The best way to buy a bike is to go into a shop, explain what you’re looking for, and then choose the most appropriate model. Then, working with the shop, get properly fit to the bike. That’s the recommendation I give to people who come into my shop looking for a type of bike I don’t sell.
But how does this whole thing work when I’m here in little Point Reyes Station and you’re out there in Rapid City, SD? Chances are you’ve already got a bike (or two, or three, or … the whole n+1 thing) that you feel comfortable riding. I work with you to get some measurements off your bike and create a drawing of my frame with your contact points so we can verify the proper size for you.
I also like to confirm that your seat height is properly set. I’ve found the proper method for setting a proper seat height, barring an actually hands-on fitting to a bike, is to get your actual inseam measurement and multiply this by .883 – also known as the LeMond formula. But what is your actual inseam? It’s not your pants inseam. It’s the measurement from the ground up to your pubic bone. To properly measure, you’ll need an assistant and a book that is about as wide as the nose of a bike seat. Stand against a wall with your sock clad feet about as wide as your pedal stance and pull the book up against your pubic bone. Pull up hard as if your body weight is pushing down on a bike seat. Make sure the book is square against the wall so you get an accurate measurement and measure from the top of the book to the floor. It helps to repeat this procedure a few times to make sure you’re getting an accurate number. Then take this number and multiply by .883 – this is your seat height. This seat height can vary a small bit based on riding shoe thickness, pedal style, and knee flexibility.
With this number confirmed, I’ll use three other measurements from your bike to create a drawing showing how you would fit on one of my frames: Seat set-back, handlebar reach, handlebar drop. At this time, we will also talk about how you might want the fit of this new bike to fit differently than your current bike.
I’ve done this for countless current owners and will continue as it is the most accurate method to ensure the proper size via long-distance.
If you want to figure out your size on your own, here is a suggested seat height range based on past fittings to frame sizes. If your seat height falls within the specified ranges, you should have adequate standover clearance.
|52cm||68cm||75cm||5’3” – 5’6”|
|54cm||70cm||77cm||5’5” – 5’9”|
|56cm||72cm||79cm||5’8” – 5’11”|
|58cm||74cm||81cm||5’10” – 6’1”|
|60cm||76cm||83cm||6’0” – 6’3”|
|62cm||78cm||85cm||6’1” – 6’4”|