When finding the perfect bike to suit your client’s lifestyle it can often be overwhelming to determine what they need, with so many different types, makes and models available on the market. Whether they’re looking to commute, to train or to leisurely ride through the countryside. How do you determine which bike is the best fit for them?
The first step is to decipher how they are going to be using the bike and where. Your choice/selection is also dependent on their preferences, such as how long they’re looking to cycle for and what sort of ground they’re looking to cover, whether that’s on tarmac, gravel, mud or all of the above. Ensuring their bike has been fitted with the best/most appropriate bike fit measurements will make all the difference to its comfortability and the prevention of injury. To make the process that bit easier, the team at Bike Rental Manager have created this handy basic bike fitting guide outlining everything you need to know when it comes to choosing the bike that’s right for your customer.
Bike Fit Measurements
First things first, you need to gain a set of measurements from your client to determine the size of your recommended bike of choice. They will need to provide their height, the length of their inside leg and their ape index. If they haven’t come prepared, that’s no problem, these can easily be measured in-store with a few utensils.
- Height – The height of your client can be measured by them standing against a wall and marked with a pencil level with the top of their head. This length can then be measured with a tape measure.
- Inside leg – For the inside measurement of their leg, provide them with a book to hold in between their legs and up to their groin whilst resting against a wall. Measure the distance between the floor and the top of the book. This measurement is taken to ensure that the standover height of the bike is appropriate.
- Ape index – To find out whether your client has a short or long reach you will need to measure their ape index. This is the calculation of their arm span minus their height. If your client has a positive ape index and their height is between the recommended frame sizes then opt for the larger bike size.
Bikes are measured by the size of their frame which is usually determined by the distance between the centre of the crank axle to the top of the seat tube. Road bikes are generally measured in centimetres, whereas mountain bikes are measured using inches or descriptive sizes (x-small, small etc.). Hybrid bikes can be measured using all of these metrics and the bike fit measurements differ between brands. As the bike gets larger in size, its frame gets longer, but once again this length can vary between brands.
|Rider Height||Suggested Bike Size|
|Feet & Inches||Centimetres||Frame Size (cm)|
|4’10” – 5’2″||148cm – 158cm||33 – 37cm|
|5’2″ – 5’6″||158cm – 168cm||38 – 42cm|
|5’6″ – 5′ 10″||168cm – 178cm||43 – 47cm|
|5’10” – 6’1″||178cm – 185cm||48 – 52cm|
|6’1″ – 6’4″||185cm – 193cm||53 – 57cm|
|6’4″ – 6’6″||193cm – 198cm||58 – 61cm|
The standover height is how far from the ground the frame is. The measurement is determined by the distance between the top tube of the bike’s frame and the ground’s surface. It is recommended to have at least 1 inch or 2 centimetres of clearance between the top tube and the client’s inside leg to prevent any injuries should they need to jump off the saddle.
Saddle Height And Position
When reaching the bottom of the pedal, there should be a slight bend in the rider’s leg, around 80% and not fully extended. When pedalling, the knee should be aligned over the forefoot and the shin should be tilted slightly in a forward position. The tilt of the saddle should be parallel with the ground. With the seat now firmly and appropriately positioned, the cyclist should be able to use the full force of their muscles to pedal efficiently.
Upper Body Position
The perfect riding position is achieved when your customer has a moderate bend in their arms to absorb shock, without having to reach too far to apply the breaks. For road bikes in particular, the torso should be roughly at a 45-degree angle with the hips, and a 90-degree angle with the arms. If anything is pulling or strained, such as the hamstrings or the arms, bring the handlebars closer towards the body to remove the strain off your client’s back.
If your client is wearing specialist cleats whilst riding their bike, it is important to note that the placement of their cleats can impact the fit of their bike. We would recommend encouraging them to bring these along when trying a bike out for size. If the cleats are positioned too far forward then this can cause pain in the knees, achilles and may even result in numbness. If they are set too far back then the power from their legs will not be transferred properly to the bike, causing them to become fatigued much quicker.
