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How do I know if a bike will fit or not?

Old 02-23-24, 03:19 PM
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How do I know if a bike will fit or not?

I have to buy secondhand. I've gotten lucky in the past with being able to try things out, but I'm kind of between sizes - small in some, medium in others.

I had a bike fit, but it didn't really help me. So, there are two bikes I'm currently looking at for Ragbrai (next year, not this year) and some other long distance rides. I have a Bike Friday, but I'm a heavy rider. I am within the weight limit for the Bike Friday NWT, but I worry about riding it loaded. Having a nice road bike I can put on the train/plane is something I'm looking for. These two came up. I asked about it on the bike fitter section of this forum, but it's not really about bike fitting. I just wonder if both these bikes are too big? or actually perfect?

Here's what I wrote in the other post:

So, my bike fit gave me this info. This fitter is HIGHLY recommended, but I think most people he fits are people riding for speed/racing. Like I SPECIFICALLY had too request a fit that did not include clip in shoes/pedals. I will never use those either.

Anyway, I don't understand all these things and I can't try either of these bikes in person - I would have to buy them, have them delivered and then "hope" they are a good fit.

The first bike is from a shop/maker and they say it should fit me. I'm waiting for more info from the other, but I have the included info for now (they are on vacation).

So, first - bike fit numbers:

1. Saddle Height (BB to Center Saddle) 702
2. Saddle Setback 72
Saddle Type Diva
Saddle Angle -3.1
3. Handlebar Drop 9 above
4. Cockpit Length (Back of Saddle) 735
Handlebar Model and Width 38
5. Pad/Hood Reach 585
6. Hood Drop
Handlebar Angle/Depth
Stem Length & Angle
Saddle Depth
Clamp/Rail position
Seat Post Setback
7. Handlebar or Pad XY Coordinate 390 661
8. Saddle XY Coordinate 220 610
Crank Arm Length 165


The bike one bike I'm looking at deets: Waterford 1900 bicycle. It is custom and has short reach Shimano Ultegra caliper brakes, not cantilevers. Clearance for 28 mm tires. 175mm head tube, 54 cm c-t seat tube, 52.5 cm effective top tube. Shimano 105 triple brifters, 105 triple front derailleur, Deore rear derailleur, Ultegra triple crank. (this is the one I'm waiting for more geometry numbers)

The one from a manufacturer (custom): Rodriguez competitive. Top Tube Length - 53, Seat Tube - 53, Standover Height - 30.5, Wheel Size - 700c.

I'm thinking both of these are slightly too big? they both have straight top tube (or mostly).

Be kind... I'm trying to learn.
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Old 02-23-24, 03:51 PM
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Afternoon,

I wonder... how much money are you looking to spend? It sounds like the bikes you are looking at are custom?
All the numbers are really meaningless tbh we are all so unique in size and shape. The bike fitter will help you get fitted on the bike you choose. I think probably the most important thing to get right is the frame size. You can adjust everything else by moving things around a bit.

my .02
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Old 02-23-24, 03:54 PM
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but if it's too tall for me? If it hits me in the crotch?

I have adjusted things on another bike, but I cannot afford to buy new, yet quality is important to me. There just happens to custom builds, but that is coincidental.
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Old 02-23-24, 04:09 PM
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Got it... Maybe what you can do is go to Geometry Geeks and look for a major manufacturer and see their sizes as a comparison.

What's your budget?
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Old 02-23-24, 04:33 PM
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Ordinarily if you get a good deal on a great bike, and it doesn't fit, you may be out the shipping cost but you can generally resell the bike and recoup some of your money. The fact that these are custom though, as nice as that may be, might make them take longer to sell.
I can't try either of these bikes in person
And ordinarily you might find a bike identical to the one you want somewhere near you, new or used and go try it out in person. Again, with a custom bike, that isn't possible. Is the bike you want the most so far away that the expense of an economy round trip train or plane ticket would be out of the question?
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Old 02-23-24, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by mams99
but if it's too tall for me? If it hits me in the crotch?
The dimension you refer to is "Stand Over".

It is very possible to purchase a bike you can Stand Over, yet the bike still be too large for you.
Don't ask me how I know.

I purchased a local used 61cm Cervelo R3 as an experiment.
Rode it a while and got a bike fit. The fitter determined I should really be on a 58cm.
Got me a local used R3 58cm and locally sold the 61cm breaking even on the price.
Rode the 58cm for a while to be sure all was well, then purchased a new 58cm.

Nothing wrong with experimenting with used bikes.
But I would stick to non-custom and local purchases.

Barry
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Old 02-23-24, 06:05 PM
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Originally Posted by mams99
but if it's too tall for me? If it hits me in the crotch?
Grab a pencil. Stand with your back to a wall, in the shoes you'll be wearing. Take a book - a regular, hardbound book works well - and with the bottom of the book against the wall, jam the spine of the book as far up into your crotch as you can. Mark on the wall behind you where the spine of the book touches the wall. Measure from the floor to the mark.

