Whether it is your first bike, you have an on-going irritation, or you are looking for optimum performance; getting the right bike fit is essential. This is a topic that most people know very little about, and long gone are the days where your height was enough to measure you up for your new bike. Bike fitting has become quite a skilled profession and there are many trained bike fit specialist available nowadays. But don’t feel too daunted reading this, most people only need a little tweak here and there to get that optimum riding position.
Where do I go for a bike fit?
It is quite expensive to seek out a professional service if you haven’t got the money to spare, but if you’re looking for simple easy steps to get a ‘perfect’ fit then we are here to help with a few essential pointers. Also, if you have a turbo trainer this is ideal, this way you can clamp the bike and it is won’t move, making the bike fit much easier.
Let’s get started – from the ground up.
So let’s take a look at what you need to do to get a better fit on your bike. First you want to make sure the bike is on a flat even surface and have the front end raised, this ensures that the axles are at the same height; it’s no good starting with a wonky bike! Also remember to pump up the tyres.
Start with the cleat position first as this is going to be a crucial part of the bike fit. It’s important to not neglect the simple things, so ask yourself: do your shoes fit? If they’re too big or small then this will throw out the whole fit. Once this has been established make sure the Cleat position is set up to get the best pedal symmetry and power transfer whilst avoiding hip and knee injuries, the simple way to explain is to place your feet flat on the ground and locate the ball of your foot by finding the bony part of your foot and drawing a mark on the underside of the shoe to mark it. Get your cleat and align up your mark so that its sits where the centre of the pedal axle will be.
For more information on cleats, click here!
Saddle up for the perfect bike fit.
The next thing is to determine your saddle height. This is very important so you get the most out of your pedalling. Too low and you could develop cramp, tight legs, burning sensations and loss of power. Too high and you also will suffer from loss of power and incorrect pedalling, as the heel will be raised to compensate for the saddle being too high potentially causing cramp and unnecessary joint problems.
Determining your saddle height will ultimately decide the size of the bike you need if you do not know what length of top tube you need. The size of a bike is measured from the top tube so finding this measurement will help you choose the right size in the future. Before climbing on make sure the saddle is perfectly level and not titling forwards or backwards and fit in the saddle in the centre of the rails. Climb on the bike and hang both legs free, make sure the pedals are at 12 and 6 o’clock. Place your heel on the pedal, at this point you heel should just reach the pedal. If you can’t reach it with your heel your saddle it’s too high. If you can comfortably rest on the pedal the saddle is too low.
You can browse our selection of saddles here.
Once this is set to the perfect position, clip into the pedals and get in the ‘riding position’ your hands should be able to reach the hoods comfortably with a slight natural bend in the elbows and your back at approx. 30-40 degrees, Depending on the type of riding/racing you are wanting to do. If you are on your own, a good way to gauge this is to look down over the front wheel and if you can just see the front axle then this is not far off. If you can see too much off the axle chances are the top tube is too short. At this point see how much seatpost you have showing. If there is more than 10 inches the chances are the bike is too small, vice versa if there is only 3 or 4 inches showing the bike is potentially too big.
Of course all people are different shapes and sizes, so if you are between sizes then little tweaks to the stem and saddle can help if you have exceptionally long arms or legs etc
Just one more thing to make sure is adjusted correctly is the position of the saddle. This needs to be centred to suit your body. You may need a little helper here. Making sure the cranks are horizontal your knee should be in line with the centre of the pedal axle. This will help to realise where your saddle should be positioned on the seatpost. If this all feels ok and you are happy, measure the top tube of the bike and this will help you choose a bike that is the right size for you. Frame size is not an accurate way to choose a bike so always use toptube and saddle height to choose a bike. Just because you are a 52 in one make of bike doesn’t mean you will be a 52 in every make of bike.
Now you’re ready to ride!