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Fitting Your Bike Are you confused about how you should fit a bike to your particular body dimensions? Have you been reading, found the terms Merxx or French Fit, and don’t know what you need? Every style of riding is different- in how you fit the bike to you, and the sizing of the bike itself. It’s more than just measuring your height, reach and inseam. With the help of Bike Fitting, you’ll be able to find the right fit for your frame size, style of riding, and your particular dimensions. Here ya’ go…..the location for everything fit related.

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Old 06-18-13, 09:26 AM   #1
NYChaos
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Really need your help. I suspect my LBS is trying to screw me over!!!

First of all, thank you in advance for any input regarding this subject. Now the story:

I am buying 2 bikes for myself and my girlfriend. It is her first "real" bicycle. I decided to get her Bianchi Camaleonte Due, but local Bianchi dealer suggested to adjust Fore-aft position to compensate for the reach, and that's when I knew that I need to look for another place

Dealer next to my house carries Cannondale, and i really liked Quick 4 (seems like a good choice for a beginner, and a frame nice enough to upgrade components later if she gets into biking)

Bought the bike 2 days ago, and decided to really dial it in for her (fore-aft, perfect seat height, etc. ). She is 5'3.5, and local shop recommended men's Quck 4 in medium (according to him Cannondale sizes run a bit small).
After adjusting seat height at home , I tried adjusting fore-aft position, but even after moving he seat all the way back, she still needed to move an inch back to achieve proper Knee over pedal position.

This seems like a typical problem with female buying a male bike. Reach is long enough, seat position is off or seat position is good, and reach is too long.

I went back to the store next day asking the owner to install seat post with a little offset, to achieve proper knee over pedal position.

The guy (who actually seemed pretty nice and knowledgeable) told me that I am trying to be a perfectionist, and I need to let her enjoy the bike the way it is now. According to him proper knee position only matters that much in road biking world.

I think he is full of crap, because if she decides to get clipless shoes later, she will be screwed.

I know a theory of proper bike fitting, but do not posses a lot of experience, so I do not know for sure if I am right or not.

Please let me know if I am being too picky, or my girlfriend deserves a ride that fits her.
The owner asked her to ride a bike few times around the parking lot, and said it looked like a right fit.

Thank you for any input you could provide.
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Old 06-18-13, 10:04 AM   #2
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You might be a bit overprotective and perfectionist.
The lbs guy has s point. She should enjoy the ride and if something hurts, then make adjustments. How do you even know which position in accordance to kops she prefers? Some like it before koos, some like it behind kops and some like dead in the middle.

The place where she us sitting relative to the bb might or might not cause knee problems when she gets the clipless pedals. It depends on your style and personal attributes. But thinking that pedaling before kops will break her knees is definitely false. Where do triathletes, tt'ers and several pro's pedal? Way before kops.

Also, dont try to force her into a fot she knows nothing about. You can start asking questions when she has more experience and knows more about her body on the bike. If right now ask her whether she is using her quads or hamstrings too much relative to other muscles she would probably be like "wut?"

Just chill man. Check the angles are ok, nothing hurts, the bike is the right size and let her ride it like she stole it
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Old 06-18-13, 10:15 AM   #3
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It does sound like you're overthinking this, because a lot of what we talk about as proper fit is about performance maximization, and as such, is really on applicable to a very small segment of the population.

If your gilfriend is just going to be cruising around, that's one thing; if she's going to be training to race, that's something else, and each scenario suggests different fine tuning of positioning. Comfort is always important, however.

So yeah, I'd say chill, let her ride, and dial things in as the need arises. Changing stem, seatpost, and handlebar are all things that can be done to get her position in the sweet spot, but remember 'sweet spot' can have different definitions.
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Old 06-18-13, 10:18 AM   #4
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The bike you start out with usually is not the one you end up riding on a regular basis - But even so - The customer is always right...
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Old 06-18-13, 10:25 AM   #5
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Yeah, definitely overanalyzing this. Let her ride the bike and let her tell you what she needs. You're right that bikes are made for the "typical" male and so often don't fit a woman right without some tweaking. Offset on the seatpost is not the only way to deal with this issue; a saddle with longer rails will also give you greater adjustability. Lack of set back is not a super hard issue to deal with and you might want to talk to the LBS about a different saddle.

But, you are being rough on the LBS as well. You just bought a nice bike from him and then wrote:

"The guy (who actually seemed pretty nice and knowledgeable) told me that I am trying to be a perfectionist, and I need to let her enjoy the bike the way it is now. According to him proper knee position only matters that much in road biking world.

I think he is full of crap, because if she decides to get clipless shoes later, she will be screwed."

In my experience, bike guys who are "nice and knowledgeable" are not "full of crap" but are actually trying to be helpful. If you approach the guy with that kind of attitude, you'll have a tough time with him. There comes a point where any good will that is lost by pissing off a customer just isn't that big a deal because nothing you do will please the customer. Just my 2 cents worth.
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Old 06-18-13, 02:40 PM   #6
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Chaos indeed. "seems like a good bike for a beginner". You got that part right, that's your mantra. Let her ride the bike the way she wants to ride the bike (if at all). I see variations on this theme in the shop all the time. Beginners seldom feel comfortable way back (they want to put their feet on the ground for Christ's sake). When she is ready for clipless, it won't be on that quick. And what did you get pray tell?...

