Measuring your bike with your arm.

Elmer Fudd

Miserable Old Bar Steward
Somebody (I think it was BTFB) asked about bike reach sizing and somebody else came back with a response along the lines of "elbow touching saddle , fingers touching bars etc.".

Could whoever it was repeat it for me or point me to the thread it was originally in.

I've tried a search but can't find it :blush:.
 

Dormouse

New Member
Put your elbow on the tip of the saddle and stretch your forearm horizontal towards the bars. Then put your free hand perpendicular to your finger tips. The outside edge of your free hand should now be along your handle bars.
 

ash68

New Member
Location
northumberland
Dormouse said:
Put your elbow on the tip of the saddle and stretch your forearm horizontal towards the bars. Then put your free hand perpendicular to your finger tips. The outside edge of your free hand should now be along your handle bars.
How do you do that without falling off?:blush::biggrin:
 

Smokin Joe

Legendary Member
That is an old but useless way of determining reach because it takes no account of upper body length or saddle position. I have never had a bike where my fingertips could reach the centre of the bars with that method, even when the frame felt too short.
 

Bigtallfatbloke

New Member
I can touch the stem with the tips of my fingers on the same hand that has the elbow on the tip of the saddle...erm...if you get my drift. Assuming that the length of stem is about the width of a hand anyway this means I can measure something with one hand and not fall off:ohmy::biggrin:
 
It might not work for everybody, but I know that the reach is right for me if my fingertips are 1/3 to halfway up the stem (with elbow touching tip of saddle), which is similar to the t-shape made with your second hand. Suppose it will be different for everybody depending on their proportions, but is a useful quick measure method once you know what is right for you....
 

gwhite

Über Member
I've used this method for years as a rough and ready way of determining the distance needed between saddle and bars and it has always worked for me. Your elbow should be at 90 degrees when doing this and fingertips just touching the bars (slightly more in my case)>
 

asterix

Comrade Member
Location
Limoges or York
Dormouse said:
Put your elbow on the tip of the saddle and stretch your forearm horizontal towards the bars. Then put your free hand perpendicular to your finger tips. The outside edge of your free hand should now be along your handle bars.

Like other posters, my bikes (custom built, different makers) have a shorter reach: the distance is simply that from my elbow to finger tips without the extra handwidth. I have tried a longer stem on one bike (when I bought it off ebay) but couldn't do with it and put a shorter one on.
 

Blonde

New Member
Location
Bury, Lancashire
Surely it depends on the length of your arm, hands and fingers and their proportions to each other, and since everyone is different in that respect I cant see how this could possibly work as a method of sizing a bike correctly or accurately. It's a quick and easy ball park figure or 'rule of thumb' (pardon the pun!) but not an exact measurement.
 

John Ponting

Veteran
Location
Herts
[quote name=']Surely it depends on the length of your arm' date=' hands and fingers and their proportions to each other, and since everyone is different in that respect I cant see how this could possibly work as a method of sizing a bike correctly or accurately. It's a quick and easy ball park figure or 'rule of thumb' (pardon the pun!) but not an exact measurement.[/quote']

As I think I may have posted the original when talking to BTFB - it was indeed a "ball park figure" only; I also stressed that it was an old fashioned method of measure.; if it works for some then fine; if some people are strangely deformed and don't fit a national stereotype then fine; if the national sterotype has changed over the past 20 years then fine.

A good way of getting fitted for a bike is to go to a reputable frame builder.

A bad way is to buy over the internet without first wasting the time of several lbs workers.

Blonde, I've removed your name from the quote as I've not aimed at you - just a convenient place marker.
 

Chris James

Über Member
Location
Huddersfield
But there is so much confusion in what is recommended.

Some people say that bars should be an arms length away from the saddle nose, others says an arm and a hand width, some say an arm from the stem to the saddle (but how long is the stem?).

A decentish alternative is whether the bars obscure your view of the front hub - which at least takes into account your torso length too.
 
OP
Elmer Fudd

Elmer Fudd

Miserable Old Bar Steward
I think my problem is that my first bike was bought s/hand, 1/2" up on the quill type stem, 3" up on the saddle (and as I've said elsewhere the bars were a couple of inches wider), and it was great.

After 3yrs commuting it died on me, and going thru' a sticky patch my Mom offered to "loan" me £200 to get a replacement, which I did, thank god (in a way) it was stolen, biggest crank ring, 44T, smallest cog, 13T. Used to pedal like a maniac and get nowhere !
This bike has 52,42,32 and 28-->11 and is much nippier.

I think a lot of it is that I haven't really been on it for a while so I'll just have to persevere and make sure I have a couple of allen keys on me to make minor tweaks as I go along.

I was only really asking for a "ballpark" starting position just to make sure I wasn't miles out.

P.S. I am an ole fart 'n not as flexible as I used to be !!
 

Dormouse

New Member
I have checked my four bikes using the method in my previous post and all are set up roughly (+/- a cm may be) as I described.....and I didn't use the method to select the frames or stems. Plus I have no complaints about the fit on any of them so may be there is something in it.
 

Abitrary

New Member
gwhite said:
I've used this method for years as a rough and ready way of determining the distance needed between saddle and bars and it has always worked for me. Your elbow should be at 90 degrees when doing this and fingertips just touching the bars (slightly more in my case)>
That's a boring use for a bike. All this bike / arm tai chi stuff...

Get out there and ride it kids!
 
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