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  1. #1
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    Bike possibly too big

    Hey all, I have had my bike for about a year now and I love it. It gets me where I need to go and has yet to let me down.

    The problem is that sometimes I feel like it is too big. I have read a few things and talked to the guy at a different LBS from where i got the bike, and he said that it should be adjusted so that the seat is a little bit higher than the handlebars. If I do this my tippy toes will be a good two inches from the ground.

    I suppose it would be helpful if you knew a bit about my bike/riding style. It is a 20 inch frame (i think, the sticker fell off) mountain bike with disk brakes and slick-ish tires. It cost $550. I am 5'9" and i use it almost exclusively on roads.

    I am wondering, first of all if it is indeed too big, and second of all what I can do about it if it is.

    Thank you for your help!

  2. #2
    Pint-Sized Gnar Shredder Zephyr11's Avatar
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    Rather than adjusting saddle height according to handlebar height, adjust it by your height. With the pedal at the lowest point, your leg should be almost fully extended. (You most likely won't be able to touch the ground while seated). You also want to adjust the fore-aft position of the saddle such that when the pedals are level, a plumb line from your front knee will intersect the pedal spindle. As for whether or not the bike is too big...do you feel really stretched out? If so, the top tube might be too long. Can you straddle the top tube when standing over it? Standover height is less important than top tube length, but it's still something that should be considered.

  3. #3
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pillar View Post
    Hey all, I have had my bike for about a year now and I love it. It gets me where I need to go and has yet to let me down.

    The problem is that sometimes I feel like it is too big. I have read a few things and talked to the guy at a different LBS from where i got the bike, and he said that it should be adjusted so that the seat is a little bit higher than the handlebars. If I do this my tippy toes will be a good two inches from the ground.

    I suppose it would be helpful if you knew a bit about my bike/riding style. It is a 20 inch frame (i think, the sticker fell off) mountain bike with disk brakes and slick-ish tires. It cost $550. I am 5'9" and i use it almost exclusively on roads.

    I am wondering, first of all if it is indeed too big, and second of all what I can do about it if it is.

    Thank you for your help!
    I'm 6'1 and ride a 19.5 mtn bike. I would say 20 is tooo big! FWIW, I'm sure not many riders worry aobut touching the ground while on the saddle. One worries more aobut reaching the pedals and the handlebars stretch for comfort. Mtb bikes are made to stand while riding over bumps. SO the seat should be not too high or the boys will pay the price when the saddle bounces up into them!....Not many riders buy a bike while considering whether or not the feet land on the ground while sitting on the saddle. I have roadbikes and a mtn bike. I don't touch the ground while sitting ont he seat.

    If your feet are on the ground, you should be off the saddle and standing ove the toptube. That's the reason sloping toptubes are poular wiht some of the crowd. Easy to straddle the bike while standing wiht the feet onthe ground, not from the seat!

  4. #4
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    A proper fit on a bike is when you have saddle raised at a height that allows you to place your heel on the pedal while in the down position. That will put you in the ballpark for an efficient pedal style and extension fo the legs while riding. Feet oN the ground has nothing to do with fit when it comes to a bike.

  5. #5
    Senior Member rbrian's Avatar
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    Mountain bikes have smaller frames than road bikes, to make it easier to throw the bike around over obstacles, and make it slightly less likely to injure your special place when you crash, which is far more likely off road than on.

    I'm 5' 10", I have a 55cm (21") road bike, and a 17" mountain bike.
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  6. #6
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Don't worry about touching the ground when seated on the saddle. I have a multitude of bike sizes that fit me but no matter how small the frame- the saddle is set to a height that is in relation to the pedal height and not the ground. I then set the bar height to be comfortable.

    As you can see from the attachment- Neither of us can reach the saddle with our butts when feet grounded- And when riding neither of us can touch the ground- untill we fall off (Which we do quite often)
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    Thanks for all the tips! As you can see from under my name I am a newbie.

    A few answers to your queries:

    -I can stand over the top tube with about an inch of space between my crotch and the bar.
    -Right now I have it adjusted do that when on the seat I can touch the ground (barely). On my next ride I will move it up so that I am almost fully extended.

    So does this mean it is a good fit? I am planning on getting a bike trailer to pull around my son, does this change anything?

    Thanks again for your help!

  8. #8
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    If you have clearance on Road bike- it is a fit. Now start asking the questions about reach to the bars (Please don't yet)
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  9. #9
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    Well its not a road bike, but I ride it almost entirely on the road. Does that mean it fits?

