How to Fit Your Bicycle Properly

How to fit your bike properly and choose the right clothing for a safer summer on wheels

  1. Your helmet should be snug and level front to back. The front edge should be two finger widths above your brow.
  2. The helmet’s side straps should surround your ear in a V-shape. The chinstrap should be snug, with one finger of wiggle room.
  3. Equip your bike with a bell or horn to tell pedestrians you’re passing.
  4. Adjust the handlebar height so that your arms are slightly bent. For most casual riders, the back should be at a 45-degree angle to the hips.
  5. The law requires bikes to be equipped with headlights and tail lights at night. Choose a red blinker for the back and a bright white for the front, with steady and flashing modes.
  6. Your ideal frame size corresponds to your height and leg length. A 5’8″ adult generally needs a 54-cm frame; a 5’2″ adult a 52-cm frame. Ask for help with sizing when you buy.
  7. No flip-flops or sandals – stick to runners or cycling shoes.
  8. For straight-barred bikes, there should be 3-6 cm of clearance between your body and the top bar when you’re straddling the frame flat-footed.
  9. Adjust your seat’s height so that, with the balls of your feet on the pedals, there is always a slight bend in your knees (80-90 per cent of full leg extension).
  10. Choose light-coloured, fitted clothing and add reflectors, or a reflective vest, at night.
  11. Alberta law requires helmets for cyclists under age 18, but everyone needs one. Look for the Canadian Standards Association seal of approval.

Published in Westworld, Summer 2014


Westworld is the award-winning magazine of the Alberta Motor Association. It offers a mix of travel features, auto trends and special member savings.