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Old 05-07-13, 09:36 AM   #1
newbie_d
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How do you know if a bike is right for you?

This is just a general enquiry really. What do you look for in a bike, and how do you want it to "feel" if you know what I mean?

I just bought a bike (second hand dahon ciao p8) and although I love it for the size and ease of use, I'm still not sure if it feels right to me. I'm only 5'0" (though I like to pretend I'm 5'1" really lol) so I was looking for something small. This one feels like it should be the right size but it's not really due to lots of little niggly things. For example, the handles are slightly too far for me to reach, so I'm grabbing it at a slight stretch, my fingers have to stretch a bit to reach the gears (but I can reach them and use them ok) and I'm not sure if I can get the seat at exactly the right height to feel right, no matter how much I adjust them. I feel like I'm sitting too low in my seat when I'm cycling (learning to) even though it's supposed to be an "upright" bike. It feels weird when cycling, like I'm sinking into the ground a bit.

Is this all normal or do you all have bikes that are like this? It is ok to carry on using it? Should I just get used to this, or try a bit harder to find something that "fits". IE: am I being too fussy or is it ok to feel like this?

This is my first ever bike so I've not really got much to compare against. I am looking into getting a brompton maybe next year, once I've learned to ride properly, (and have saved up a bit!) but not sure if this will be the case with the brompton too.

Anyway, be interested to hear any views/stories on this too..?
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Old 05-07-13, 10:04 AM   #2
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We cannot properly advise you over the internet concerning fit and comfort issues that may or may not involve some type of mechanical adjustments. All we can do is make suggestions which might possibly address your specific problem correctly, or perhaps not.

The absolute best action for you to take, would be for you to take your bike to either a local bicycle shop or a bicycle co-op, and ask them for some assistance in addressing your comfort level problem. The people there, will actually be able to see how your body position aligns with that of your bicycle. Obviously, we here on BF cannot actually observe anything but printed words, as we try to use our imaginations.
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Old 05-07-13, 10:31 AM   #3
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Time will give you the experience to judge your needs vs the parts that are installed on X brand bike.

talking to the old guy in the bike shop may help..

Da Hon as is with most all folding bikes , is made as 1 thing, then the rider adjusts the bike to suit..

I have a Brompton , they are also making one frame. its Fine, I tweaked the fit ,
via grips and saddle adjustment.

seat height is a felt adjustment, since pushing the seat-post in is part of the fold ..
Once I figure out the right height for pedalling..
I pull the saddle up to where it touches my hip at the same place, then close the QR.

I also own a Bike Friday, now, a travel bike, a pocket Llama..
[bike friday has sizes, length, the seat folds rather than telescopes,
so adjustment is fixed to your best height.. ]

Last edited by fietsbob; 05-07-13 at 10:51 AM.
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Old 05-07-13, 12:37 PM   #4
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You'll know a bike is right for you when you LOVE to ride it.

Knowing your bike and your height, I'm inclined to think maybe the handlebar height is too tall. Does yours have a telescoping range, or is it fixed height? Dahon also has a Comfort Bar that reduces the reach to the bars, so that may be something to look at, too.

Make sure, with a pro if necessary, that everything is set up properly, e.g. tires properly aired. You should not feel like you're sinking.
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Old 05-07-13, 01:45 PM   #5
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I'm 5' 1/2" and also have a folding bike (an Origami not a Dahon, but same wheel size 'n' all).

When I had that sensation of having to stretch my arms, I put the handlebars UP not down. Just a tiny bit of height brought my arms nearly level to the ground, and poof, no more stretching sensation. Now I have a very upright riding posture, but I'm OK with that. I like being able to see where I'm going.

Of course, now that my arms were fully extended I really noticed that my legs weren't, so I raised the bike seatpost as well. In fact, I overshot "just a tiny bit" and actually had the seatpost sticking up so that touching the ground with my toes is darn difficult, but that's what's comfy for a long bike ride. The seatpost does "sink into the ground" over time and/or when I wedge the bike under the loops of a wavy bike rack, so I do have to keep hiking that up every week or so.

