Dialed: The secret math of a perfect mountain bike setup

Thinking about purchasing this book as a download. I could just take a punt with the $25 and see for myself but I thought I’d ask here first to see if anyone has read / implemented the setup techniques and whether they would recommend the book, found it useful, has it been a game changer etc.

I’ve got a good idea of my RAD value from a PinkBike article and it’s pretty close (within 20mm or so I think), so I’d be looking to potentially integrate some of the other thoughts from the book into my setup.

Lee’s guidelines are generally pretty good and they are a better starting point for most people than any other resource out there. Your own personal preferences will vary from there obviously.

Just make sure you measure yourself correctly! I had been using the calculators as a starting point, but my long leg length and shorter torso make me need a much longer RAD value than would be expected for my height.

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I’ve got the same issue. What other kinds of alterations/guide lines do you use in your set ups (mtb, road, etc)? It always feels like I have to choose between comfort and handling.

(Sorry for derailing the thread so soon!)

I’ve one of the few people that really benefit from the longer reach bikes, because the distance from the bottom bracket to my hands is longer than most people.

What this means in practice is that I’m usually riding bigger frames than you would expect for my height.

I’m around 5’10/178cm, but my inseam more like 87cm and my GT height is 100cm, which makes me a bit of an odd duck, at least when you look at the height ranges/crank length guide here. Not surprisingly, I really prefer the longer crank lenghts and have always felt more comfortable on my MTB with 175mm versus my roadbike with 172.5mm.

Current rigs:

  • Yeti SB100 size L with 70mm stem, 6 degree up, one spacer underneath. I could probably go even longer on the stem.
  • Tarmac SL6 size 56 with 100mm stem, which feels a bit small and that my center gravity isn’t right when I’m descending in the drops.
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I have found Lee’s “RAD” approach very useful. Particularly if you currently have a bike that “feels right” it can help figure out if and how to achieve a similar setup on another bike. It can also help identify what size can be made to work, if you’re looking at a new bike. In the past 18 months I’ve purchased two new bikes where Lee’s approach gave me the confidence that I was making a good decision (in terms of buying a bike that would let me dial in the right fit).

To @stevemz’s point that an individual’s proportions may depart from Lee’s formulas, that’s certainly true. But Lee also describes a way to test the setup of your bike empirically. Basically you put the bike between two picnic tables, supporting just the pedals. You stand on the pedals and see if you have full range of motion between fully upright (like standing climbing) and fully hinged (like descending).

In any event, well worth $25 in my opinion. Or for roughly the same money, subscribe to llbmtb.com for a month where I believe you’ll get the same bike-fitting resources plus a plethora of skills training.

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I would go this route. Lee’s site is great. I took his 3-day class which included a subscription to the online site and I’ll definitely be renewing when it comes time.

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I’d rather spend the $75 on a professional fit from someone that knows exactly what they’re doing. But that’s just me.

Good luck finding a pro fit for $75.

And there’s not much better advice to be found than Lee’s.

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Freewheel/Penn cycles in Minnesota basic pro fit is $75 and is the most recommended fitter in the state. But I guess that’ll vary area to area on pricing.

I’m not sure the two are even trying to answer the same question. Lee tells you nothing about what your saddle height or fore-aft position should be, for instance, whereas these two measurements are core to most bike fitting (at least the ones I’ve had). This is because what Lee is ultimately after is maximizing your ability to stand on the pedals and make angles with the bike to suit the terrain. It’s about whether you can manipulate the bike fully, not whether you can pedal it efficiently while in the saddle.

(Note that the above is based on his online material, which I presume is what’s in the “Dialed” book, but I can’t confirm that since I don’t have the book.)

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Yeah, I’ve had an extensive fit (albeit on another bike) so I think I can carry some of this learning / info across. I may go the full fit route again, but it was way, way more than $75. I think a saddle or shoe only fit runs at about $65!

I get the impression that Lee’s book covers a slightly unconventional method of setting up a mountain bike (as touched on above) and that’s kind of what I’m interested to learn about and find out how it works out.

If you’re interested to learn, just buy the book (or maybe subscribe to the website as others have suggested). $25 doesn’t strike me as very expensive for learning something new.

Regarding bike fit, especially on a MTB, I think you should just ride it and make adjustments if you feel something is off. For MTB your style of riding influences your setup a lot, and I can’t see how anyone can tell what’s right without seeing you ride. But I’m sure I’m in the minority with that view.

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I’m still new to riding MTBs properly and was surprised how short the rad number is. I found my bike (a 2016 cube stereo which was considered “short” even before the current long-reach fashion became common) was almost 100mm too long.

Getting the correct RAD number with this bike would involve me sizing down probably 2 sizes. Has anyone else made a big change in sizing towards/away from Lee’s recommendations and noticed improvements?

I’m assuming he would tend to set bikes up more for Enduro, downhill versus pedaling effiency/cross country. Just a guess based on the type of riding he trains people on.

I didn’t mean to say Lee doesn’t know his stuff, if that’s how it came across. I more meant being able to set up your own bike based on just reading a book, versus having a professional set it up for you.

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That seems like great offering, for that price and the apparent element included. It is far less, for far more than what I typically see for fit charges. Good on them for the pricing to get more people fitted.

Lee’s fit guide includes references for trail and XC as well.

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I have the book, I used it to dial in the fit of an older mtb first and his method worked perfectly for that bike. I have also tried to use the book to set my kids bikes up which turned out to be a difficult task. I wasn’t able to get them completely dialed but I got them a lot closer to where they should be.
I am still playing with my new MTB stem length and height, with my RAD set almost exactly it feels a little cramped at times. I am going to revisit the book and look at using a longer stem in a lower position. The book explains the relationship between RAD and the various adjustments you can make.
In my experience it has been well worth the money. I have referenced it several times across multiple bikes.

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