Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bike Fit: A Case of Evolving Preferences?

Last weekend we finally picked up my Francesco Moser fixed gear roadbike from Harris Cyclery, where it sat most of the winter after getting its bottom bracket replaced. I haven't been on this bicycle since December, riding the slightly-too-big-for-me Bianchi instead. And now that the Moser is back, guess what? It feels small! I was warned that this would happen once I got used to a larger frame, but it's still hard to believe. How can I feel cramped on a bike that felt "perfect" last year?

In addition to having a shorter top tube than the Bianchi, the Moser is also set up with a shorter stem. The difference between the total distance from the seat post to the handlebars on the two bikes is 3cm - which seems like a small number, but feels quite otherwise, at least to me. The handlebars on the Moser are also set quite a bit lower, which I think contributes to the cramped sensation. Combined with the lower bottom bracket, I almost feel like an adult on a miniature pony when I mount the smaller bike after the larger one. Would a longer stem alone solve this, or have I "outgrown" the frame itself? At the moment, both my Bianchi (with a 55cm top tube and 8mm stem) and my Rivendell (with a 57.5cm top tube and 6mm stem) feel just right, but how can I trust that "just right" feeling when it keeps changing?

It is said that preferences in bike fit "evolve" over time. But does there eventually come a point when they stabilise?  How many times in your cycling history has your idea of comfortable bike fit changed?

57 comments:

  1. Get a longer stem for comfort. A good bike mechanic should know your riding preferences and adjust the fit accordingly.

    All my bikes are set up for the way I ride and every one is different in the way they fit their bicycle.

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  2. My bike mechanic is usually Co-Habitant+Me. Last year the short stem was pretty much necessary in order for me to feel comfortable on the bike. Now the same stem feels ridiculously short - which is sort of what I mean. The very notion of what feels comfortable changes.

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  3. Do the Bianchi and the Moser serve different purposes? If you find one fits more comfortably now, especially as you also have the Rivendell, I wonder if you still need the Moser for any reason? It's a lovely bike, but if you don't need it, I'd keep the ones that you feel better on.

    And yes, I think fit preferences change throughout our lives. Think of all the twenty year-old guys riding super-aggressive road bikes who then become fifty year-old guys riding upright vintage cruisers! More than that, it's just knowledge of the different "feels" of bicycles. You didn't know what a bigger bike felt like, so how could you prefer it?

    I would, in the end, take the Moser out on one more really long ride. See how it feels once you've been off the Bianchi for a while. I seem to recall that the Bianchi felt too big to you when you first started riding it. Give the Moser a few miles to see if you readjust. Then ask yourself if there's a reason you need three road bikes. Maybe there is, and that reason might just be that you love all three differently. But maybe you just don't need this one anymore (says the woman still eyeing every vintage Raleigh Sports that comes up on CL. And I already own a Raleigh Sports!).

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  4. The Moser is fixed gear, whereas the others aren't. I do feel that I "need" a fixed gear roadbike in addition to a geared one. I will be getting a bike later this summer that will hopefully replace both the Bianchi and the Moser, and in the end I will have only 2 roadbikes: the Rivendell for long distance, and a fixed/free single speed for shorter rides. I think two is the right number of roadbikes for me to end up with; the others are just experiments.

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  5. I have the same experience all the time
    with my three bikes, which are quite different in fit (and handling).

    I tend to ride one for long distances over many weeks and then change to another bike.
    Each time the "new" bike feels all wrong
    but then I get used to it, and by the time I change again it feels "right".

    All three are comfortable all day rides, day after day, so there is no one correct fit for me.

    John I

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  6. Another hot button topic...I'm going to guess 75+ comments.

    Fit changes according to your fitness. For instance after a winter of slower metabolism, general more sedentariness and larger belly one's stem is usually a cm or two higher. Once the core gets stabilized, back and legs get stronger, the lower you can go. Stretching and foam roller work can lower your bar as well. The length of the stem can also change based upon how low your bar is.

    Saddle setback, KOPS considerations (another very hot button topic), and saddle height can change a lot too. Injuries have forced adaptations for me.

    For me also the numbers don't so much stablize but are within a range.

    Fit also varies according to intended us. When I went to get a pro fit I brought in the bike I wanted to get fitted. So that's one subset, the individual bike. The questionnaire asked the intended purpose of the bike and divided it into three categories. So that's another subset. The point is the fitter knows there are different positions possible for riders depending on their goals.


