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Make Sure Your Bike Fits Your Body

Simple Ways to Make Sure Your Bike Fits Your Body

woman on road bike The merry month of May is also National Bike Month. So hop on your bicycle to celebrate. Don't worry if it has been years since you pedaled about town, because the good thing about cycling is it's just like riding a bike that you never forget how to ride one. However, the proper fit can make your return to two wheels much more pleasant. Here are few simple ways to size up your cycle.

  • Bike Height: Let's start with the bike itself. You should be able to stand over the bike without making contact with the top tube while both feet should be on the ground. If this is not the case, the bike is probably too big for you, and this can compromise your safety.
  • Seat Height: Adjust the seat of the bike so when you're pedaling your knee is just shy of being totally straight on the down stroke. Your knees should never lock! If this seems too simple, there are at least three different equations for determining seat height should you feel like crunching some numbers before your next ride. My inner geek finds these methods fascinating, but I just measure the height with my knees.
  • Saddle Comfort: Saddle is "bike-speak" for seat. You want a saddle that cradles your pelvic bones. You might think a cushy, soft seat is the way to go, but these can restrict blood flow due to compression and cause unwanted numbness. We like the leather saddles by Brooks. They're good looking, stiff, and mold to your bum.
  • Bike Helmet: You want your helmet snug but not too tight; if it's too small you can end up with a headache. You can customize the pads on the inside of the helmet to get a sweet fit. Do make sure the chin strap is not too loose; you should only be able fit one finger between your chin and the strap.

Enjoy the ride!

Image Source: Thinkstock
GummiBears GummiBears 6 years
Perfect timing! I am in the market for a new bike and this article is very helpful.
Susi-May Susi-May 6 years
These are definitely simple ways to adjust your bike at home. Bike to Work Day is tomorrow in SF! For more serious riding, it helps to have a bike fitted by a professional, from cleats on up. Emma, some bikes do list weight limits and you can learn that at the bike shop. I need to do some research on wheels.
emmajoan emmajoan 6 years
These are great tips, but I'd also be interested in weight limits for bikes: do they exist? How do you get tires that can accommodate heavier people without spending a fortune?
runswimmerrun runswimmerrun 6 years
Agreed with econinsf. and... where can I get an open road like that (in the picture)?! Envious...
SU3 SU3 10 years
When I got my bike, they measured me to have the bike perfectly fit my frame. It was a really good learning experience, they teach you a lot with placement and how your muscles work with the bicycle. They did it with their fancy computer and it took awhile, but it was definitely well worth it.
susanec susanec 10 years
If you're in the market for a new bike, a decent bike shop should be able to fit a bike as well and most will tweak things as you learn more (at a later date). Some are free, some more detailed or medical fittings are not. But they are essential.
econinsf econinsf 10 years
If you are doing more than recreational riding, spend the money and be professionally fitted on your bike. When I began riding more seriously I started having terrible knee pain. My doctor suggested having my bike professionally fitted. It cost me about $75 bucks, which seems like a lot, but considering I haven't been back to the doctor and my knee pain is gone, it was worth it. It took about an hour and they measure you and fit you exactly how you should be to maximize your cycling and prevent injury.
lorioz lorioz 10 years
we're just getting ready to take our bikes out for the summer, this is good to know so we can readjust them!
jendudley jendudley 10 years
I am in the market for a new bike. Thanks for this article!
bonbonfay bonbonfay 10 years
Hubby and I just bought bikes over the weekend...he's not a fan of taking walks, so this is still something we can do together instead of sitting on our rears watching tv. Thanks for the tips!
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