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Choosing the right fit for traffic freedom




Atty. Gregorio Larrazabal

Atty. Gregorio Larrazabal

When looking for a right-sized bike, these are some things you might want to consider:

  1. What riding position do you want?

Many will want to ride like the pros, replicating their crouched riding stance which provides a more aerodynamic position.  That’s all well and good when you’re cycling at  breakneck speed in a race.  But when cycling to work, you’d be lucky to cycle at 20 kmh,  stopping every few minutes when you reach the corner, or a stoplight.  So you have to differentiate what you see on the racing circuit on how pro cyclists ride, compared to what reality demands — a more comfortable riding position which is more upright and relaxed.

You also need a more upright riding position so your neck won’t be too arched, and you can easily react when you see someone suddenly cross in front of you.

Yes, you can still choose a more aerodynamic riding stance, but it will take time to get used to that position.

  1. The frame is the most important part of the bicycle.

The heart and soul of the bicycle.  With a wrong-sized bicycle frame, it’s pretty much the worst way to get started.  And this applies not only to cycling to work, but also if you cycle for competition or recreation and leisure.  Other components, you can mix and swap out later if you decide, but if you’ll still be using a wrong-sized bicycle frame, you’ll not be as comfortable.

There are bicycles though that have only one size, like the folding bicycles (which again is a great reason to use one.  Almost everyone in the household can ride it)

  1. What components of the bicycle can you easily swap out to have a better ride position?

There are components of your bicycle which may affect your riding comfort.  For example:

Stem – (connecting your handlebar to the bicycle). You can choose which length to get (generally between 50 mm and 120 mm in length) which affects how stretched out you’ll be on the bicycle.  The longer the stem, the further away the handlebar.  You can also choose a bend.  While some stems have a 0 degree bend, some have a 6 degree or 11 degree bend.  So you can either use the stem to give you a crouched riding position (pointing the stem down/negative), or more upright riding position (pointing the stem up/positive).

Handlebar – For road bicycles, you use the width of your acromion joint (that’s the bony tip of the collar bone right above the shoulder joint) to gauge what handlebar width you should get.  A good bicycle fitter should be able to help you with this.  For mountain bicycles, a wider handlebar allows more control.  Don’t get too wide a mountain bike handlebar though.  Some side streets of the Metro are quite narrow and filled with people.

There is no one-size-fits-all road and mountain bike.  There are corresponding sizes to match a person’s height. (We’ll talk about matching your bike to your weight in a future article).

So, the next question would be. “How are bicycles sized?”

Road Bike — Generally the sizes for road bikes are as follows:

XXS (47-48cm)             4’10” – 5’2”

XS (49-50cm)               5’2” – 5’6”

SMALL (51-53cm)        5’3” – 5’6”

MED (54-55cm)           5’6” – 5’9”

LARGE (56-58cm)        5’9” – 6’0”

XL (58-60cm)               6’0” – 6’3”

Mountain bikes (for rigid, hardtail, and most full-suspension mountain bikes)

X-SMALL (13”-14”)      4’10” – 5’2”

SMALL (15”-16”)         5’2” – 5’6”

MEDIUM (17”-18”)     5’6” – 5’10”

LARGE (19”-20”)         5’10” – 6’1”

XL (21”-22”)                6’1” – 6’4”

Please take note, these are general guidelines as the measurements above-quoted come from Bicycling magazine (which pretty much conform to industry standards).  Some manufacturers may use a “tweaked” measurement which may cause a little variation.  That’s why it’s important to get a bicycle from a local bike shop where the mechanic can give you good advice on what proper fitting bicycle to get (instead of just focusing on what color the bicycle is painted).

So, when you go to a shop to look for a bike, ask questions, inquire about upgrades, ask about the durability of parts/components, test one in the parking lot to get a feel of how it is to ride THAT bicycle.  But ask questions.  The more questions you ask, the more assured you will be that you’re getting the right-sized bicycle.  Then, you can ask about a right-fitting bicycle in the color you like.





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