    Your Moser, being fixed, vs. your road bikes may require different fits and your body will tell you if they don't work. I ride a single differently depending on whether it's on the fixed or free side.

    Fit is important, but then again I'm 5'11" and my wife is 5'4" and I've been comfortable on an 80 mile ride with 8k ft. climbing on her bike.

    The body is hugely adaptable. Unless it isn't.

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  7. PS If eventually you decide on a different roadbike in you search you might want to consider many custom builders build based upon an 11 or 12cm stem. From there, of course, you can extrapolate tt length to fit you since you know your numbers.

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  8. Ground Round Jim said...
    "Your Moser, being fixed, vs. your road bikes may require different fits"


    BTW, I haven't yet understood: Why is it that some say to go one size smaller on a fixed gear? Something about maneuverability, but I don't get it. Sounds more like track bikes & high bottom brackets to me, which would make it moot for a road-to-fixed conversion...

    As for the topic/ number of comments... What bicycle-related opinion is not a "hot topic"? FWIW I think the number of comments is random-ish and depends more on people's mood on a given day than on the topic.

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  9. I've found that after riding my 17" Pashley, when I get on the 21" mixte it feels too big for me; it probably is realistically as I'm 5'2" and I believe that 21" frames suit people 5'4" and above. It's a lovely ride but I've never been really confident on it no matter how I set it up - I think it's a geometry issue as well as a size issue. I've recently acquired a 17" ladies' frame which has bike bits attached to it, which I've nicknamed "Deathtrap" until I rebuild it from the ground up. While it's not rideable at the moment, just sitting on the saddle and feeling where everything is tells me the 17" frame will be more comfortable for me than the mixte.

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  10. If the moser was/is/ a track bike and is a fixed gear single speed, than it is meant to have the shorter geometry for short stints. You could either keep it as is for it's intended purpose or change the stem for more comfort. You were concerned about pedal strike as well, so perhaps it is too small?
    With the bianchi you stepped out of your comfort level a bit and realized it might be more your size than your other smaller frames. My bikes are all so different and sometimes have to adjust to the different shifters-downtube, bar end, generic handlebar and stem shifters. Have you had a proper fitting? I had a half-assed slacker 'fitting' and recommend going to someone who will do a thorough job.
    Good on you for getting out of your comfort zone, trying larger bikes and learning along the way.

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  11. I should've said Hot Button Dude Topic, a la Double Down. Bag reviews, not so much. Vagina Dialogues speak for themselves. Ahem. Certain posters can make a seemingly innocuous post hot. Ahem again.

    Pretty sure it applies to the mistaken idea that fixed = track, not fixed as road bike. When people say, "one size smaller" I know what they mean but it still confuses me. On a track bike the ST can be the same as a road bike but you'd generally want a shorter TT.

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  12. Carinthia - I imagine a 21" frame for a 5'2" person is challenging indeed. Good luck with the new bicycle!

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  13. To Ground Round Jim: I am sorry our vaginas is not interesting for you. Maybe this is not the right blog for you like the Moser could be the wrong bike for Velouria. This is my favourite blog, first thing I read when I log on. I respond if I think I have something useful to say (hint) or IF I HAVE THE TIME. Today I need to start looking into replacing the timer belt on my car, so normally I would not respond to the blog.
    badmother

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  14. I have noticed myself preferring larger frames now also. I noticed it after I got my Raliegh DL-1, it was a little too big for me. Now I built up my fixed-gear with a larger frame and it is more comfortable. I think it's the never ending process of learning our own bodies and capabilities.

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  15. V - I have had an experience very similar to yours. Years ago, I used to be of the mind that smaller frame sizes were better. In those days, I didn't care a bit if the saddle was significantly higher than the bars. When I bought my Hillborne several years ago, I told Riv I wanted the bars and saddle close to equal. The recommended 56cm - which I thought was much too big, but I excepted their suggestion. The frame does feel rather large, but I think some of that has to do with the sloping t-t and rather large head tube. In any event, the large size does indeed work out well. My only complaint is that not a lot of seat tube is exposed, so I have difficulty fitting some things that would normally go under the saddle.

