Bike fitting for a MTB

My mtb has been bothering me recently and I think I need a bike fit. When getting a fitting anything to be on the lookout for compared to a traditional road fit?

Depends a little bit on the area of interest for a given client, but here are a couple thoughts.

  • To a degree, handlebar and control setup is a bit more important since we are in a single basic hand position most of the time on flat bars. I always start with the main handlebar roll angle as installed in the stem. It shocks me how many people have never looked at or played with this setting. You can drastically alter the feel and control by changing the roll angle as little as 5* in some cases. It relates to things like the back sweep and up sweep along with the bar width. But getting this right is a necessary first step IMO.

  • After bar roll, setting brake lever angle appropriately and then shifting and dropper levers. These all may vary depending on the type of riding of interest XC vs Trail vs Enduro, so there’s not necessarily a single answer here, just like most stuff in fitting.

  • Bar width is also an overlooked aspect much of the time. Many bars come really wide these days, and are good to cut for at least some riders. I’ve seen more than one shorter client with 800mm stock bars come away much happier once we got them in the 750mm or more narrow range. No hard answer here either, but don’t be afraid to consider that the stock width could be wrong for you.

  • Saddle is interesting, and relates to rider preferences and ride type. Most lean towards a forward setup for climbing since a dropper gets it out of the way, but finding the range that’s best for you takes some testing. Height also comes in here as I find a lower than “optimal” saddle may work better for some riders. Pedal and shoe setup comes into play, with flats sometimes benefiting from lower seat to allow good heal drop for grip in power situations.

  • And in my fits, I frequently dive into suspension setup. Again, shocking how many people have never even bothered to set sag or play with rebound & compression settings.

How’s that for a rapid fire answer? :stuck_out_tongue:


Pretty damn good. On this bike its more XC focused but how would it translate if I wanted to move that fit over to my enduro bike?

Presumably you might have shorter reach on the Enduro setup, and an emphasis on ride control while standing? If so, you may end up with a slightly steeper handlebar roll angle (sweep more upward to match the higher shoulder & arm position standing), but that may neutralize if you end up with lots of rearward position on stuff like downs, or still want a more XC like position for seated stuff like climbs. I’d expect the potential for a wider bar in the Enduro setting vs XC too, but not a requirement.

Overall, they could be reasonably close, but some depends on your stem and bar position on the XC as the start. I like a taller bar position (higher bar rise and or more spacers under stem) than an XC focused bike. Gives more control when standing and better for wheelies, jumping and all around play riding.

And this may related to a more middle placement on the enduro vs a possible forward saddle focus of climbing on XC.

I once did one for my XC bike. Subsequently I reverted most settings to how I had them before.
I think the issue is that, at least for my fitting, it was done on plain flat ground. That might be fine for road bikes, but not if your usual ride is climbing on 15…25% ascends 80% of riding time.

So if ever I would do one again, I would watch out for someone who specifically fits MTB in/for their natural terrain.

On site fitting, especially for MTB is idea. Particularly for suspension setup so people can test along with the bike setup for fitting. I have done this for several friends to help them get more from a lack of proper setup.

That said, it’s possible to make some progress from fixed, trainer setup on flats but it still needs to be considered once in actual use. Same for road and tri setups since static riding is never the same, even in a more basic road situation. Wind resistance is a real factor that alters setups in practice.

Don’t want to hijack too much, but what have you experience regarding suspension setup relating to handling? I think I big focus for me next year is going to be bike handling and a large component I want to look into is fit and suspension settings. All my saddle positions are same as my road bike for power, and I was going to go through Lee’s dialed book as a baseline. I think I set up with 20% sag on my full suspension and might try 30% and actually using my lockout after baselining what Lee says for reach and stack.

I saw an old thread where you dug really deep into bike fit and handling, so thought I would see what insight you had on MTB fit.

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Without more detailed info, my typical starting point is about 20% front sag, 25-30% rear sag. This can sure vary with specific bike and suspension design in play, as well as general rider preference for softer vs stiffer overall ride quality.

Once sag is set, I adjust rebound to rider preference for the pressures to hit those sags. I prefer faster rebound for quicker response to hop and lift wheels. I will set it slower for riders who are less “active” on the trail. Compression is usually open to the middle setting, but again up to rider preference usually. It’s also the ‘easy button’ setting since it is right within reach most of the time. So I show people how it works, a bit of the ‘why’ in each setting and then let them play from there.

Those are just starting points in reality and should be tweaked based upon real trail use. I have spent an hour dialing in sag inside only to change it after a mere 15 mins of trail riding sometimes. I judge this by frequently resetting my o-ring travel indicators routinely through a ride. Seeing how far you are diving into each end, with consideration of the trail you’ve just ridden can help decide of you need more or less pressure.

An old motocross axiom was that if you didn’t fully bottom out suspension (or come reasonably close) in your regular use, you may be “wasting” suspension travel that is unused. I add into this (per the reasonably close above) the idea that unless you hit something that is your absolute worst case feature, having a bit of “cushion” remaining in that travel is a good safety measure. Maybe a 5% leftover for totally messing up a line, drop, jump or such vs nailing your hard stuff. That extra bit just might save your bacon when something goes off the rails.

How’s that for a start?

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I think that is pretty close to where I am at, but a much slower rebound. Thanks for the insight!

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