How To Set Up Your New Marin Bike
Just bagged your new Marin? Time to get that perfect setup for maximum good times.
Time To Set Up Your New Marin Bike? No Worries!
Wondering how to set up your new bike for the perfect fit? Wonder no more!
New bikes often require a few simple tweaks to get them working exactly right. In this post, we're going to walk you through some of these and explain how they'll boost your enjoyment of your new Marin.
Maybe you've just got back from your local Marin dealer with a shiny new bike, and you're getting ready to take it for its maiden voyage. Or maybe you've just got back from your first outing, but things aren't clicking together quite as you'd hoped. Or perhaps you've just bought a secondhand Marin and you're switching it from the previous owner's setup to your own.
Whatever the reason, we've got you covered.
Start With The Experts
Thinking of buying a brand new bike from your friendly neighborhood Marin shop? In that case, you're in luck - those heroes are your bike setup experts.
Your dealer should get your new bike all ready for you before you leave the store. They'll get your saddle height and angle dialed, they'll fine-tune your handlebar, set up your suspension and get your tires to the perfect pressure. You shouldn't need it but your Marin dealer can also swap out components such as grips, stems, saddles and pedals if you need a little more help finding the perfect fit, though this might cost you a little more to buy those new bits.
Remember though, your dealer can't always get it right the first time and your perfect fit may need a little bit of bike time to get right. Your perfect fit may also change depending on what you're riding, a short trip to the store may not be the same as a day in the mountains.
Adjust Your Bike's Seatpost and Seat Height
Let's start with some terms. Your 'seat' AKA 'saddle' is the bit your butt rests on, obviously. Your 'seatpost' is the vertical tube that connects your saddle to your frame. Your 'seat clamp' is a collar that wraps around your bike's frame and holds your seatpost tightly in place, it can be undone with a thumb-lever or a hex-bolt depending on the design.
Now, onto the basics. Your bike's seat (or saddle) can be adjusted up and down to fit your height. Putting your seat up makes your bike easier to pedal, but only up to a point. Lowering it down makes it easier to ride steeper terrain, but makes it harder to pedal. If you're having to run your seat very high or very low, you may have the wrong size frame.
Mountain bikers tend to move their saddle up and down throughout a ride whereas most other types of riders find the sweet spot and leave their seat in one position. Most bikes have a fixed seatpost that you have to adjust manually, though some bikes have a 'dropper post' which allows you to move your seatpost up and down using a lever on the handlebar.
Not sure how to adjust your bike's seat or saddle height? No worries, it's quick and easy.
First, you'll need to use a hex key to loosen the bolt on the seat clamp with holds your seatpost in place. Then, simply slide the seatpost up or down in the frame and re-tighten. For those of you with dropper posts, be aware that the post has a cable on the bottom that is routed through your frame to your handlebar, you may need to feed the cables through the frame and avoid them being damaged.
Asking yourself "how high should I have my bike seat?" Your seat (or saddle) should be high enough to let you unleash the full power of your legs, but not so high you lose stability.
Forget the advice you may have heard about being able to sit with both feet flat on the floor - most people will need to have their seat up a fraction higher than this to be able to pedal comfortably. Comfortably on your toes is about right, but there are no set-in-stone rules.
If your knees are grumbling after pedaling for any length of time, or if you find yourself standing up to pedal more than usual, your saddle probably needs raising a touch. If your hips rock from side to side as you pedal, your saddle is probably too high. Make adjustments in small steps until you feel like you're at maximum efficiency without overextending yourself. If you're riding off-road, don't be afraid to drop your seat height to ride more challenging terrain or steeper descents, you'll find it a lot easier!
Your saddle position and angle can also be adjusted, moved forwards and backwards and pivoted up and down by loosening off the bolts at the top of your seatpost. Again, you'll need a hex key for this one.
The main reason for sliding your bike seat forward or back is to find the perfect fit. Moving your seat backwards extends your arms and moves your butt away from your bars, giving the feeling of a larger bike when sat down. You can move your seat to fine-tune your setup, especially useful if you're between sizes and finding your bike a little long or short.
Moving your saddle forward also puts your weight further forward, and this can be a good thing or a bad thing. Having more of your weight over the front of the bike can help with off-road climbing and descending, but also puts more of your weight through your hands, and can make your bike feel cramped. However, it's a possible solution if you feel like your bike is slightly too long, or if you're struggling to ride up technical terrain.
Adjust Your Bike's Handlebar, Stem and Brake Levers
Time for some more terminology. Your 'handlebar' is the tube that you hold on to and steer, it can be straight or curly depending on the type of bike you ride. Your 'grips' are the soft, often rubber, components that your hands rest on and for drop-bar bikes you may have grip tape. Your 'stem' is the piece that connects your frame to your handlebar, pointing straight out in front of you. Your 'brake levers' are the bits you pull to make the bike stop. Simple right?
Now that we've got you sitting comfortably, let's have a proper look at how to set your bike's correct handlebar position.
First things first, your handlebar. This can be rolled forward to make your bike feel longer, or backwards to make it feel shorter. You can adjust your handlebar angle by carefully loosening the bolts on the front or your stem with a hex key, rotating the bar and re-tightening. Same as your seat - use your bar-roll to get that perfect fit. Rotating your bar backwards can also move your weight off your hands, helpful if you're struggling with sore hands. Rotating your bar forwards can put more weight on your hands and your front wheel, particularly helpful for off-road riders that are searching for more front wheel grip. Make sure that the stem bolts are properly torqued before riding.