The professional biker rides, races and trains for sport and will have a passion for everything racing. This type of cyclist has the ability and experience to assess their surroundings, is extremely calculated in their moves, and acts quickly and correctly in situations with an acute focus. These bikers are dedicated to achieving their goals and strive to exceed their personal best times. Not only do these cyclists enjoy the race, but they also have the endurance and muscle mass to tackle longer and more challenging rides for several hours. The most appropriate types of bike suited to this type of rider are lightweight, streamlined and aerodynamic.
As the name suggests Road bikes are designed and built to be ridden fast on the road, pavement and any other surface area. The frames are lightweight, fitted with slim tyres and dropped handlebars to streamline the body into an aerodynamic position, enhancing acceleration with minimal effort. The gears are set to achieve maximum speed efficiently. Due to the frame being lightweight, these bikes are not capable of carrying heavy loads.
Cyclocross bikes are specifically designed for racers that take part in the act of cyclocross: racing courses that tread through mixed-surface terrain such as muddy fields, grass, gravel and sand as well as tarmac. Their frames are built for the rider to sit in a taller position than a standard road bike allowing an abundance of clearance for mud splatter. These bikes are also fitted with wider tyres to allow for more off-road traction and disc brakes that prevent the build-up of mud.
Built for the road less travelled, touring bikes are similar to road bikes with their dropped handlebars but feature a more relaxed frame allowing the rider to sit in a more comfortable and upright position. These bikes are also fitted with fatter wheels to withstand multiple types of terrain and are designed for longer, steeper distances. Due to the frame being a little more robust, these bikes can support a heavier load and are suitable for riding for a number of days consecutively.
Road Bike Fit Measurement Guide
|Rider Height||Suggested Bike Size|
|Feet & Inches||Centimetres||Frame Size (cm)|
|4’10” – 5’0″||148cm – 152cm||XX-Small (47cm – 48cm)|
|5’0″ – 5’3″||152cm – 160cm||X-Small (49cm – 50cm)|
|5’3″ – 5’6″||160cm – 168cm||Small (51cm – 53cm)|
|5’6″ – 5’9″||168cm – 175cm||Medium (54cm – 55cm)|
|5’9″ – 6’0″||175cm – 183cm||Large (56cm – 58cm)|
|6’0″ – 6’3″||183cm – 191cm||X-Large (58cm – 60cm)|
|6’3″ – 6’6″||191cm – 198cm||XX-Large (61cm – 63cm)|
Cycling enthusiasts are serious riders that are committed to riding several times a week but are a step down from professional cyclists. These cyclists ride on a multitude of terrains and switch between interval, strength and endurance training. They often ride by themselves, with their partners or in groups because they have a passion for riding and it is often used as a stress reliever. These riders may also take part in amateur races, club rides, Century rides, Gran Fondo’s, Sportives or charity events. These customers may also be interested in the bikes detailed above as well as the ones listed below – the trick here is to understand their needs as best as possible.
Adventure Road Bikes
A fairly recent addition to the biking world, adventure road bikes, also known as all-road bikes, feature a similar frame to touring bikes but allow for a much larger wheel, sometimes fitting up to 35mm or more! Doing what it says on the tin, all-road bikes are almost certain to tackle any terrain from tarmac to gravel, mud to bridle paths and are even great to ride on the road in winter, when fitted with puncture-resistant tyres of course. These bikes can be fashioned from steel, aluminium, carbon and titanium at a range of prices. Adventure road bikes are also well known for their ability to take the weight of luggage and are primarily used for bike-packing.
Mountain bikes are designed to traverse the roughest, rugged off-road terrain, fit with extremely wide tyres and grip that provides traction on almost any surface. These bikes feature upright handlebars for a relaxed seating position and a very low gear range to climb the steepest of hills. Most mountain bikes are also fitted with front and rear suspension to provide better control and shock absorption when riding over tough ground. The brakes are similar to that of a car or motorcycle, with the discs sitting at the centre of each wheel. Whilst these bikes are brilliant at tackling off-road trails, they are also well suited to leisure riding due to the relaxed positioning.
