Conquer the Trail - How Do I Set Up My Bike Correctly?

Regardless of whether you already have your own bike or if you've just bought a new one, there are many ways to improve its performance and riding features. Read further to find the best tips for adjusting your bike properly.

When new to the sport, you very quickly find yourself in front of a wall of specific terms, bike slang and technical details. It may not be easy to remember everything at first.  However, there are some essentials to know. Additionally, it is a huge benefit if you are able to adjust your bike’s basic settings by yourself.

A saddle at the wrong height wastes a lot of energy, a stem that’s too long puts the load on the front of the body in sitting position and makes the bike more difficult to control. A handlebar that’s too low will make the bike unnecessarily nervous. Unlike a car, bike components such as the fork and shock should be set according to the rider. While a mountain bike can seem so simple at first glance, it becomes a really complex sports engine when it comes to settings. Each one of you should take the opportunity to have a perfectly adjusted bike from the beginning and be present while these settings are being done. Don’t forget that bikes need to be checked from time to time, even old ones!


The handlebar and the stem are the bike’s control center (cockpit), just like the steering wheel and the column are a cars control center. Begin moving the gear and brake levers inwards so that you can use the brake lever ideally with just one finger or a maximum of two. Once these are properly placed, turn the bar on its axis to find a comfortable position in which your wrists are as straight as possible.

The handlebar should more or less correspond to the width of your shoulders. Bikers with narrow shoulders can possibly shorten their handlebar, while those with wider shoulders should choose one accordingly.

Sitting Position

Professional bikers immediately notice every millimeter that their saddle was moved higher or lower, because they have their specific sitting position almost printed in their DNA. This demonstrates the importance of an optimal combination of height, position and gradient of the saddle. First of all, your seat post should have a quick release. As a result, you can easily lower your saddle before a descent. In addition to this technical detail and before going any further, you will have to adjust your saddle to the correct height. To do this, sit on your bike with your heel (in cycling shoes!) on the pedal placed at its lowest point, but aligned with the seat post (so slightly inclined). Your leg should not be completely tensed. You can mark your optimal saddle height with a line of permanent marker in order to quickly find your correct height after a descent.

The next step is to adjust the horizontal position of the saddle on the seat post. To do this, a second person is needed. Attach a weight to a string and make it hang from your tibial plateau (the bone just below the kneecap) while sitting on your bike. As a general rule, it is assumed that when the foot pedal is clicked in the horizontal position, the string should fall just behind or in line with the axis of the pedal. If the string does not fall correctly, then you have to move your saddle accordingly until the right position is found! A saddle that sits too far forward causes pain in the knees while a saddle that sits too far back overloads the calf muscles.

The gradient of the saddle is the final touch and plays an important role in the comfort of the bike. This setting allows shoving of pressure points while sitting. You can check the angle of your seat with a bubble level. If your saddle points too far down, you will slide forward and there will be too much pressure exerted on the bottom of your palms. On the other hand, if your saddle points too far up, it can cause uncomfortable pressure in the crotch. Some bikers ride with a slightly downwardly inclined seat, but normally it is better to have it perfectly horizontal for best allocation of your body weight.  Although in the end it is up to the individual to decide!

Fork Settings

Currently, the most used forks on the bike scene are produced by FOX and Rock Shox. Air and oil suspensions have replaced metal springs, which means that you can adjust the stiffness of the fork by adjusting the air pressure with a small pump and you can set the damping (compression and rebound) by rotating a knob.

On FOX forks, attach your shock pump to the valve placed on the left of the crown. Normally, you should pump the equivalent of your own weight in PSI (you will find this unit on all pumps). Sometimes, a little less is enough for a very comfortable setting. Rebound can be adjusted using the red knob under the right tube. When rotating it inwards, the rebound gets slower. From a  fully open position, turn the knob 1 to 3 times. This should suit most trails.

