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  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jun 2013

    How to fit a pre-owned bike?

    NOOB here. Went on my 1st MTB ride in Mammoth with a buddy and was blow away how much fun it was. Upon returning home I immediately began searching Craig’s list for pre-owned bikes. I am 5’ 11’ with short arms. I rode a TREK carbon fiber, full suspension, size MED bike in Mammoth and it felt like a good fit. So, I looked for and purchased a pre-owned size MED bike. After consistently riding for a few weeks I began to get a myriad of sore parts… Stiff neck, sore right wrist, loss of strength in right thumb. Sore wrist is apparently from not holding bars correctly. Weak thumb, a combination of pour wrist form and lots of shifting. Stiff neck, probably from not relaxing while riding. Anyway, I saw a chiropractor for the stiff neck. He rode MTBs and even competed in races. He suggested that I get a “Fit Kit” for my bike.

    Have any of you gotten a “fit kit”? If yes, did it help? If no, how do you “retrofit” my pre-owned bike for me?

  2. #2
    > /dev/null 2&>1
    Reputation: Procter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012

    Re: How to fit a pre-owned bike?

    By fit kit, your buddy probably just means a stem & bars. Usually when fitting a bike, you want to adjust seat height first, along with seat fore/aft, then establish your ideal reach based on that, and buy a stem/bars that gets you to this reach.

    More rarely, you might tinker with seatposts with more or less offset, and you might experiment with crank length.

    Sore hands/shoulders are very common for newer riders who haven't learned how to balance their weight and are maintaining a death grip on the bars. Park riding like Mammoth/northstar exacerbate this problem, I'm an experienced rider and i still get sore after a park day . . . because you're dealing with more gnarly terrain, rock gardens, chewed up chum, and when you get better, bigger drops.

    So, your soreness at this point doesn't necessarily come from a bad fit.

    Read up on bike fit on sheldon brown's site, then ride bikes of different sizes, even if simple parking lot rides. When you do, make note of the bike make/model and then look up that bike's top tube and seat tube dimensions. Note you're establishing roughly what you need. Then when you go to buy your used bike, look up that bike's dimensions and compare with those you rode. Usually this is pretty straightforward because most med cluster around the same dimensions (unless you are a 'tweener', i.e. folks who are 5 11"often fall between med/large bikes, it just depends). Once you've determined the used bike is in the ballpark, go see that bike in person and give it a test ride, keeping in mind you can make adjustments to stem/bars/seat fore-aft if you were to buy it.

    Sent from (redacted by nsa)

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Not all med's are the same size ,the top tube and seat tube could be different lenght's on different bikes and still be med's.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Thank you so much for taking the time to respond. I appreciate you directing me to Sheldon Brown’s website. This experiment from Sheldon makes perfect sense…
    Try an experiment:
    • Stand in the middle of a room and lean your upper body forward into a cyclist's crouch.
    • Now try the same thing, except back up against a wall before bending forward. You'll find it impossible to get into the crouch position without holding on to something, or falling forward.

    I’m not opposed to implicitly trusting a professional to fit my bike, but understanding why it’s done helps.

  5. #5
    Reputation: mimi1885's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    First step should be finding out if you are correctly touching the bike. It's useless if you are not doing it correctly and try to adjust the bike to fit your current posture.

    Soreness in a new rider is expected and very common. You are using the muscles that you were not using before and put more demand on them too. We are all wish that it would go away in a few days but it doesn't. It takes time to build strength(more HP) and endurance(bigger gas tank).

    The biggest myth any beginners believe is that they would have much easier time and feel less tired on the ride, unfortunately it's not entirely true. It would be as tired if not more but at much higher pace and longer distance. If they ride like a noob then they would not get as tired but they would never get better or faster No pain No gain.

  6. #6
    Fat-tired Roadie
    Reputation: AndrwSwitch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    The New England Fit Kit was a trademarked bike fitting system that was around before the most recent wave of trademarked bike fitting systems. It's a service some shops offer.

    I'm of two minds about bike fitting as a paid service. I paid to have one of my road bikes fitted a few years ago. It helped a ton. I think everyone riding road bikes should do it once.

    For me, road biking is more about steady-state riding. There are a couple different positions, but I'm likely to stay in each for a while, and transitioning is a small portion of my time spent on the bike. There's still some skill to setting up a road bike well, but it's certainly doable inside on a trainer. And, another pair of eyes can often spot a problem that's not obvious to the rider.

    By contrast, mountain biking is all about transitions. I want my mountain bike to fit well for that. It's actually not so different since it requires being near the middle of my range of motion and ergonomically that's better on the road too. But, different goals. I feel like mountain bikers do well to have much more ownership over their setups.

    Here's an article on fit that I like. It's generic to all bikes, and I think it applies well.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Thank you, everyone. I greatly appreciate the feedback.

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