Thursday, October 29, 2020

Selecting the Right Bike Frame Size, Stack and Reach


Why it's so difficult to find the right bike? After a quick look online, it's obvious that there are loads of people out there trying to find the right size frame, if you're in the market for a new bike and struggling, we're going to try and address some of the pitfalls and give a few tips on how you can find the right frame size for you.

So why is it so hard to find the right frame size is it because frame sizes are a bit misleading i think we're still sizing bikes like it's 1984. I think this is the case with seemingly with bike manufacturers, it's the case in bike shops and with a lot of the information that you read online and by that statement I mean that in 1984 a bicycle was designed and proportioned very differently.

So a 56 centimeter bike would have a 56 centimeter top tube it'd have a 56 centimetre seat tube an 80 millimeter stem and no handlebar drop so the handlebar and salad were more or less the same right i'm talking like kind of great with monday fast forward 35 years and a 56 centimeter bike is very very different. It has a 56 and a half to 57 centimeter top shoe it's got 50 centimeter seat tube 120 ml stem and 10 centimeters of handlebar drop the point i'm making is is a significantly bigger bike than it than it would it would have been 35 years ago and i i think that this whole uh mindset hasn't hasn't really changed to put them to give a bit of context i'm five foot ten i ride a 52 centimeter off the shelf race bike so if i was going to buy such a bike i'd buy 52 centimetres of cannondale or specialized or trek.

Most sizing structures put me in 54 maybe even 56 in some cases i mean your bike i think we were talking earlier off camera is a 51 but it's but it's it it's which is a misleading size in itself because there isn't a single tube on your bike measures 51 centimeters there are a number of examples of this across the bike industry cannondale so i'd call you out but you know how they make a bite for the synapse they one of the sizes is 51 centimeter it's got a 53 centimeter top shoe and this is one of the things that we're going to try and look to explore in this video is to actually give you a little bit of context on actually how a bike is sized so we've got a perfect example here of why frame sizes are misleading if you take me as an individual i'm five foot ten uh i've got an eight centimeter in seam and i you know if i if i go into a into a shop and buy a t-shirt i buy a medium t-shirt i'm a medium-sized human being so logic would dictate that i would be a medium-sized bicycle that's a medium-sized bicycle isn't it this is a medium-sized bicycle and this is with the sun set kind of you know at the upper end but it's six centimeters too high for me the reach is five centimeters longer than my bike it isn't remotely the right size.

There are a number of manufacturers doing this i find with myself that when manufacturers group their sizing into small medium large xl i almost always find myself on a small and i think one of the uh considerations to make actually with bikes from a fit perspective is that you're actually a lot of the time you're better off going with buying manufacturers that offer a plethora of different sizes in their range trek in particular is pretty good because they they do two centimeter increments from 48 to 60 uh and you know so you've got like eight sizes in between that inside in in between that range yeah a lot of the time with geometries um i think things like giant for example where there are any four or five sizes you often end up between sizes which is a roundabout way of saying doesn't fit you uh so i think that's that's something else to consider you know if you go if you walk into a shop and you know try on a pair of jeans and they're too tight and they try the next size up and they're too loose you wouldn't you just you wouldn't buy either of them you go you go somewhere else i guess what's what i'm trying to get across.

Here with with bike sizing is the you know not all not all bikes will fit you i see stack and reach written everywhere and in loads of videos what is stack and reach i slightly struggle with stack and reach because i think uh a lot of individuals a lot of people tout it as the the be all and end all of sizing the bicycle yes absolutely it's important to take into consideration but there are so many other factors that need to be considered when uh beyond just stack and reach to answer the question though stack and reach is basically the vertical distance it's the front end coordinates of the bicycles where the hand work is it's a rough our guide of where the handlebars are going to be placed in space so if you draw a straight line up to the bottom bracket reach is the horizontal distance between that line and the center of the head tube right here if you draw a horizontal line through the center of the bottom bracket stack is the vertical distance from the center of the head tube to that line all right it gives us an understanding like i said roughly of where the front end of the bike's going to end up but what it doesn't take into consideration is how many spaces are applied head angle top tube length handlebar width handlebar reach and control location and also control style so it's not a constant with every single bike because the hedging angle is different.