Electric Mountain Bikes
An electric mountain bike (e-MTB) allows the rider to achieve more elevated climbs in a quicker period of time without exhausting themselves, enabling them to conserve their energy, enjoy longer outings and explore further ranges.
The Family Cyclist
The family cyclist is looking to spend quality time with their family doing a fun activity and their collective ability could range from intermediate to enthusiast. The fitting of this rider is fully dependent on the age range, fitness and ability of their other family members, due to this being an activity shared as a group. Most likely, family cyclists will be going on weekend rides to the park or seeking out bike paths and trails, they may take regular family cycling trips and holidays, and as a result, prefer a more comfortable bike for journeys of every length. These cyclists are often more casual in their cycling habits and aren’t too rigid in their regime.
A Hybrid bike is the perfect blend of a mountain bike and road bike, taking the best bits of both for a more comfortable ride. Pairing the comfy riding position with padded seats and upright handlebars of a mountain bike with the lightweight frame and slim to medium-sized wheels found on a road bike. If your client is looking to achieve speed and keep an eye on the traffic ahead without being uncomfortable, then this is the bike for them. Hybrid bikes are a fantastic option for riding on paved or unpaved bike paths, riding around the local area, running errands and short commutes. They are also usually fitted with plenty of mounts, allowing the weight of luggage.
The commuter is using their bike every working day of the week and is likely to be experiencing delays due to traffic. Therefore the most appropriate types of bikes for these cyclists are the ones that can carry a larger amount of weight to accommodate for a change of clothes and any work necessities. Spending extended periods of time on these bicycles, the cyclist will be looking for something that is comfortable and easily portable, should they need to use public transport during their commute.
With the assistance of a powerful motor, Electric bikes, or e-bikes, are a fantastic option for those who are looking to commute to work without over-exhausting themselves or arriving drenched in sweat. They are also brilliant for those who enjoy cycling but don’t necessarily have the required fitness level and stamina to endure longer rides. Limited to 15.5mph, these bikes can be used on the road without the need for a helmet or a licence and the electric assistance is activated when the rider pedals as normal.
Electric Hybrid Bikes
Electric hybrid bikes are a brilliant entry point into the electric bike market and at a less expensive price too! They are built with flat bars, similarly to a regular hybrid and provide the cyclist with a comfortable upright seating position. Electric hybrids can be used on the commute to work, running errands around town, and on bike trails or through parks.
Electric Folding Bikes
If your client is looking to commute to work but has minimal storage space to keep their bike safe, an electric folding bike could be the solution. With the powered assistance of a motor, long commutes suddenly become more comfortable. Often built with the battery hidden within the frame or built with a removable one, carrying their bike onto public transport just got easier! A removable battery also enables the cyclist to fully charge it at work or their destination.
Technically, a beginner cyclist can ride on all of the bikes listed above, as long as they have been fitted by a specialist and take their cycling journey at a suitable and appropriate pace. The beginner cyclist is only starting out and is most likely looking to be eased in slowly, depending upon their fitness level or personal goals.
Basic Bike Fitting Considerations
When choosing the size of bike for a client, there is no definitive right or wrong size. Your main aim is to establish that whatever they choose feels comfortable. It is also important to ensure that the bike you fit is matched to their current ability rather than their aspirations. It takes a lot of strength, flexibility and endurance to increase the abilities and skills of a cyclist. A baptism of fire will not work in this case and as achievements are made, the bike can be fitted to suit. It is important to stress that it takes time.
How Can Bike Rental Manager Help You?
We hope that this basic bike fitting guide has helped you to appropriately assess the characteristics and needs of each type of potential customer, and how to choose and fit the perfect bike for their lifestyle and cycling goals.
At Bike Rental Manager, we provide cycling shops with a fantastic all-in-one solution that enables your business to leverage smart insights and manage time, money and rentals efficiently. Expand the number of current rentals, free up time and decrease admin and maintenance costs by 50%, growing your business more effectively than ever before. For more information on our services get in touch with a member of our friendly team today. Alternatively, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!
Download our free Guide to Bike Fitting Infographic for a quick and easy point of reference when fitting your next bike.