Have the sellers measure standover height. As long as it's less than the measurement you just took, you should be fine.

I have adjusted things on another bike, but I cannot afford to buy new, yet quality is important to me. There just happens to custom builds, but that is coincidental.
I have to say, I can't decipher most of the info you got from the fitter. Did it come with a diagram? Because you could take a picture of that and post it, and it would be an enormous help.
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Old 02-23-24, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Barry2
I would stick to non-custom and local purchases.

Barry
I second that, because a custom bike built to somebody else's specs might be totally wrong for you, especially if you don't know how to determine from a set of measurements whether the bike can be set up properly for you. The highest quality custom bike that doesn't fit you is worse than a cheap bike that does.
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Old 02-23-24, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by mams99
I have to buy secondhand. I've gotten lucky in the past with being able to try things out, but I'm kind of between sizes - small in some, medium in others.

I had a bike fit, but it didn't really help me. So, there are two bikes I'm currently looking at for Ragbrai (next year, not this year) and some other long distance rides. I have a Bike Friday, but I'm a heavy rider. I am within the weight limit for the Bike Friday NWT, but I worry about riding it loaded. Having a nice road bike I can put on the train/plane is something I'm looking for. These two came up. I asked about it on the bike fitter section of this forum, but it's not really about bike fitting. I just wonder if both these bikes are too big? or actually perfect?

Here's what I wrote in the other post:

So, my bike fit gave me this info. This fitter is HIGHLY recommended, but I think most people he fits are people riding for speed/racing. Like I SPECIFICALLY had too request a fit that did not include clip in shoes/pedals. I will never use those either.

Anyway, I don't understand all these things and I can't try either of these bikes in person - I would have to buy them, have them delivered and then "hope" they are a good fit.

The first bike is from a shop/maker and they say it should fit me. I'm waiting for more info from the other, but I have the included info for now (they are on vacation).

So, first - bike fit numbers:

1. Saddle Height (BB to Center Saddle) 702
2. Saddle Setback 72
Saddle Type Diva
Saddle Angle -3.1
3. Handlebar Drop 9 above
4. Cockpit Length (Back of Saddle) 735
Handlebar Model and Width 38
5. Pad/Hood Reach 585
6. Hood Drop
Handlebar Angle/Depth
Stem Length & Angle
Saddle Depth
Clamp/Rail position
Seat Post Setback
7. Handlebar or Pad XY Coordinate 390 661
8. Saddle XY Coordinate 220 610
Crank Arm Length 165


The bike one bike I'm looking at deets: Waterford 1900 bicycle. It is custom and has short reach Shimano Ultegra caliper brakes, not cantilevers. Clearance for 28 mm tires. 175mm head tube, 54 cm c-t seat tube, 52.5 cm effective top tube. Shimano 105 triple brifters, 105 triple front derailleur, Deore rear derailleur, Ultegra triple crank. (this is the one I'm waiting for more geometry numbers)

The one from a manufacturer (custom): Rodriguez competitive. Top Tube Length - 53, Seat Tube - 53, Standover Height - 30.5, Wheel Size - 700c.

I'm thinking both of these are slightly too big? they both have straight top tube (or mostly).

Be kind... I'm trying to learn.
How old are you, how much do you weigh? and where in MD are you?...
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Old 02-23-24, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Lucillle
Ordinarily if you get a good deal on a great bike, and it doesn't fit, you may be out the shipping cost but you can generally resell the bike and recoup some of your money. The fact that these are custom though, as nice as that may be, might make them take longer to sell.
I can't try either of these bikes in person
And ordinarily you might find a bike identical to the one you want somewhere near you, new or used and go try it out in person. Again, with a custom bike, that isn't possible. Is the bike you want the most so far away that the expense of an economy round trip train or plane ticket would be out of the question?
There is NOTHING locally that I'm interested in, unfortunately. I prefer steel bikes and everything is just too fancy. As far as custom... it's a gamble, but I could end up with a much nicer bike because of it.

And if it were JUST up to me, I would get and resell, but I have a partner (who I adore) who doesn't understand needing/wanting more than one bike, so I already have one for the trainer (which is a 35 year old bike), an.electric cargo bike (which I use for groceries/errands around town) and a Surly Ogre for trails near me and a Bike Friday to toss in the car for rides.

I don't "need" this one, but I don't have a road bike and getting one with S&S couplers opens up some options for me with travel.
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Old 02-23-24, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by wheelreason
How old are you, how much do you weigh? and where in MD are you?...
LOL. I'm 54. around 200-210lbs and I'm in Columbia, MD
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Old 02-23-24, 06:23 PM
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Barefoot that measurement for me is 30.5 (I've measured it many times.) With shoes, it's 31". I'll ask both (one is is on vacation) the other is the maker and they list 30.5 as standover height)

Have the sellers measure standover height. As long as it's less than the measurement you just took, you should be fine.