    I recently thought I would give fixed gear a try and on the recommendation of the supplier, Wabi Cycles, took a 52CM frame. As expected, the bars are lower than the saddle. I find this frame feels cramped, but plan to ride it more to see if I get used to it. This bike has a level t-t. I don't have the measurements for the t-t handy. I do know that the Riv has a rather long t-t and the stem on that bike isn't short. However, even though I am quite stretched out, with the Albatross bars, it works.

    This doesn't answer your question because I cannot say for sure that the fixed gear is too cramped until I've spent more time in the saddle. It doesn't have fenders which in rainy Portland (especially this spring), there has been little opportunity to ride a fender-less bike.

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  16. Man is a soft machine. Meaning, he can adapt.

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  17. I find that if I like a bike I can usually find a way to be comfortable on it for at least some distance(within a reasonable size range of course). But if the bike doesn't appeal to me than I'm not going to try.

    I'm 6'2" and I bet I could get comfy enough on your Moser so that I would never want to let it go. Maybe I'd only be riding it downtown to get ice-cream once a month and screwing around doing trackstands in the basement but that would be enough to justify keeping that sexy thing around. Your Trek on the other hand, even if it was the right size I'd probably lose interest before it got just right. No sparks.

    But for an all around, spend all day in the saddle bike I am pretty picky and want everything just so. Just so also happens to change all the time on the same bike. I do keep "records"(numbered index marks lightly scribed into the stem and seatpost) and have a number of bars and stems to choose from even if the old Cinelli quill stems I like are a giant pita to change with modern integrated Campy brake/shift levers. If what felt great last December now feels cramped or stretched I'll change things around, I'll also move my saddle around a bit, sometimes a couple of times on the same ride. Then things settle down and I might not touch it again for a year. I used to ignore some of this because I KNEW the bike was set-up "correctly" and would just ride it even if there was some discomfort. Seems pretty dumb now. Even worse was that I was giving that kind of crap advice to the customers that came into the shops I worked at back then.
    Uh, sorry... Now I tell people to go ahead and change things a bit(only one thing at a time though, and keep some kind of record), if it doesn't feel right anymore it probably could be better.

    Spindizzy

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  18. I rode my old Trek for years without discomfort but a few years ago found I had to raise the handlebars 1 cm to eliminate sore wrists and a stiff neck. This happened after I had started using a commuter bike for routine trips on a regular basis. I used to tour on the Trek, but now use it just for fast rides of 20-30miles. Your muscles get trained differently.

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  19. I agree with Joni above, whenever I switch bikes, the "new" one feels weird for a couple of days, and then I adapt, and have to go through the adaptation again. I don't know if that would be the case if I switched every day. I tend to ride gilbert every day, and minerva either when gilbert is in the shop or on a Sunday Joyride.

    That said, I think that beginners are better off with a bike that if anything is a smidge too small, for comfort with dismounting in a hurry. As your confidence grows, you can handle a larger bike more easily.

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  20. Sometimes your fit preference might evolve and you'll need to change things around, but other times it's just a matter of riding the bike and getting used to it being a different bike than the other one you've gotten used to. I'd say don't change anything for a little while, just to see if it starts to feel comfortable again. It might not, but don't rush out to change it just yet.

    Getting just the right fit is always a challenge, and one I've struggled with quite a bit. In my case it's complicated by the difficulty of finding off-the-shelf and salvage parts suitable for my size (6'3" and a build that, even when I'm in my best shape, calls to mind "defensive line" rather than "peleton").

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  21. Ride it regularly for 2 to 4 weeks before you change anything. You will re-adapt to it.

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  22. I would ride it for a while, say a month, before deciding what to do. You might adapt and feel more comfortable. But if it still feels too small, just get a longer stem. 3 cm is quite enough difference to notice -- I find I am aware of as little as 1 cm.
    The human body is flexible and adjustable in many small ways that we aren't aware of. I think this is part of the reason people find such a wide range of bikes acceptable.
    I like the thrilling feeling of dominating a bike, when it feels small and light.

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  23. The more confident I get riding, the higher I want my seat. The power that I get from full extension of my legs has finally trumped being able to easily put my feet on the ground.

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  24. I've been regularly riding a bike in the city for six years, starting w a smallish mountain bike and moving on to European utility bikes for the last two years. My first one was just too small and I know now I like the absolute biggest frame I can comfortably ride, especially for riding in traffic.

