Size & Buying Guides: Mountain Bikes & Road Bikes

Buying a Mountain Bike
Whether you've just walked into one of our showrooms, or clicked through our website it is immediately apparent that bicycles have evolved. If this is the first new bike purchase you've made in recent years, or you're a new-ride-every-season type there are a number of factors to consider. The sheer number of options can make choosing the right bike for you a daunting task. Here are a few things to ask yourself before picking a bike:

What type of rider are you?
Are you looking to catch as much air time as possible, or do you like your tires glued to the ground? Do you pick a tidy line around roots and rocks or do you monster-truck right over top? How much climbing will you be doing? Is there a pickup truck or a chairlift along for all of your rides or are you chasing Strava KOMs and crushing out miles of vertical? With so many categories of mountain bike, how do you know what kind of rider you are? Cross Country? Trail? All-Mountain? Enduro? Freeride? Downhill? These bikes can be broken down as such:
  • Cross Country / XC - these bikes range from World Cup style race bikes with 70 degree head angles, no dropper seatpost, and narrow 1.95-2.1 inch tires to a more modern XC bike like the Santa Cruz Tallboy that has a 120mm fork and a slack 68 degree head angle with clearance for 2.5 inch high volume tires. These bikes are for riders who are into long days in the saddle, lots of climbing, minimal air time, but want a ride that doesn't give up on rough technical terrain. These bikes will often still have a front derailleur.
  • Trail - Trail bikes tend to fall in the 120-130mm travel range and are built for someone who's going to get rowdier than an XC bike allows but still don't want the weight penalty a longer travel bike comes with. Think Devinci's Django or Marshall. Head angle is slacker, but travel doesn't get too crazy. These bikes are spec'd with 1x or 2x drivetrains.
  • All-Mountain - the fine folks at Transition Bikes have captured the essence of all mountain with their phrase "going up and down mountains". This is the no-excuses bike. 45km day in the Chilcotins? This bike will do it. Shuttle day at Vedder mountain? Yep. Hot laps of bobsled? You betcha. Emphasis is made on pedalability, strength to weight ratio, technical prowess. The 140-165mm of travel might not make this the bike to smash 30 days a year in the bike park, but it's not going to let you down day in and day out.

      • Enduro - see above but with downhill casing heavy duty tires, goggles, and a fanny pack
        • Freeride - This buzzword has largely died off, but it used to refer to a downhill bike that you could actually sit and pedal. Bikes like the 2018 Spartan and Nomad 4 are bringing back some freeride feels with 180mm travel forks, slack 65 degree head angles and build kits designed to smash trails for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
        • Downhill - 8" of travel and up club. Bike Park. Shuttle days. Race weekends. This is the most glamorous side of mountain bike racing and riding, and some of the most fun. If you're blessed enough to live in the Pacific Northwest you should definitely have one of these in the stable as you can actually use one year round. They aren't built to be pedaled up or across anything but once you're at the top they're hard to beat on fun factor.
          Where do you usually ride?
          Where do you want to be riding? Even on the north shore alone there's great disparity between riding styles. Cypress is full of natural tech and steep chutes, Fromme is becoming more and more accessible for riders looking to climb up and crush down fast flowy trails. The Fraser Valley is almost all dirt trails vs the wood work and stone cladding of North Vancouver's trail network. 
          What is important to you in a new bike?
          Maybe you're brand loyal to SRAM or Shimano drivetrain or brakes. Did you have a good or bad experience with a particular type of suspension in the past? Do you need a dropper post? Of course. What about a front derailleur? 1x Drivetrains have all but taken over, but for those of us that need a little extra help on the climbs there are still options. 
          Can I ride a hardtail? Or is a Full Suspension the only way to go?
          Once upon a time, we all shredded hardtail mountain bikes. Many of us because of cost-of-entry, and others because Full Suspension bikes sapped a lot of power from the rider via poorly designed frames and under performing dampers. Since that time focus was shifted to engineering lighter weight, more efficient, fun full suspension bikes for all riding styles. That engineering came at a cost, and the price of the entry level mountain bike has risen over the years - that said what you get for your money has increased even more. While there are some very capable trail-focused hardtail mountain bikes out there from the likes of Chromag, or Santa Cruz's Chameleon - we see most riders jumping right into a squishy bike to get them up and down the hill.
          Geometry? I want to ride bikes, not go back to math class. 
          Geometry refers to the angles and lengths of the various tubes that make up your bicycle frame. Coupling these figures with particular suspension components and wheel size will make different bikes ride better/worse/you'll love it/you'll hate it. There isn't really a wrong answer here, but it's important to make note of the geometry when you really like or dislike testing out a particular bike. Luckily the industry has caught on, and generally speaking geometry numbers follow part specifications and intended riding style. Gone are the days of an 8" travel rig that will buck you over the handle bars or a bottom bracket height so high you need stirrups to get on your steed.
          Now, what about wheel size? 
          Pick your favourite size and be a dick about it? Nah. There's probably a bike you'll like for every wheel size, but taller riders can definitely eke an advantage out of 29" wheels, where smaller riders will like the compact feel of 27.5 / 650B. Plus tires? You bet. Be it for bike packing, adverse weather, or just trying something new we're happy to walk you through any and all options.
          Sizing a Mountain Bike
          Thankfully we aren't the first folks to tackle this issue, and all of the Bike brands we sell have built a sizing chart to use as a general rule of thumb. These charts provide a pretty good idea of what size frame to ride based on how tall you are. Sure some people prefer a smaller or longer bike because they have unusually long arms or torso, or like the standover clearance a smaller bike provides. 
          Here is what Specialized has to say on Bike Sizing. Most of what Specialized says here has more to do with Road Bike Fit, but a lot of it transfers over to dirt. Saddle height, saddle width, handlebar drop are all things worth considering and talking with your sales person about.
          Devinci puts this at the bottom of their geometry and fit chart:
          *THE PERFECT FIT
          Please note that only Devinci authorized retailers are able to advise you properly on the correct bike size. Please visit your nearest store so they can analyze your needs. In the case of internet shopping, it is equally important to provide the necessary measurements (e.g. inseam length) so that the retailer can give you the correct information.
          Any of our sales team in store (or reachable via email) are able to aptly help you pick the correct size bike. Devinci lists their sizes and height ranges as such:
          • Small      152-171cm  //  5'-5'7"
          • Medium  169-180cm  //  5'6"-5'11"
          • Large      178-187cm  //  5'10"-6'1.5"
          • XL           185-193cm  //  6'-6'4"
          So there's some overlap here, and thats OK. Some riders want a longer bike and shorter stem, other riders like the 'flickability' of a smaller frame. 

