How to Fit a Mountain Bike

How to Fit a Mountain Bike
Getting the proper size mountain bike may seem like a trivial detail compared to picking out the perfect combination of suspension, components and materials, but it is extremely important. A improperly fit bike is not going to be comfortable to ride and won't perform well for you. In which case, all the high tech specs and travel won't really be worth much. Get the fit right and you'll be biking your best.


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Find a bike shop that offers the bike(s) that you're looking for. Bike frames vary widely among manufacturers and models, so fit is very model-specific. Bikes come in sizes measuring the seat tube in inches (17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22) or more general sizes (Small, Medium, Large). While you could perform some tedious calculations, it would really be easier and more effective to size it out in person.
Step 2
Ask for help. While this article will give you the basic know-how, there will likely be a bike shop staff member just itching to give you a hand and make fitting the bike a lot easier. It wouldn't hurt to have some hands-on knowledge and advice for guidance.
Step 3
Step over the bike and straddle the top tube standing, feet flat. You should have about 2 to 4 inches or so of clearance. If you are touching the top tube or have less than 2 inches of clearance, try a smaller frame. If you have more than 4 inches of clearance, try a larger frame.
Step 4
Once you've found the correct height, sit on the bike and determine a proper seat height. When on the pedals your legs should maintain a slight bend at the knee when pedals are at their lowest point. Adjust the seat accordingly.
Step 5
Get a feel for the length of the bike. Your arms should have a slight bend at the elbow. If your elbows are locked, the bike is too long, try moving the seat forward. If they are scrunched it is too short, try moving the seat back. If you can't get the right fit, try a different size or different bike. Other than that, proper length is largely about personal comfort. Cross country bikes tend to be longer, requiring a more leaned stance, while all mountain and freeride mountain bikes are generally shorter, allowing you to sit more upright.
Step 6
To get the full feel for how the bike fits and the comfort level you have on it, take it for a test ride. Pay attention to how comfortable or uncomfortable the stance is and how effectively you're able to pedal and ride.

Article Written By Chris Weiss

Chris Weiss is a freelance writer and outdoor enthusiast living outside of Salt Lake City. He has been mountain biking and snowboarding for over 15 years. Chris has written for various travel and outdoors websites and publications, and hopes to convey his experiences and passion for the outdoors to other enthusiasts and readers.

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