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  25. I would add that what "feels best" at a given time is not always what "is best" in the long run. While I do agree that fit is a range and not a specific position, there is definitely such a thing as a poor fit. Muscle memory often tricks us into thinking that one position is most comfortable, when it is really the position that we have grown accustomed to. Changing positions takes time for your body to adapt to. This is likely what you are experiencing with the Bianchi/Moser switch. I'm not sure that evolution is the best term to use, because I consider evolution to be somewhat one-directional. I have a feeling that you could transition back and forth between the Moser and Bianchi with each changing season, and your perception of which fit best would swing back and forth.

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  26. Velouria,
    Bike fit will always be a hot topic. I guess everyone has different physiological needs/desires and will be putting bikes to different purposes. Heather said: "Have you had a proper fitting? I had a half-assed slacker 'fitting' and recommend going to someone who will do a thorough job".
    Good idea, but every fitter I have ever seen uses a race fit for the paradigm.
    When I was a racer (for me, that would be spelled "poseur") I rode bikes with a 56ish top tube, handlebars 8-10 cm. below the saddle and 130mm stems. Now my bikes all have 58 to 59 cm top tubes, shorter stems and handlebars level to 4 cm below the saddle. It couldn't possibly have anything to do with getting older! My two cents on bike fit for touring are here http://biketouringnews.com/bike-siz-read-this-first/ if shameless self-promotion is OK.

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  27. arevee - Do you have a Sam Hillborne or a different Rivendell? The Sam Hillborne is an unusual bike, in that the frames are "expanded" and the true size is considerably larger than the length of the seat tube suggests. My 52cm Hillborne is otherwise proportioned like a 56cm bike: a 57.5cm virtual top tube is very long!

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  28. Re "proper fittings" - Yes, I've had them. From several different professionals. And guess what? They all took the same measurements and came up with different conclusions... up to 4cm difference in frame size recommendations.

    So far, the "ride the biggest frame you can" philosophy seems to work best for me, but only the minority of the professionals I've consulted abide by that philosophy.

    In the end, I'm afraid it's all trial and error!

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  29. Just get a longer, slightly higher stem and be happy. You can always change it back if you change. I have two bikes, both fixed, with different geometries but nearly identical fits. They feel different, but both are comfortable.

    I've also happily ridden bikes from 58cm to 63cm seat tube. It's top tube length that is more important for fit and comfort. Seat posts are generally easy to adjust!

    Better a little too small than a little too big, but there is no "perfect" fit.

    I use a slightly lower, "racier" position now at 58 than I did twenty years ago, and ride farther. Also ride mostly in thick city traffic. But I may change stem or seat height or fore-and-aft position half a centimenter one way or the other every couple of years.

    It's all perfectly fine. Don't worry.

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  30. Yes I agree bike fit is a tricky and changing thing mostly because our bodies are always changing. I think you should go with what feels the best unless you are having an issue that is causing pain. At that point I think getting a pro-fit is a good idea. I would agree that you should probably ride the Moser for a bit to see if the feel changes after a few miles.
    Take it easy on Groundround,I wouldn't much care to read about the problems with male genitalia and bike saddles. I do think there are hot button topics,certainly the topic of helmets will get way more comments than panniers.

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  31. "...preferences in bike fit "evolve" over time." You bet they do! The body evolves so.... I think preference never stabilizes. Further, I have six bikes ranging from 56 cm to 62 cm that I ride regularly and enjoy riding them all. I can't decide which I really like better so I've concluded that they are all just different from one another not necessarily better or worse.

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  32. "In the end, I'm afraid it's all trial and error!" There - you've nailed it!

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  33. Please note I do not take a stand one way or another on vaginas and am, in fact, impressed with the thoroughness of the post on women's issues of the, uh, tropics.

    V had asked what isn't a hot button topic and I said vaginas were definitely a HBT. But really they aren't. They're a Hot topic, not a HBT.

    But because I'm writing in defense of my non-stance on vaginas it IS a HBT...

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  34. To tell the truth, I am not sure I would have written that post, were I not under the influence of NyQuil and other medicaments. In "real life" I can't even say "crotch" without laughing. Still, crotches are our friends, hot buttons or not.

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  35. That last line made me spew my coffee--do you know what you just wrote?

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  36. I am not surprised that you are finding the smaller bike less than perfect after getting on the bigger bike, but you are learning these things over time and you can't know what you don't know.

