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Old 08-28-08, 05:25 PM   #1
lighthorse
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Fitting your bike

It is amazing to me to read all of the posts concerning how to fit your bike. I found on the internet three or four completely different methods to measure and fit your bike. If you have access to more than one LBS you will likely have access to more than one fitting method. I just can't look at this process as a scientific process with a single solution for all.

I have four different bikes. Each fits me completely differently. My Trek 1500 puts me upright with most of my weight being transferred to the bike through my sit bones. My Scattante puts me in a very low position and my weight is transferred almost equally through feet, hands, and sit bones. The other two bikes are somewhere in between the Trek and Scattante. I don't consider any of my four solutions perfect nor do I find any of them a bad fit. They are just different.

So when members here ask about fit I just shake my head and move on. It is too hard to describe, and too personal a decision to impose my considerations on someone else. Guess I feel that it just depends.

Does anyone actually have multiple bikes of different design that have the same exact fit for them?
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Old 08-28-08, 06:58 PM   #2
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I only have one bike, but if I had more, I guarantee you that they would all be setup the same if I actually rode them all.
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Old 08-28-08, 08:21 PM   #3
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"I only have one bike, but if I had more, I guarantee you that they would all be setup the same if I actually rode them all."

Longfemur, you realize of course that the only way to test your theory is to go buy a few more bikes and test, test, test!
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Old 08-28-08, 09:31 PM   #4
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My bikes have different purposes and they each fit me differently. But they all fit me.
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Old 08-28-08, 09:37 PM   #5
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My bikes have different purposes and they each fit me differently. But they all fit me.
+1

I was just looking at my bikes the other day and wondered how I ended up with 4 different frame sizes & shapes on 4 different bikes. One has sloping top tube. Others are horizontal. Three long wheelbase, one short wheelbase. One is probably a bit "too big"; it has so little seat post showing that I can barely clamp it in a mechanic's stand. Another is likely just a bit "too small." Pretty different top-tube lengths as well.

So -- I got out a tape measure and started measuring.

Turns out that I have set up all 4 so the distance from the top of saddle to the pedals is identical. Also, the size of the cockpit (saddle to front of handlebars) is identical on each as well. All fit me well, and all 4 are comfy...I have ridden all 4 at distances over 40 miles at a time and two over 80 miles and one over 100 miles.
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Old 08-29-08, 04:44 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by lighthorse View Post
Does anyone actually have multiple bikes of different design that have the same exact fit for them?
I agree with you that there is no one right answer or fit method. That can be nothing but obvious if you just compare the various recommendations. Rivendell fits people on bikes three sizes larger than I would choose. Their customers are apparently comfortable and happy and so am I.

But in answer to your question... I can say "yes, sort of". I have some bikes that are completely different, but of the bikes that I actually ride much they are pretty close. My road bike and touring bike were almost exactly alike. This was because when I set up the touring bike I got out the yardstick and just matched my road bike. This has worked out very well for me and I have been quite comfortable on the touring bike with a fit that mimicked my road bike.

I had an accident in June and wrecked my road bike. The replacement (now a week old) is now set up similar but a bit more aggressive so the match is now less perfect. It is basically the same except the bars are a bit lower. I may actually drop the bars on the touring bike to match it, but I haven't decided yet (and probably won't until I have a few thousand miles on the new bike).

That said... My folding bike is completely different with an upright posture. I am not crazy about it, but it is fine for the short rides I do on it and truth be told I hardly ever ride it anyway.
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Old 08-29-08, 05:53 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by lighthorse View Post
<snip> I just can't look at this process as a scientific process with a single solution for all.

I have four different bikes. Each fits me completely differently. <snip>

Does anyone actually have multiple bikes of different design that have the same exact fit for them?
There's more than just a difference in the bikes, or fitting systems. There's a difference in the way people are proportioned, and a difference in how and why they ride.

Think about it, if a single TdF rider has a different fit (and a different frame) depending on whether the stage is a time trial or a mountainous climb, why should different people (with different riding styles and levels of fitness) expect any one fitting system to work perfectly for all of them all the time?

Any fitting system is at best an approximation of the ideal fit for a given rider and bike, at a given point in time. The best try to approximate the actual conditions under which the bike wil be ridden. Even there, it takes an experienced eye (or for the rider who mkes his/her own adjustments, just experience) to see where adjustments need to be made.

KOPS, the 109% rule, hiding the front hub, are all rules of thumb that yield pretty good results most of the time for most people, and they cost nothing, and they're easy to implement, which makes them popular. Used as a starting point (a first approximation, if you will), they're pretty good.

My bikes start out with one fit in the spring (where my body has adapted to my favored winter sports), and progressing through stages to a different fit in the fall (where my body has adapted to bike riding), and my commuter bike has a different fit from my "roadie". After a few years on them both, I pretty much know where to put things and when, but as I get older, I figure those settings will change.

Last edited by Kotts; 08-29-08 at 05:54 AM. Reason: Typo
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Old 08-29-08, 06:03 AM   #8
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My bikes start out with one fit in the spring (where my body has adapted to my favored winter sports), and progressing through stages to a different fit in the fall (where my body has adapted to bike riding),

This is another often overlooked aspect of fit. What is a good fit at the beginning of the riding season will probably change as you do during the season.

