how to fit a bike

How to Fit a Bike Correctly: The 7-Step Process

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Your new bike is a symbol of your independence. It should fit you like an extension of yourself when you’re riding. Hence, it’s important that you’re comfortable, particularly when biking hours at a time.

How should a bike fit? It’s an important question that merits some exploration.

A bike fit can make or break an experience, especially if you want to get more out of your cycling adventures or just do so without any discomfort!

This article covers everything you need to know about how to fit a bike correctly, including what size it should be and how to customize the fit for maximum comfort.

Proper Bike Fit: Why Is It Important?

Do you have a short torso and very short legs? Or maybe your hands barely reach the brake levers because of your size.

Regardless of our body type, bicycles can be adjusted to fit us perfectly with many adjustable parts on them!

A bike fit is a process of adjusting your bike to fit you. It is important for a number of reasons: comfort, speed, efficiency, endurance, and biking performance.

A proper bike fit ensures maximum comfort when riding and helps prevent injury. This includes back pain or other issues that may arise due to an improper alignment in the hips, knees, feet, and spine.

It also allows you to get the most power out of your cycling, especially when riding longer distances! It also helps improve your endurance levels by reducing fatigue.

Also, when your bike is perfectly fitted to your body, you’ll improve your speed and efficiency for optimal biking performance. This way, you’ll achieve your cycling goals faster!

How to Fit a Bike in 7 Easy Steps

A professional bike fitting can be expensive and sometimes inconvenient, depending on where you live or if it’s close to your area of residence.

If you want to save some money, then do it yourself! You don’t even need any fancy equipment to do a DIY bike fit.

To perform a basic bike fit, follow these step-by-step instructions.

Step 1: Get On the Bike

To make sure your bicycle fits you, get on it and ride around the block or along a level stretch of road.

Try out various positions by sitting up straight, leaning forward or back while pedaling, then try standing with one foot on the ground.

Make any adjustments needed at this point before continuing with other steps in order to ensure an accurate fit.

Step 2: Adjust the Seat Height

A good starting point when making adjustments is the seat height. Sit on the saddle of your bike and place both feet flat on the ground.

You can easily find out where to adjust the saddle height by reaching forward with one leg until you have found an ideal position for pedaling without any slight bend in your knees on either leg.

To adjust, loosen the bolt on the seat post and move it up or down to a position that suits you best.

Step 3: Adjust the Seat Angle

Next, adjust your bike’s seat angle so your legs are not fully extended when pedaling at an average speed while sitting upright.

To do this, loosen the adjustment knob on the seat post until there is enough room to rotate the seat and then set it in a comfortable position, either parallel or turned slightly downward.

Step 4: Adjust the Handlebar Height and Angle

Handlebars should be at about the same height as your saddle. Sit on your bike with both feet flat on the ground and see how much space is needed between them for pedaling comfortably without knees hitting handlebars.

Regardless of handlebar size, you should also adjust the angle so you have a straight wrist when holding them at shoulder height with arms bent about 15 degrees from vertical and elbows pointing downward.

To do this, loosen the bolts securing the clamp on each side, rotate as needed then tighten securely after determining if it’s straight.

Step 5: Position Handlebars

To place the handlebars, sit on your bike and hold them at either side.

If they are too far away or close to you, you will feel pressure in different parts of your body that can become uncomfortable during long rides. Thus, it’s essential to find out which position works best for you by testing both.

Step 6: Check the Brake and Shifter Placement

Now it’s time to check the placement of your brake levers and shifters.

The brake lever position can be adjusted by loosening the bolt on each side, sliding them in or out as needed, then retightening securely after testing positioning.

The same goes for gear shifters; loosen both bolts on each side, move the shifters in or out as needed, then tighten when finished with testing.

Step 7: Add the Pedals

The final step in this bike fitting guide is to add pedals and check for proper positioning by clipping in your shoes to avoid injury while riding.

To do this, stand over one pedal facing away from it with your right foot on top of it, pointing straight down at a 90-degree angle.

To clip in, hold the pedal, then rotate your heel outward as you push down until it clicks into place. Repeat with other foot, and that’s how to fit a bike!

