No matter what your riding style, a proper fit is important to your comfort while riding. More comfort means more time on your bike and that means more fun! At Cycle Solutions we take the time to ensure that your new bike fits you optimally. When you buy a bike with us we take you through our Three Tier Bike Fit program.
In Tier One we measure your body, your unique shape and work with you to find the right size and model of bike for you. With all of the different types of bodies and bikes out there this first step is crucial.
In Tier Two, we place you on your bike and make all of the fine detail adjustments. We want your bike to fit your unique geometry. After Tier Two, we would like for you to get out on your bike and ride. Put some kilometers on your wheels and then come back to see us for Tier Three.
In Tier Three we take your feedback from your riding experience and make some final extra fine adjustments. We recognize that things shift and after a while of riding your new bicycle, it will need a very minor tune up and so will your fit. That’s why we include this service with every new bike that we sell. It gets us excited when people want to get involved in cycling and we want to make sure that everyone can have the best experience possible whether it’s your first bike or your fifth.
Our Bike Fit program is not limited to new bike owners. With time you and your bike may go through some changes and a re-fit may be necessary. You may have advanced your skills as a cyclist, looking for more performance or changed your style of riding. Any number of factors will change how you best fit on your bicycle. We always recommend regular maintenance but often we forget that our bodies change and our fit may require adjustments or fine tuning over time as well. When you think about maintenance you should also be thinking fit, especially at the beginning of the cycling season. That is why we offer our Bike Fit program to everyone. We recommend booking an appointment with a member of our team and we will help you get the most out of your ride.
Recognizing that you can’t always make a trip to the bike shop we have put these handy guidelines together for a D.I.Y guide to perfecting your fit. The most essential rule of fitting your bicycle is that it is of the right size. Trying to make fine adjustments to a bicycle that is too large or too small will just not work. Think of Goldie Locks and the Three Bears! Don’t forget, we specialize in bike fit. If you are experiencing problems that you can’t fix just come in and see us.
We begin by placing the seat/saddle in a neutral position. A neutral position places the seat level and centered on its rails and over the seat post. Make sure that your bicycle is on a level surface before you begin.
Keep in mind:
- A level seat will support your full body weight, offer optimum pedaling efficiency and make it easier to move around on the seat when necessary. Like most people you may think that tilting the seat forward will relieve pressure in sensitive areas, but doing so will cause you to slide forward which will add extra pressure to your shoulders, arms, hands and knees. This can cause injury.
- Many cyclists do fine with level seats. If you are experiencing discomfort, tip the seat slightly (no more than 2-3 degrees) down or up. If discomfort persists come and see us.
- The goal is to get the area you sit on level, not the high or low parts, but the overall sitting surface.
You will need a friend for step two! If you have a trainer, (if you don’t have a trainer we have a selection to choose from!) set the bike on the trainer, otherwise you can balance the bicycle in a doorway. Get into your cycling gear, mount your bike and have your friend stand behind you. (Keep them handy for the rest of the steps too!)
The optimum height is achieved when your legs are completely extended at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Place your heals on the pedals and gently pedal backwards. As you pedal, have your helper check your hips for rocking. Rocking tells us that the seat is too high. Ideally you want your legs completely extended at the bottom of the pedal stroke with no rocking of the hips. When we place the ball of our foot on the pedal we should experience a slight bend of the knee at the bottom of the pedal stroke…perfect.
Keep in mind:
- This is just a starting position, everyone has a different shape. If it feels too low or high, slightly fine-tune the seat up or down.
- Consider memorizing the measurement, (measure from the top of the seat to the middle of the crank). This will help you set your seat height fast on a rental or borrowed bike.
While your friend is still around and your still all dressed up with nowhere to go, sit on the bike and place the forward crank arm and pedal in a position level with the ground. The fore/aft seat adjustment is correct when your kneecap lines up with the end of the crank arm.
Keep in mind:
- Just like our other adjustments, this is just a starting position.
- If you’re over 6-feet tall, ride long distances, climb a lot and pedal at about 90 rpm, you may prefer to be as much as 1 to 2 cm behind the end of the crank arm. If you’re less than 6-feet tall, spin at 95 rpm or faster and like to sprint, you’ll probably prefer to be directly over the end of the crank arm.
Making changes to handlebar height can require know-how and parts you may not have. We recommend using these tips only to gauge adjustment. If you find that you need a change, we are happy to provide the parts needed and install them if you like.
First we are going to check for comfort, the most important feature. If you are sore during or after rides, most notably in the neck and lower back, the bars may need adjustment. Check bar height by standing your bike on a level surface and viewing it from the side comparing the height of the seat to the height of the bars. Road bikes should see a difference of 1 to 4 inches as optimal, even slightly more, if you’re a flexible racer. For off-road use and recreational riding, bar height should be about equal to the seat height. Keep in mind that these are guidelines that work for most people. Sometimes it takes a little experimentation to find the most comfortable position for you.
Keep in mind:
- There is a limit to how much you can raise the handlebars. The amount of adjustment depends on the frame and component design. In some cases, it may be necessary to install longer cables and housing to raise the handlebars, too.
- Tall riders (long arms and large hands) usually favor lower handlebars and short riders prefer higher ones.
- Achieve a comfortable back angle of approximately 45 degrees.
- When the bars are the right height, it should feel natural to look ahead.
- It’s usually not a good idea to raise the handlebars too much. Once they’re higher than the seat, your body weight is shifted more over the rear of the bike, which can mean greater jolts from bumps in the road. This can lead to discomfort and pain.
Proper fit equals comfort. If the bars are too close or too far away you can experience neck, shoulder and back pain. Most bicycles require you to change the stem to change the reach. As a word of caution, stems come in a variety of types and you may want to have us make this adjustment for you.
Get on your bike and pedal until you are comfortable. Your upper body should be relaxed at the shoulders. Look ahead just as you would look along the road or trail. For flat bars use the regular grip position and for drop bars, rest your hands at the top of the break leavers. Have your handy friend check out your side profile. Between the tip of your nose and the center of the bars there should be about an inch in the difference.
Keep in mind:
- If you find that you need to scoot forward on the seat while riding, your stem is probably too long (and vice versa).
- Signs of proper reach include: being able to always comfortably bend the elbows while riding, no hump in the back, a natural neck angle and equal pressure on the hands and seat.
We keep talking about the importance of comfort and fit. If you are on the right size bike for you it is likely that the handlebars that came with the bike will suit you. There are many unique body shapes and there are lots of different handlebar sizes and shapes, so, changing your current bars may fine-tune your fit and provide additional comfort.
Width is the most important factor. Drop handlebars should be about the same width as your shoulders. Drop bars come in sizes ranging from about 38- to 46-cm wide. So, if the distance between the bony protrusions on top of your shoulder blades is 42 cm, that is the ideal handlebar width for you.
Flat-bar widths can vary, too. Riders who enjoy demanding, technical trails appreciate a little additional width (24 to 27 inches), especially if they’re using full suspension. All-round riders prefer a more standard width of about 22 inches. Keep in mind if the trails you ride cut through tight spaces like neighboring trees, you’ll want to be sure the bars aren’t too wide to clear the obstacles.
Keep in mind:
- If your flat handlebars are too wide, you can shorten them with a tubing cutter or hacksaw. But don’t overdo it. Measure carefully and be sure to leave ample room for the brake and shift levers, etc.
- Wondering how different bar shapes feel? Come on in and try some out!