How To Find The Right Size Bike For You
If you buy a bike that is the wrong size for you can experience a range of problems. It can put unnecessary pressure on various parts of your body, causing pain. But the first problem you will notice when riding an ill-fitting bike is that it is less fun to ride. It can also be very dangerous. In this post, we will tell you how to find the right size bike for you. We will also go into what to expect from a bike that doesn't fit you properly and how you can make it better. So you will be confident in buying a new bike, confident it will fit you perfectly.
The experience of riding a bike that is the wrong size is unpleasant. Therefore, you won't want to ride it very often, and you will soon realize that you need to replace it. So buying the right size bike in the first place will save you money and your sanity.
You must buy a bike that fits your measurements. Bikes come in different sizes, but if you buy a bike online, how do you know if it will fit you properly? Here are the things you need to consider, so you know your new bike is the right size for you.
How Manufacturers Size Their Bikes
To work out which mountain bike frame size you need, the first thing to do is check out the manufacturer's bike size charts. These will be displayed on the manufacturer's website. You will notice that most bike brands classify their sizes as XS, S, M, L, and XL, while others will state the frame size in inches. The chart will display a range of body measurements that correspond to their suggested frame sizes.
The standover height of a bike is very important to a rider. When you stand straddling the bike, your feet should be flat on the floor. The gap between you and the top tube should give you about 2" of clearance. However, if the bike has suspension, 1 to 2" will be fine, as the suspension will compress when you sit on it. Of course, you won't be able to tell if you have any clearance when buying online, so you need to do some measuring.
The measurement you need is the distance from the ground to your crotch, known as your inseam or inside leg. You need to take this measurement barefoot or in socks with your legs slightly apart. Ensure that you measure the actual distance from the ground to your crotch and not just the crotch of your pants.
Once you have this measurement, you will be able to compare it to the bike manufacturer's sizing chart on their website. Using this method will mean that you can buy a bike online, safe in the knowledge it will be the correct size.
An example of this is that if your inseam measurement is 30", your new bike should have a 29” to 31" standover height.
After you have ridden your new bike a few times, you can tweak certain aspects. For example, playing with your saddle height, raising or lowering your handlebars and stem will allow you to customize your riding position. This is something we will go into in more detail later.
How Your New Bike Should Feel
When you are standing on a bike's pedals, the reach measurement is an important geometry figure. The reach is one of the things that determine your riding position and makes a difference in how big your bike feels.
If you ride long distances, you may prefer a more extended reach. But, if you are an inexperienced mountain biker or a commuter, a shorter reach may suit you better. Bikes with a shorter reach put the rider into a more upright riding position. Being more upright is more comfortable, gives you confidence and a wider field of view for riding in traffic. When you get a bike with the perfect reach, you will feel balanced comfortable while having lots of control and pedaling efficiency.
You will know when your reach is perfect when you sit on the bike. Your shoulders will be relaxed, and you will be able to bend your elbows a little.
Problems You Will Experience Riding A Poorly Fitting Bike
Pain In Your Hips
If you ride with your saddle at the wrong height, you could experience hip pain. Another factor that people don't realize is that the angle of their saddle could also cause discomfort, as it doesn't support them properly.
These problems are easily fixed as long as the bike's frame size is right for you.
Upper Body Pain
Common complaints for cyclists riding the wrong sized bike include pain in the upper back, neck, and shoulders. This is because they are incorrectly positioned on the bike. For example, they may be sitting too far forward or backward, causing them to not hold onto the handlebars properly.
Sometimes you can fix these problems by adjusting the height of the stem and seat post. Alternatively, you can change your handlebars for ones with a different rise.
Pain In Your Back
You can experience back pain when riding, but most of the time, this comes from having a weak core. However, sometimes adjusting the height of your handlebars can relieve pain in your back.
Knee pain can be caused by having your saddle set at the wrong height. It is essential to get this right for comfort and for pedaling efficiency.
If you ride with your feet clipped to the pedals, your knee pain could come from how you have set up your cleats. It could be worth you changing your set up to one with cleats that have more float.
Considerations For Setting Up Your Bike Perfectly
Set Up Your Cockpit Perfectly
Your cockpit consists of everything on your handlebars. By setting your cockpit up perfectly, you can make your ride more comfortable and fun.
If you experience pain in your hands or get tired too quickly, you may be able to remedy the problem easily. You can adjust the positions of your gear shifters and brake levers. Twisting them and sliding them inwards or outwards can make a massive difference to your comfort. If you ride an electric bike, you can adjust the position of your controller to make it easier to get to and operate.
Look At Your Crank Length
The crank lengths can make a big difference to your pedaling efficiency and comfort, especially if you are very tall or very short. Most bikes come with cranks measuring 170mm to 175mm long. However, riders with shorter legs may benefit from shorter cranks. If your cranks are too long, your knees will bend too much at the top of the pedal stroke.
On the other hand, if your cranks are too long, you won't get the full range of motion while pedaling. You will know if your cranks are the correct length, as your knees should have a slight bend in them at the bottom of each pedal stroke. Changing your cranks is not a big job and requires simple tools.
Play With Your Saddle Height
When your new bike arrives, you will need to set the height of your saddle correctly. You will have the full range of motion when you get this right, giving you pedaling efficiency. However, when you ride off-road, your saddle should also be low enough to not get in the way when you are taking on steep descents.
When your saddle is too high, your hips will rock from side to side as you pedal. This wastes your energy while having the potential to buck you over the handlebars on bumpy terrain. However, if you set your saddle too low, you won't be able to put enough power into the pedals, and you will be uncomfortable.
To ensure your saddle is at the correct height, your leg should be fully extended with your heel on the pedal while you sit on the saddle. So when you place your foot on the pedal correctly, your knee won't lock out at the bottom of your pedal stroke.
The best way to see if a bike is the correct size for you is to sit on one and ride it. However, with some careful consideration and looking at the manufacturer's size chart, there is no reason why you cannot buy your bike online. Comparing your inseam measurement with the size chart will give you a good idea of how a bike fits you.
Even if your new bike isn't the perfect fit, there are several things you can do to tweak its geometry. So after riding it a few times, you will get a feeling for what feels good and what you could improve.