On Rock Shox forks, you will find a weight/air pressure chart printed on the tube - a small detail that facilitates settings. These forks have a negative chamber in the lower part of the tube and a positive chamber in the upper part which must be adjusted accordingly. The chart defines a scale of settings for each of them but in general, we just choose the smaller value. Just as for FOX, the rebound knob is underneath the right tube. Once these settings are done, there is not much left to adjust. From this point we use a Lockout system to completely block the fork when pedaling uphill on asphalt.

Shock Settings

Most air shock models are produced by FOX and are set in the same way as forks. You adjust stiffness with a shock pump and rebound with a knob (usually red, as on the forks). However, we barely find any recommendations about air pressure on the bikes. So you just have to try and get the right feel. From here on, you have to add an important new technical word to your bike vocabulary: sag. According to your rear triangle system, you will need a sag of between 20 and 30 percent of the piston length. To check this, shove the rubber O-ring to the very end of the shock shaft. Then, sit on your saddle and see how far the shock travels supporting only your body weight. The distance from the shock shaft to the edge of the rubber O-ring is the sag. However, for an accurate setting, it is better to get advice from your local dealer or from an expert. Do not forget that only an optimally adjusted fully will make for the most fun!

Same as with the fork, the rebound is set according to individual preferences. From a fully open position, 2-3 knob turns are usually enough. Caution: you must proceed in a systematic way! This means, you have to screw the knobs one after the other and not all at the same time. Eventually, you can do the following check: sit on your bike and ride down a sidewalk, still sitting on your saddle. Your shock should normally bounce one and a half times. If this is the case, then the setting is correct.

Some models have a shock Lockout or Platform system, which you can activate with a small lever. When flapping it down, the rear triangle either becomes completely stiff (Lockout) or resistant without being completely blocked (Platform). This setting is intended to facilitate uphill pedaling and avoid annoying seesaws. Currently, some manufacturers (eg. Rock Shox or SCOTT) enable you to block the shock with a small lever placed on the handlebar. The big advantage of this system is that you no longer need to remove your hand from the bars while riding.

To use these functions correctly and optimally, you should definitely spend some time trying different settings, learn to read the terrain in which you ride and develop a certain feeling to determine which setting you need. Practice makes perfect!


If you go on a bike tour with a big backpack, it is better to set your fork and shock accordingly (i.e. stiffer) or determine the sag once you’re all geared up.

Tire Pressure and Choice

There is no bike part that is less considered than tires. Yet, tires have the greatest influence on riding behavior, rolling resistance and safety. You can read the width of a tire– always measured in inches – on the tire’s edge. The narrower the tire, the less comfortable and more likely they are to puncture. Lightweight women obviously do not need 2.4 inch monsters, but there is nothing to say against a fair 2.25 inch pair. Note: tires under 2 inches should no longer be considered as mountain bike tires. With regards to the tire pressure, you should not go beyond 2 bars. Only bikers over 80 kilos need that much pressure, or even more. Men usually inflate their tires with more air pressure than required as this setting depends on their own body weight. The lighter you are, the lower your tire pressure should be. The minimum pressure recommended by the manufacturer is always written on the edge of the tire. Concerning tire choice, you should not only take into account a low rolling resistance but you should also pay attention to the transfer of braking forces on the ground. Your local store will give you best advice if you tell them where you intend to ride.

For or Against Weight Tuning?

You probably think that tuning is a guy’s thing, a world apart for real bike freaks. Well, let me tell you that for women, weight tuning makes the most sense. Light rider, light bike. The load that a lightweight rider transfers on her bike and its components is much lower than that exerted by a hefty man. What does this mean in practice? You can push many of your bike components to their weight limits: light tubes, rims with less spokes, fine carcass tires, an ultra-light cockpit and carbon parts everywhere.

Tip: Fear Not Carbon

Lately, carbon fiber has been popping up everywhere. More and more often being used as a building material for frames, you can also find it for handlebars, stems and seat posts. Carbon is light and stiff at the same time, and it has proven its stability in many large-scale tests - provided that the parts have been properly manufactured. In practice, carbon shows a small disadvantage during transport. One shouldn’t transport a carbon bike on a classic bike-rack as the bike tubes do not really appreciate being tightened. Therefore, we recommend to transport your bike in the car rather than on the roof.

