by James Sievert
Every rider needs a bike with decent fit for comfort and control. This is especially true for kids who are still developing basic bike and body coordination. The most obvious factor is the size of the bike, but digging deeper finds that some bikes don’t fit kids of any size!
It is unfortunate, but many department store bikes compromise the function of the bike to achieve the lowest possible retail cost. An article from TwoWheelingTots.com compared bikes and found huge differences in the fit.
The goal of fitting a bike is to provide a bike that “disappears” as soon as possible. If the rider is constantly focused on handling a twitchy and tipsy bike they cannot give attention to other skill development or watching their surroundings. While coordination does come with practice, bad bike fit is a constant distraction
Long and Low, the Way to Go?
Modern mountain bikes are pushing the limits of “long and low” frame geometry. Obviously there are limits, but a long-wheel base and low center of gravity adds stability. When Safe Routes upgraded our middle school bike fleet we added 25% more wheelbase. Having added stability is a big bonus for any novice rider!
If the Bike Fits…
For kids and adults alike, the bottom line is your comfort. I always say, bikes are like shoes. You wouldn’t want to walk a mile in uncomfortable shoes and you wouldn’t want to bike a mile on an uncomfortable bike.
While personal adjustments like saddle height can help dial the fit, there is no substitute for decent bike design. Want to check their fit? Take pictures or video from the side while slowly pedaling, watch for arm and leg extension to be natural and not cramped or fully extended.Â
Questions about family bike fit?
Contact James@MarinBike.org or attend a Family Biking Event!