    I have not found that people's true position changes that much over time, but we all have a cognitive bias that overlays what we think "right" is. I know that very few, if any, of the readers of this blog are in a position or even have the interest in getting a positioning on the level that my custom bicycle design studio provides, so my comments may not be perceived as being appropriate. Nevertheless, I do not think it is trial and error, but I do feel that many sacred cows exist in fit land.

    What I have found is the following.

    1) The saddle should be as high as possible, but not too high, with a stable ankle implied.
    2) The saddle should be as nose down as possible without being too low.
    3) The saddle should be as far forward as possible, allowing glutes and quads to balance the load, the lumbar spine to be stable and the maximum power delivery still possible.
    4) The hoods and the drops should be equally comfortable and there should be no feeling of instability in the lumbar spine.
    5) Excessive weight should not be in the hands. The hands are for steering, not to hold ones-self up on the bike. That is what the lumbar spine is for.

    Most modern road bicycles are not capable of this position. Many vintage road bikes are. In performance land, I believe that Eddy Merckx had positioning down perfectly and his ability to win races and recover quickly to do so again was proof.

    Finally, people who want to ride comfortably and efficiently will learn much from the racers of Eddy's day. Modern racers have much different bodies and since they ride bikes given to them by sponsors, they will have little to offer the student of positioning.

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  37. Ground Round Jim said...
    "do you know what you just wrote?"


    No idea : ) That damned NyQuil again.

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  38. Kevin - Thanks for commenting, I appreciate your feedback.

    Couple of things...

    For me, points 3 and 5 almost always conflict. Normally, I find that I have to push the saddle back at least 1-2cm in order to take the weight off my hands on a bike with drop bars - which slackens the seat tube angle and makes the bike less aggressive. This has applied to every vintage bike I've tried as well, with the exception of the 1983 Bianchi racing bike. I believe I am maintaining the line of the seat tube on that one, and my hands feel fine. Is there a way to summarise what it is about a bike's frame construction that makes it possible vs impossible to achieve points 3 and 5 simultaneously?

    Also, re point 2 - I slide off the saddle if the nose points down. How is this usually prevented?

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  39. Peppy (the amazing basket-weaving cat)April 13, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    Glue?

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  40. I switch between several different bikes (one for rain, one for sun, one for winds above 8mph and finally one for days when Mars is in perfect alignment) and all of them seem to require a bit of time for my body to remember them and feel confident. They are all adjusted correctly for my body and size as well. For me it's the handlebar style. It takes a good mile or two under my belt to feel like I am not going to spontaneously dive into a curb or something (not that this has ever happened, but I wouldn't ask around to much because it would be embarrassing to my fragile ego).

    And just to state it. I really do love your site. Who knew I would start out my mornings reading about bicycles when I was just a little lad. Mother would be proud.

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  41. velcro?

    badmother.

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  42. I don't doubt that baseline fit preferences change over the (many)years if we assume the initial fits are "correct." I think, though that this be more a case of the mind/brain/body system adapting to what was presented to it for one year. Put another way, if you had both bikes and alternated between the two daily, your mind/brain/body would eventually figure out: "Okay, it's Monday and Monday is Moser day so we adapt accordingly; okay, it's Tuesday and Tuesday is Bianchi day so we adapt accordingly" and so on." It's not unthinkable given that humans adapt. Something for psychologists to study and philosophers to fret?

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  43. The difference between the total distance from the seat post to the handlebars on the two bikes is NOT 3cm - it's 30mm. :-0 Would you really notice a 1cm change? Oh yeah! Would you notice a 1mm change? I know I would. Would you notice a 1micron change? uh. prob'ly not. I'm suggesting that the appropriate unit is the mm. The difference between the two bikes is 30 noticeable changes. I'd say that's a lot.

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  44. Spindizzy - That's a good point, that for casual use the fit matters less. I take this bike on fairly strenuous 30 mile fixed gear rides though, which for me at least is not casual. I have it as my absolute goal by the end of this summer to cut down my number of personal roadbikes to 2, so we'll see. Either way, I will most likely keep the Moser's frame as a keepsake, while using the wheels and components on another bike.

