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How To Copy Your Road Bike Position | Bike Hire & Rental Set Up Tips

How To Copy Your Road Bike Position | Bike Hire & Rental Set Up Tips

(exciting music) – Traveling with your bike
is not always an easy option. Maybe you don’t have a
bike box or a bike bag or don’t feel that confident
taking apart your own bike. Plus an airline they are gonna
charge you normally a premium to out your bike on that flight. This is where a rental bike could well be a great option for you. So today we’re gonna run through
how to set up a hire bike when you go abroad. (exciting music) Measurements. Before you travel make sure
you’ve got them as accurately as possible and keep them with you. You don’t have to guard
them with your life but make sure you don’t lose them. What I always do with all my bikes is actually take a photo of them and then I print it out. All right, this one I haven’t
done cause this is Hank’s bike but you know what I mean. So you print it out and you actually draw on there the dimensions. Therefore you’ve always got them, in the case of me at home
I’ve got more in my workshop for different bikes so I
know how they are set up. Believe it or not, each and every one is set up slightly
different because of course the geometry does vary. So let’s run through those measurements then that you should be doing. Firstly then we’re gonna
measure the saddle height. Now for this, you always
want to measure it from a specific point on the saddle. Now you can choose that yourself exactly where you want to do it from but bear in mind the reason we do this is because if you measured
from the tip of the saddle to the center of the bottom bracket went off on your holiday,
got the rental bike and then measured it from the
center of the bottom bracket to the back of the saddle, you’re gonna get vastly
different measurements because of course you’re
measuring in different angles. So what I do on my own
bike is actually use a permanent marker and
choose a specific point there on the top. Now in the case of this bike
I’m not gonna do it to Hank because well it would be
like graffiting his bike wouldn’t it? And another way of measuring which I have seen a few
mechanics out in Belgium during my time there
was actually to measure from the saddle rails down to the center of the bottom bracket too because I think they found
it a little bit more accurate to do that because you
actually have something to loop the hook of the tape measure over. Something to also consider
is the measurement of the tip of the saddle and how far it is behind the center of the bottom bracket. So you can see here I’ve
got a homemade plumb line, bit of string with a coin tied to the end so I’ve got it on the nose of the saddle and it’s dropped down. So if I was to tape that on there, I can just measure that nice and simple, way easier to do it on the non-drive side because of course you
don’t have the chain set getting in the way and
causing you all sorts of grief when you’re trying to get
that fine measurement. Now this measurement isn’t
necessarily gonna play hand-in-hand and nicely with the next one and that’s measuring the distance
from the tip of the saddle to the center of the handlebars. Because again, it all
depends on that geometry and how much you obsess
over your position. Personally, I don’t care that much about how far behind the
bottom bracket my saddle is. For me it’s always been about the reach so that distance from
the tip of the saddle to the center of the bars. Handlebar height and the
way that I measure mine is done with the following method, so I find the center of the
handlebars here at the front. This is an integrated unit
but you can always see where the center is. Just hold that there then measure down to the center of the front
axle and that’s gonna give you a measurement’s take as a reference. And the reason I wouldn’t do
it with the back of the stem is that if you’ve got a stem on there with a different angle,
of course it’s gonna give the center of the handlebars
a different height from the actual front axle. So if you have a minor 17, your handlebars are gonna be
a couple of centimeters lower. So that’s not gonna give
you any help at all. You may want to measure as
well how much lever pull you have on your brake levers. So if you’ve got these brakes well you don’t really have the luxury of being able to fine
tune that quite as much as if you’ve got a rim brake. But don’t worry, just simply
hold the measure there and measure that distance. Again find a specific point that you can always take reference from. So on this one here you
can measure just there from the Di2 paddle shifter
and just take that measurement as something to work from. And then also you could
take a measurement here from the tip of the blade of the
lever down to the front axle and that again is gonna help you with your lever height position. (exciting music) Now there’s a few things you should be taking with you of course and one of them which I highly
recommend is your saddle because there is nothing worse
than an uncomfortable one. So what I would do then before
you take it off your bike, grab again that marker and just mark on the actual saddle rails
either side of the seat clamp assembly so that when
it comes to refitting it you know exactly where its come from. So try and put that in
your hand luggage too because obviously you don’t
want that to go missing if your bags were to and
you’d still go for a ride. And finally, maybe your saddle
has a bit of an angle to it that you find most comfortable
so using a smartphone most of them these days you’ll
be able to download an app on to it with a spirit level therefore giving you
that accurate information to again note down on your bit of paper. Pedals. These are a really personal choice and again don’t take the
risk that the hired company is gonna have those exact same ones set up with the same spring
tension and everything. So try and put them in your hand luggage along with your shoes and your saddle. So when you get to the other end, it’s easy and you can just go out riding. Now, something to consider when you’re actually
fitting them into the cranks is the crank length on that rental bike. So if they are different from the ones on your existing bike at home, you may well need to
adjust your saddle height to take up that difference. (exciting music) Right finally, communication
is absolutely key. So talk to the hire
company before you go away and give them all of these measurements, in fact why not take a photo of them, send them over so they’ve got it. The more in advance they’ve got it, the quicker when you arrive,
you can go out riding. Now take that from my personal experience where I used to manage a workshop and we used to rent bikes out. If a customer provided
all of that information it was way less stressful
than when they arrive desperate to go out and while
you had to set up that bike. Go through specifics too. Check if they can change the stem length to match your position
as well as finding out this is ultra important, which
way around the brake levers are cabled or hosed. The reason being, well here in the U.K. we have our breaks ran a different way to the rest of the world virtually. So just check with that because obviously you don’t want to come a
cropper on a rental bike do you? There we are, just a few
simple and basic measurements and things to take with you
or make your cycling holiday oh so special. Now let me know though have
you been on a cycling holiday and well, maybe you got
a horror story actually because you forgot to take
all those measurements. I don’t know, let me know though
what you think of the video down there in the comment section below. Don’t forget too to like
and share this video with your friends and why
not check out the GCN shop at You can buy one of these
brand new workshop aprons, looks pretty cool if I may say so myself. And now for two more great videos, how about clicking just down
here and just down here.

