We are a group of biking fanatics that love to ride, and we think we should give something back to our sport.
Are you over 6’4″ or know someone who is? Looking for a bike that fits can be frustrating since most manufacturers fit to the bell curve and max out at “XL” frame sizes (or 2XL that are really XL). Taller people are sometimes used to not being able to buy “off the rack” but when it comes to bikes the options have improved dramatically over the last decade.
In the past, for someone who is 6’5″ or taller, if you wanted a mountain bike you had to buy the XL size–typically 21.5″–and then install a long stem and seatpost to make it fit. Not an ideal solution since a long stem puts the rider’s weight further over the front wheel with a rider who already has a high centre of gravity. The result can be more trips over the handlebars on steep descents. The other option was, of course, custom or specialty builders like Dirty Sixer or Zinn but these were much more expensive and so not for everyone. Manufacturers of road bikes seemed to be a bit better in hitting the larger frame sizes in the past.
Here at the Shop we have a number of customers in that 6’5″ to 6’8″ range and for years we had to do the above-mentioned “sizing up” of XL bikes. Once Trek began to produce 2XL or 23″ frame sizes in some of their mountain bike models things got a lot easier. For these taller riders getting a bike that fit them after always having to compromise was a revelation. Now the bike handled properly and gave them more confidence.
For mountain bikes, Trek says their 2XL size with fit people up to 203 cm or 6’7.9.” For road bikes the 64 cm size they make can fit riders up to 200 cm or 6’6.7.”
Trek doesn’t make all of the bikes in the 2XL size but they do have a very good range of bikes available. On the road side they make their all-rounder the Emonda in both carbon and aluminum-frame options at the 64 cm/2XL size. For touring/gravel/utility Trek makes the evergreen 520 in a 63 cm.
On the mountain side Trek produces both hardtail and full-suspension bikes in 2XL including the just-released and updated Top Fuel. A good choice for a hardtail for the bigger rider is the Trek Roscoe 8 with it’s burly 27.5″ Plus wheels and tires. At $1849.99 it’s a super-fun bike that can stand up to proper trail riding. Trek does make less expensive hardtail options in 2XL all the way down to the Marlin 4 at $579.99 but we would caution larger riders from getting a low end mountain bike unless they are only riding gravel paths; these bikes aren’t up to real singletrack riding. For that you need to hit a level of quality that can take both off-road use and a bigger person’s weight. That means with most brands you are at the $1200-plus price range.
Want a lighter, faster hardtail that is also comfortable? Then check out the Procaliber 9.6 with the innovative and comfy Isospeed Decoupler (basically a seat tube that flexes giving you more comfort with zero power loss). This is a great race bike with a carbon fiber frame weighing in at just over 25lbs and selling for $3399.99.
On the full-suspension side Trek’s all-rounder Fuel EX 8 at $4299.99 is a great option for both the trails in Edmonton and those in the mountains. The Fuel EX 8 has 130mm of travel, 29″ wheels and is also available in a 27.5″ wheeled “Plus” version. It has great geometry that suits 90% of riders and trails.
If your tastes run more towards lycra, Strava and heatrate monitors then the above-mentioned Trek Top Fuel also comes in a 2XL size. Trek updated the Top Fuel to have 115 mm of travel in the back and 120 in the front with a bit slacker angles so it has become more of an all-rounder than a twitchy, high-strung race bike.
For bigger/taller people getting the correct frame size is important but getting a bike with components that can handle a heavier/stronger rider is equally important. Bigger and stronger riders tend to need stronger rear hubs, or more specifically, stronger freehubs, cranks, rims, forks and brakes. For example we have a customer who is 6’5″ 240 lbs and a very skilled rider but consistently blows up the freehubs on even the best hubs such as Hope and DT Swiss. We built him custom wheels with Onyx hubs and he’s been good ever since. These parts tend not to be light but in this case strength trumps lightness. Similarly, he runs full DH brakes like Shimano Saint or SRAM Codes on his XC bike to handle his higher weight. 35mm stems and bars are stiffer and stronger and wider, burlier rims are now commonly available in aluminum and carbon fiber for strong wheel options.
If you or someone you know is taller and has struggled to find a bike that fits send them by and we’d be happy to show them the many options now available.