Now you just have to enjoy your new perfectly set bike!

Karen Eller

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Conquer the Trail - Right preparation for the season

"Less is sometimes more"

If you want to be fit for the bike in spring, you have to lay the foundation in winter. This philosophy holds true for us girls as well as for the men. It is scientifically proven that women, unfortunately, put on weight more quickly due to their higher body fat percentage. In addition, our metabolism also requires longer to reorganize again in the spring. That means we have to pay more attention in the winter months to our nutrition, so that we don’t have to pay for each cookie at the start of the season.

A training plan brings structure to our sports program, and helps us achieve more efficient training effects on the body. A good exercise plan can be tailored from a sports medicine institute. It is based on a performance test, but should also consider the psychology of the individual. Because women are more emotional than men, a good plan should not exert a blunt training constraint, but should keep us entertained with diverse methods.

Nevertheless, time and structured training content is important. The premise is not to train every day, but rather to respect the principles of a training load and rest days. You don’t have to torture yourself outside in the worst weather conditions in order to drill your basic units to follow your plan. It’s better to advance a rest day due to the fact that motivation is the basis for reasonable training. A relaxing sauna or a yoga class is a benefit for the muscles and can cause more than a forced workout when body and mind are reluctant. 

Above every workout plan is always your own body’s state. If you feel tired and worn out, you should allow yourself a break. Additionally, the sport you train with for basic endurance plays a minor role. I personally really like the winter months, since I can focus on other sports. This can also compensate muscular imbalances, as muscle groups get trained that are otherwise normally neglected. The most important thing in training is that it should be fun! Therefore you can subordinate to this goal a lot. If you stick to the general guidelines of your plan and allow for some flexibility, you’ll train more effectively and start the season in a more motivated fashion. 

Biking, jogging, cross-country skiing, ski touring or trail running - sometimes it’s simply the weather or the conditions that decide the specific activity.

Ski touring for example is a perfect strength and endurance training for a biker. Together with a friend you can turn your coffee party into a nice afternoon with sunshine and powder. When ski touring, similar muscles get strengthened as when biking and the fresh air is perfect for the soul. Also skating or classic cross country skiing are good alternatives to biking. Back, shoulder and arm muscles get trained and as a positive side effect your body burns a lot more calories.

Trail running is a good compensation too, as it as a basic endurance activity. On hill climbs, thigh and gluteal muscles are required and if you‘re prone to knee problems, just take the gondola down. This also helps avoid the uncomfortable soreness in the calves. If you don’t have mountains right out your doorstep, just go jogging or Nordic walking. Neither requires a huge amount of effort and are very effective.

So let's go girls, the bike season is starting soon!

Karen Eller

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Conquer the Trail - What Equipment Do I Really Need?

Leap sunglasses


If you have just entered the bike scene, you are probably starting from zero. You will soon stand in your local bike shop in front of shelves filled with accessories and equipment. When this happens, try to slow down your spending spree and to focus on the essentials. The basic equipment should not break your bank. Of course, later you will need a bike jacket, longer pants and a rain outfit. Luckily enough, the fun you are capable of having on the bike increases with your experience and not with the price of your equipment. Below you will learn about the most important items in terms of basic equipment. Later, you will be able to add many pieces to the basic necessities: an suitable backpack, wind and weather-resistant tops, tools and a pump, and so on. There is a large list of practical accessories at your disposal.


Keep your Gucci shades for your City trips. A good pair of athletic sunglasses should sit as closely as possible to your face in order to protect your eyes from the wind during the ride. Anyone who has seen injuries resulting from unseen objects or due to cheap materials will attest to the importance of selecting a good pair of sunglasses. We recommend unbreakable glasses with polycarbonate lenses and an anti-fog coating.