Last edited by wheelreason; 06-18-13 at 02:45 PM. Reason: capitalized the Lord's name
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Old 06-18-13, 03:58 PM   #7
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I'd go riding with her a few times and see if she has any pain...
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Old 06-18-13, 06:50 PM   #8
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Gotta tell ya, OP -- "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing." Sounds like you have A LITTLE to work with, and are crapping on those who have more. Not trying to put you down, just giving perspective -- seeing as how I deal with that DAILY, I'm familiar with it.

There's not a thing wrong with a basic fit to start with; but she -- and you, as well -- are just RIDING, not training for the Tour. If her initial fit is off, she'll likely feel "funny" right away. Let her try the bike, get a feel for the bike, and make adjustments as SHE needs them, not as YOU THINK she needs them.
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Old 06-18-13, 06:59 PM   #9
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You convinced her that you're some kind of bike fit expert and got contradicted by a real expert. Get over it.
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Old 06-18-13, 07:02 PM   #10
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For what it's worth, my LBS also gave me the bike, well, I paid for it, did basic adjustments and told me to go ride it once or twice and come back to dial in the fit. Make notes as to any discomfort etc. So I go back Thursday for pedals, shoes and from what I can tell, I need to tilt the front of the seat down a little
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Old 06-18-13, 07:04 PM   #11
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Thank you for your input guys. Let me just clarify a few things.

This bike will be used as a full time commuter. Human physiology 101 - DO NOT do squads when your knees go over the line of your toes. You are begging for injury.

She will be getting clipless shoes, and as you know you can only move cleats so much. If the bike is not the right size you will screw up your knees pretty fast with clipless. Mine were killing me after 10 miles. I had to readjust my entire setup.

If she tells me 2 months later that the bike does not fit no one will exchange it for me.

I wish i has the money to buy another bike for 700 bucks 3 months down the road, but i wont be able to afford it. Its an expensive purchase for us.

I need to figure this out ASAP.

If she was going to ride it for 5 miles once a week I wouldn't of cared. Once again, this will end up being a full time commuter.
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Old 06-18-13, 07:07 PM   #12
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You won't need to buy a new bike if she wants to change the fit. The basic things that you might need to change are the stem length, setback on the seatpost, and a saddle with longer rails. The bike should fit her right. None of those things cost $700 and a good bike shop will work with you on the fit issue esp. if you don't piss of the guy who is trying to help you out.
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Old 06-18-13, 11:19 PM   #13
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You convinced her that you're some kind of bike fit expert and got contradicted by a real expert. Get over it.
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Old 06-18-13, 11:24 PM   #14
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Thank you for your input guys. Let me just clarify a few things.

This bike will be used as a full time commuter. Human physiology 101 - DO NOT do squads when your knees go over the line of your toes. You are begging for injury.

She will be getting clipless shoes, and as you know you can only move cleats so much. If the bike is not the right size you will screw up your knees pretty fast with clipless. Mine were killing me after 10 miles. I had to readjust my entire setup.

If she tells me 2 months later that the bike does not fit no one will exchange it for me.

I wish i has the money to buy another bike for 700 bucks 3 months down the road, but i wont be able to afford it. Its an expensive purchase for us.

I need to figure this out ASAP.

If she was going to ride it for 5 miles once a week I wouldn't of cared. Once again, this will end up being a full time commuter.
I guess all those pro level triathletes and cyclists are just waiting for it to happen and for their knees to blow up...
There are more factors that affect the knees than just fore aft position. You might have had everthing wrong, or just one thing or maybe your knees just like it behind kops? Seat height has a big impact. Lots of people have their seats too low and that might strain the knees. Also if the cleat/pedal combo has no float (like some road pedals) then if the angle is off the knees will let you know. Cadence, foot entry angle, muscle engagement through the circle and basically everything has a lot to do wth knee pain.

I have noticed that some people have the imagination to try one pedalling technique, entry angle and muscle engagement rythm, and when that effs up their knees they easily blame the position. I have been several cm before kops, several cm behind kops, dead on kops, seat too high, too low, (not sure if ever just right) and every time I feel something in my knees I assess what the problem is and adjust. Never any long lasting pain. Just the small twinges that show me I'm doing something wrong. The adjust can be momentary to give the joint some relief or it can affect the whole ride.

Don't oversimplify things. If you GF is hurting she will tell you. Just tell her to have a cadence of over 90.
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Old 06-19-13, 12:33 AM   #15
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Kops is a decent starting point. Nothing more. I've been setup in front and behind (always in couples) trying to find where I make the most power. The two things that cause me knee pain are always seat too low and cleat alignment. I ride with a serious ex-pro and he is way in front of the spindle. I myself am a bit behind it.

Learned 20 years ago with my wife, the have their own preferences and, well that's another topic.
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Old 06-19-13, 12:49 AM   #16
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As others said, you seem to be over analyzing and instead of trusting the advice of the experts, you're suspecting that they're trying to "screw you over". The one big question I have to ask you is...