50 comments on “How To Copy Your Road Bike Position | Bike Hire & Rental Set Up Tips

  1. People who care this much amount measuring their fitting on bikes are the type to actually bring their own bike on holiday…

  2. Hi John, off topic, a nice looking bike you have in the video. How much does it weigh on the scales of truth? Great vids BTW. My tip, check the insurance!

  3. Non rental horror story – putting my own bike back together in a hotel room in Fukuoka. Jetlagged and dumb enough to sheer one of the pinch bolts on the stem. Snap! Sinking feeling.

    About half of the first day of my big fun solo cycle trip spent cycling around finding a bike shop that was open and equipped to extract screw fragments or (as it turned out) fit a replacement stem – using Google translate and some dodgy mime work.

    Thanks Y's road Fukuoka.

    Once home again, hacksaw cut a flat blade slot in the stuck end and screwed it out.

  4. I have rented bikes more times than I take my own, the convenience/cost/faff is often the deciding factor. Always take my pedals and saddle and my own tools so i can set these up myself if necessary. Most times I only adjusted/checked saddle height and fore/aft position. Never thought to change stem length – for a weeks riding you should be able to cope with a slightly different fit – more importantly you should check with rental place what gearing is on the bike. Also remember to take your garmin mount and lights/mounts if necessary.

  5. Useful litlle video there. Thank you. I always feel that saddle height is the biggest factor to comfort although taking your peddles and shoes really helps a bunch with that as well. Never thought to take your saddle but guess you gotta check the specs of the bike your hiring before you go for that… Almost feel that with all the measurements your taking there you would just be easier with one of those UCI jigs!
    Oh if you want to make something hugely helpful is it possible to have a look into the merky world of headsets? Just so many different types and would be a huge help to make a good video on how to fit and remove them. Anything from your tradition 1'' threaded to 1'' threadless and then 1 1/8'' threaded and ahead. Then moving to both press fit and drop in style headsets both with standard 1 1/8'' diameters and also those tapered going from 1 1/8'' to 1 1/4'' or 1 1/2''! So many and I am sure I missed some! I know that you would do a great job and would find it so helpful!

  6. Wow John thank you for speaking the truth. Most of the fitters put too much emphasize on saddle setback but it's like you said, you don't care the relation of your saddle to the bottom bracket and so should we. The truth is as long as the reach is comfortable enough for you to go for a long distance without stretched and tired then it's ok.

  7. I always measure from the pedal spindle to the top of the saddle, in case the cranks on the rental are a different length

    Works great – other than that time Club La Santa lent me a tape that started at 10cm so I ended up totally wrong.

  8. Bike with rear wheel touching wall on flat surface (verified wall at 90deg with floor)

    Saddle tilt
    Saddle tip to Wall
    Saddle rail to floor
    Saddle Rail to BB Shell
    BB shell to Wall
    Saddle tip to Lever Hood (L and R)
    Bar Center to Floor



  9. Jon, you read my mind. I am going to be Hiring a bike at Bedoin to do Mont Ventoux and then another one on AlpD'huez in July. I only need them to go up and down the hills once. I was thinking Saddle to Pedal, and Saddle to Stem is all I would need. Would you agree?

  10. Perfect timing! I just made reservations for rentals to keep my training up for DK200 while on 2 long business trips!!!

  11. I have had great luck with hire bikes. I have always brought my own pedals, saddle and GPS mount. Most places that are serious about rentals will work with you regarding gear ratios. They may not be willing to change out a triple for a compact but they may let you change out chainrings.

