Measuring your bike with your arm.

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by Elmer Fudd, 11 Oct 2007.

  1. Elmer Fudd

    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:.
  2. Dormouse

    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.
  3. ash68

    ash68 New Member

    How do you do that without falling off?:blush::biggrin:
  4. Smokin Joe

    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.
  5. Bigtallfatbloke

    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:
  6. punkypossum

    punkypossum Donut Devil

    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....
  7. Abitrary

    Abitrary New Member

    I always do it, but end up tensing my arm, or relaxing it, to make me feel better about a bad purchase
  8. gwhite

    gwhite Über Member

    Auchtermuchty Fife
    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)>
  9. asterix

    asterix Comrade Member

    Limoges or York

    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.
  10. Blonde

    Blonde New Member

    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.
  11. John Ponting

    John Ponting Über Member

    [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.
  12. Chris James

    Chris James Über Member

    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.
  13. 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 !!
  14. Dormouse

    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.
  15. Abitrary

    Abitrary New Member

    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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