Another Bike Shop Question
Apologies in advance if this question sounds stupid, but I'm new to the "serious" cycling world, having last rode some 10 years ago, and a somewhat cheap bike at that.
I live in Bend, Oregon, and for those of you not familiar with this area, it is in the middle of the state, east of the Cascade mountains. There is high desert as well as mountainous terrain, and this area is a bicycler's and hiker's paradise. There are so many bike shops here that, from what I can see, every major brand is represented here. Okay, now onto my question.
How much effort should a professional bike shop put into fitting you to a road bike, and how much should that effort cost you? One bike shop I visited simply had me straddle a bike and lift it until the top tube touched my "softer bits", and then proclaimed that I ride a 52cm frame. Another bike shop told me over the phone that, based on my height of 5'10", I probably ride a 54-55cm frame--of course, the bike shop guy told me I would need to come in to personally size the frame to be sure. I have heard that other shops will do a "professional" fit for $100-$150. I confess I am a bit confused. Obviously, I want to get the best fitting bike I can, since even though I'm not spending a huge amount of $$ (less than $800), I still want to be able to ride the thing for a long time before I upgrade.
There are a lot of opinions on this. A professional fit might get you dialed in right on the nose, but it might not work for you because you have a trick knee or weak wrists or poor core strength orany number of other things that make the "ideal" fit not work for you.
Even without a full fit, they should spend a few minutes to at least make sure the seat height is right, the seat position is right, and the stem position is comfortable for you. From there you can make minor adjustments yourself as you ride and find things that are comfortable and aren't. A change in stem length would be bigger adjustment but I personally don't think that's necessary unless your body proportions are considerably different than average.
As for frame size, there's room to negotiate. First off I doubt that a 52 would fit you properly regardless of any adjustments. You're likely to be a 54-56, and I say that based on my height being close to yours and I ride a 56 dialed in kind of tight. That's a compact frame though, in a traditional it would have to be a 54. I'm not quite 5-10.
Of course I'm just a builder, what do I know? But my entire family rides, I make all adjustments, and nobody complains of knee pain.
Since this is really an opinion question, my opinion is that you should get close on the frame size, then play with seat adjustments to get you real close. I think a professional fit can be beneficial, but it can also lead you to believe that if you have a problem with the fit, you should just live with it because, after all, you were professionally fit. Test ride as many bikes as you can, and do so in a the size first suggested, then one size up and one size down. You'll begin to understand what's going to work for you. From there you make little bitty adjustments with seat angle, fore/aft position, and height until you're happy. Since you haven't been riding in a while, especially if you aren't in ideal cycling shape, you might start with the stem angled up. Work on some core strength over the winter and you'll want to flip it later.
I personally think a professional fit that yu have to pay for is silly, but that's my opinion. Thus concludes my opinion.
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