  12. Matching stem length does not necessarily work due to top tubes of different lengths. You did not do a measurement (usually Hx: bb to bars) to be able to know what this should be. If I were giving info to a hire place ahead of time it would be bars relative to bb (Hx and Hy). This should tell them frame size as well. You can't given them seat position if you are bringing your own seat as they are all different sizes.

  13. I need a new chef's apron, and a GCN workshop one might be just the thing! I can avoid splashes and splash my cycling obsession with the GCN logo at the same time!

  14. For traveling the n+1 rule strikes again. Always have a cheaper bike for that kept in reserve 😀

  15. brake setup, i think UK have them in a correct way, is the rest of the word that is wrong,, like a motorcycle,, front brake on the right, clutch or rear brake, in the left, for those that ride also , motorcycles or scooter, the uk way , is the way to go ,

  16. This is especially useful if you have a special bike for events/races and don't want to use it for indoor training sessions. I use my older, heavier bike for indoor training and have spent some time adjusting the setup to be as close as possible between the two (to include using the same bar tape for feel). Gets the job done.

  17. In the past. I've set the saddle height measuring from the seat rails to the paddle axle. I did it this way to be sure I had the same saddle height on my mountain bike and road bike. My mountain bike had 175mm cranks and my road bike had 170mm or 172.5mm cranks.

  18. NIce video Jon. Are you the only GCN staffer with some workshop trade under your fingernails? I’d love to hear some yarns from the workshop. Getting behind the scenes with grand tour mechanics is all tres exciting – but what about the grimey end of the business. Just me? Or anyone else always wondered what it’s really like working on others’ bikes all day?

  19. Hmm measuring from tip of the saddle is not going to work if the saddle on the new/rental bike saddle is shorter or longer…

  20. Think it maybe worth telling people that a spirit level for saddle titlt requires the bike to be on level ground just becuase your Indoors doesn't mean its going to bang on level granted if you copy two bikes on the same out of level floor it will work

  21. "I'm not gonna do it to Hank – it would be like grafitiing his bike, wouldn't it". 4:15, grafitis saddle rails.

  22. Hired a bike in Menton for a day, to fit a bucket list Col de la Madone ride into a family holiday.

    I did bring my shoes and pedals. The shop did a fine job of adjusting the bike to me on the spot. If I had been hiring for more than one day, should definitely have noted/sent my set up.

    Coped / survived with the brakes being on the wrong side for an Australian.

    Actually can claim that I rode the Col de la Madone with Richie Porte – in the second or so he took to zoom past me on his regular training ride route.

  23. Thank you for this one John and the GCN crew. I am about to go ride Mt Etna during my family visit in Sicily just after the Giro. It’s only been my second bike rental holiday. This video is absolutely 100% what I needed to not make the first mistakes I made last year while traveling to Switzerland. I did take my saddle but not my pedals. I will probably take both this time👍🏽👍🏽

  24. Jon,

    I have a hack for you, instead of using a plum line to measure saddle lay back simply put your rear wheel against a wall, measure from the wall to the centre of the bottom bracket and from the wall to the tip of the saddle.

    Then if you subtract the two numbers you get the saddle lay back, easier and more accurate. 👍🏼👍🏼

  25. Love it, Jon! Headed to Hawaii, Oahu next week and it’s the first time that I’m going to rent a bike. Such a timely video!

  26. Hi Jon

    Having worked in bike rental the past few years, I saw this video and hoped to find something nice to share on our companies website. people come with all sorts of crazy measurements, but in my experience there's only one way of copying a setup correctly: 4 measurements (stack and reach for both saddle and bars) with the bb center as the 0 point. Every model has it's own geometry, seat tube and head tube angle, fork rake, bb drop, … so measuring the height of the bars from the centre of the front wheel axle can get different results on different bikes…
    Instead of using a plum line, I usually suggest putting the back wheel on the wall, making sure the bike is upright, then measuring following things:
    * floor to bb – floor to saddle = saddle stack
    * wall to bb – wall to saddle = saddle reach
    * wall to bb – wall to bars (hoods) = bar reach
    *floor to bb – floor to bars (stack) = bar stack
    so if you would be so kind to redo this video that'd be great 😅 bringing own saddle and pedals is definitely a good idea!

  27. This video gave me an idea: I had a bike fitting on my road bike this Tuesday and I want to have my bikes as similar as possible. With road bike position it's no problem to do that, but I'm now considering whether I've transfered the position correctly onto my cross country mountain bike. I would heavily apprise a video about that or at least answering it as a question in Ask GCN Tech.

  28. Is it really necessary to be so anal as to measure the distance the brake levers move? Surely you can can just adjust the brakes until they feel right? Also, you not going to be able to change lever height without removing the bar tap, which I can't see anyone being bothered to do.

  29. Why measure to center of bars and not up to the grips where you likely spend more time and where position matters more? Same thing with height, may as well measure to the hoods.

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