No fit is a constant. It is only important to have a starting point from which the fit will adapt and change as circumstances warrent. Many riders never change their fit, instead they adapt their riding style to the bike.
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Old 08-29-08, 06:25 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by lighthorse View Post
It is amazing to me to read all of the posts concerning how to fit your bike. I found on the internet three or four completely different methods to measure and fit your bike. If you have access to more than one LBS you will likely have access to more than one fitting method. I just can't look at this process as a scientific process with a single solution for all.

I have four different bikes. Each fits me completely differently. My Trek 1500 puts me upright with most of my weight being transferred to the bike through my sit bones. My Scattante puts me in a very low position and my weight is transferred almost equally through feet, hands, and sit bones. The other two bikes are somewhere in between the Trek and Scattante. I don't consider any of my four solutions perfect nor do I find any of them a bad fit. They are just different.

So when members here ask about fit I just shake my head and move on. It is too hard to describe, and too personal a decision to impose my considerations on someone else. Guess I feel that it just depends.

Does anyone actually have multiple bikes of different design that have the same exact fit for them?
There is some consistency in saddle height and leveling, but not in fore-aft position. Plus the concepts have evolved over time. In early days people told us to put the arch of your foot with sneakers on the pedal, pedal at bottom full extension, and that your knee should just lock without pushing your heel down. Then LeMonde and Hinault (among others) disseminated the idea that the saddle to pedal axis should 1.09 times your inseam, measured in a specified way. Latest is for your knee angle from locked position to be between 25 to 30 degrees with the foot at bottom full extension. For me the second two methods work pretty will to find the starting point, then I do fine adjustments to taste from there.

Handlebars/stem/levers are rather open-ended.

I got fitted on my Mondonico last October, and it has been a good model for fit for my other three road bikes, a Trek, a Woodrup and a Masi. But I've now modified the Trek to have longer reach as a (successful) experiment, and the Mondo to carry Campy Ergo levers and shift system, so my use of the hoods is different. I'm still experimenting with what's best for this new setup. But the saddle height is not changing much. Right now the Mondo feels like I'm pushing too hard at stroke bottom, so I need to raise the saddle by maybe two millimeters. I know if I go up by 5 mm I'll have chafing and excess sit-bone pressure. The Woodrup remains a sweet place to pedal, and the Masi is just too small for me, but such a smooth supple ride!

So my response is a definite maybe, overall!

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Old 08-29-08, 07:18 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by lighthorse View Post
Does anyone actually have multiple bikes of different design that have the same exact fit for them?
Well, yes and no. Three of my road bikes have different geometry. Yet, the fore/aft position of the saddle is set to create the same reach on all three. The length from the top of the seat to the center of the pedal axle is the same. The handle bar height from the ground to the top of the bars is the same. If you line them up side by side you can see that the way the cockpit is set up is virtually the same on all of them. Yet the wheel base varies, the head tube and seat tube angles vary slightly. With one I have considerable toe overlap on the front wheel; the second has very slight overlap, and the third, no overlap. Interestingly enough the bottom bracket height on all three is the same.

My theory is that if I've been lucky enough to find a comfortable position, I try to duplicate it on my other bikes. With the exception of my touring bike and mountain bike, this seems to have worked. I think the key to a good fit is a balance between comfort and performance with comfort taking a slight priority as I continue to age. (Psychologically, I'm not comfortable if my performance suffers too much).

I also believe in the balance theory of fore and aft seat positioning. I want to be back far enough the when on the hoods, I could remove my hands and still hold the position. This seems to give me the right balance and performance. It also seems to take the pressure off the hands and arms by really keeping my weight balanced between the three contact points (feet, seat and hands). I tend to use the knee over pedal axle theory only if I find my knee too far in front of the pedal, which tends to cause knee pain for me. In these instances, I believe the bike's top tube is too short and look for a larger size.
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Old 08-29-08, 07:41 AM   #11
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Doesn't matter which bike for saddle fit- they are all the same. Height and fore and aft position in relationship to the pedals is the same. On the 3 road bikes- I have two different crank lengths- but that saddle position is still the same.

Then there is reach to the bars. The road bikes from the sit part of the saddle to the centre of the bars are all within 5 mm of each other. Different top tube lengths- but different length stems to accomodate them

But Bar height-- Vastly different. The OCR and the bars are level with the saddle. The TCR and bars are 2" below the saddle and Boreas is 3" difference. I do not feel any difference between the TCR and Boreas other than after about 60 miles and I find that Boreas may require me to start riding on the top of the bars a bit more to ease the backache. I rarely ride the OCR as I keep that as a loaner bike but to me that bike is not as good a ride as it used to be.
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Old 08-29-08, 09:37 AM   #12
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I have two bikes: one with traditional geometry and the other a moderate sloping top tube. Both were fitted by the same pro fitter who tried to make the dimensions about the same. Same stem size and angle, same bar type, same crank length. It worked out fine.

But another point is what the rider does after the fitting and the kind of ride. The fitting is hardly done with a backpack filled with fluid and stuff. That extra weight may have an effect or weight distribution, and thus stress on the arms on the bars. On longer rides, there is a greater chance of discomfort and some won't take breaks at 15 or 20 mile intervals.

Its a question of comfort or discomfort and how the influence of the rider contributes to this. And not exclusively the fitting. I wonder how the makers of custom frames deal with this.
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