How to Choose a Bike

Enjoying a bike ride can depend a lot on the bike you are riding and how it fits. Before you rent a bike, check out these bike fitting guidelines to ensure your next pedal, whether you’re road biking in Scottsdale for a day or on a multi-day mountain biking trip in Arizona, is your most efficient and comfortable yet! If you’re in doubt or uneasy about getting your correct bike fit consult a professional mechanic at your local bike shop. When it comes to bike rentals in Phoenix and Scottsdale, we’ve got you covered.

1. Discover the Right Bike For You

Road Bikes Pavement, Bike Lanes
Mountain Bikes Dirt trails/singletrack, gravel roads
Casual/Comfort Bikes Around town, dedicated bike paths
Hybrid Bikes Pavement, flat dirt paths, around town

Hybrid Bikes and Casual/Comfort Bikes

If you’re looking to ride the paved paths of Scottsdale, check out these bike options.

Casual/comfort bikes have wide tires, comfortable seats, and a relaxed upright sitting position.

Hybrid bikes have a mix of features such as skinny, speedy wheels like a road bike, a comfortable seat like a casual/comfort bike, flat handlebars, and quick-turning capability like a mountain bike.

Both our casual/comfort bike and our hybrid touring/fitness bikes are great for exploring easy bike routes along the canal or down the Greenbelt at Indian Bend Wash. Hybrid bikes are better suited than the comfort bikes for covering more distance along paved paths, streets, and even flat dirt paths around the Valley.

Road Bikes

A road bike is the best bike option if you’re looking to put in long miles, train for an upcoming triathlon, or explore some of the Valley of the Sun’s best backroads and climbs. Road bikes function best on pavement, have very lightweight features, narrow wheels and tires, no suspension, and drop handlebars. We have both endurance geometry and race geometry options in our road bike selection.

Mountain Bikes

If you’re looking to experience the rugged beauty of the Sonoran Desert and get a bit of a thrill, choose a mountain bike! Mountain bikes are great for exploring the dirt trails of the desert, riding over rocks, bumps, ruts, roots, and any obstacles in your path – although there are many trails to choose from around Phoenix if you want to avoid obstacles entirely while riding Sonoran Desert singletrack. We have both front and full suspension bikes with a focus on trail style riding, cross-country, and all-mountain option. Our fleet changes frequently, but we sometimes even have plus sized tires and other unique features available.

Four Road cyclers
Three bikers on a trail
Mountain bike tour group on Arizona desert trail

2. Find the Right Bike Frame Size

First things first, start by figuring out your correct frame size and keep in mind a properly-sized road bike will differ from a properly-sized mountain bike. Standard bike sizes vary depending on the type of bike for example – road bikes are typically measured in centimeters, mountain bikes in inches. When standing over the frame of your bike with feet flat on the ground, a road bike will allow an inch or two clearance between the top of the frame and your crotch whereas a mountain bike should have more space –usually the width of your fingers stacked.

At our bike rental shop in north Scottsdale, we typically size our bike rentals based on the charts below.

Road Bike Size Chart

Bike Size Height
49cm 5’1″- 5’4″
50cm 5’2″- 5’5″
52cm 5’4″ – 5’7″
54cm 5’6″ – 5’9″
56cm 5’8″ – 6’
58cm 5’11” – 6’2″
60cm 6’2″ – 6’4″
62cm 6’3″ – 6’6″

Mountain Bike Size Chart

Bike Size Height
X-small 4’10” – 5’3″
Small 5’2″ – 5’6″
Medium 5’5” – 5’10”
Large 5’10” – 6’2”
X-large 6’1” – 6’6″

3. Bike Features Can Affect Fit

Seat Height

To maximize power transfer and cut down on fatigue, you want the bicycle seat placed at a height that allows your knee to have a slight bend in it at the bottom of your pedal stroke-basically enough bend so that it falls just shy of being fully extended. Bear in mind when adjusting your seat, the bottom of your stroke is when the crankarm is parallel to the seat tube, not perpendicular to the ground. Ever hit the stop signal at a crosswalk and find yourself having to quickly jump off your seat to avoid face-planting? Congratulations, your seat is at the correct height! A common misconception believed by riders, is that they should be able to plant their feet on the ground while still sitting on their seat. If you can do this it means your seat is actually too low for road biking in Phoenix.

Saddle Position

Your seat should be close to level or point down a couple of degrees to ensure the greatest amount of comfort and pedal efficiency. The point of having your saddle in the right position is to cut down on the amount of time (and wasted energy) you have to spend monitoring where you are on the seat. If you constantly feel like you are about to slip off your seat, there is too much forward tilt. Sliding backwards? You guessed it…too much backward angle. You can also move the seat forward or backward to comfortably center your weight on the bike.

Handlebar Reach

This adjustment depends largely on an individual’s flexibility and therefore can vary greatly. The goal is to ride comfortably without placing strain on your back, shoulders or wrists. Here are some general guidelines for both mountain and road bikes:

Road Bike

The top of the handlebars should be a bit lower than the top of the saddle, usually an inch or two. This allows for a more aerodynamic ride.

Mountain Bike

The handlebars will often be set even lower, sometimes three to four inches below the saddle, allowing a lower center of gravity and a more balanced body position. This re-distribution of weight comes in handy, particularly for mountain biking trips in Arizona, where riders often come out of their saddle to navigate bumpy trails.

More Details

Wheel Size

27.5in, 29ers, 24 in, 20 in,


Full, Front, None

Brake Types

Rim brakes, disc brakes, coaster brakes

Frame Materials

Aluminum, Steel, Carbon fiber

Handlebar Shape

Drop bar, flat bar, moustache bar

Following these basic guidelines will help on your way to your best bike fit. However, every person is different and needs to find the proper ride to make them most comfortable, seeking out a professional bike fit from professionals at your local bike shop will help you to become a better rider and make it easier to find what you’re looking for when you walk into our Arizona bike rental shop.


Come Ride with Us!

At REI Co-op Experiences, we are passionate about outdoor adventures, biking in the desert, and sharing our adventures through our bike rentals in Scottsdale and Phoenix. Whether you’re interested in a guided mountain biking trip in Arizona or are in need of ideas to get you out road biking in Phoenix, the staff at REI Co-op Experiences can help!

Learn more about our services and guided outdoor trips by calling 866-455-1601 or emailing us at