29/09/2021 - Bike Fit Part 1

chatting bike fit part 1

Bike fit is a big subject, and we are all still learning about it. A recent conversation with Hannah sparked the idea for some helpful how-to's on this subject. We were chatting about my kids bikes. This year my two daughters graduated onto full suspension bikes. Both girls now ride a Small sized FlareMAX, but each bike is tailored quite differently to suit the rider. In discussing this with Hannah, we realised that although they're similar heights to her [OK, who am I kidding? They're both taller than me now...Hannah] we all have different set-ups and preferences, it isn't a one-size-set-up-fits-all and there isn't a magic answer in bike set up. Even for a bike designer, it is a trial and error, give things a go process, especially when helping less experienced riders with totally different proportions fit their bikes.

Out of all this grew the idea for a short series of explainers and tips from Hannah and I for making your bike work better for you. This first one is about bar width and cockpit setup.

Cy's bar set up

Bar Width

It stands to reason that if you're on the shorter end of height spectrum, you probably won't need bars quite so wide. We offer two options with our bikes as a stock offering - 780 uncut, and 750 cut down. However, we cut them to order, so if you know you prefer something narrower, just let us know.

At the moment we supply Cotic Calver bars in 25mm rise, and on the 29er bikes you might prefer something a little lower. We can get the optional Renthal bars down to 10mm rise, and if you have a set of favourite bars you can always send those in to us to fit onto your new bike. Remember, it's Your Bike Built For You.


As an example, my youngest daughter Cara (13) is 5ft 6in, but really prefers narrower bars. She's not super strong, and doesn't ride very often, so wide bars just make her shoulders ache. She runs 700mm wide bars flat bars and I put a couple of spacers under the stem to lift them a little to make it more comfortable for seated pedalling. My eldest daughter Lauren (15) is a little shorter at 5ft 5in, but is a totally different body shape and likes a little higher and wider front end. She uses Race Face 12mm rise bars cut to 740mm with the stem on it's lowest setting with no spacers under it.

At the other end of the scale, at 6ft 3in on an XL RocketMAX, I run a 25mm rise Calver bar cut to 770mm so it measures 780mm across the ends of the grips. I run a 5mm spacer under the stem. I've tried 38mm rise bars, and although they're comfortable for steep descents, I found them really hard work on my back on climbs, like my hands weren't low enough so I was kind of 'pushing' them up rather than 'pulling' back strongly on the bars to brace my pedalling effort. Paul recently found similar when jumping on a Jeht demo bike where a customer had previously put 20mm of spacers under the stem.

Over to Hannah....

On my Small Flare (27.5" wheels, so it has a lower front end stack height than the FlareMAX Cy's kids ride) I run 760mm bars when measured across the grips. It's suited me up to now, but I recently tried Lauren's FlareMAX and enjoyed the 740's, so I'm going to give something a little narrower a try. As I'm still relatively new to mountain biking, I assumed that slightly sore shoulders were possibly just part and parcel of riding (which up to a point they are - Middle Aged Editor), so I'll be keen to see if a slightly narrower setup feels more comfortable for longer.

Here I am with my Flare!

Hannah S Bike check

Kind of opposite to what Cy and Paul found for their setups, I run 25mm rise Calver bars with 20mm of spacers under the stem. I really like an upright riding position, and it suits me. I think it's possibly my background riding horses, but it works for me. That said, on Lauren's bike (the 29er), the stem is right down and the bars felt about the same as on my 27.5" bike.


As you can see, there's no hard or fast rules for bar width or height, but a bit of experimentation is key.

Firstly - height. All Cotic's are supplied with 20mm of spacers on the steerer for adjustment, and even if your bike doesn't have this much, it's worth trying out with what adjustment you do have. If you are on the shorter end of the height spectrum - particularly if you ride a 29er - get that stem as low as possible and see how that feels. If it feels good and you might want to go lower, see if any of your riding buddies have lower rise or flat bars in their spares box you could borrow for a ride or two. Going too low with very wide bars can limit your ability to lean the bike, so do just think about how the bike is working. It's so quick to change you can even do it on the trail if you like.

If you are a little taller, try the extremes of adjustment and see how it feels. Which do you prefer? You'll soon figure out where the compromise lies.

Width - Obviously cutting bars down is a very permanent change to a component on your bike, so if you think you might get on with narrower bars and want to try it, here's a little hack: buy some cheap double clamp lock on grips with open ends. You can now fit these and slide them in from the ends of your bars without cutting them for a few rides, to see where you feel comfortable. Just remember to measure from the end of the bar to the grip and make it even on both sides. You might have to be a little careful between the trees whilst you are trying this out, but it's a small thing compared to trashing a set of bars by cutting too narrow. Also this way, you can try a couple of different options and see what you like most. The key thing is to try it for 3 rides at least to make sure you feel any differences fully. Once you are happy, cut the bars down.

Women of Steel

That's it for the first instalment. We'll be doing these every week or so for a while to cover a bunch of subjects, and get you feeling better on your bike. And we really want this to be a conversation, so do reply to this email and ask some specific questions if you have them. We're here to help.

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