Yep... I don't understand any fo it either. Let me see if I can link what I was sent.
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Old 02-23-24, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
I have to say, I can't decipher most of the info you got from the fitter. Did it come with a diagram? Because you could take a picture of that and post it, and it would be an enormous help.
This is what I was sent (there are several pages of the speadsheet. Some irrelevant).... actually - nope... I can't connect a spreadsheet and there isn't a diagram - just some numbers in the diagram linked to the spreadsheet.
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Old 02-23-24, 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by mams99
Barefoot that measurement for me is 30.5 (I've measured it many times.) With shoes, it's 31". I'll ask both (one is is on vacation) the other is the maker and they list 30.5 as standover height)
I suggest you wear shoes to ride, then!
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Old 02-23-24, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by mams99
This is what I was sent (there are several pages of the speadsheet. Some irrelevant).... actually - nope... I can't connect a spreadsheet and there isn't a diagram - just some numbers in the diagram linked to the spreadsheet.
You could try a screenshot or a snip, then post the relevant part as an image, rather than as a spreadsheet.
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Old 02-23-24, 07:28 PM
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if you are a 54 yr old ‘heavy rider’ and have concerns about riding a bike ‘loaded’ -

recommend a bike that will permit wider tires than the bike (bikes ?) you listed above
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Old 02-23-24, 09:10 PM
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Well, you posted for our input. It seems you are considering a gamble on a custom bike which may be difficult to resell if it doesn't fit. Your partner may not really be understanding of the gamble when you (and by inference, your partner) mention affordability. If the gamble doesn't work out, it may cause domestic friction.
I suggest you just think about waiting until a local appealling bike comes up for sale, where you can actually go try the bike out, you may be pleasantly surprised.

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Old 02-23-24, 11:09 PM
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The simplest way to determine whether a new bike would fit you is to compare its frame geometry numbers with those of an existing bike (of the same or similar type) that fits you well. Do you have any road or gravel bikes?
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Old 02-24-24, 07:05 AM
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Originally Posted by mams99
but if it's too tall for me? If it hits me in the crotch?

I have adjusted things on another bike, but I cannot afford to buy new, yet quality is important to me. There just happens to custom builds, but that is coincidental.
Have you measured your pubic bone height (PBH)? Very old-school but it works. Your fitter should have recorded that in the report on the fitting you paid for. You find the vertical distance from your pubic bones, which are what should press on the bike saddle when you ride, and the flat floor, in bare feet or socks. If you add an allowance for the thickness of shoes and pedal surface, and another for the clearance you want to have above the top tube, you can estimate the tallest frame standover height which will not be incontact with you. This sizing limitation is rarely a concern anymore since most bikes have sloped top tubes.

You can estimate the maximum height you can use based on while you are standing on the ground straddling the bike (with its wheels on). This number is also used to set the saddl eheight you will need to pedal well. There's a lot more to say about the latter topic. But it will prove uncomfortable or perhaps even harmful to buy a bike with a standover which is too high.
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Old 02-24-24, 07:24 AM
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Originally Posted by mams99
Barefoot that measurement for me is 30.5 (I've measured it many times.) With shoes, it's 31". I'll ask both (one is is on vacation) the other is the maker and they list 30.5 as standover height)

Have the sellers measure standover height. As long as it's less than the measurement you just took, you should be fine.

Yep... I don't understand any fo it either. Let me see if I can link what I was sent.
Sorry, I see now you HAVE measured PBH. Your PBH is 30.5" (equal to 77.5 centimeters). I would want a standover about 3 or 4 cm less than the standover height with the wheels you expect to use. Since you said the frames you are looking at will have standover of 31" or 30.5", I think they are both too tall for you.

Example: One of my bikes has SOH of 77, another is 79, and another is 80. My PBH is 81.5 cm. The 80 cm bike (a custom not built for me) is only sometimes comfortable, though it's a 650b. The 77 is the most comfortable, though its a lively very light Italian road bike with 21 mm 700c tubulars, which I run at 105 psi.

So I do not agree it's ok to buy a bike which is only 1 cm "lower" than your PBH, unless you really understand the trade-off and the impact to your riding technique, having to dismount with great care and how to accomplish that.
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Old 02-24-24, 08:34 AM
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Just my opinion but I think bike fit can be very subjective. Much depends on the cyclist, his flexibility, and how he prefers to ride. I would not buy custom and "hope" I got exactly what I wanted. My best advice is to buy something inexpensive and ride it enough to realize what you like and don't like, and exactly what you need as a custom. The regular bike fit charts should get you close enough that a change of stem or set back seat post or perhaps different bars should get you comfortable.
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Old 02-24-24, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Road Fan
Sorry, I see now you HAVE measured PBH. Your PBH is 30.5" (equal to 77.5 centimeters). I would want a standover about 3 or 4 cm less than the standover height with the wheels you expect to use. Since you said the frames you are looking at will have standover of 31" or 30.5", I think they are both too tall for you.

