Mountain Bike Fitting Basics Explained in Fewer than 140 Characters

Mountain Bike Fitting Basics Explained in Fewer than 140 Characters

The Fundamentals of Mountain Bike Fitting

You’ll have the most fun riding a Mountain Bike if it’s comfortable for you to ride and is a good match for your height, flexibility, and riding style. Your confidence and control on the trail will both increase if your bike is set up correctly, which will allow you to undertake rides that are more technical and difficult.

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If you are a dedicated rider who is searching for certain performance features, choosing the right size bike might get fairly complicated. In this essay, we will be discussing some basic fit issues. First, some basic bike purchasing tips:

The way you ride presently should be reflected in the bike you choose. If you have developed your abilities, you will be able to change how well you fit in the future.

Find the appropriate size for the frame. If you don’t start out with the appropriate framework, it will be tough to bring it to the point where it is comfortable for you later on, regardless of the tweaks you make.

Alterations to the bike’s current components, such as the seat height and seat angle, may be used to make fine-tuned adjustments to the fit after you have determined the appropriate size for the bicycle. Alternately, you may change out the components.

Help at your fingertips: A knowledgeable bike mechanic or sales employee can guide you through the process of selecting the appropriate size bike and/or customizing the fit to your body. We suggest that you get on over to the local REI or bike shop so that you can test ride a few different bikes and receive instant feedback on which one is the most comfortable for you.

How the Sizes of Mountain Bikes Are Determined

Mountain bikes typically come in three conventional sizes—small, medium, and large—that are intended to match to the rider’s height. Many manufacturers of bicycles provide sizing charts that indicate a height range that is appropriate for each bicycle size. (If you are somewhere between sizes, it is preferable to choose the smaller size since it is easier to make sizing adjustments on a smaller frame than on a bigger one.)

Comparing one bike to another or dealing with a particular problem of fit are both situations in which having a fundamental grasp of the geometry of a bike may be beneficial. Some of the most important indications are as follows:

Length of the top tube that is effective


Height from the ground up

Height of the seat

Effectiveness of the Top Tube and Reach on a Mountain Bike

The term “effective top tube” (ETT) refers to the horizontal distance that exists between the head tube and the seat tube of a bicycle. This distance exists regardless of whether the top tube of the bicycle is horizontal or not. When measuring a bike, the effective top tube length (ETT) is a standard parameter to look at and is a good indication of how long a bike will feel when you’re sat on it.

In a bicycle, the term “reach” refers to the distance traveled in a straight line from the center of the bottom bracket to the center of the head tube. Because it determines how long a bike will feel when you are out of the saddle, which is a frequent position to be in while descending or ascending steep singletrack, reach has become a more popular method to quantify the length of mountain bikes.

Mountain Bike Standover Height

The standover height of a bike may still be an indication of whether or not it will fit you, despite the fact that it is not used to size bikes nearly as regularly as it formerly was.

First things first, test to see whether you can comfortably ride your bike while keeping both feet firmly planted on the ground. When lifting a mountain bike, you want to ensure that there is a minimum space of two inches between the tires and the ground. Because of this, you will have an easier time getting off the saddle when you need to make a swift dismount on the trail. It is not unheard of for aggressive riders to search for a clearance of three to five inches. When determining your standover height, it is important to make sure that you are wearing your bicycle shoes, since they might impact the length of your legs overall.

It is important to keep in mind that the slope of the top tube down toward the rear tire has a significant impact on the amount of clearance available. For instance, if the slope is really steep, you will probably have sufficient clearance regardless of the size of the frame you are using. Because of this, standover clearance alone is not sufficient to establish whether or not a bike will fit properly.

Shopping Tips for the Internet REI and most other bike brand websites give size guides for bikes that are presented online on their respective websites. Check the product description for the indicated standover height, and then compare that figure to your inseam measurement. Your inseam height and your standover height should both fall within the limits that have been designated as the goal ranges. (If you have an inseam of 30 inches, for instance, you should look for a mountain bike with a standover height of roughly 28 inches.)

To determine your inseam length: To begin, assemble a big notepad or book with a hardback, a tape measure, and a pencil. Then:

Take a position against the wall (with bike shoes on).

You should sit astride the book with the spine facing up, in the same manner as if you were riding a saddle.

Make a mark on the wall with the pencil to indicate where the spine of the book meets it.

Take your measurement from the mark down to the ground. This is the length of your inseam.

To guarantee that the result is correct, you should retry the measurement again time or two.

Height of the Seat on a Mountain Bike

In order to have an accurate feel for the bike and decide whether it is the right size for you, it is vital to have the seat height properly adjusted. You can then decide whether the bike is the appropriate fit for you thanks to this. If you want to be sure that your seat is in the correct position, you should have a buddy or a member of the sales staff hold the bike while you climb on the saddle.

The correct posture for climbing hills and riding on flat terrain is to have a small bend in the leg while the foot is near the bottom of the pedal stroke. You should attain around 80–90 percent of full leg extension in this position. This allows you to pedal more effectively and forcefully by using the key muscles in your legs.

Positioning yourself correctly for descents means lowering your seat, which brings your center of gravity down with it and offers you more control and confidence as you make your way down steeper terrain. You’ll need to try out a few various seat heights to find the one that feels the most comfortable for you, but to get started, reduce the height of your seat by approximately 3 inches compared to what you have it set at while climbing hills and riding on flat ground.

To change the height of the seat, just loosen the quick-release lever on the seatpost (or use a wrench if there’s a binder bolt) and adjust the position of the seatpost to suit your preferences. Take care not to insert the post any further than the “minimum insertion mark” that is carved into the side of it. (If you need to make such a significant adjustment to the seat height, you may want a different size frame.)

Before you get on your bike, make sure the quick-release lever or binder bolt is properly tightened. (Take precautions to prevent the binder bolt from being too tight. You may either use a torque wrench to correctly tighten the bolt in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, or you can have a technician do it for you. When working with a carbon-fiber seatpost or frame, you need to exercise extra caution.

If you want to make rapid progress on your mountain bike, you should seek for bikes that have dropper seatposts or at least give serious consideration to installing one. These seatposts let the rider to raise or lower their position with the stroke of a button, allowing for instantaneous adaptation to varying terrain.

Fitting Women’s Mountain Bikes

Women often have proportionally narrower shoulders and longer legs relative to their torsos than males, and bikes that are made specifically for women are intended to accommodate these differences. Women’s bicycles often include handlebars that are more narrow and frames that are either shorter or more compact. While there are women who feel that men’s bicycles fit them well and are comfortable, there are other women who find that women’s bicycles give a more accurate fit.

Fitting Kids’ Mountain Bikes

When shopping for a bicycle for a young rider, it is natural to want to find one that the child can “grow into.” However, while the youngster is still perfecting the ability, it is crucial to pick a bicycle that they can ride with comfort and confidence.

Standover height: Just as with adult motorcycles, make sure the standover height is correct. Look for roughly 2–4 inches of clearance, regardless of the form of the top-tube.

Seat height: the vast majority of children’s bicycles are constructed such that the rider may maintain a more upright stance. They should have enough room to flex their elbows slightly while still maintaining a firm grasp on the handlebars, sit in a comfortable position, and have a clear view all around them. When they are at the bottom of the pedal stroke, their legs should be bent ever-so-slightly.


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