If you’re riding for an hour or less at a time on a properly-fitted bike, you probably won’t be riding for long enough for that to matter. A bike that fits well and is right for your height, flexibility and riding style is a bike you’ll love riding and you will find yourself looking for reasons to ride your bike.
However, a bike that fits poorly can lead to inefficient riding, muscle aches and pains, and general discomfort that might discourage you from riding as long or as far as you want. Whether you are buying a new bike, switching between bikes, or simply installing a new saddle, bike fit is important.
As you know, bikes come in all sizes and shapes, and there are endless bike parts and cycling accessories that can be added or swapped to make bikes a better fit for you. When considering a bike that will actually fit you, most bike experts consider things like frame size, frame dimensions, saddle height, top tube and stem dimensions, knee and cleat position, handle bar size, crank length and body angle. Following are the 5 important bike fit tips to help you dial in your ride.
- Get the correct bike for your needs. Getting a bike whose frame matches your body is the most important part of bike fit . If the frame size is wrong, you probably won’t be able to adjust the seat and handlebars enough to compensate. Some adjustments can be made easily with the bike’s existing components (seat height, angle, etc.) and some may require swapping out a component (as in, a new stem can change the location of the handlebars for a more comfortable riding position).
- Seat height. When you’re pedaling and your leg is all the way down, your knee should be slightly bent. If your leg is straight (knee locked), your seat is too high. If your knee is very bent, your seat is too low. Either problem can hurt your knees, and a seat height that’s too short robs you of power and makes it harder to ride. To get the proper seat height, you want the saddle to be high enough that your heel barely touches the pedal at the bottom of the pedal rotation, but not so high that your heel comes above your toes at the bottom of the pedal stroke.
- Seat position. Saddle setback another important measurement to get right. The front of your kneecap should be directly over your pedal spindle when you’re mid-pedal stroke. Most bike fitters dangle a piece of string with a small weight at the bottom (a plumb line) from the side of the rider’s kneecap to see if it lines up directly with the spindle—you may need to enlist a friend to help get this exactly right. Or better yet, schedule a bike fit at our shop and we’ll help you do it!
- Reach to your handlebars. Handlebar reach is simply the distance you reach from your saddle to your handlebars. Aim for a riding position that gives you a modest amount of shock-absorbing bend in your arms without forcing you to reach too far to apply the brakes.
- Handlebar height. Your handlebars should be at least as high as your seat.
At Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop, we believe that there is much more to fitting a cyclist to his/her bicycle than just the physical dimensions of a bike. Each cyclist has a different history, experience, comfort level, and goal on the bike; each of these variables are important to the bike-fit process.
If you’re still struggling to nail these three measurements, you may want to consider a bike fit. With eleven years of fitting experience and over over two-thousand fits, George Mullen at has the experience, the tools and the advanced training to handle any fit scenario. Stop by the Peak Cycles bike fitting studio to schedule a fit. Also, order any bike parts you need from a recent fit online at bikeparts.com. We offer a huge selection of road bike parts, mountain bike parts, BMX bike parts and more. If you need it for your bike, then we have it!