Example: One of my bikes has SOH of 77, another is 79, and another is 80. My PBH is 81.5 cm. The 80 cm bike (a custom not built for me) is only sometimes comfortable, though it's a 650b. The 77 is the most comfortable, though its a lively very light Italian road bike with 21 mm 700c tubulars, which I run at 105 psi.

So I do not agree it's ok to buy a bike which is only 1 cm "lower" than your PBH, unless you really understand the trade-off and the impact to your riding technique, having to dismount with great care and how to accomplish that.
The STH that I have is with me measuring with a book between my legs and measuring against the wall. That is 30.5. I'll do the PBH test that I saw Rivendell uses to see what it says later today. I have a t-square because we do home minor reno stuff ourselves (like putting down floating floors).
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Old 02-24-24, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by RH Clark
Just my opinion but I think bike fit can be very subjective. Much depends on the cyclist, his flexibility, and how he prefers to ride. I would not buy custom and "hope" I got exactly what I wanted. My best advice is to buy something inexpensive and ride it enough to realize what you like and don't like, and exactly what you need as a custom. The regular bike fit charts should get you close enough that a change of stem or set back seat post or perhaps different bars should get you comfortable.
I agree with you. What CAN work and what "feels good" are two different things. When I was getting the bike fit, he showed me a couple different measurements/things that would all work, but I HATE feeling stretched out on a bike. While yes, it does relieve stress on the butt to put more weight on the hands, there's a line there that is subjective.

The biggest takeaway I got from the bike fit was that I'm pretty symmetric with how I sit/move and that saddle type shape mattered a LOT. Otherwise - eh.

They took those measurements and compared them to what I had set up with my bike mechanic (that doesn't do bike fits) I had set up a 30 year old 46cm bike with a slightly more upswept handlebar with the head tube out as far as it could safely go and a comfortable straight top bar that I had NO PROBLEM with straddling ever. Anyway, how that was set up was within the specs of the bike fit (reach, etc).

So my thought from that was - better to go slightly smaller than bigger. The problem is - 50cm bikes (are not easy to find in the used market for the type of riding I prefer to do which is long days on a bike trail, day after day, full loaded.

I had just ridden that bike cold - no prep for 3 days going 50-60 miles a day and I had ZERO discomfort - NONE. According to charts that bike was too small for me, but with all the wiggling around you can do with components and swapping things out, it was doable.

Last edited by mams99; 02-24-24 at 09:44 AM.
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Old 02-24-24, 09:53 AM
  #24  
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Stand over height is a poor way to size a bike. I wouldn't even consider it for making the decision of whether a bike fits or not.

The only reason stand over height might matter is if you want to stop and straddle the bike with both feet flat on the ground. I don't do that, and I'd be sure many other cyclists don't do that. They keep one foot on the pedal and one on the ground when stopped. That way we can go as soon as it's safe to continue without having to find that pedal and move it to the proper position to give that initial push. And if the top tube is too high for comfort, then leaning the bike to the side that has the foot on the ground quickly lowers the height of the top tube.
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Old 02-24-24, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Road Fan
Have you measured your pubic bone height (PBH)? Very old-school but it works. Your fitter should have recorded that in the report on the fitting you paid for. You find the vertical distance from your pubic bones, which are what should press on the bike saddle when you ride, and the flat floor, in bare feet or socks. If you add an allowance for the thickness of shoes and pedal surface, and another for the clearance you want to have above the top tube, you can estimate the tallest frame standover height which will not be incontact with you. This sizing limitation is rarely a concern anymore since most bikes have sloped top tubes.

You can estimate the maximum height you can use based on while you are standing on the ground straddling the bike (with its wheels on). This number is also used to set the saddl eheight you will need to pedal well. There's a lot more to say about the latter topic. But it will prove uncomfortable or perhaps even harmful to buy a bike with a standover which is too high.
Ok... The previous method I used for measuring standover height was with a book between my legs and marking the wall behind me.

Now I did what was recommended at Rivendell with their video - using a T square jammed up to measure the bone, not the fleshy part and barefoot, with feet spread about 10-12 inches (like straddling a bike), that measurement was 32 and an eighth. Now... that would feel uncomfortable, for sure, but I would be wearing shoes, so it wouldn't be dangerous or uncomfortable - but it would be quite a swing for my leg with a loaded bike (if touring). Thanks for clarifying about pubic bone height.
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