar 23, 2017 2:10 PM # 
Team Disoriented:
My wife, who is 5' 2 and 3/4" (yes, the 3/4 is important to her :) rides the Trek X-Caliber 8 15.5" frame with 29" tires. That may be a low-end bike for you, it was high end for us when we started :) But Trek also makes the Procaliber 9.7 Men's and Women's with the 27.5" tires, but I wonder if the 29" tires will fit. This will be the next bike we look at for our team.
Mar 23, 2017 5:33 PM # 
I am 5'3" and recently got my beauty Elsa. She is a Niner, frame xs, 29" tires, front suspension, and all aluminum. I had her custom made. She is gorgeous. I see you live in PA, but I know a dude in MI who custom builds them as a hobby. He is always trying to get rid of them because he cant keep up with his obsession to build and then get rid of the m fast enough. Let me know if you are interested. Also, I can send you pictures of Elsa. She is white, red and blue (very patriotic). I could have had it all carbon but due to AR and how rough we are on our bikes, aluminum was a smarter choice. The aluminum felt the same as the carbon option anyway.

It really is hard to find a decently priced bike that is made for small women for AR purposes (i.e. hike-a-biking, crashing it into random trees, going through serious mud, etc...). You can find a childs bike to ride, but we need something more durable to withstand the beating out in the woods.
Mar 23, 2017 10:13 PM # 
here's my 2 cents: I rode the felt nine aluminum frame HT for number of years, and had no problem with it. Last yr got into a FS carbon trek top fuel 9.8 . 9.9 is the top of the line, a sweet ride but $$$ for not a ton of gain per dollar when compared to 9.8. These are 29er's, not sure if you'd be happier with 27....they make all different size frames. I would try to get your hands on a top fuel, or a procaliber (they are the HT version) and see how it feels. Good Luck!
Mar 24, 2017 12:27 PM # 
FWIW, an interesting trend is 29ers with enough width to mount 27.5+ tires on wide rim wheels for winter. I know Pivot went that way.

You can also now get 26+ to winterize a 27.5 bike.
Mar 26, 2017 1:47 AM # 
Alright, I've fallen down all sorts of rabbit holes over the past few days and have spent far too much time analyzing geometry and reading reviews. Posting the various options here in case others are having the same issues at some point and find their way to this thread.

Standover is just too high for me on Rocky Mtn Vertex, Pivot LES, Specialized Fate/Epic WS, Procaliber and a couple others. The two hardtail 29" carbon bikes that seem like they'll work are the Niner Air9 RDO and the Scott Contessa.

No one around here stocks small/XS frames for these so hard to test them out, but I'm working on it.

More options for 27.5 -- eyeing the Pivot LES and Santa Cruz High Ball, but still not sold on 27.5 for the type of riding I do.
Mar 26, 2017 2:56 AM # 
Thanks, Abby! I'm hoping this will be a new bike year for me too.
Mar 27, 2017 12:05 PM # 
Hey Abby, that is exactly what I have; the Niner Air9 RDO in x-small frame size. It really is very hard to find someone who carries those small bikes with 29" wheels, but my friend, fortunately, custom builds them in Michigan. He made me my Niner in an x small frame, I went with aluminum verses carbon. I am 5'3". The stand over bar barely passes under me. I think I have about an inch of free room if I am standing up very straight with my bike shoes on. Its hard to be short. I definitely would recommend the same thing for you. I spent about a year researching, talking with people, visiting bike shops, and test riding bikes; made my head spin. Best one for AR purposes that fit my size is Niner Air9 RDO x small frame. He also had to chop off about an inch on each side of the handle bar for me. Niners are uni-sex bikes so, you know..... its tough. Good luck!
Mar 27, 2017 4:38 PM # 
Hi Abby, Kate has the Niner Air9 RDO in a small if you wanted to test ride this summer...
Mar 27, 2017 4:48 PM # 
Thanks, Double M! Cliff, planning on moving on the bike soon so that I can have it before we leave for our road trip, but I appreciate the offer of testing Kate's. I think I rode hers last summer when you guys were in Philly and liked the feel of it a lot. It was just a little bit too big, so if I go with Niner (leaning in that direction right now), I'll get the XS frame.
Mar 30, 2017 9:02 PM # 
Mr Wonderful:
Speaking of bikes, any comments on xc vs marathon xc vs all mountain? For the hobby casual AR type who dabbles in the odd day long race and is fragile.
Apr 4, 2017 1:46 AM # 
I am just over 5' tall and got the Trek Cali (the middle model....S) about 4 years ago. It is a 29er and is NOT their smallest frame size. Our LBS brought in the smallest one for me, but it really was too small. So check the frame geometry (reach, standover height) before committing.
I see that Trek's Cali line now has the 2 smaller sizes as 27.5. I don't regret the 29" wheels one bit, but I can see how a 27.5 could be more nimble on tight, twisty trails.
I love my Cali and am still amazed at how well she climbs over roots and rocks.

This discussion thread is closed.