Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Standover Height

I don't know if I'll ever be able to fully understand most cyclists, and especially mountain biker's, obsession with stand over height.  In the interest of true disclosure, I'm a fair bit over six feet tall, so stand over has never been much of an issue.  I always wonder though, how many times are cyclists needing to put both feet down flat while straddling the bike?  I honestly can't remember a specific time when I've needed to instantly put both my feet down flat. The only time I could envision it would be if things went horrible pear shaped while mountain biking and I'd have to dab with both feet to avoid a long drop, like if I clicked out with the downhill foot first on a steep sidehill trail.  I think the thought of falling like Hans Gruber in the end of Die Hard would quickly overpower any fear I had of slightly racking my nuts on the top tube.  I can pretty much assure you that even if I did graze my stones, the slight discomfort would be a worthy tradeoff versus a nasty fall.

Bike designs are getting ridiculous enough.  With 29ers and full suspension, frame designers are squeezing more things into an increasingly small space.  It's gotten so bad that most full suspension designs don't include provisions to mount one, let alone two water bottles.  How is it that the vague threat of getting a shot to the balls plays a greater role in determining proper frame design than the ability to carry water?  It's especially an annoying fault on bikes that are marketed at back country travel and endurance racing.  Am I going to schlep all my water in a Camelbak?  What happens if I like to use a electrolyte drink like Cytomax or Nuun?  I guess now I have to choose whether or not I want my backpack bladder to have just water in it, or be a sticky, contaminated mess that has to be run through the dishwasher between every use so mold doesn't grow in it. No thanks.

I have a theory that the average male mountain biker has been fed a line about needing decent stand over in a mountain bike so long that they are now incapable of rationally measuring the actual amount of stand over a bike has.  I see it all the time in the bike shop.  A dude will first assess the quality of the suspension by pushing up and down on the handlebars while standing in front of the bike.  Next a quick squeeze of the brakes with the thumb before clicking whatever type of shifters the bike is equipped with.  Armed now with absolutely no more information than he had before he started the bike version of tire kicking, the final task is to throw a leg over and yank up on the bars until the top tube touches the pants yabbies. Of course, the front tire now is approximately six to seven inches off the ground, which would imply that there is a fair amount of stand over clearance.  But this is where you would be wrong to assume so.  At this point, a weird inverse, dick measuring takes place in the bike tester's idiot brain.  Normally, the same moron would have their three to four inch member in their hand and swear up and down that that length is easily six inches, if not more. But plant the same person over a top tube of a bike and suddenly, their previous ability to take a measurement and multiply it by two to three and come up with a distance is reversed and they start dividing by two or three to come up with their new stand over amount.

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