If you think about stack and reach takes a uh you're talking about a single point in the head tube and if you slacken the head angle of the bicycle so that this angle becomes slacker essentially what happens is these controls will come closer to the rider the bike with a slacker head angle is going to have a comparatively shorter reach to the handlebar or to the controls than a bike with a steeper hat angle my point here is that stack and reach isn't absolute there are other things that need to take into consideration when i have clients with me and they're asking which bike should i buy i don't just look at stack and reach what stuck in reach is good for is for giving a rough idea of frame comparisons you know if you if you need to get the front end 20 mil higher the the stack certainly is is a pretty good um a pretty good constant the reach on the other hand is is a little bit trickier because there are so many other variables that need to be taken into consideration.

I often get asked by my clients you know do i have an optimal stack and reach well no you don't have an optimal stack on reach and we have retool to thank for this because stack and reach can can vary but you can keep the same fit so for example stack and reach stays the same but you you know put a short stem on and put more spaces under the stem that will give you a different fit the stacking which will be the same so i always work in how the human being interacts with the bicycle rather than just the bike and this is the problem with bike fitting in general is they make it all about the bike i'm all about the rider and this is the thing looking at the the new specialized ethos the sizing structure puts me on a 56 slap bang in the middle of a 56. that's there's two two sizes too big for me you would be on a 54 which is still too big for you and we've just been discussing off-camera is there a formulaic way of determining bike size and simply put no there isn't there are a million and one calculators out there and you know they'll they'll some of them some of them just go on site on ride height some of them go on inseam some of them dissect the two but i think ultimately they don't take into consideration flexibility strength age functionality strength there are so many different variables that determine what bike is going to be the right size for you and furthermore it isn't just necessarily about the size you can be on the right size bike but it doesn't necessarily fit you you know we've discussed this about in a article previously when you don't set your bike up like a pro most consumers shouldn't be riding race bikes.

It is a fundamental fact because most of them aren't they aren't strong enough they are you know fit enough they aren't flexible enough in order to ride these bikes that were designed to win the talia or the tour de france so i think the bike size is just one element of the fit story i think fundamentally what i think i need we need to get across here is that the best absolute best way of understanding whether bikes can be the right size for you or not go for a bike fit first preferably in a sonata in a an environment where you have the ability to flick to uh to test positions which is why i use this jig you know allows us to be almost infinite in our in our experimentation and get a really understanding of a rider's physiological needs and limitations and only then only then only by understanding and scrutinizing the rider can you determine optimum size optimum fit that is the only short fire way you don't have to come for a fit with me job on the ibfys website they've got you know a whole list of database of fitters and they're all ranked accordingly depending on their experience and the technology that they use.

Iwould also counsel you not to judge a bike fitted by their technology but that is my fundamental point fit first by later be more informed about it go about it in a in a more empowered way and this is what i all i'm all about is empowering riders to make more informed purchasing decisions because i guess one of the one of the pitfalls that a lot of people fall into uh when when trying to find the right size bike is they'll go to an evans and they'll order six bikes and they'll go and test ride all of them every single bike's got a different saddle height a different saddle different sample pitch different cell four aft different reach different stem length different hammer mode handlebar width different handlebar reach different crank length different geometry they go and ride all six of these bikes and you end up with a very confused individual what bike fitting does is it it gives you uh very intimate data as to where your butt needs to be where your feet need to be where your hands need to be and that is the best way of equipping you with the information you need to go and buy a new bike so this has been one of the hardest topics and a lot of you guys have asked for it how to choose the right frame size and it's again a article that we just can't make because it's not fair to be misleading give people a rule of thumb to choose a frame size and then it end up being the wrong size which nine times out of ten these methods and calculators will end up doing well the aim of this article.

From my perspective is to just give you guys some more more things to think about i want you know i want people to think about the decisions that they're making rather than just say oh you know i'm a medium that means i must buy a medium bike i understand it's misleading i and it is incredibly frustrating to me but i this is really this really is why i pitched the whole fit first thing because it does it takes the guesswork out of the equation one thing i think we can safely say is that the majority of people that come into you who do end up having the wrong frame size it's a size too big not a size too small so generally based on the information that's out there people end up choosing frames that are too big that's an excellent point i almost i almost never see anyone coming in here with a bike that's too small i actually can't think of anyone that's ever come in here with a bike that's too small bite size is generally a result of saddle height or is generally driven by saddle height and if you consider the the most common saddle height reduction i make is about 20 millimeters that's bike size so i think a lot of the sizing structure is is built off of uh excessive saddle hunts fundamentally that concludes today's episode of bike fit tuesdays stop buying bikes that are too big and get a bike fit first because it will save you money in the long run.