I want to upgrade my current bike to front suspension but the geometry is all I have ridden bicycles in the backcountry since 1972. My father started backcountry bike touring in the mid-60′s. Several of my friends and acquaintences have been taking backcountry bike camping trips for more than ten years. There are many equipment manufacturers who have been making paniers and trailers for backcountry bicyclists for years, and the business seems to be growing, not shrinking. Suffice it to say that backcountry biking is alive and well, though you may have rarely if ever witnessed it. Kinda like mountain lions in the backcountry, if you will–just because you don’t see them (often) doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
As for the history of bicycling discussions in rec.backcountry, those have gone on for years, too. Some of the most long running threads turned into shoot-outs between bicyclists, equestrians, and opponents of either or both of those two groups of backcountry travelers. I can understand your frustration with Vandeman’s penchant for broadcasting his rants to a variety of newsgroups where few if any readers are interested in his posts, but that is an issue to take up with him, or his ISP; it is not an excuse for insisting that a backcountry user group with which you have apparently little experience be banned from rec.backcountry discusssion wrong and it will not take the very straight forks as there would be insufficient clearance for the front wheel.
Therefore I am looking for a new bike. My problem is that I am 4’10″ tall and need probably an extra small version. I want something as light and well spec’d as possible – full suspension is not necessary. It seems that few companies produce really small frames. Can anyone suggest something suitable? Probably your best bet would be to go for a custom built frame, and move all your equipment off your old bike. You could try local frame builders, the FAQ has a few in there. Islabikes specialise in bikes for the smaller female, but I don’t have any phone numbers, or anything. Does anyone else know where they are?