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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 08-01-13, 08:36 AM   #1
rocdoc
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What's in a centimeter (or, is there a fitter in the house?)

Hi everyone,
I've been on an interesting journey of learning about the proper fit and the right way to ride a bike. So, after trying a couple of bikes, figuring out my correct measurements, learning what I'm happy with, I find myself about a centimeter and a half short (or long) of happiness (insert Anthony Weiner jokes here).
So, my ideal effective TT is somewhere in the 54.5-55 zone, and I have a fairly proportional body (height/inseam ~2.1, arm span ~ height), C-T ideal ~55 (I'm 5'10", inseam 33). I ride primarily on trails, some road and sidewalk commute time, not aiming to race. Went with a cyclocross bike to handle the uneven and some unpaved trails, and sidewalk bumps.
I bought a Fuji cyclocross bike (Cross 3.0) on a good deal at Performance. I had been between two sizes: the 54 has a TT (effective) of 54.5, C-T 54, stem 10. The 56 has both TT and CT at 56, stem 11.
I first tried the 54. I thought I felt a touch cramped, but that may have been just the new shape, I can't be sure. I also had an uncomfortable amount of toe overlap (size 11 sneakers - I use toe straps, not going to clip in any time soon, I do mostly touring where I like to get off and do some site seeing with my riding). I exchanged it for the 56. Initially it felt a bit better, but with long rides I feel that I am stretching a bit and "feel" it in my shoulders.
This has not been enough time to be very sure about either frame, but if I am considering an exchange I need to decide very soon - I do have a month, but I don't want to return a bike that's been used that long, they've been nice to me and I want to do the same.
Summary for the two sizes: Better with the 54: Tighter shoulder angle, making me feel better supported; narrower handlebars are exactly in line with my shoulders; Less reach to the handlebars, allowing my shoulders to relax a bit; more SO clearance. Better with the 56: better saddle height "feel" - I like it high and pedal with the heel up, and I don't want too much drop to the handlebars; less toe overlap and more stable, longer wheelbase; allows a straighter back, which is my preference (I am plenty flexible, I just like my back straighter for some reason).
So, is a shorter stem by 1 cm on the 56 going to take care of the difference between the two? Is this level of nitpicking over the sizes appropriate here and at my level? Or should I stop wasting time and ride instead? It really seems that I am 1 cm or so in either direction. Experienced riders might be able to extrapolate how much better or worse either fit can get long term - for me this is the first bike with road(-ish) geometry.
Thanks a bunch!

PS they did offer a "fitting", but it consisted of the bike shop guy eyeballing me on a trainer and going "yeah, looks all right"...
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Old 08-01-13, 09:15 AM   #2
rocdoc
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BTW, there is something weird about the measurements I get from the competitivecyclist.com calculator: everything makes sense, except that, while I am supposedly on an effective TT that's 1.5 cm too long, my saddle-to-handlebar distance is about 5cm shorter! Which goes against the feeling I get that I kind of want the hoods a bit closer to me while riding. I wonder if that measurement gets thrown off by all other factors involved in this particular geometry...
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Old 08-01-13, 01:50 PM   #3
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Yes, pulling back the stem 1cm will make a noticeable difference.
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Old 08-07-13, 06:39 AM   #4
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Eye balling you is not fitting. Go to another store that provides real "dynamic" fitting where you are in motion. I had a master fitter fit me for 50 minutes on 2 bike sizes (50 & 52 cm) and had to change several components until the fit is perfect. A perfect fit is when you are balanced with weight evenly distributed not feeling your weight more in your hands/arms or back in your seat. First glance is hard to tell and you need to be pedaling the bike while you are stationed on a trainer with the fitter observing your pedaling motion, taking actual measurements of the proper angles of your body to the bike. Sometimes if you are in between frame sizes, that is an easy fix, but better to go with the smaller frame size and build around it with proper length components. A great fitter would extend the seat post, positioning the seat forward/back, increase/decrease the stem length or flipping it upside down,add reduce headset rings to raise or lower the bar etc...even so far as to change components to the correct size at no charge. It's not nitpicking if you are not comfortable. If you are riding for long periods, that 1 cm difference will equate to pain somewhere in your back/neck/shoulders.

I test rode the correct frame size but the factory stem was 1 cm longer and stretched out my arms causing a pull in my lower back after 10miles. Went back to the fitter and changed the stem to a shorter one and fixed the problem. Now I can ride all day and no pains anywhere. Comfort is everything and long rides will be brutal if the bike doesn't fit perfectly.

Last edited by Autopilot; 08-07-13 at 06:46 AM.
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Old 08-07-13, 11:12 AM   #5
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I think you are comparing apples and oranges because the longer frame also has a longer stem (and the shorter frame a shorter stem).

Just reading what you've written here, I think you are better off on the 56 frame but with a bit less reach than you currently have. If you can bring the bars up and closer to you (with shorter stem and/or stem angled more upward) I bet you'll be about perfect. If you haven't seen this link, it is endless fun. It also shows you that you need the right frame size, but once you've picked a frame size the bike can be set up VERY differently depending on:
- spacers
- stem length
- stem angle

http://alex.phred.org/stemchart/Default.aspx
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