Tall Rider and New Rider Questions


Sep 8, 2013
San Antonio, TX
I am 6'4-6'5, somewhere under 200lbs, and I am in my late 30's. I would like to get back into riding bikes, and I have not rode since I was in my early 20's. My primary concern is my height, specifically my legs. I have a 36-37" inseam. From my the center-side of my hip bone to my kneecap is about 22.5". I am seeking advice from fellow long legged riders, or vets with real experience fitting tall riders.

I have done a good bit of googling and so far what I have come up with is that I should get a 24" bike with at least a 21.25" TT, maybe 14.25" chainstay, probably at least 8" bars. Other things I have heard make no sense. I hear about using spacers on the stem. I hear about 'slamming' or "slammed" a lot, but I have no idea what that means. I also don't hear much reference to, but I assume I would want very long crank arms, like 185mm?

I have looked up most bikes that are referenced. Unfortunately, it looks like in 2012 a lot of big bikes got discontinued from many manufacturers. For cruisers, the Sunday Model C looks like the most popular complete bike. The Specialized 24" is discontinued. The not yet released WTP 24" seems like a great candidate too, but I am not going to wait indefinitely. For piece together bikes, it looks like the Liquid Feedback with its 22.25" TT is one of the biggest and most desired frames for tall riders. The S&M Dirt Bike is also popular, but for the non-custom frame, its TT is a quarter inch shorter than the Liquid.

So, I haven't ridden in ...decades? I have no idea what I will be riding. I live in Texas --flat lands, so its not like I have a mountain or any desire to ride one. The idea of BMX-like dirt tracks looks the most appealing. I absolutely have no desire to compete in racing, so technicalities that only racers would have can be ignored for me. I want to ride like I did when I was younger. Hit the street, find a park or something, try to tear up the trails or make a trail where one doesn't exist (woods). If, in a year or so, I completely get obsessed with riding and change my goals, I will cross that bridge when I come to it.

So the questions:

1. Should the top tube be at least the length of my femur bone? If not, won't it be banging unto my bars?
2. Does a bigger tire mean the bike rides higher --given the TT and Chainstay length are the same? If so, then wouldn't a bike that sits up higher have more leg room --from the knee down?
3. What is the 'cockpit room' --in english. Does it equate to how big the bike feels?
4. Are 22" bikes 'bigger' 20" bikes, or just bigger tires? I guess the same question goes for 24" bikes.
5. There seems to be a lot of talk about how the handle bar is 'loaded'. Words like top loaded, front loaded, and slammed. Also people seem to classify their bars as 'slammers'. What is all this lingo?
6. What is the purpose of the newer tighter geometry? Is it a racing geometry? What geometry matters for a casual rider?
7. Also regarding 22" bikes, doesn't this severely limit your ability to maintain your bike, given the lack of tires, rims, hubs, etc. that are available? It seems like a 22" bike is still a novelty bike and I am afraid that in a pinch, I would not be able to get new tires or tubes.
8. The easy question: recommended bikes or components.

Finally, I met a pro rider at a bike shop that was my height. He had a custom built 20" frame that was really stretched out. He commented that he rides the rear tire out as far as possible. Anyway, it felt okay on the little test ride. Of course I was standing the entire ride. That being said. He tried to convince me that there was no reason to get a 24" bike. He said I could get GT or similar XXXL frame and it should be long enough. He was tall, and he was a pro rider..so that had a huge impact on my decision, which was up until that point that I needed to get a cruiser for my long legs. BUT, this guy raced on the bike, he probably didn't go on 10+ mile trail rides with that bike. Will a 20" suck for long rides?

Also, I don't have any desire for a multi-geared bike. That, to me, takes all the fun out of riding. It also make the bike seem more fragile to me --more moving parts. I like a stripped down BMX style bike with 1 break and 1 gear. So, please do not recommend that I get a MTB.


Jun 14, 2003
Lost on Long Island
Alrighty, here is my $0.02.

But first let me say that the most important thing is probably to not over analyze anything, just get a bike and start riding, and the rest will sort out in time. Getting on other peoples bikes can help, but if you have not been actively riding, they will all just feel weird.

1. I've ridden with tall dudes running frames from "20.0 to "21.25. This will come down to your comfort level on a bmx bike. I'd suggest the 21.25 : more room, more stable, less nimble (squirrelly).

2. it won't change seat/handlebar/pedal relationships at all, so no more or less room. and I doubt it would raise the bike up, but I'm not sure.

3. cockpit, to me, means the relationship between the pedals and the bars, when you are in a riding position (not sitting). This, again to me, is more how you feel, and your geometry, rather than how the bike feels. You could have two bikes with the same cockpit space, but different wheel bases, which would feel very different when riding. Go to a store and hop on a bunch of bikes of different brands and frame sizes and you will feel this one.

4. personally I think of 22s as big bmx bikes and 24s as small mountain bikes. the wheels, not just tires, are the size point on these, and the frames scale up in geometry accordingly.

5. top loaded vs front loaded = two styles of stem design; the attachment plate facing up or forward. I don't know about slammed as it refers to bars, but there is a family of models of bars by S&M called slams and in general something 'slammed' means to be 'in' as far as possible (seat = down into seat tube; rear wheel = to the front of dropout).

6. don't know, find a frame designed for what you want to do and go with it.

7. yes. as I understand it 22 and 24 wheel components are in shorter supply than 20 or 26 or even 29 these days.

8. Not that easy of a question. If you want bmx, don't plan on 10 mile mtb trail rides, pick your favorite sub-discipline (street/park/trails) and pick find a bike/frame with the longest tt with geometry for that focus - or a pro model of someone who focusses their riding on that venue of riding.

...." he probably didn't go on 10+ mile trail rides with that bike. Will a 20" suck for long rides?" YES. If you want to do 10+ mile trail rides, you do in fact want a mtb. plenty of guys ride mtb for street/park/trails. Or you can get a cheap mtb and a cheap bmx and figure out where your interests lie and fix them as you break parts. Also please note that when bmx/mtb trail diggers/riders talk about 'Trails', we do not mean at all the multi-mile single track type of trail that most mtb people refer to. two totally different 'trails'.

I like a stripped down BMX style bike with 1 break and 1 gear. : lots of options on this, from 20 to 29. for reference go bounce around redline's website (not that I am advocating their bikes per se) to see that they have 1 brake/1 gear completes from 20 to 29.

but again, my core suggestion is to just go start riding. borrow a friends bike or go buy a pos at a thrift store if you have to. actually doing the riding you want to will inform all other questions.


Sep 8, 2013
San Antonio, TX
Thanks. I posted the same questions on another forum and got a lot of feedback there. You are right, I need to just get on a bike and decide what feels good. I am heading out to Austin this weekend and hopefully I will come home with a bike, or at least a lot to think about.


Mar 21, 2012
If your going to be in Austin check out Craigslist in Austin. Always a bunch of nice options at a discounted price. That way you don't drop a bunch of cash on a bike that may or may not be to your likening