HOW TO SELECT A BIKE

 

Selecting the right size bike is an important decision necessary to ensure the safety and comfort of the rider. The rider's overall height is important, as is their leg length, in determining the correct size of bike. However, the following table is a simple rule of thumb that we believe is a useful starting point. 

OVERALL HEIGHT

STAND OVER HEIGHT

BIKE SIZE

Less than 5' 9"

Less than 32"

16"-17"

5' 9" to 6'

32" to 34.5"

18"-19"

6' to 6' 2"

34.5" to 36"

20"-21"

Over 6' 2"

Greater than 36"

22"-23"

 

The above information is for bike selection guidance only for standard 26" mountain bikes. To obtain the best bike fit possible, the rider should consider such things as the saddle height, handlebar and stem positioning, and bar end positions are just as important as bike selection to achieve a safe, comfortable and 'correct' riding position. The only reliable method of assessing the correct bike size is for the riders to try out the bike of choice for themselves.  Below 

Which bike is best for our bike patrol team - 26", 29er, or the 650B (aka 27.5)? 

Well, from a marketing perspective, the answer is pretty clear: the 27.5 is the wheel size that could be “the best of both worlds” according to some in the cycling industry. The 27.5 inch wheels roll over rocks, logs and curbs more easily than traditional 26-inch wheels, yet (all other things being held constant) weigh less and flex less than 29er versions of the same product. That “perfect porridge” or “best of both worlds” rationale has already got the gram-counting bike riders salivating. And besides, 70 percent of the bike industry still feels silly for not jumping on the 29er bandwagon quickly enough. No one wants to be left out in the cold this time around.    Tha That being said, you should select the wheel size that feels right for you.  The 26-inch wheel has been around for many years and is a tried and true street tire.  The 29er has been around only a few years, but off-road it has proven to be formidable.  While the 27.5 or 650B wheels are relatively new technology, the jury is still out of this one folks so hang on to your handlebars for more input later. 

Some bike manufacturers (Giant, Kona, Specialized and Trek) claim they prefer the 27.5 over the 29er.  Giant has listed three main reasons why they prefer the 27.5 over the 26 inch and 29er:

1.  Lighter weight

  • The total bike weight is up to two pounds less than a comparable 29er
  • Wheels are up to one pound less in rotational weight versus a 29er

2.  More efficient

  • Accelerates quicker than a 29er
  • Rolls over obstacles similar to a 29er

3.  Better control 

  • Larger contact patch results in better traction than the 26-inch wheel
  • Stiffer frame results in better handling than 29er frameset
  • More nimble than a 29er with lower stand-over height and a shorter wheen base

Additional Information for selecting the right law enforcement patrol bike:

Easily the most important aspect of selecting a new bike is achieving the right fit. Forget the in's and out's of titanium vs. steel vs. aluminum. One thing matters more than anything else when you select your new bike-that it fits you!

When a cyclist fits their bike well, they will ride more comfortably and efficiently. They will ride with more power and efficiency, their body will be more relaxed, and their bike handling skills become almost second nature.

Setting up your ideal position on a bike takes some time and can be difficult.  Cyclists are given conflicting advice and conflicting formulas on sizing and positioning. Variances in body sizes and proportions, at all fitness levels and flexibility, in both technique and style, all affect a cyclist's "best" position on their respective bike.

Inseam and Frame Size

The best frame size for a cyclist is as small vertically as possible, with enough length horizontally to allow a stretched out, relaxed upper body. This frame will be lighter and stiffer than a larger one, and will handle better and be more comfortable than a smaller one. 

For the purpose of  discussion only, I will refer to all the law enforcement/public safety riders as bike patrol "officers," but this term includes sheriff's deputies, fire/EMT personnel, security officers, parking enforcement officers, etc.  

Selecting the right frame size for use in law enforcement and security applications differs from road cycling.    Bike officers field of vision should be elevated so they can scan their beats for criminals and other safety-related issues/problems (more discussion on this later in the proper stem selection area).

Determine Your Proper Frame Size

To determine your proper frame size, you'll first need to get an accurate inseam measurement . Stand with your back against a wall with your bare feet 6" apart on a hard floor, looking straight ahead. Place a book or carpenter's square between your legs with one edge against the wall, and pull it up firmly into your crotch, simulating the pressure of your saddle while riding. Have a helper measure from the top edge of the book to the floor, in centimeters. You can convert inches to centimeters by multiplying inches by 2.54. Repeat this step two or three more times, for consistency, and average the results to get your inseam length.

Frame Size

Frame size refers to the length of the frame's seat tube. Pro frames are measured along the seat tube in one of two ways, center-to-top (C-T) or center-to-center (C-C). C-T measures the distance from the center of the bottom bracket to the top of the top tube or seat lug (See image bellow). C-C measures from the center of the bottom bracket to the center of the top tube. Since C-T measures to a point higher on the frame, a frame measuring 55cm C-T would also measure roughly 53.5-54cm C-C, a difference of 1-1.5cm.

For a mountain bike, we start by recommending a frame in the range of 10-12cm smaller than you take in a road frame. For example, if you ride a 55cm C-T road frame, look for a 43-45cm (17-18") C-T mountain frame.

Frame Dimensions

I believe it is more important to fit a mountain bike frame by the top tube length needed rather than by the seat tube length.

For instance, you might be able to get to the proper frame clearance, saddle height and neutral knee position on either a 17" frame or a 19" frame. Yet the 19" frame will likely have a top tube 1" longer than the 17" frame, which changes your stem length accordingly. Or, one manufacturer's 17" frame may give you a 22" top tube, while the next one's 17" gives you a 22.8".  Just make sure that you'll be able to work out your top tube and stem length for a given frame.

Saddle Height     

With the right frame size, you'll be able to set your correct saddle height, which will be within a centimeter of .883 x inseam length, measured from the center of the bottom bracket to the low point of the top of your saddle. This allows full leg extension, with a slight bend in the leg at the bottom of the pedal stroke.

Stem Height     

As mentioned earlier, stem height is extremely important for bike patrol officer because they need to maintain a riding position that allows them to sit more upright rather than stretched out like road cyclist.  

Most patrol mountain bikes are equipped with an adjustable stem or hi-rise stem which allows the bike officer to sit in a more upright position so are able to constantly scan their respective beats for criminal activity or other safety-related issues and problems.  

That "ideal position" varies here more than anywhere else for bike officer, depending on the individuals riding style, flexibility, body proportions, and frame geometry.  The bike officer's upper body position will evolve as they fine tune their stem height and find the "sweet spot" that affords them both a comfortable riding position as well as an optimal vantage point to do their job safely and more effectively.