Tuesday Tip: Bike Fitting For Shorter Riders

We doubt that at 5’6″, Jason Thomas will ever make it in the NBA (though we have seen him playing basketball¿in full riding gear¿at Tim Ferry’s house). There’s no doubt that his leg “suspension travel” isn’t as substantial as someone like say, Travis Preston. So how does he set up his bike to fit the rigors of MX and SX? Jason explains, “The factory guys get really technical with a lot of stuff, like linkages, different subframes, or shorter shocks, but we don’t. I don’t have an unlimited budget. Sure, you can run your forks real high in the clamps if you want, and that’ll bring your front end down some, as well as running lots of sag on the rear shock. But doing that also changes the geometry and handling, so you need to test it to see if the tradeoff is worthwhile.”

You can also run your bars further back, or run lower mounts. We’ve tried all this stuff¿it just comes down to what you get comfortable with. There are some things like the seat and footpegs, subframe and all that, that are pretty standard and everybody’s going to benefit from.

“The biggest thing is we start with lowering the seat, and you can try different seat heights. We tried one that’s super-low, and I didn’t really like it so much. It felt like it was too steep up by the tank. But you definitely want to lower the seat. I probably split the difference between the base and normal seat height.”

To lower the subframe, I think mine is cut, eight millimeters is removed, and then it’s rewelded.  That brings the rear end down quite a bit. Some guys have tried nine or ten millimeters, but then you start having problems with things like exhaust mounts.”

“I also run taller footpegs. The ones on my practice bike are modified, which is what we used to do. Now IMS makes us some that are quite a bit taller than stock. For a weekend racer, the seat, footpegs and subframe modifications are where you’re going to see your biggest advantages.”