How to Find the Best Fit On a City Bike

Finding a city bike that fits is the best way to enjoy urban cycling.

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Photo courtesy of Atilla Siha

Choosing a new bicycle is an exciting process, one of seemingly limitless possibilities. However, along with all of the decisions you get to make about your new bicycle including frame style and color, there is one factor that can’t be ignored: the bicycle needs to fit you. If your bike isn’t comfortable you probably won’t want to ride it. So choosing a bike that is the right fit and the right position for your riding style should be one of the most important factors to consider when buying a bike.

While there is a wealth of information available on how to get properly fitted for a road or mountain bike, there is not nearly as much information out there about how to get the best city bike fit. For those who want to ride upright, understanding how to fit yourself to your bicycle may seem a little intimidating. Fortunately, the process is pretty straightforward.

The most important aspect to consider when fitting a bike is the frame size. Bike frames come in fairly standard sizes. Road bikes are typically sized between 48 and 63 cm, while mountain bikes use the imperial system and fall between 13 and 23 inches. City bikes can use either the metric or imperial system, though many are often labeled as small, medium, or large.

With a diamond frame, there should be at the very least 1 inch (2.5 cm) of space between the top tube and your crotch. On a step-through frame there will be much more space than that, but in either case you can determine the right sized frame using the saddle. If you can get up onto the saddle and your feet are just able to touch the ground, you should be good to go. If the seat is lowered as far as it can go and you still can’t reach the ground, you will want a smaller frame. Similarly, if you have to raise the seat extremely high in order to straighten your legs, you need a larger frame.

Beyond that, choosing the right city bike is all about comfort and personal choice. Sean Carter from Calgary, AB’s, Bike Bike Inc. suggested picking out a few different bicycle options within your price range and taking them for a test ride. If the bike is comfortable and you can ride with ease, then it’s a fit.

If the frame is the right size for you, but you’re not yet completely comfortable, then a few component changes can help. On many city bikes, the handlebars can be raised or lowered – or moved forward or back with a new stem – to make adjustments to your riding posture. Replacing the handlebars with a swept-back style will help you achieve a more upright riding position.

As Carter suggested, the best thing to do is try out a few different bikes and see which one feels right. Head down to your local bike shop and take a test ride on a few different styles. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. City bikes should allow you to find joy in your daily ride. The best city bike is one that makes you comfortable and happy, because if you love it, you’ll ride it every day.

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