Bike Fitting Based on Bicycle Type

Beginners and experienced cyclists know that ensuring a comfortable riding experience doesn’t end with choosing the right size bike.

Whether you are in the market for a new bike or adjusting your current one, it’s important to know how to fit basic bicycle types.

This section provides some pointers about which adjustments might be needed per type.

How to Fit Road Bikes

Road bikes are designed for speed, so the rider’s position is more aggressive than on a mountain bike.

When fitting yourself for a road bike, you should be sitting on the seat with your entire footprint touching the pedal and most, if not all, of your weight on it.

If you cannot achieve this position, move your saddle forward or backward until it is possible to do so comfortably.

How to Fit Mountain Bikes

A young guy came to the workshop to repair his bicycle. He is assisted by a professional bike repairman.

A mountain bike typically has a more upright riding position than its speed-focused counterparts, which allows them to clear obstacles and make quick turns on off-terrain trails.

During a bike fit, MTB riders sit much taller than they normally would when using a road bike.

How to Fit Cruiser Bikes

Cruiser bikes are designed for recreational riding. They are built for comfort but can still be ridden quickly.

Cruiser bike riders should sit with their legs extended straight down at the bottom of each pedal stroke. Their hands should grasp the handlebars in a relaxed manner as if they were holding on to a shopping basket from the side of a grocery cart.

If you can’t achieve this position, you should consider moving your handlebars up or down until it is possible to do so comfortably.

How to Fit Hybrids and BMX Bikes

Hybrid bikes are designed to be more comfortable than road or mountain bikes but not as relaxed as cruiser bicycles.

A hybrid bike’s geometry is focused on the rider having a more upright riding position so they can see what’s in front of them and brake if needed.

On the other hand, BMX bikes are all about speed and jumping, so riders need to be able to move quickly through the bike. BMX bike riders should sit comfortably and go as low as possible while still being comfortable enough to pedal without trouble.

If you find yourself unable to achieve this position, you should consider moving your seat forward or backward.

Often-Overlooked Signs of an Improper Bike Fit

Aches and pains after a day in the saddle are nothing unusual as the adage goes – no pain, no gain. But there’s a difference between tired muscles from riding uphill versus something more severe like poor bike fit.

A poorly fitted bicycle can cause discomfort or even long-term damage both when biking and off it if not taken care of properly. This will lead to many health problems for the cyclist.

  • Aching Hands and Feet: These are usually a sign of the handlebars being set too low or too far back. This causes the rider to lean forward at an uncomfortable angle, putting pressure on the hands and feet and causing numbness in them due to not getting proper blood circulation.
  • Back Pain: Lower back pain through biking is because you are not in an upright enough position. This could be due to excessive seat height, or you’re probably too far forward.
  • Shoulder Pain: Shoulder pain and in the upper body among bikers is normally caused by improper handlebar height and positioning (set too high or too close to the rider). These can place pressure on the chest, shoulders, and neck as well as restrict blood flow.
  • Numbness or Tingling of the Feet: These may indicate that your toes are being crunched by the toe clips and straps of your shoes when clipped into pedals which means you simply need to replace them with bigger ones.
  • Swollen Feet and Ankles: Swollen feet are tough to avoid considering most bike shoes consist of tight spaces and are hard on the inside, leading to swelling throughout long rides. However, if you’re experiencing this issue regularly, changing your bike shoe size should solve the problem.
  • Sore Buttocks: Many people experience pain in the buttocks area after riding for a long time due to an improperly fitted bike seat. If this causes discomfort, you need to replace your current one, as they are usually not suitable for long-distance biking, or sitting on them too much can cause serious injury.
  • Neck Pain: When you’re riding a bike, your head should be in line with the rest of your body and not pushed forward. Neck pain is often caused by too much weight on the handlebars or a shorter stem.
  • Decreased Balance, Stability, and Leg Power: If you’re experiencing wobbliness or lack thereof while riding, it may be because your bike seat is not properly adjusted to the right height and angle, which might cause injury. For leg power issues, this can be because the saddle height is too low or high, causing you to lean forward at an uncomfortable angle, affecting your leg muscles and power.
  • Knee Pain: When your knee is being strained from bike riding, it’s usually due to improper seat height. This will cause you to lean forward, which puts pressure on your knee, so if this happens, the saddle needs adjusting. It may also be the result of improper cleat position.