          Sizing Charts: Devinci // Transition // Santa Cruz


          Womens Bikes and 'Womens Specific Fit'
          Men and Women are built differently, and we've come to a point now where womens specific bikes and gear are the norm - but all brands have a approached it a different way. Santa Cruz had a single cross country bike aimed at women called Juliana which has since evolved into an entire sister brand spanning FOUR models. Specialized has a number of Womens versions of their bikes for all disciplines of riding from street to trail and beyond. For a good long while the industry was on the "shrink it & pink it" program where a mens model would get a new paint job and get sold in an extra small size. Specialized really led the charge and hired female engineers and product managers and pumped a tonne of R&D into their womens program at every level. This generally translates to bikes being spec'd with WSD contact points like slimmer hand grips, narrower bars, and saddles that are ergonomically built for a woman's body. Frames were either smaller versions of unisex frames or specially built bikes with shorter reach for overall size. A modern womens mountain bike will come with an appropriate suspension tune for a lighter rider, and correct length crank arms for bike size.
          Buying and Sizing a Road Bike
          Here's where things get serious. We offer a number of different options for helping you size or re-size your road bike. Even if you're just commuting, proper fit on a road bike is vital. The number of revolutions you're performing whilst clipped in to your pedals can take a serious toll on your body if you're not positioned correctly. Not only are you not riding as fast or efficiently as you could be, but there's undue wear and tear on your hips, knees, ankles, low back, shoulders etc.
          The Evolution of the Road Bike. 
          For about a hundred years road bikes were very much the same. Parts got lighter, more gears added to the rear cassette, but generally speaking if you were on a road bike it had 23c tires, 700c wheels, drop handlebars. In the last few years since disc brakes made the transition into the road world, it has really opened up the discussion "What can a road bike do?". Now we're seeing wider tires, 650b 'road plus' wheels, thru axles, 1x drivetrains, and frames to suit every single purpose. Below are some buzzwords to keep an eye out for
          • Aero -  Think Specialized Venge, a traditional road racing platform reworked with aerodynamics held above all. A popular choice amongst short course triathlon racers as they handle better than a Tri Bike.
          • Time Trial / TT / Triathlon - the choice for time trial racing and long course triathlon like Ironman Canada and Challenge Penticton these bikes have a dedicated aerobar setup with bar end shifters on the extensions and a base bar with brake levers. Brakes on these bike sare often integrated into the rear of the fork or under the stays to minimize turbulence as you slice through the air. Deep dish carbon fibre wheels are often paired with these bikes to give the rider the ultimate edge. 
          • Endurance / Fondo / Plush / Sportive - For years we longed for a bike that was nice, light, responsive like a race bike, but without that spine-crushing racer positioning. Just as light and fast as a race bike but with a taller head tube, less saddle-to-bar drop, and more recently a higher volume tire coupled with some vertical compliance to smooth out the road. Once designed for racing on cobblestones in the European classics these bikes are now a mainstay in the showroom as they're much more comfortable for the average road rider.


            • Gravel - Why can't I ride my road bike on dirt roads, dykes, gravel paths, etc? Now you can. Not as long and sluggish as a touring bike, not as twitchy as a cyclocross race bike. Road Geometry with room for 700x42mm tires, or 650b x 42mm tires which utilize a smaller rim but a taller tire profile to achieve a wheel size similar to a 700x23 road wheel. These kinds of bikes have been gaining traction over the last few years and can definitely be a fun bike to have in the stable.


            • Cyclocross - short course dirt criterium with obstacles, stairs, mud, grass, and more cowbell than you can shake a handlebar at. Awesome cross training for the mountain bike season, cyclocross is an all out sprint over rough terrain and is a great way to keep your edge in the 'off season'. These bikes also fit fenders nicely for winter road rides.
            • Touring / Adventure - Take that gravel bike, build it out of steel, stretch the wheelbase a bit so that it handles nicely when its loaded up and hit the road! Touring bikes come in a variety of flavours but all of them are able to take a pannier rack front and back, and are built to support both the rider and all the gear they need for camping, or checking in to a nice B&B.