Maybe you can try sliding the seat itself forward on its little rails, but I tried that and didn't like the feel of it. Sure, it made my arms able to reach the bars even at a slight angle, but it also meant that the bumps of the road were being transmitted through regions they never should be. Owie. I put the seat back in its standard position and continued to ride with a very upright posture. But if your arms are level with the ground and you still can't comfortably reach the bars, you need to get closer somehow and moving the seat forward will then be the only option with what the bike's already got. (I heard you can replace handlebars and grips with different, more bent, shapes but that's beyond my understanding.)
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Old 05-07-13, 01:52 PM   #6
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I simply listen for the harps and horns to go off in the air whenever I get close to the bike. Just like in the movies I know it must be the right bike.
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Old 05-08-13, 11:07 AM   #7
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A lot of it has to do with getting used to being on a bike; and what you get used to. When I got my first bike, after not having been on a bike in 25 years- it felt a little weird and uncomfortable. After a few rides, it felt good. After a month or so, I realized that that bike fit me like a glove and was very comfy.....
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Old 05-08-13, 01:25 PM   #8
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^^ Good advice here. I will ride a bike for a month or so and assess how it feels. Then I'll make incremental adjustments. Over the course of a year - it'll be dialed in. Once a bike fits properly and rides the way that I demand that it should, it's like heaven on earth. I have bikes that fit exactly right for their purposes, and a bike that I'm still trying to adjust (it's not quite there). A bike that fits and functions properly is a joy. Otherwise, it's an annoyance that I can live without.
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Old 05-08-13, 02:45 PM   #9
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It's right when you have no desire to change it.
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Old 05-08-13, 03:52 PM   #10
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It's right when you have no desire to change it.
Not true, that can just be your mind telling you that because your wallet is empty....
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Old 05-08-13, 03:57 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by newbie_d View Post
This is just a general enquiry really. What do you look for in a bike, and how do you want it to "feel" if you know what I mean?

I just bought a bike (second hand dahon ciao p8) and although I love it for the size and ease of use, I'm still not sure if it feels right to me. I'm only 5'0" (though I like to pretend I'm 5'1" really lol) so I was looking for something small. This one feels like it should be the right size but it's not really due to lots of little niggly things. For example, the handles are slightly too far for me to reach, so I'm grabbing it at a slight stretch, my fingers have to stretch a bit to reach the gears (but I can reach them and use them ok) and I'm not sure if I can get the seat at exactly the right height to feel right, no matter how much I adjust them. I feel like I'm sitting too low in my seat when I'm cycling (learning to) even though it's supposed to be an "upright" bike. It feels weird when cycling, like I'm sinking into the ground a bit.

Is this all normal or do you all have bikes that are like this? It is ok to carry on using it? Should I just get used to this, or try a bit harder to find something that "fits". IE: am I being too fussy or is it ok to feel like this?

This is my first ever bike so I've not really got much to compare against. I am looking into getting a brompton maybe next year, once I've learned to ride properly, (and have saved up a bit!) but not sure if this will be the case with the brompton too.

Anyway, be interested to hear any views/stories on this too..?
My co-worker also bought a Dahon Ciao. She's also your size and did not fit the bike for the same reason. I told her to look into using an Aber Hallo Stem from Thorusa to bring the handlebar closer, but she sold the bike instead. You may want to look into this for yourself.

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Old 05-08-13, 04:23 PM   #12
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The absolute best action for you to take, would be for you to take your bike to either a local bicycle shop or a bicycle co-op, and ask them for some assistance in addressing your comfort level problem. The people there, will actually be able to see how your body position aligns with that of your bicycle. Obviously, we here on BF cannot actually observe anything but printed words, as we try to use our imaginations.
This. Proper setup is everything.
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Old 05-08-13, 04:35 PM   #13
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Some really great responses here, thanks all for taking the time to answer and sorry I've not been around much to check all the replies. My dad's been in hospital since the weekend and been spending most of my time running around. Anyway I've got a bike training class in a couple of weeks and am in two minds whether to take my bike with me or use the school's one. If I take it then maybe the instructor could check it over with a professional eye and help tweak things (I never knew you can move the seat around on the rails). Then again he or she might say it's not road-worthy and cancel the class lol.
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Old 05-08-13, 04:47 PM   #14
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My co-worker also bought a Dahon Ciao. She's also your size and did not fit the bike for the same reason. I told her to look into using an Aber Hallo Stem from Thorusa to bring the handlebar closer, but she sold the bike instead. You may want to look into this for yourself.

