A bike fit is a necessary process that helps to ensure that your bike is the correct size and shape for your body. It also helps to ensure you can ride your bike comfortably and efficiently.
There are many different ways to get a bike fit, but the most important thing is to find a qualified professional who can help you achieve the perfect fit for your body and riding style.
This article will give you a better idea of what a bike fit process looks like.
Why you should get a bike fit
The primary reason cyclists consider a bike fit is if something doesn’t feel right.
A professional bike fit is like having a medical check-up, so be sure to share any pain or preexisting medical conditions you may have. While the bike fit may not be a panacea for your woes, you’ll be on your way to getting some answers.
- Chronic pain. Maybe you’re experiencing pain in your lower back or neck after an hour in the saddle. Your knees feel sore after a long day out, or you can’t seem to find a comfortable position on your saddle despite trying a few different models.
- Past injuries may play their part in any aches and pains you are experiencing.
- Recent new bike purchase. While it seems comfortable, it’s only after several hours in the saddle that you can determine if the bike is ideal or requires a few changes and adjustments here and there.
- Prior to purchasing a custom-built bike is a great idea and may prevent errors in the frame geometry.
A bike fit session will start with your current bike measurements so the fitter can point out any errors in your setup and make the corrections.
You’ll know exactly which stem length, handlebar width, saddle position, and saddle height before ordering your custom frame. You might save yourself some money and be helping your bike builder to do his job better. This equates to the best possible results for you.
An experienced bike salesperson should be able to help you choose the appropriate bicycle brand, model, and geometry based on your inseam measurement and the manufacturers’ guidelines.
If you’re keen to pursue a bike fit, the shop where you purchased your bike may provide this service already. If they don’t, they can put you in contact with a qualified professional near you.
Bike fit systems
There are several popular bike fit systems today. One is not better than the other. A lot will depend on the experience and interpretation of the bike fitter and less on the method.
You don’t have to be a racer or a professional athlete to reap the benefits of a professional bike fit. Consider it investment toward your health, joy, and performance on the bike.
These are essential questions to ask before scheduling an appointment.
- How many years of experience does the fitter have?
- Do they have any special fit certifications?
Here are some of the popular bike fit systems used.
- Retül. Uses 3D motion capture technology to measure every movement down to the degree and millimeter.
- Guru. Lauded as The most advanced fit system, Guru uses their dynamic fit jig and proprietary software to find your perfect bike and riding position.
- Precision Fit falls under the Trek umbrella. Emphasis is placed on the cyclist’s goals and preferences to yield the desired benefits and needs.
- Bike Fit. Owned and run by Shimano, it focuses on anatomical alignment to find your ideal position and comfort.
- Velogic uses high-tech motion capture analysis of a rider in motion, focusing on key metrics to interpret the relationship between rider physiology and bike geometry.
- Cyclefit by Steve Hogg. A process developed by cyclist Steve Hogg based on the idea of optimizing neural function over biometrics.
If an expert bike fit is out of your budget or interest for the moment, you can still do a DIY fit at home.
Bike fit process
The bike fit process will take at least two hours and can last up to four or five hours long, depending on the fitter and complexity involved.
Other than how you are physically positioned on the bike, it’s the fitter’s job to understand how your body moves while you’re on it. A bike fitter can determine if the bike is forcing you to move abnormally and inform you what you can do about it.
Here’s what a general bike fit process looks like.
- It usually starts with an extensive conversation with your fit expert about your riding style, experience, problems, aches and pains, and current and future goals.
- A brief physical examination should follow to check, for example, your leg length, flexibility, pedal and cleat setup, shoe size, and saddle width.
- Next, you’ll pedal on a bike-fit jig or your bike on an indoor trainer. The bike fitter will use rulers, fancy angle measuring devices, or 3D motion capture to analyze joint alignment, pedaling motion, knees, shoes/cleats, stem length, saddle height and position, and handlebar width and reach.
- Based on the measurement outputs, the bike fitter will use his judgment and adjust accordingly.
- You’ll repeat Steps 3 and 4 until the ideal fit is found.
Post bike fit
The bike fit isn’t completed once the appointment is over. Reputable bike fitters will schedule a follow-up appointment shortly after your initial meeting.
It’s a common practice to have a complimentary follow-up assessment with your bike fitter a few weeks after your first appointment. They will want to assess how you’re doing and feeling on the bike and investigate any pain or discomfort you’re experiencing.
Your body will require time to adapt to your new fit profile, especially if you’ve been riding in another position for years. Calling on your muscles to work differently than in the past will feel incredibly awkward at first. And you may experience muscle soreness and even new irritations on your road to the perfect fit.
Additional adjustments may be made based on your responses.