Leap sunglasses

SCOTT Leap Sunglasses

The new multi-functional sport shield of choice that fits your face like a glove. SCOTT Leap redefines the standards of comfort and performance, guaranteeing an unobstructed field of vision and the highest quality of materials.


We strongly recommend longfinger gloves. They offer the best grip and do a better job of protecting your hands while riding or in case of a fall. Sweaty hands easily slip from the handlebars, so it is better to have them covered. A gel pad under the lower part of your palm will also prevent numb hands.

SCOTT W's Contessa Pro LF Glove

Gloves Contessa Pro LF


A stiff Carbon sole will make sense only for competition-oriented riders. In all other cases, it is better to go for a comfortable model, even if it is slightly heavier than the expensive race shoe. Women’s specific cuts are really recommended, especially for women with narrow feet. The cleat is the connection to the clip-pedal and should be incorporated into the sole. Normally, there is also a solid cap to protect your toes. Therefore jogging shoes with extremely flexible soles are an absolutely no-go for biking. Remember to never buy shoes that are too tight, or that have a slippery sole.

ATR Lady Comp

SCOTT A.T.R. Lady Shoe

The SCOTT A.T.R Lady is the perfect shoe for your mountain riding adventures that has been adapted for a woman’s needs. It was made for overall durability to get you through anything while still light enough to help you when riding up. Also, the grippy sole provides extra traction when crossing rivers or hiking through sections that can’t be ridden. The BOA lacing system with a single strap provides a comfortable, performance fit, which is adapted to fit the natural female foot shape and the high class Vibram rubber outsole keeps you comfortable when off the bike.


Women’s specific cuts make sense especially for jerseys and bottoms. You definitely have to try the shorts or pants on before you buy them. Discomfort while sitting on your bike generally has nothing to do with your saddle. If the shorts tweak, makes pleats or just does not fit properly, you should look for another model. Avoid seams on the padding and keep in mind that the thickness of the padding says nothing about the comfort. A good padding is the icing on the cake of a bike short. Finally, the fewer the layers, the fewer the problems: so we advise to not wear panties under your riding shorts.

Shorts Sumita ls/fit 

Shorts W's SCOTT Sumita ls/fit

Your new favorite mountain bike shorts. Equipped with a non-fixed inner short with SCOTT’s ++ sport padding, the outside short has a great lifestyle look in a functional fabric that allows freedom of movement on all your favorite trails.


Here, breathability is a priority. A zipper will provide maximum ventilation, especially during long climbs. Prefer a tight fitting cut so that your shirt doesn’t flutter. In addition, you should protect the stomach and kidneys from the cold and the wind while riding. Pockets on the back or on the side are perfect.Shirt Sky Graphic s/sl 


Shirt W's SCOTT Sky Graphic s/sl

A soft and breathable short sleeve shirt great for all your mountain rides. With a center front zip for ventilation and 3 back pockets for storage this shirt can do it all, including make you look like a feminine powerhouse.


HelmetHelmet Groove II Contessa

A helmet only helps if it fits really well, is well ventilated and of course you if you like it. Try the helmet to be sure that the fit is right. Its size is defined by the size of your head. Don’t forget to look for the CE label.

SCOTT Groove II Contessa Helmet

The 260g Groove II is our all-round mountain bike helmet. This full in-molded helmet provides a great fit via our easy to use V-R.A.S fit system and removable visor shelters your face from the bright summer sun.


Backpack and hydration system

Contessa_Kathrin Schön

You should have a small backpack for your longer tours. Again, you should try the backpack on (if possible, while loaded) in the shop before you buy it. Having comfortable straps and a comfortable hip-belt, as well as a ventilation system at the back are the most important points. Whether you prefer a backpack with a hydration system is a matter of taste. Some would rather put a bottle in the bottle holder, others prefer to have the additional weight of the liquid directly integrated into the backpack (hydro pack).