And next, how to properly set up your brake lever position. Brakes are a pretty important bit of your bike and you want to be able to reach them in a hurry, but braking should also be comfortable on the hands and easy to control. It might sound counterintuitive, but if your bike has flat handlebars, try loosening off the clamp bolts and moving your brakes further away (inward) from your grips.
Modern disc brakes are designed to be used with just one or two fingers at the tip of the lever, and they work better this way, taking less force to activate and leaving more of your fingers available for holding the handlebar. Many models of brake also let you adjust the reach from bar to lever, so if you've got small hands, try winding them in a touch (you may need a small hex wrench for this). Your dealer or Google can show you how to do this for your make and model of brake.
The angle of your brake levers can also be adjusted to suit your preference. The standard advice is to angle them so they're broadly in line with your forearms. But if you're a mountain biker riding steeper trails, moving your brakes towards a more horizontal position can help with control and reduce fatigue, particularly the dreaded "arm pump" that comes with really long descents in proper mountains.
On a drop bar bike, altering the position of your brakes is a bit trickier as they're designed to be left in one place after installation. Pay your dealer a visit for some advice here, or dive into the YouTube rabbit hole.
And next, let's look at setting up your bike's proper stem position. Your stem is the bit that holds your handlebars to the rest of the bike, and often these have a slight upwards or downwards angle. Flipping your downwards-angled stem so it points up will give you a more upright, less stretched-out riding position, with less strain on your lower back. Look at the bikes in our Beyond Road range for example, and you'll see some with stems that rise to put you in a more comfortable position, at the expense of a tiny bit of aerodynamic efficiency.
You can also reshuffle stem spacers (the metal rings underneath your stem) to raise or lower the height of your handlebar. You might want to ask your local Marin dealer to help with this, as it needs to be done carefully to make sure that the bike is reassembled correctly and safely. You can even ask them to fit a shorter or longer stem, although this could also change your bike's handling, so again it's best to ask your local dealer before getting your hex wrenches out.
How To Set Your Bike's Tire Pressures.
Next up, the oldest debate in cycling, how much pressure should you run in your bike tires?
Tinkering with your tires can have a huge effect on how your bike rides, but not necessarily in the way you think.
Tire pressures are definitely down to personal preference, but more pressure doesn't always equal faster. On any uneven surface, even asphalt, a tire that can deform and absorb the buzz from the surface will roll better. That means more grip and more comfort.
On trail and enduro mountain bikes, tire pressures in the 20-30 psi range are becoming much more normal thanks to innovations like tubeless tires. You can run tubeless-specific tires at lower pressures, and combine them with inserts (basically a big foam hoop that sits inside your tire and stops it from getting damaged on rocky trails) for incredible grip and reliability on challenging trails.
There's a guide to setting your bike up tubeless here, thanks to Duncan:
For drop bar riding on gravel and mixed surfaces, bigger tires need less pressure and can add a surprising amount of comfort and grip. If you're finding your new bike uncomfortable, try releasing a bit of pressure and see what a difference it makes - chances are you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Asking yourself "what tires should I run on my bike?" Tire choice is also a personal thing with no right answer. There's a multitude of different tires out there, and all of them are somewhere on a spectrum of speed versus grip. Knobby tires with a more aggressive tread will give more traction on off-road surfaces, whereas tires with smaller, lower-profile tread patterns will roll faster on smoother surfaces and conserve the rider's pedaling power. Tire weight and strength are also a compromise, as a tire with a thicker casing will be stronger for off-road riding or puncture resistance, but also heavier. Finally, the terrain you ride in plays a role, as a tire that is well-suited to dusty and dry trails may not be the best in an area with damp and slick trails. Your Marin dealer can help guide you to the tire models that they find work best in local conditions.
All of Marin's bikes come with tires that suit their intended use, whether it's epic gravel rides or big mountain trails, but there's nothing to stop you from swapping them for something that fits your own purposes. It could be a set of light roadie rubber to turn your graveller into a super-commuter, or a semi-slick on the back of your trail bike for summer riding.
How To Set Up Your Bike's Suspension
Many of Marin's bikes come equipped with front and rear suspension, each of which needs to be set to match your weight, your riding style and your terrain.
If you're looking to set up your bike's front or rear suspension, we'd recommend starting with your local dealer. They'll have the experience and the tools required and the job of setting up your bike's suspension is often easier with two people. Your dealer should set up your suspension before your leave the store and should also be able to help with fine-tuning and set up of suspension on second-hand bikes as required.
To adjust your suspension at home, you'll need to understand what suspension your bike is equipped with and what adjustment is possible. Most of our bikes come with an 'air' shock which uses an air spring and allows you to use a shock pump to set how firm the suspension feels. You can also adjust rebound, which sets how quickly the suspension returns and you may have more complex options such as high-speed rebound and low-speed rebound.
We could write a whole article on suspension setup alone so, for now, let's keep things simple. Start with your dealer for your initial setup. For home adjustments, make a note of your suspension unit's make and model and then slide over to Google or YouTube to find a setup guide.
And That's A Wrap!
All of Marin's bikes have been designed and specced by riders just like you, who want you to have the best possible experience. But remember, it's your bike and you'll need to spend a little bit of time getting it right.
Start with your local Marin dealer, they can help with setting up your new and second-hand bike and should be able to get you 90% of the way to perfection on the shop floor.
From there, just enjoy getting to know your new bike and spend some time dialing it in to get it exactly how you want it for maximum good times.
Don't forget, you can find your nearest Marin dealer using our dealer locator.
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