Cycling is a sport built upon repetitive movement, with extended periods of time spent in the same position, turning the pedals 90 revolutions per minute (rpm) for hours on end.
The term ‘death by a thousand cuts’ can ring true in relation to a bad bike fit. A misaligned knee or inturned ankle won’t cause pain at first, but ride for two hours at 90rpm and you’ll have performed over 10,000 revolutions of your pedals, and those small misalignments can quickly turn into major injuries.
No matter if you’re brand new to cycling or an athlete training for a national championship, your bike fit is important. Riding a bike in the right size with your position perfected will likely be the difference between comfort and unwanted pain.
Bikes can be a pretty expensive investment, so you’ll want to get the correct size right from the start. One of the most comprehensive ways to achieve this is to get a bike fit from a professional.
However, before you do, this bike fit guide will take you through choosing the right-sized bike. That’s not all though: bikes are inherently adjustable, so we’ll also walk you through the free adjustments available on a bike, and the components you can replace to fine-tune your bike’s fit.
Bike fit research before you buy
We’ve already covered bike sizing in-depth with our article, what size bike do I need, but here are the key takeaways.
If you’re brand new to cycling and starting from scratch with regard to your bike fit, most bike manufacturers will have a size guide that will associate your height with an appropriate bike size. However, just like how you might be a size 9 in Nike shoes and size 9.5 in Adidas, there’s very little standardisation in bike sizing and it can differ greatly across brands, so just because you ride a 56cm frame in Specialized, don’t just assume you’ll ride a 56 in Trek. This is an essential first step to putting you in the right ballpark.
However, these guides rarely take into account the discrepancies between leg and torso length, so two people of the same height might not necessarily fit on the same size bike. For this reason, bike manufacturers also create a geometry chart for their bikes, explaining the in-depth measurements and angles of each frame size. The problem here is that, to many, these geometry charts are a confusing jumble of meaningless numbers.