If any of these issues seem like something that may be happening to you, you can always make an appointment with a professional bike fitter in your area. Most local bicycle shops have one on staff, and they will help to get your biking experience back up to par!

Frequently Asked Questions on Professional Bike Fitting

Below are some fundamental questions cyclists ask about getting a professional bike fit.

What Can I Expect During a Professional Bike Fit?

Your bike fitter will position your bicycle on a stationary trainer and will ask you to pedal to analyze your riding style and habits.

She will then make the following adjustments, depending on what issues need to be addressed:

  • saddle adjustments, including saddle height and tilt and saddle fore/aft position
  • Stem length and height
  • Grip diameter
  • Handlebar width
  • Brake lever angle and positioning
  • Length of the crank arms
  • Cycling shoe and cleats adjustment, including cleat angle and position

What Should I Do Before and During a Bike Fit?

Before you call the bike fit service or go into your shop, make sure you have all of your measurements ready so that they can be recorded by the person fitting you. You’ll need your height, inseam length (length from crotch to floor), and arm length measured before getting on the bike.

It’s important to wear appropriate clothing while getting fit for your bike. The best clothes are form-fitting and breathable, like yoga pants or spandex shorts.

Also, make sure you’re barefoot when trying on shoes during a bike fit so that the size can be accurately measured. It will also help prevent slipping if you take off your shoes.

When you’re getting your bike fit, there are several different things that the fitter might ask you to do. These may include standing up and sitting back down on the seat without using your hands, putting all of your weight onto one pedal for several seconds while seated with both feet flat on the floor, and adjusting the angle of your seat.

How Long Will a Professional Bike Fit Take?

If you’re getting a bike fit at your local bike shop, it typically takes about an hour.

If you get fitted to your bike in-home by just using the information given when ordering the bike online, it should take less than ten minutes. This type of fitting is usually free with the purchase of a new bike fitment.

What Is the Difference Between a Body Geometry and a Power Meter Fit?

A body geometry fit uses all of this information on you to get your measurements exactly right so that you’re more comfortable on the bike. It is the best way to ensure that you’re in a relaxed and perfect position while riding.

A power meter fit measures how much power you’re putting out as you ride so that your level of effort can be determined and analyzed by the fitter, allowing them to make adjustments to allow for more comfort.

This type of fit should only be done by people who have specific knowledge of using a power meter and have been trained in its use.

Exactly What Should I Look For in a Bike Fit?

When you’re looking for someone to fit your road or mountain bike, several things make expert bike fitters stand out from others who might do it themselves or not have the know-how at all.

For example, if they use a video analysis software like Retül or Guru, professional fitters should know how to use it. They will also have the right bike fit diagram, tools, and equipment necessary for getting your bike fit just right.

Your fitter should also give expert advice on how to improve your riding speed and efficiency and when your bike fitting session will be.

How Much Does a Bike Fit at a Local Bike Shop Cost?

The cost of bike fits at bike shops can vary significantly depending on what kind is being done, where it’s being done, and how long the measurements will take to get exactly right.

For example, if you’re looking for someone to do an FTP test at your local bike shop, then it might be included in the cost of your bike purchase.

However, if you’re looking for a body geometry fit at an independent fit studio, then you’ll end up paying between $150 and $300 depending on how long it takes to get all of the measurements.

A More Comfortable Riding Experience

In this article, we’ve shown you how to get the most out of your bike ride. To maintain a healthy and safe cycling experience, you must follow all the steps in our bike fitting guide. 

We hope our tips on how to fit a bike properly will help improve your riding experience. If there are other areas where you want more information about road or mountain bike maintenance or safety tips, please leave us a comment today.

Our team is always happy to help with any questions about bicycles and offer advice from years of experience working with them!

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