Backpack Airstrike Light Contessa 

SCOTT AirStrike Light Contessa Backpack

The Airstrike Light Contessa is a women’s specific, compact pack with an integrated mesh-back system to guarantee optimal back ventilation while further featuring ergonomically formed straps, helmet carrier clip, and rain cover. It also addresses your hydration needs with a built in reservoir compartment and drink tube attachments on the shoulders.


Karen Eller

Karen Eller

Source :

Conquer the Trail - How to choose the right bike

Contessa Bike Tips by Karen Eller
Welcome to the SCOTT Contessa World for female mountain bikers. During the past decade, mountain biking has evolved to become a very popular sport. Although there are many learning techniques that exist, these are sometimes hard to understand and not always well adapted. So all season long, we will show you everything you have to know about bikes, riding technique, equipment, training and nutrition.

How to choose the right bike
Since their invention in the ’70’s, mountain bikes have changed a lot, going from robust multi-functional bikes to high-tech sport machines. The suspension technology in particular has opened the door to a new dimension of riding, comfort and fun. Nowadays, there are so many different bike types for so many different uses. Fabricants and special interest magazines usually divide mountain bikes into the following categories: Cross Country, Marathon, All Mountain, Enduro and Freeride. As of recent, you can find women specific bikes with adapted geometries, parts and suspensions for each of these categories.

Who am I and what do I need?
If you are already an active mountain biker, you will be able to define your profile quite easily. If you are a beginner, then you should first think about what you are expecting from your bike and what brings you the most fun. Here are some features that can help you evaluate yourself.

A: Racer
You like performance and light weight. You want to ride fast and you like competition. More than 100mm of travel is secondary for you.

You need a Contessa Scale 900 RC or a Contessa Spark 900 RC from the Cross Country/Marathon category.


          The HMF carbon fiber Contessa Scale 900 RC is a XC race
          machine. Built with high quality components and women's
          specific saddle, this is a fully capable racer.

The Contessa Spark 900 RC is a full suspension HMF carbon
fiber bike with high quality drivetrain and brakes that is the 
perfect partner for marathons, stage races, and all day fun.

Tip: hardtail (Scale) or full suspension (Spark)?
Because of its front and back suspension, a full suspension bike, or “Fully” is normally about 1 kg heavier than a comparable hardtail which only has a front suspension system. However, the comfort of a Fully will allow you to save strength, will give you more confidence and will bring you much more fun. In most cases, mountain bikers (particularly women) are better off with a Fully. Nevertheless, if you are planning to race Cross Country or if you have a small budget, you should go for a hardtail.

B: All Mountain Tour Biker
You want to ride fast but with comfort. Above all, you want to be able to ride anywhere. You like riding downhill, especially on technical trails.

You need a Contessa Genius 700 from the All Mountain category.

               The Contessa Genius 700 is built around the emerging
               27.5" (650b) wheel size that offers more traction and better roll
               over objects. The bike is equipped with the finest components
               and women's specific touch points to provide one of the
               lightest, most reliable 150 mm travel trail bikes available. 

C All Mountain enduro biker
Downhill for you is the icing on the cake, along with rough terrain. You don’t mind riding uphill and you take it rather easy, but when it comes to downhill, no more courtesies!

You need a Genius LT 20 from the All Mountain/Enduro category.

The HMF carbon fiber Genius LT 20 with mid to high level com-
ponents gives you 185 mm of adjustable travel to pedal efficiently
uphill before you shred back downhill.

D Freerider
You know bikparks by heart. Downhill, adrenaline, jumps, drops and banked turns are your best friends.

You need a Voltage FR 10 or even a Gambler 20 from the Freeride category.

               With the Voltage FR 10's adjustable suspension linkage
               and Interchangable Dropout System (IDS), you can set the bike
               up however you like. Whether it's the bike park or your local
               stash, ride it your way. 

The Gambler 20 uses the same World Cup proven frame
as the 10, but is outfitted with lower cost components. It features
lower and slacker geometry, a longer shock and tuned leverage
ratio. Ride like a pro, at a better price. 

