Bike Repair - 1 week
We need a little more information before recommending a good size for you. If you'd like to work a little more with us on that, go here. For the long answer, read on....
Obviously, nobody would order shoes like this. We know that 2 random people that are 6' tall are very unlikely to wear the exact same shoe size. Why would they automatically ride the same bike size?. It would be ridiculous for a shoe salesperson to even ask your height in determining a good shoe size for you, right? Maybe they could get a general sense.....6' tall...male.....probably between size 9 and size 13, but nothing really accurate, and certainly not worth paying $100 or more for the guess. Obviously, you would want them to consider the size and width of your foot. Really good shoe stores will consider your ankle width, and maybe your arch. So that's 4 measurements that count, and none of those measurements are your height.
How does this scenario relate to a bicycle?
Now you go online to consider a new bicycle, and the company is suggesting a size based on your height. How does that work? The answer: It doesn't work. Your chances of getting the right bike size this way are about the same as getting the right shoe size that way. As a result, thousands of people each year pay good money to buy poorly fitting bikes. Then, they either ride uncomfortably, or even worse, hang the bike in the garage and decide that bike riding is not for them. So, I think we've determined that you don't want to order shoes based on just your height, and maybe ordering an expensive bike that way isn't such a good idea either. If not by height, how should you determine a bike size for yourself?
Now Back to our Story:
Important things to consider when determining your new bicycle size: Your body is a machine with many levers and pivot points, and so is your bike. Our goal is to get them adjusted and functioning as 1 machine. When all levers and pivot points are where they are supposed to be and working together, you will be comfortable and efficient. The length of each lever, and the placement of each pivot point effects all of the others. Inseam is important (and some shops get that right), but how about your femur length? Your femur length in relation to your inseam will determine where the placement of the pivot point (your knee) should be. This relationship will affect greatly the fore/aft placement of your bicycle seat (to get your knee in the right place). In turn, the seat fore/aft position in relation to the handle bars will greatly affect your reach to the handle bars.
Let's keep rolling
Foot length is also important (there's that shoe size again) as your foot becomes an extension of your leg when pedaling. Now how about torso length? This is probably the most important measurement, and also the least considered. Your reach to the handle bars is determined by your torso length (as well as other factors mentioned past and post this sentence). Probably 80% of fitting complaints come from improper reach to the handle bars. Arm length plays a strong role as well, and will determine how high or low your handle bars end up in your final fit. Now realize that all of these things play together. Your femur length affects your reach to the bars, so adjusting just for inseam and femur length will throw your bar reach out of whack. Changing your fore/aft seat position will also affect your seat height. It all plays together in determining what frame size will fit you best. If all of this were not enough, throw conditioning, riding style, and injuries into the mix. Now tell me....do you think it's reasonable to expect a good bicycle fit from someone who considers just your height, or inseam?
Hopefully, I'm making some sense and you're getting an idea of how it all works together?
We can offer more sizes and custom frames at lower cost than other custom builders
It was years of custom bicycle building and fitting that drove us to our 20 Rodriguez sizes. We have multiple sizes for every height of rider, not just one. Our L and S categories take into consideration whether your height is in your legs, or whether it's in your torso. We fit around 90% of our customers on these 20 sizes, so I don't know how folks are getting good fits from companies offering just 5 or 6 sizes. How about a custom size? At Rodriguez, it's just $200 extra if you need a custom. This is because of our new manufacturing philosophy adopted in 2006 (but that's a whole different story).
If you are getting a size recommendation that considers just your height, how accurate do you think it could be? I, myself, have been fitting bicycles for 30 years, and I couldn't guess an accurate frame size based only on someone's height.
OK, so that's a lot of words, but what if you're a visual person like me?
How about a real life illustration of how people of the same height will require vastly different bike sizes? Below are 3 actual fit entries from our NEXT-fit database, with an imposed image of the size recommended from those measurements. Most manufacturers recommend a size based on the Seat Tube length, so that's the number that their 'size by height' chart is pointing you to. All 3 fits represent customers who purchased bicycles from us. All 3 riders are 5' 10" tall, and are male. Other than that, there are no similarities in their inseam, torso, arm length, etc.... All of these guys ride completely different frame sizes, and if they traded bikes, they would all give up cycling out of sheer discomfort. Pay particular attention to inseam, torso and arm measurements, and how it affects the seat tube and top tube lengths.
How do we do it?
At Rodriguez, when we're fitting a 5' 10" customer, we have about 4 sizes that fit about 90% of them (that's true for just about any height rider as well). The other 10% (of which 2 of these guys are) will wind up paying $200 extra for a truly custom size. A small price to pay for a lifetime of comfort. We work with people online, and in person every day, all day, to get them the most comfortably fitting bike they can possibly have. We have video and written instruction online to help our long-distance customers get their measurements right.
If you're considering a new bike, and you'd like to work with us online or in person to determine your next frame size, we'd be glad to oblige. We think you'll find that we're easy to work with, and we really love our customers....long-distance or local.
Links in this article and related links: