Does your kid need a bicycle fitting, or cycling position optimization?
If your child is under 13 years old and only riding around the block or possibly back and forth to school, then a professional fitting is certainly not necessary. However, some basics can help your child be more efficient and comfortable and stay healthy on the bike.
When the saddle position is correct, your child will pedal more efficiently with more ease and comfort.
A good estimate for seat height (A in the diagram to the right) is approximately ½ inch less than your kid’s You can measure inseam length yourself, or you might already know it from the child’s pant length size. Seat height is measured from the center of the bottom bracket (the axle where the crank arms go through) to the top of the saddle in line with the frame of the bike.
Next put the nose of the saddle approximately 1 ½ to 3 inches behind the center of the bottom bracket (B). You can use a plumb line going straight down from the nose of the saddle to measure this distance accurately.
Proper handlebar position will minimize strain for your son or daughter's neck, upper back, and shoulders.
Once the saddle is in the right position, set the handlebars up by adjusting the stem so your child does not have to reach too far or down. Get the handlebars about level with the saddle (D = 0), and adjust the reach (C) so that when your kid grabs the handlebars, he or she is not locking out his or her elbows.
These basics will keep most kids comfortable and efficient on their bikes. If your child is riding a bit more intensively, consider bringing him or her in for a professional bike fit. Many of the kids we work with for cycling position optimization are 13 years or older and are riding more than 7 to 10 hours per week. These kids can be riding for fun or even considering racing. A professional bike fit will help keep your child efficient, comfortable, and injury-free throughout a lifetime of dedicated cycling.
Revolutions in Fitness provides cycling position optimization for dedicated
junior riders, like these members of the San Jose Bicycle Club.