  10. #10
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pillar View Post
    Well its not a road bike, but I ride it almost entirely on the road. Does that mean it fits?
    Not really! A mountain bike frame more than liklely has more clearance on the toptube when straddled. More clearance for bouncing around. SO the frame shold be a little smaller than a rodbike since you don't ride a roadbike like an mtb.

    Like Stapfam says, fit is more than just standing over the tube. It's about how you feel reaching to the bars (length of the toptube and stem), leg extension to the pedals, fore and aft position of the seat. One can tweak thigns around for a better fit.

    But if you reach too much for the handlebars, not a good fit. Might be remedied by switching to a stem with a shorter reach, or more upright position(stem rise).

    Not sure on an mtb but a good ballpark start point for a roadbike is to have a slight bend in the elbows when holding onto the handlebars.

    Also, the handlbars should cover your view of the front hub while holding the handlbars. This is the part that I'm not sure holds true for an mtb, but does for a roadbike.

    Saddle postion start point is when the pedals are at 3'oclock postion. The boney part at the kneecap should be right over the pedal spindle. Slide the saddle forward or backward on the saddlle rails to adjust.

    When you have all these dialed in, then it's agood fit. If your bike is not the correct size, it may not be possible to adjust all correctly. Then you know it's too big!

  11. #11
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    Lots of slightly conflicting opinions here, and mine isn't necessarily better than anyone else's, but for what it's worth:
    Standover height isn't important until you have to hop off the bike unexpectedly and mash your junk on the top tube. That happens to me a lot, and I wouldn't ride a bike I can't stand over.
    Mountain bike frames traditionally are smaller than road frames, but if you're riding your mountain bike on the road, there's no reason it has to be. You're less likely to have to dismount unexpectedly when you're on smooth pavement, so you can plan it a little.
    The idea that your seat has to be higher than your handlebars is based on racing setup and is only a guideline, not a rule. All four of my bikes have the bars and saddle about level. There's no disadvantage to if for ordinary riding. Set your seat for leg extension as described in another post, then put your bars where they're comfortable. With old-style quill stems that was easy. If you have a threadless headset, you may need a new stem, or to flip the old one over.
    If you do have to buy a new stem, check the length. You can get them in many sizes and angles, to move the handlebars up, down, nearer or farther.
    KOPS (knee over pedal spindle, as described in another post) is also just a guideline. It's a good starting point, but some riders like to be farther back and some climbers like to be forward, more over the cranks.

  12. #12
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pillar View Post
    Well its not a road bike, but I ride it almost entirely on the road. Does that mean it fits?
    Does it feel comfortable to you? If it does- no problem.

    Take it this is your First bike and there is a rule about your first bike. All it is for is to tell you what your next bike is going to be. When you get a bike- you have no idea about fit- type of riding you will do or whether the bike is even suitable for you. You get it- learn what is wrong with it and formulate what you should be getting on the next bike.

    And as to Bar height and top tube length--- If its comfortable for you now- then ride it.

    And a WARNING

    After the first bike syndrome- The next bike is not always the perfect bike for you. It might take a while to get the right one. And you might want multiple bikes for different uses aswell. And I am certain that many others with many more bikes will confirm this.
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  13. #13
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    One point to be clarified --

    The old standby of checking size by standover clearance is valid IF the top tube of the bike is horizontal. However, I haven't seen a mountain bike in years that has a horizontal top tube. More and more road bikes are coming with sloping top tubes as well.

  14. #14
    Senior Member jack002's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pillar View Post
    Thanks for all the tips! As you can see from under my name I am a newbie.

    A few answers to your queries:

    -I can stand over the top tube with about an inch of space between my crotch and the bar.
    Thats about perfect
    -Right now I have it adjusted do that when on the seat I can touch the ground (barely). On my next ride I will move it up so that I am almost fully extended.
    Ok, where are your feet on the pedals at the bottom of the pedal stroke? Thats what matters, not where the ground is. You need to find a way to sit on the seat with the bike still, pick either foot and put it on a pedal with your heel over the center of the pedal, now pedal backwards till the pedal is at the bottom. Is your knee bent at all? Raise the seat if it is. This is about how high you want to set the saddle.
    Biking isn't a sport because anybody can do it. I can bike, you can bike. For goodness sakes, my mother can bike! You don't see her on the cover of Sports Illustrated, do you?

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    Great! Thanks guys I now realize that my bike is the right size for me, I just misunderstood how to size it.

    Thank you for all the help!

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