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  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004

    road bike vs mtn bike top tube length

    I need to buy a mountain bike frame for my wife. Is there any conventional wisdom on how much longer a mountain bike top tube should be than a road bike top tube? Mountain biking activities will be typically mild trail riding with a few logs to jump.

  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2007

    shorter not longer

    I thought the conventional wisdom was a shorter top tube on a mountain bike. This creates a more stable and upright position as well as taking pressure off the arms?

  3. #3
    PMC is online now
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    I'd say bring her to a shop and have them fit her.
    TT length will probably be a bit longer though as you're never out on the hood or in the drops on a MTB.

  4. #4
    Hoopy Frood
    Reputation: khill's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    My roadbikes have top tubes around 56.5cm. I use a 100mm stem and bars with 90mm of reach.

    My mountain bikes both have top tubes around 59.5cm and I use 100mm stems and riser bars which have about 10 deg of sweep. Thats for XC riding and racing. If I was doing more technical stuff, I'd use a 90mm stem.

    I have more saddle to bar drop on my roadbikes than on my mtbs.

    Only one data point but it might help. Best advice is to get a fitting and see what feels right.

  5. #5
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    The angles matter too.

    IIRC all MTBs have more relaxed seat tube angles. This increases the distance from the saddle to the bars if the top tube was the same length.

    X/C mountain bikes have head tube angles that are close to road bikes.

    But "trail" bikes and any gravity-type bike will have a relaxed head tube angle, which brings the bars back even further.

  6. #6
    Reputation: venus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    I've never compaired the 2 but I can tell you that higher end MTN bikes will be more "stretched out" w/ longer top tubes than lower end ones. Also (as w/ road), female specific models will have shorter TTs than their unisex counter parts. What does she ride now?

  7. #7
    Reputation: uzziefly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Let her get a fitting at the shop to be accurate and safe.

    Good luck
    Quote Originally Posted by tconrady
    If I can get some more tomorrow.... I thought it'd grow on me but I'm not feelin' it....wait..
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    My MTB top tube is about an inch longer than on road bike's. However, the geometries of the bikes are so different that I don't think comparing just 1 measurement is very useful. Also remember that the handlebars are shaped much differently. Road bike handlebars put your hands a few inches (or more) forward of where your hands would be on a MTB handlebar with the same stem length.

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