When choosing a mountain bike, geometry and intended use are crucial elements. The alchemy between the rider and her bike should be perfect. Think about what you exactly want to achieve with your bike. Clearly, a bike to ride on flat Sunday tours will look completely different than the one you would ride on your next bike trip to Lake Garda. And if you are planning a marathon, your ideal bike will once again be totally different.

Have you yet decided how you want to use your mountain bike and defined what your biker profile is? Then ask yourself the next question: Where is the best place to buy my new mountain bike?

Where do I get my bike?
If you already know what type of bike you are looking for, you can go to your local SCOTT dealer to get more detailed advice. In order to determine the correct frame size, you have to know at least your height and inside leg length. Your weight will also be important when defining what suspension you need.

Choosing the right frame size is the first and most important stage of buying a bike. The size is measured in inches, centimeters or simply translated in Small/Medium/Large. You can refer yourself to the size chart.
But don’t buy a bike without testing it before. Maybe your local bike shop has your dream mountain bike ready to test. You can also test bikes at bike festivals or at Contessa events. Check the events calendar on or on

What will I get for my money?
The more athletic your ambitions are, the more money you will have to invest. A more expensive bike is also often lighter and easier to ride, so it brings you more fun. Of course, there is no upper limit, but the most expensive one is not necessarily the best one. You will find a good quality/price ratio in the middle of the price scale.

At this point, you should know everything that you need to find THE mountain bike that fits YOU. Have a look on SCOTT’s website to get a better idea!

I wish you lots of fun on your new bike!

Karen Eller

HMX - NET carbon

HMX - NET carbon: Scott is one of those brands that manufactures as many catchy names as it does products. (Something to do with companies starting with ‘S’?) HMX refers to a special high-modulus carbon with a custom resin system that Scott uses to reinforce key areas of the LT 10’s front section. The NET part (Naked External Tube) reminds us that Scott was among the first carbon fiber bike makers to abandon the cute looking woven cosmetic outer layer and to leave the frame’s unidirectional carbon construction exposed – a strategy that saves weight and remains honest to the material. HMX material is said to be 20-percent stiffer, and thus adds rigidity and can reduce weight in the areas where it is employed.

One-piece molded front section: There are many strategies used to make carbon parts, the best method to make a strong hollow shape, like a front triangle, is to lay up the many layers of carbon material and the various bearing and shock mounts into one complete piece and then use internal pressure, evenly distributed, to compress the carbon within the mold as the part is heated to set the resin. A one-time cure produces the strongest bond between the carbon layers. This is the method used to produce the best of the best carbon frames, including the Genius LT 10.

pic 4

The LT 10’s composite front section is intelligently designed to optimize the material’s unique properties, which explains why it doesn’t look like a slightly sculpted rendition of a generic welded-aluminum-tube frame. Its tri-oval top and down tubes bear a hint of convention, but its tapered head tube area, its massively oversized seat tube and the rear-set bottom bracket are voluminous monocoque constructions integrated into the design to double as suspension pick up points and to encircle its three-chambered pull-shock.

All-mountain frame features: Scott took advantage of Shimano’s PressFit bottom bracket system to boost strength and stiffness by widening the bottom bracket/seat tube as far as possible. An ISCG chain guide mount is built into the left side of the monocoque and Scott attaches a red-anodized inner guide plate to keep the chain in control and to protect the carbon from injury should the chain be forced off the inside sprocket. In the rear, the post-mount brake caliper boss is tucked inside the frame to keep the caliper out of harm’s way. A Scott and Trek exclusive for 2012 is an internal hose routing for its RockShox Reverb seat post remote-control. Scott also attaches its direct-mount front derailleur to the swingarm instead of the seat tube so the derailleur cage tracks the chain perfectly as the rear suspension compresses through its full travel. Finally, the Genius LT 10’s seat tube mast is angled back to lengthen the cockpit as the post is raised in order to accommodate taller riders and to move the rider forward in a more downhill position when the saddle is slammed low.