I need your help to decide what bike should I get next. I used to ride a Raleigh Mohave 2.0 (L) and diamondback Sorrento (L). Both bikes are hybrids. I decided to get a real mountain bike and got a Nishiki Colorado 27.5+ (18″) after 8 months of having the bike I never felt comfortable with it. I get very tired and I always feel that I am not going fast at all. I think it is due to the crank (30T) and cassette (11-46). My lower back is always reminding me of how uncomfortable the bike is. After so long, I took out of the garage my diamondback and it was such a thrill to ride it again, it goes fast without much effort, it is agile, and no lower back pain. I know that tires make a large difference but, I am more concerned about the geometry of the bike as to be the reason for my back pain. That brings me here to this forum and ask all of you for your input on which bike should I try next. My budget is $1000 and I am looking for a hardtail that I can start doing small jumps with a geometry that does not cause back pain.
Looking at the geometry of the two bikes I am surprised that you feel that big of a difference and that the + tires wouldn’t offer your back some relief. Comfort on the bike is all about contact point positions. I suspect if you adjust the saddle (not just up/down, but also fore/aft compared to the crank is very important) and handlebar positions you should be able to get the same position on your bike and the bigger tires would actually feel good. It looks like the handlebar sweep and rise are different between the two, all other things being equal this would effect how your shoulders are positioned. Maybe the Diamondback bars are a little more suited for you. You can swap handlebars from one to the other if that is the difference.
If you are looking new the Salsa Rangefinder and Trek Roscoe are just a bit above your budget but would be great. Specialized Fuse I think also fits in this category. Used is where you will get the most bang for your buck. If you are patient and know what your looking at you can find great bikes used and get more for your money.
I’ve had back pain problems and here are some things I think help.
1. Get the pack off your back. Getting bottles and cages and putting the rest of my gear in a seatbag was one of the best things I ever did for my back.
2. Get your bike fit right. A short person with a long torso might ride the same size bike as tall person with a short torso. If you are too stretched or too cramped in your riding position, it will strain your back. Fit charts that rely only on height should be taken with a few grains of salt. I’m 5’9″ but I ride a size XL bike.
3. Cut your handlebars. Most bikes come with handlebar widths suitable for size XL bikes on all their bike sizes. You need to cut down the bars for your size.
4. Get your handlebar level or above your saddle. Use riser stems or riser handlebars if needed. This makes you less bent over.
5. Get a bike with a steeper seattube. A steeper seatube makes you less bent over.
6. Get a 29er. 29ers roll over chunder easier than small wheeled bikes and send less shock and vibration through your back.
7. Ride wider tires. High-volume low-pressure tires add a pleasant bit of cushion which reduces shock and vibration. Put the widest tire on your bike that will fit. Most bikes will fit at least a 2.4 rear/2.6 front tire.
8. If you prefer a hardtail, get one with 29×2.6 or wider tires. Salsa Timberjack/Rangefinder, Trek Stache, Specialized Fuze, Rocky Mountain Growler, and many more.
9. Get a full-sus 29er. Even the shortest 100mm rear travel bike significantly reduces shock and vibration compared to a hardtail. Long travel is not necessary. You can get some very good 29 full-sus bikes for less than $2300. Shorter travel: Giant Trance 29 and Kona Hei Hei. Longer travel: Trek Fuel EX, Commencal Meta TR, YT Jeffsy, Vitus Mythique, and many more.
At 5’9″, I ride an XL Trek Full Stache with 28″/710mm wide handlebars set higher than my saddle, steep 76 degree seattube, 29×2.6 tires front and rear, full-sus 130mm front and rear travel. It’s the most comfortable bike I have ever owned. No more back problems!!!