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Bike Fit Friday with Paulie at GO PHYSIO (3 of 4): Crap! I Got a Bike Online & It's Not Quite Right


Have you ever bought a bike and then found out it's not QUITE the right size but you can't return it? Don't panic; today we're talking with Paulie from GO PHYSIO about some of your options. Let's unpack this question and discuss what you can do before and after buying a bike.

About Paulie Glatt: As a competitive cyclist with a history of low back pain, Paulie has a great understanding of how critical a proper bike fit is to our experience on a bicycle. He rides Road, Gravel, Mountain, Bike Packs, and commutes by bicycle throughout the entire year. His longest race was The Day Across Minnesota, a 240-mile gravel race that he completed in 17 hours.


To learn more about Paulie or to schedule a professional bike fitting, visit GO PHYSIO.


Hey Paulie, I bought a bike online and it's just a little too big or too small. Can I just make up for it with saddle, stem, handlebar, and seatpost adjustments?

Paulie Glatt:

Frame sizing has become fairly inconsistent across brands so this happens quite often. The short answer is, it depends. The ability to modify seatpost setback and stem length/angle certainly allow for a decent amount of wiggle room when buying a stock bike, but some important factors need to be considered. For example, significant changes in stem length will affect how the bike handles. If your mountain bike stem goes from 40mm to 100mm in order to fit, you will feel like you are riding a different bike when you hit singletrack.


Additionally, a significant change to the fore/aft of your saddle with a straight vs setback seatpost will change your position relative to the bottom bracket/crank arms which can influence muscle activation during your pedal stroke. Every rider has a different tolerance for these types of changes.


In general, I caution against buying a bike before you are able to test ride it. I realize that this can be difficult with the growing popularity of direct-to-consumer brands, such as Canyon. And although I think some of these brands make a concerted effort to get riders on the proper size, their methods are far from fail-safe.


That said, there are bike fitters who offer pre-purchase services to ensure that you order the correct size. GO PHYSIO utilizes a ‘fit bike’ and takes the necessary body measurements to help you determine your ideal size. You then bring your new bike into our studio for a proper fitting once you have received it.

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