If the sporting aspect is the most important thing to you when cycling, you can definitely benefit from a proper bike fitting. But there is a lot to consider: Klaus Jockers is the owner of the bike shop Funsport Munich and part of his daily business is advising his customers on which bike suits them best. In an interview, the enthusiastic mountain biker explains what bike fitting, the proper seating position and the right frame size are all about.
Bike fitting: this is what it's all about
As the name suggests, the goal of bike fitting is to adjust the bike to best suit the individual rider. This includes the proper frame size as well as the correct saddle and handlebar adjustments. Klaus Jockers explains the details.
So what exactly is bike fitting?
If you want to buy a bike online, as a hobby cyclist you can usually find a reasonable sitting position by using the frame size and the correct saddle and handlebar settings. However, if you have any ailments or if you cycle at a competitive level, you should definitely consult your local bike store.
What is the perfect biking position?
How do I find the right position on my bike?
However, it is also very important that you as a biker develop a feeling for yourself and listen to your body. You should try to adjust the position over and over again - always in small increments - until it feels like you are as close as possible to the optimum.
Determining the correct frame size
Once you have decided on a bike, one of the most important subsequent questions is which frame size is the right one. We asked Klaus Jockers about this topic.
Which factors are important in finding the right frame size?
Can I calculate the frame size by myself?
If you still want to find the right bike size on your own, you can roughly determine the frame size with the following calculation.”
This is how you can determine your frame size
The correct frame size depends on your stride. You can easily calculate it:
1. Pick a flat and even surface and stand up straight, without wearing shoes or trousers.
2. Take a level (or a book), pinch it between your thighs and pull it all the way up.
3. Now you can measure the distance between the top of the level (or book) and the ground.
The next step would be to multiply your result with the corresponding factor for the type of bike you want:
• Road bike: inseam x 0,665
• Mountainbike: inseam x 0,226
• Trekking/Touring bike: inseam x 0,66
• Sports touring: inseam x 0,61
• Downhill MTB (full suspension): inseam x 0,225
The result is your bicycle frame height/size. Both centimeters and inches are common measurements for frame sizes. If you measured in cm and want to get to inches you divide by 2.54. For inches to cm you multiply accordingly.
You should really only view this result as a point of reference though. As Klaus Jockers said in the interview, frame sizes vary from model to model. You best visit your local bike shop for guidance.
If you want to buy your bike online, many manufacturers offer a frame sizing calculator on their website which takes into account the specific geometry of their model range.
Why are there different multiplication factors for different types of bicycle?
What happens if I choose the incorrect frame size?
How do I sit correctly on the bike?
Frame height is not the only determining factor for feeling comfortable on the bike, while also avoiding health risks. Another key factor is the proper adjustment of your saddle and handlebars.
The saddle height depends on the length of your legs. Your knee should never be higher than your thigh during a round pedalling movement, as this will decrease your efficiency. If the saddle is too high, your pelvis will slide from side to side, resulting in back pain.
In theory, the ideal saddle inclination is perfectly level, as it distributes the pressure best. But not everyone feels comfortable like this.
The angle of your handlebars depends on your body type, wheel type and bike handling preferences. Your back should be in a natural position. Your riding style determines the angle of your arms.
This is how you sit on your bike correctly
The correct saddle position is important for both good power transfer and to prevent knee pain.
This is how you adjust your saddle correctly
1. Turn your pedals until they are in a 6 o’clock position (one at the top, one at the bottom) and sit on the saddle.
2. Place the ball of your foot level on the lower pedal and extend your leg.
3. Adjust the saddle height so that you can no longer push yourself out of the saddle in this position. When riding, the heel will be raised automatically and the knee will be slightly bent.
This is how you adjust the angle of your saddle
1. Turn your pedals to a horizontal position (one in the front and one in the back).
2. Place the ball of your foot on the front pedal.
3. The kneecap and pedal axle should be perpendicular to the ground. You can also help yourself with a plumb line.
This is how you adjust the handlebar angle
The adjustment is correct when your pelvis is slightly tilted forward, and your back aligns with the natural position of your spine as you grip the handlebars.
You can then tailor the handlebar height or angle between upper arm and upper body to your riding style. A smaller angle means a more upright the sitting position. Air resistance is significantly higher and going uphill is more strenuous.
Finding the right shop
The bottom line: there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to bike fitting. If you are a professional athlete it’s best to get an individual consultation, pay close attention to your comfort level, try out your sitting position over an extended time period and adjust it as needed.
Do you have any advice for people who are looking for the right bike?
Who is going to help me if I want to optimise my seating position?
Enjoy your new bike!
Now go out and have fun finding your new bike. Do you still need the right sportswear to go along with your new set of wheels? owayo offers great cycling jerseys, jackets and shorts, which you can also design individually. Be prepared on your next group cycle or bike trip.
Are you interested in more articles about cycling? Then read our article on the subject of compensation training in cycling.
We thank Klaus Jockers for the interview and wish you a pleasant ride!
Images: Cover image: © iStock/ RyanJLane; Images: © iStock/ Mypurgatory- years; © iStock/ mel-nik