Adults of all ages are not the only people who have begun to take an increased interest in getting outdoors and exploring the natural world with mountain bikes; kids have also caught on to the fun that can be had and the power to explore that becomes available through having their own mountain bikes. As a result, the market for kids mountain bikes has increased by a significant margin over the last several years to the point where more kids are riding mountain bikes today than at any other point in the history of the sport. However, like shoes and most articles of clothing, individual bicycles are not designed to fit people of all shapes and sizes. Obtaining a mountain bike that fits your child properly is important not only for the comfort of your child but for the safety of your child, as well as to reduce the risk of repetitive motion and strain injuries that can result from riding an improperly fitted mountain bike. This article will discuss some tips for fitting your child to a new mountain bike so you can ensure your son or daughter’s first ride spurns many more.
There are essentially three areas where your child will come into contact with his or her mountain bike: the handlebars, the pedals, and the seat. The amount of comfort your child experiences while riding his or her bike and the level of efficiency he or she can reach on the bike will depend on the positions of the pedals, the seat, and the handlebars relative to one another. However, your child will have to make numerous trade off when balancing the factors described above; bikes that are designed to help you accelerate quickly will have poorer handling, for example, than bikes that are set up for handling but fare poorly in tasks of acceleration.
The first part to sizing your child for his or her mountain bike involves consideration of the frame size. The truth is that there are actually several different frame sizes that can work for a person of a particular build; it simply depends on the position your child feels best in while riding. The best way to size a child for a particular frame is to take the child to a bike shop where professionals can do the job. However, if you are in a hurry, two quick rules of thumb are that there should be at least a few inches between the inseam of the child’s pants and the top tube and that the child should be able to reach the handlebars while sitting on the bike without too much trouble.
The second part to sizing your child for his or her mountain bike involves consideration of the crank length. The length of the crank is related to the length of your child’s leg. Scientific studies suggest that the length of the crank should be approximately 18.5 percent as long as the length from the floor to the top of your femur. You can find your child’s femur by lifting your child’s knee; the top of the femur should move backwards when this motion is performed. While this is not an exact way of determining crank length, it will get you started in the process.
The third part of sizing your child to his or her mountain bike involves consideration of the saddle height. Your child can figure out his or her saddle height by sitting on the saddle of the bike without tilting his or her hips. Allow one leg to hang over the side of the saddle. The foot of the leg that is hanging over should be able to touch the ground when the child’s leg is straight but not when it is bent when the height is appropriate.
Above all, perhaps the most important thing to remember when fitting a mountain bike for your child is that the comfort of your child can take precedence over most other things. If something feels uncomfortable to your child in one position and more comfortable in another, go with the position that feels more comfortable, even if it does not match up perfectly with what a fitting guide would suggest.