Is she riding with the proper saddle height? Proper saddle height meaning that when she's on the saddle, her legs are extended with a slight bend at the knee. Seeing how you said this is her first "real bike" which I'm assuming means she's no avid cyclist. From personal experience all newbies ride with the saddle slammed so that their feet can reach the ground when they're sitting on the saddle. If this is the case, of course her knee is going to be past the "proper point" over the pedal.
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Old 06-19-13, 06:14 PM   #17
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Kops is a decent starting point. Nothing more. I've been setup in front and behind (always in couples) trying to find where I make the most power. The two things that cause me knee pain are always seat too low and cleat alignment. I ride with a serious ex-pro and he is way in front of the spindle. I myself am a bit behind it.

Learned 20 years ago with my wife, the have their own preferences and, well that's another topic.
thank you very much. Will follow your advice
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Old 06-19-13, 06:19 PM   #18
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As others said, you seem to be over analyzing and instead of trusting the advice of the experts, you're suspecting that they're trying to "screw you over". The one big question I have to ask you is...

Is she riding with the proper saddle height? Proper saddle height meaning that when she's on the saddle, her legs are extended with a slight bend at the knee. Seeing how you said this is her first "real bike" which I'm assuming means she's no avid cyclist. From personal experience all newbies ride with the saddle slammed so that their feet can reach the ground when they're sitting on the saddle. If this is the case, of course her knee is going to be past the "proper point" over the pedal.
i made sure her seat height is perfect as far as advices from pros... I don't consider someone just letting her ride around the parking lot for 3 minutes a professional opinion. You need to spend a bit more time with a customer to actually know if they are comfortable.
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Old 06-19-13, 06:59 PM   #19
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Not if you're good enough; 3 minutes of scrutiny by someone knowledgeable is quite a bit of time, actually. Once again, your LIMITED knowledge is showing......
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Old 06-19-13, 09:27 PM   #20
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Going back to your squat analogy... the hip/knee/toe alignment is defined by the force of the weight, and that is oriented vertically due to gravity. Gravity has nothing to do with the force of your legs on the pedals. They will push "down", defined by a line from the hips through the crank (how could someone achieve KOPS on a recumbent?).

KOPS really is about weight distribution. Too far back and the bike will feel unstable. Too far forward and the rider will have too much weight on their hands. KOPS provides a good starting point, but different riders (and even the same rider on different styles of bikes) will need to make various adjustments from this starting point.
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Old 06-19-13, 10:05 PM   #21
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i made sure her seat height is perfect as far as advices from pros... I don't consider someone just letting her ride around the parking lot for 3 minutes a professional opinion. You need to spend a bit more time with a customer to actually know if they are comfortable.
I've only been selling bikes for a little less than a year and I could already tell if someone is too squished or too stretched out on a bike just by watching them ride from the get go. However I do usually spend quite a bit of time asking my customers what type of riding they do, mileage, experience, etc etc to determine what type of bike to put them on.

I also let them test ride 2-3 different bikes or sometimes more until they find the right one. The fact is that our bodies are all built different, so you can't go with everything that's "on paper". Different manufacturers also vary in geometry and components used so given the same sized bikes, two brands or even two different models will feel drastically different. Seeing how your gf is 5'3 she was probably in between sizes for the small and medium. In that case she should have ridden both and see which one feels the best.

Usually a person will know whether a bike is the right fit for them after test riding several bikes. I have only had a few rare cases where a customer INSISTED that he/she needed a bike that's obviously too small or too big. It doesn't happen very often because if I was in their place I would have felt like I was on a torture rack. My philosophy is always, "as long as you like it".

So in your case, if your girlfriend is feeling pain or feels uncomfortable on the bike, go exchange it for a different size or different model. But if she's feeling fine on it, but ON PAPER your measurements are off based off of what you read online in regards to fitting.... just let her ride the bike and stop sweating it.
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Old 06-20-13, 07:51 PM   #22
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You won't need to buy a new bike if she wants to change the fit. The basic things that you might need to change are the stem length, setback on the seatpost, and a saddle with longer rails. The bike should fit her right. None of those things cost $700 and a good bike shop will work with you on the fit issue esp. if you don't piss of the guy who is trying to help you out.
I completely understand, and I am never rude to good shop owners. I am a reasonable person who is always polite and always try to be understanding.

I was surprised however that after selling her men's version of the bike (which is the same geometry as womens) they did not even offer to cut off handlebars. Her hands are way outside of her shoulder line, and she is not very comfortable on it. The guy however told me to bring it in so they can do it for free, so I am happy about that.
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Old 06-20-13, 08:19 PM   #23
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You convinced her that you're some kind of bike fit expert and got contradicted by a real expert. Get over it.
Not everyone needs to show off in front of their women to get their attention and respect
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Old 06-21-13, 02:13 AM   #24
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You know, I'd like to help, but I suspect you would just ignore what I have to say and continue to act like you already know it all. Carry on.
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Old 06-21-13, 06:24 AM   #25
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