How to Choose the Proper Bike Size

  • Post by  Kunstadt Sports Mar 21, 2016

Frame Size

For most bikes, the first and probably the easiest way to gauge if the frame is the right size for you is to check the bike’s stand-over height. Simply stand over the frame of the bike, lift it up by the seat and the handlebars, then have a friend or a Kunstadt staff member check to make sure you have the proper amount of clearance (1”-2”). For hybrids and road bikes, about 1” of clearance over the frame of the bike is recommended, while with mountain bikes, you look for about 2”.

Saddle Adjustment

Once you have selected the proper frame size, the next adjustment you are likely to make is the saddle height.

In order to ensure a comfortable ride and maximum performance, the saddle should be raised so that at the bottom of your pedal stroke, your leg forms an approximate 10-degree bend. It is important that you do not raise your seat too high as your knee will lock out on the bottom of each stroke and this will eventually lead to sore knees. Similarly, if you do not raise the saddle high enough, not only will it cause aches and pains but you will also lose a large amount of efficiency.

Another often-overlooked saddle adjustment is the relative position to the seat post. Most modern saddles mount to the seat post via a set of rails on their bottom, which means that they can be adjusted back and forth. A proper pedal stroke occurs when not only do you get the right extension, but your knees and feet align properly.

The optimal fit is achieved when your foot is parallel to the ground and you are able to draw a vertical line from your knee to the ball of your foot. This minor adjustment is often overlooked and can lead to a less enjoyable ride.

Stem Adjustment

The third and final adjustment is the stem. Note that, depending on your riding style, this adjustment will vary person to person. For the average cyclist, the optimal stem length is achieved when your spine is at an approximate 30-45 degree angle and you can maintain a slight bend in the arms. The saddle and the handle bars should be in an approximately horizontal position. This position lightens the load on your back while keeping you in an aerodynamic position, but by having a slight bend in the arms, the bike becomes far easier to manoeuvre and your arms will help to absorb any impact.

As stated above this rule does not apply to every rider, if you are looking for a lower performance more comfortable riding style then you may raise the stem and bars allowing you to sit up right on the bike, the inverse applies to a high performance rider.

If you are still unsure about what style and size of bike is right for you, or would like to talk first hand to one of our bike fitting experts feel free to contact us HERE, or stop by one of our 3 Ottawa locations.