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  45. Bike fit is always on my mind (just like Wiilie Nelson sang, or was it Elvis?). I've had professional bike fits and all my bikes are different sizes. Some days they all feel perfect. Other days, I wonder what I should tweak next, or if I should have gone with a larger frame size. But, fundmentally what it comes down to for me is if the fit is going to cause any injury (I would be devasted if I couldn't ride due to an injury). Whether it be an overuse injury due to the wrong fit, or a bike handling issue due to the bike frame being too large. So, as long as the comfort feels right and everything is tweaked perfectly so as to not cause injury, I'm good.

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  46. V - I have a Sam H. I was going to mention expanded geometry, but couldn't recall what it was called. I'm 5'8" and have average proportions.

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  47. All depends on personal preference, whether you're going for comfort or performance. After time a differently fitted bike feels normal just because you get used to riding that way. While you may be uncomfortable comparatively on one fit when you switch, your performance might be better and vice versa.

    Check out descriptions of actual fits: http://www.competitivecyclist.com/html/fit/traditions_of_road_riding.html

    For instance my fit using their very detailed and mathematical calculator with rough measurements:

    Your Measurements
    Gender M
    Inseam 86 cm
    Trunk 71 cm
    Forearm 37 cm
    Arm 61 cm
    Thigh 63.5 cm
    Lower Leg 55 cm
    Sternal Notch 148 cm
    Total Body Height 182.88 cm



    The Competitive Fit: 55.7 - 56.2
    The Eddy Fit: 56.9 - 57.4
    The French Fit: 58.6 - 59.1

    My fits come out to these ranges, so a 56, 57 or 59 sized frame. All depends on how I want to go about riding. Most bike shops fit to the competitive fit unless you're looking for a leisurely bike though. Each one has it's pros/cons. If you want to use the fit calculator:

    http://www.competitivecyclist.com/za/CCY?PAGE=FIT_CALCULATOR_INTRO&INTRO_LINK=NOREDIR

    Hope that helps someone.

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  48. My above post was in regard to

    [i]Velouria said...

    Re "proper fittings" - Yes, I've had them. From several different professionals. And guess what? They all took the same measurements and came up with different conclusions... up to 4cm difference in frame size recommendations.[/i]

    Probably depends upon what sort of ride they "thought" you wanted and/or different variations on them measuring you.

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  49. I think the Moser probably wouldn't suffer if it spent a few years being an ornament on the wall. I have a bright green 1971 Schwinn Paramount road frame(Reynolds 531, Campy dropouts/forkends and lots of chrome) in my studio that will eventually go back to working for a living, but for now I like to just stare at it once in a while.

    I understand about wanting to rationalize the fleet but I think there is value to having a "toy" around to just mess with that doesn't have to be particularly useful or sensible. When something interesting lands in ones lap, as things occasionally do, I think it's rude to send them on their way too soon. I don't think you have to provide a home to every stray bike that ends up on your doorstep but, only 2 skinnytire bikes? Really? Just 2? I still have several joists in my basement that don't have bikehooks screwed into them and an empty cupboard under the sink for when I finally find one of those ridiculous tiny bikes with the rollerblade wheels. What do you ride when you want to weave lighterfluid soaked dishrags in the rearspokes and go for a "cometride" ? (don't bother Googleing "cometride", I just made it up. But I really do have just the bike. (and rags and lighterfluid)).

    Spindizzy

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  50. In response to proper fitting, I really think there is a huge amount of room for subjective opinion (obviously). Personally, I've found most diamond frame road bikes to feel too big, even though they should technically fit. For some reason there is something psychological about having that top tube in the way that makes me feel like the bike doesn't fit.

    Although, that said, at 5'4", most road bikes ARE too big for me anyways, so perhaps it's not all in my head. And if the frame fits, the brake lever reach is too long, etc etc. ;)

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  51. yoga is a good metaphor here. everytime you go your head and body are in a different place. for me, change that to years and that has been my experience with bicycling. every year i get back outside on the bike, my head and body are in a different place. as i age i find this particularly true. what i may have not noticed in my 20's affects me accutely now at 40. though essentially our package stays the same and our bike fit may be constant for years, the human body and mind ARE ever changing, ever evolving and in my belief that affects everything, including our bicycling.

