For cyclists, buying a bicycle is an important decision. Before purchasing one, it’s essential to ensure the bike fits you properly. Knowing how to tell if a bike fits you can make selecting a new ride much easier and ensure that your cycling experience is comfortable and enjoyable.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to know if a bike fits you so that you can find the perfect ride for your needs.
1 Measure Your Inseam
Measuring your inseam is the most important thing in finding a bike that fits you properly. The inseam measurement is the distance from the floor to your crotch and will determine what size frame you need for both road and mountain bikes.
To get an accurate measurement, stand with your feet about 8-10 inches apart and measure from the ground up to the top of your inner thigh. It’s best to wear pants to have a more realistic idea of how high up your leg must go when riding the bike.
Once you have this number, compare it with the manufacturer’s sizing chart for their specific bike model. This should give you a good indication as to which size frame would be most suitable for you.
If possible, test-ride several different sizes before buying one to understand better how well it fits your body shape and size.
Remember that other factors are at play when determining if a bike fits correctly, such as stem length, handlebar width, saddle position and crank arm length. All these components should be considered when choosing a new bicycle to achieve optimal comfort while cycling.
1.1 What is an inseam?
An inseam is the length of a person’s inner leg, from the uppermost part of the thigh to the ankle. It is an important measurement for finding a bicycle that fits properly. To accurately measure your inseam, you will need a cloth measuring tape and someone to help you.
Begin by standing with your feet about six inches apart and wearing shoes or socks that are similar to those you would wear when riding your bike.
Place the measuring tape on one side of your crotch, wrap it around both legs and then read the measurement on the other side of your crotch. This is your inseam length.
1.2 How to determine your inseam
You’ll need a measuring tape and a wall to measure your inseam accurately. Begin by removing your shoes and standing with your back against the wall. Place the end of the measuring tape on the floor and hold it up along your inner leg until it reaches your crotch.
Make sure to measure from the same side for both legs for accuracy. Record this measurement in either inches or centimetres, whichever is easiest to remember. Knowing this measurement will help ensure that when you purchase a bike, it fits correctly and will be comfortable to ride.
2 Consider the Bike Frame Size
Bikes come in different sizes to fit riders of different heights and body types. To ensure a comfortable ride, finding a bike with a frame size that fits you is important.
The best way to determine your ideal frame size is by measuring your height and leg length. While wearing shoes, your leg length should be measured from the floor to your hipbone. The difference between these two measurements will indicate what type of frame size you need—smaller frames for shorter riders and larger frames for taller riders.
Another factor to consider when choosing a bike is standover height, which is the distance from the ground up to where the top tube meets the seat tube on the bike. When standing over a bike with both feet flat on either side, at least 2-3 inches should be between your crotch and the top tube for comfort and safety.
If there isn’t enough space, you may want to try another model or adjust its seatpost height if possible.
2.1 Types of bike frames
The size of a bike frame is the most important factor in finding the right fit. There are three main types of bike frames: road, mountain, and hybrid. Road bikes are designed for speed and have curved top tubes that allow riders to get into an aerodynamic position.
Mountain bikes feature sturdier frames with wider tires for off-road use. Hybrid bikes combine features from both road and mountain bikes, making them great all-rounders for everyday riding.
3 Test for Comfort and Fit
If the bike doesn’t fit right, your ride will be uncomfortable, and you won’t enjoy it as much. To make sure that you get a bike that fits you perfectly, there are several tests that you can use to determine if a particular model is right for you.
The first test is to sit on the bike and ensure it feels comfortable. It would be best to easily reach both pedals with your feet while keeping your back straight. The position of the handlebars should also feel natural and not strain your arms or shoulders when riding.
Next, check how far away from the seat’s ground is located—you want enough clearance so that your legs can move without hitting other parts of the frame as you pedal.
Also, adjust the seat height until it’s comfortable for your body type—not too high or low—so that pedalling feels effortless and efficient.
Finally, take a few test rides around an open space, such as a parking lot or park trail, before making a purchase decision.
3.1 Sitting on the bike
Before taking it for a ride, ensure you feel comfortable and secure on the seat. The handlebars should be easy to reach, and your arms should be slightly bent when gripping them.
Your knees should have a slight bend when pedalling, and your feet should be able to easily reach the pedals without overextending. If you cannot adjust the saddle or handlebars, this might not be the right bike for you as it will not provide enough comfort during long rides.
3.2 Pedaling the bike
You should be able to reach the pedals without stretching your legs too far or having your knees hit the handlebars.
Riding, ensure your hips don’t rock from side to side or up and down with each pedal stroke. If this happens, it could mean that the frame size isn’t correct or the saddle height needs adjusting.
Additionally, if your feet slip off the pedals when riding, you may need to adjust their angle and distance from the seat.
4 Adjust Saddle Height
Having the correct saddle height will make your ride more comfortable and efficient. It’s important to note that if your saddle is too high or too low, it can lead to knee pain or other issues.
To find the right saddle height, sit on the bike and place both feet on the pedals parallel to the ground. Your leg should be slightly bent at the bottom of each pedal stroke. If your leg is completely straightened at the bottom of each stroke, your seat may be too high.
On the other hand, if you cannot reach down far enough with your leg so that it is nearly straightened out at all times when pedalling, then your seat may be too low.
Once you determine where a comfortable level of bend in your legs should be when pedalling, adjust the seat until it meets this level of comfortability while riding.
You can also enlist help from a friend who can observe how much bend there is in each pedal stroke and how much effort you put into each rotation to ensure proper fitment.
5 Check Handlebar Reach
The handlebar reach is the distance between the saddle and the centre of your handlebars. If it’s too far, you may feel uncomfortable riding long distances and not able to control the bike as easily.
On the other hand, if it’s too close, your arms will be bent at an awkward angle, and your back won’t be supported properly. To check handlebar reach, sit on the bike comfortably and ensure your feet are flat on the ground. Reach out with both hands to grasp either side of the handlebars.
It would be best to have a slight bend in your elbows, but they shouldn’t be overly bent or extended straight out in front of you. If this isn’t comfortable, adjust seat height or stem length until it feels right.
The ideal setup is one where you can easily grip all parts of your handlebars without strain on your shoulders or neck area while also comfortably pedalling with no discomfort in other areas such as knees or lower back pain.
6 Make Final Adjustments
Once you have adjusted the saddle and handlebars to a comfortable position, it’s time to make final adjustments. You want to ensure that your bike fits properly before riding. Here are some tips on how to check for a proper fit:
- Stand beside the bike with one foot on each pedal. Your leg should be nearly straight when the pedal is at its lowest point. If your leg is bent too much, the bike may be too small for you, and you should consider getting a larger frame size.
- Make sure your reach is comfortable by sitting on the seat and firmly placing your hands on the handlebars. The distance between your shoulder and fingertips should feel natural; if you are stretching too far or reaching forward uncomfortably, try adjusting the saddle or handlebar height until it feels right.
- Check that both feet can touch flatly on the ground while seated upright with both hands firmly gripping the handlebars. This will help ensure that you have sufficient control of the bike while riding and good stability when mounting/dismounting from it.
Ben is a highly experienced cyclist, and have been competing and instructing for many years. He have a deep understanding of cycling mechanics and how to get the most out of your cycling experience.