Ratdog
Thanks for the suggestion, I'll look it up though I don't know if thorusa deliver to the UK. To be honest though, I've been thinking I've made a rash mistake and should probably sell my ciao as well. The previous owner was 5'9 so probably didn't find it as bulky or weird as I do. However I've decided I'm just going to keep it for learning and practicing cycling over the summer and then sell it, maybe next spring. It's still a great bike, very pretty to look at as well, and I'm sure it deserves a better owner than me who can give it a forever home. I think I'll just be its foster carer for now and look after it, while it trains me up and then sell it on. (I really want a brompton anyway, if I can afford it. I sat on one in evans the other day and it just felt right in terms of size (after all we're both midgets lol) though I haven't tried riding one yet.
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Old 05-08-13, 05:30 PM   #15
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Thanks for the suggestion, I'll look it up though I don't know if thorusa deliver to the UK. To be honest though, I've been thinking I've made a rash mistake and should probably sell my ciao as well. The previous owner was 5'9 so probably didn't find it as bulky or weird as I do. However I've decided I'm just going to keep it for learning and practicing cycling over the summer and then sell it, maybe next spring. It's still a great bike, very pretty to look at as well, and I'm sure it deserves a better owner than me who can give it a forever home. I think I'll just be its foster carer for now and look after it, while it trains me up and then sell it on. (I really want a brompton anyway, if I can afford it. I sat on one in evans the other day and it just felt right in terms of size (after all we're both midgets lol) though I haven't tried riding one yet.
Before selling it, you should have an expert evaluate your seated position, while cycling upon the Dahon, first. Have 'em go over the various possible adjustments you could make.
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Old 05-08-13, 05:40 PM   #16
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Before selling it, you should have an expert evaluate your seated position, while cycling upon the Dahon, first. Have 'em go over the various possible adjustments you could make.
+1. I'd very much recommend doing this before selling.
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Old 05-08-13, 06:58 PM   #17
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answer: you like it.
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Old 05-08-13, 08:51 PM   #18
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The joke among experienced bike riders is that one of the functions of your current bike is to figure out what you want in your next bike.

A Dahon isn't exactly a mainstream bike so I'm guessing that the way it fits the rider might not match the classical mold. Never-the-less, it sounds to me like you're on the right track.

I'd suggest you ride the hell out of your Dahon for at least a few months or several hundred miles. Don't be tempted to cut it too short because you're gaining experience that is going to help you in the long run. While you're doing that, make a mental list of the features that you like and the ones that you don't like. That way, when you decide to buy your next bike, you'll be a lot smarter about what to look for.
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Old 05-08-13, 09:52 PM   #19
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If you're looking to ride 50 or 100 miles at a time, the fit might be more critical- but that isn't a bike for riding 50 or 100 miles......

That's a bike for running around town or taking a leisurely ride in a park.

If that's the kind of riding you want to do right now...ride the bike- it'll be fine!

If you're interested in more "serious" cycling, then don't waste your time trying to make that kind of bike fit; Get a bike that is appropriate for the kind of riding you want to do.

I Googled the Dahon Ciao....doesn't look like there's too much you can do about the fit, other than seat height and seat fore/aft.

But if you just want to do a few miles around town or in the neighborhood or at the park...it'll work just as good as any bike.
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Old 05-09-13, 04:28 AM   #20
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Lots of things can be tweaked to make a bike a more comfortable fit. I have had to swap saddles, handlebars, stems and grips on some bikes to make them acceptable for me. Sometimes it takes a while, other times they fit right away. Over time you will develop a feel for what works for you. I ride a variety of different bikes, my Raleigh Superbe (old upright Raleigh 3 speed) fits differently from my Giant Excursion (drop bar touring bike), but they both fit and feel "right". I had to do some tweaking on the Giant to get it to work for me.

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Old 05-09-13, 06:29 AM   #21
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First its discomfort and then it leads to slight and nagging pain. That's the motivating factor to seek objective help with an activity you enjoy doing... riding.

Some are "fix it yourself" types who will fiddle with adjustments, some go to bike fitters and get help there. Its up to you.
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Old 05-09-13, 06:52 AM   #22
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Are you guys actually paying attention to what kind of bike OP is referring to?

This:
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Old 05-09-13, 07:53 AM   #23
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Are you guys actually paying attention to what kind of bike OP is referring to?

This:
I don't think (err... hope) anyone is suggesting the OP go and pay a few hundred for a fitting. But going to the bike store and having somebody watch them ride and say: Your seat is way too low/high or let's adjust the handlebars can make a world of difference.
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Old 05-09-13, 09:41 AM   #24
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It looks like the bar height can be adjusted too.
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Old 05-09-13, 10:26 AM   #25
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Thanks for the suggestion, I'll look it up though I don't know if thorusa deliver to the UK. To be honest though, I've been thinking I've made a rash mistake and should probably sell my ciao as well. The previous owner was 5'9 so probably didn't find it as bulky or weird as I do. However I've decided I'm just going to keep it for learning and practicing cycling over the summer and then sell it, maybe next spring. It's still a great bike, very pretty to look at as well, and I'm sure it deserves a better owner than me who can give it a forever home. I think I'll just be its foster carer for now and look after it, while it trains me up and then sell it on. (I really want a brompton anyway, if I can afford it. I sat on one in evans the other day and it just felt right in terms of size (after all we're both midgets lol) though I haven't tried riding one yet.

The stem adapters can be had on Ebay,

http://www.ebay.com/itm/TEAMSSX-New-...item43bb8e3f48

Just make sure you get the correct sizes. Buying from Ebay will be cheaper and it will be delivered. IMO, shortening the reach by 1"-2" will make a huge difference in getting the weight off your hands or in being too stretched out.
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