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  52. Hey Kevin Saunders
    "1) The saddle should be as high as possible, but not too high, with a stable ankle implied."
    What does that mean? A too high saddle can cause injury as quick as one that is too low.
    "2) The saddle should be as nose down as possible without being too low."
    Depends on the saddle
    "3) The saddle should be as far forward as possible, allowing glutes and quads to balance the load, the lumbar spine to be stable and the maximum power delivery still possible."
    Depends on the seat tube angle

    "Most modern road bicycles are not capable of this position. Many vintage road bikes are. In performance land, I believe that Eddy Merckx had positioning down perfectly and his ability to win races and recover quickly to do so again was proof."
    I don't think most people here live in performance land. And if they do, they still are not Eddy Merckx. What is "performance" anyway? What if I want to ride relatively slowly and all day in comfort? That's one definition of performance.

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  53. Riding bikes with varying fit keeps your body flexible. And your mind.
    Back in racing days it would happen that the bike flatted or broke and someone hands you a spare bike. Not your own spare but some spare. Those bikes never fit. Often enough they raced fine. Spend hours and hours obsessing over millimeters of fit, race day comes and you race and race well on something for someone 4 inches shorter. Happens.
    Someone mentioned Eddy Merckx. After "the" accident, and the displaced hip, Eddy carried hex keys in his jersey pocket. Changed position during races. Sometimes half a degree of saddle tilt, sometimes the saddle up or down 3 cm.

    If you try to make all your bikes fit the same you will never get there. Change them as often as you wish but ride them and enjoy them.

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  54. You are getting a Rivendell Simple One in that pretty green, aren't you?

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  55. Hello Velouria: "For me, points 3 and 5 almost always conflict. Normally, I find that I have to push the saddle back at least 1-2cm in order to take the weight off my hands on a bike with drop bars - which slackens the seat tube angle and makes the bike less aggressive."

    These appear to me to be precisely the main two criteria for determining optimum bike fit. In this respect, I find Kevin's pointers to be quite accurate. Your own problems (re points 3 & 5) suggest you might well be riding with too short an effective reach (TT + stem length). Slightly disagreeing with Bikehermit's suggestions, I would put forward that it is not a matter of telling people how they should ride their bike, or of competitive riding, but rather a matter of finding the optimum efficient pedal stroke for each particular bike type (in this case we are explicitly dealing with a roadbike).

    When experimenting or playing with overall reach, I would suggest that the stem should almost always be the main variable - and you should generally avoid any movement of the saddle back or forward. People move their saddle because it is so much easier. But that can tend to have a much more negative and significant impact on the pedalling efficiency of the bike. When it comes to my own classic roadbike, I find that pushing my saddle back any further than normal along the natural line of the ST, results in a less than optimum use of my weight during the pedal stroke. While the extended reach is not a significant problem, it does result in an over-tiring of my leg muscles, far more strain on my back and too much upper body movement. For me, a well-sized roadbike should position the saddle forward and closer to the natural line of the ST. If your overall reach (TT + stem length) and other variables are correctly accounted for, then that position should not result in an over-agressive feeling of too much weight on the hands. Rather, it should produce a natural balance between the three contact points. That should in turn produce the feeling of an almost weightless turning of the pedal stroke and a feeling that your balanced body weight is now pushing you forward along the road in a compact position with minimal upper body movement.

    Again, the same thing goes here for saddle height (which is what I feel Kevin was trying to get at in his first point). Once you have determined your optimum height for a powerful efficient pedal stroke, that should remain the same, independent of other sizing factors. You should not lower your saddle to shorten reach or solve issues concerning balance, etc.

    When a bike is built with a certain geometry for a certain purpose, it is not the case that all riding positions are equally efficient. Personal comfort is certainly the most important variable, but it should be kept in balance with the intention inscribed in the frame by the builder themselves - a joint project if you will.

    May the road rise to meet you (and congrats on getting on the interwebs top bike sites list!)

    E. in Ireland

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  56. I wanted to stay out of this because, in more than three decades of cycling, I think I've heard at least one theory of bike fitting for every slice of pizza consumed by a messenger. And I've heard as much dogma on the subject as messengers have inhaled smog.

    I think Sophisticated has voiced something very important. Remember to fit your bike to your proportions to the way you--and only you--ride. The fact that some racer one with a particular kind of fit doesn't make it right for you, or the way you ride.

    I'd say to talk with a few potential fitters and choose the one whose riding style and other personal preferences is closest to yours--or at least the person who seems to understand them best. It's helpful, but not imperative, for the fitter to be shaped something like you.

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