What bike should a big guy be riding? How much travel do I really need? How fat is too fat? The MBA wrecking crew uses its combined expertise to address these questions and more every month here at “Ask MBA.” All you need to do is visit our website—www.mbaction.com—and click the “Ask MBA” tab. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the link to ask your question.
HOW BIG SHOULD MY WHEELS BE? CARBON OR ALUMINUM?
Q: I am 6-foot- 6, and I don’t know how important that is wheel size. I love the idea of 27.5+ or 29ers but don’t know what is best for me. Also, I’d love to limit the brands to those in shops in the area (so I can get it there and develop a local bike-shop relationship, etc.). Brands around me that look like they have good options are Specialized, Santa Cruz, Pivot, Trek, Ghost, Cannondale and Rocky Mountain. Any advice on where to look first would be really, really helpful! My budget is right around $3500. I guess the biggest questions I have would be which wheel size to look for and whether to go with the first-level carbon platform or the highest-level aluminum. That seems to be the line my budget hits.
—Mark, who’s chomping at the bit for a big new bike
A: All of those brands make great bikes. We’d encourage you to keep an eye on our bike tests until one comes up that sounds like a good fit. As for the plus-size or 29er question, the 29ers would probably fit the frame size you’ll need slightly better. We have a couple of very tall guys on staff, and that seems to be the consensus among them. You could also go for something like a Pivot Switchblade or Santa Cruz Hightower, since both those bikes are specially designed to work with either size. And finally, we typically recommend making the carbon or aluminum decision based on how long you plan to keep the bike and whether you like the idea of upgrading components or not. If you want the best bike off the shelf, aluminum is probably going to be the better bet. But, if you’re planning to keep the bike for a while and slowly upgrade as you go, go with a carbon frame with a more basic build kit.
Q: I was thinking about trading to a 2017 Trek Fuel EX 5 27.5+. I know there are pros and cons with wider tires, but from what I read in your magazine, I think I would enjoy riding the 27.5+ tire more. I really prefer full-suspension bikes.
Could you please help me make this decision, and could you also suggest what size frame I will need. I am 60 years old and have been riding mountain bikes since 1989. I am 5-foot-7.5 with a 29- to 30-inch inseam.
—Mike, who wants it bigger and better
A: We are actually testing the new Fuel EX Plus for our next issue, and we are happy with the results so far. Going to a full-suspension plus bike sounds like a great fit for you (and a lot of other riders too), as it will likely be the most comfort- able and confidence-inspiring option for a trailbike.
At 5-foot-7.5, you’d probably fit best on the 17.5-inch or the 18.5-inch (medi- um-ish) frame. In our experience, many of the Trek bikes we’ve tested tend to run a little on the small side, so it would be best to find a shop to do a little test ride so you can get it right the first time.
Have a question for the MBA crew? You can send your brain busters to email@example.com.
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