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  1. #1
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    How many of you have paid (big bucks) for a professional fitting?

    Okay, since I've gotten more interested in riding regular centuries and hoping to try some brevets and permanents, I've decided to get my bike fit dialed in better. I built my bike from the wheels up a couple years back and for the most part it's been great for commuting and I've experienced little discomfort riding it on lengthy rides like centuries. However, recently I've started to experience aches and pains that I've had all along to a certain extent which for the most part I could ignore. For instance, sometimes when I've been off the bike for a few days, the first day back on, my hip flexors and the leading edge of my sit bones give me some discomfort. Additionally, lately I've been experiencing some muscle tightness/pain in my right shoulder which seems to be worse when I'm exerting myself biking into a headwind. Couple all this with losing 25 pounds over the last three months, and possibly having ruined my Brooks B17 by allowing it to get soaking wet while I was riding a few weeks back (forgot covers/baggies at home), and now I'm experiencing a kind of pinched nerve twinge sensation along my left sit bone if I sit on the saddle just right. So, I ordered a new Selle Anatomica which should arrive tomorrow and I'm going for a comprehensive $300 Retul fitting next week. How many of you have just given up on trying to figure out all those infinite little adjustments and just said "screw it!" and gone for a professional fitting. I figure it's going to be worth it to get everything dialed in once and for all, including things like cleat adjustment and such. It's just that I don't have a whole lot of money and it's tough to swallow, spending $300 on something kind of intangible like a bike fitting. I guess I've been pretty stubborn in the past, thinking I could just keep adjusting things a little bit here and there until I got the fit right, yet here I am with about 8000 miles on this bike over two years and still dealing with nagging discomforts.
    My blog: http://aconservationist.blogspot.com

  2. #2
    Senior Member donrhummy's Avatar
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    I did and it was worth it. I was getting issues in my calf and knee and neck. Found a great bike fitter who did the fit, then had me ride for 1-2 months, come back and fine tune. All the issues went away. Not every bike fitter is good, but if you find a good one, they're more than worth the money.

  3. #3
    Pirate/Smuggler jlafitte's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by donrhummy View Post
    I did and it was worth it. I was getting issues in my calf and knee and neck. Found a great bike fitter who did the fit, then had me ride for 1-2 months, come back and fine tune. All the issues went away. Not every bike fitter is good, but if you find a good one, they're more than worth the money.
    On the other side of the customer satisfaction scale... I hired a mobile mechanic/fit company to do a fit and cut the fork on my new bike. The company had a slick website and talked a good talk. Nice enough dudes. But after having me ride on the rollers and taking some measurements, they did not move anything to any significant degree. So okay, they just confirmed the fit I had setup on my own.

    But... the dude cut the fork, and then as he reassembled the headset, it looked to me like he was putting one of the bearings in upside-down. I mentioned this and he insisted "no, this is how it goes." OK, you're the expert. Couple days later, the headset was creaking, then it was grinding. I took apart the headset, looked at the documentation and yes indeed the bearing was upside-down, and by then it had to be repacked. Worse yet, the fork was cut too short, to where I had to remove a 5mm spacer to get the stem correctly positioned, plus the star nut was crooked enough to be grinding against the stem cap.

    A hundred bucks for these services. Caveat emptor.

  4. #4
    Sway Bar Guru bknaus's Avatar
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    I paid $45 at the local bike shop (Sierra Bicycle Werks) for a fit and got way more than I expected out of it. They had me in there for about an hour fine tuning everything and I've never felt so good after a 50+ mile ride. I don't know what a $300 fit would include that this one didn't? Maybe look around and try to find a cheaper, recommended place?

  5. #5
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    The cynical in me thinks that a $300 fit gets you part of a new bike.

    "And with the purchase of this bike, you get a custom fitting worth $300 for free!".

    I believe in my heart of hearts to pay for expertise. If you pay more than $50 bucks for somebody who just puts you on a fitter after reading a pamphlet, you are being taken for a ride. Would the $300 fit job works? I sure hope so. Would it work better than starting at a ballpark and working your way through learning this ****? Nope.

    Let me put it this way; my bike fit at the begining of the season doesn't look anything like my bike fit in the middle when I'm stronger and pulling on my handlebars rather than resting on them. My bike fit for climbing doesn't look like my bike fit for commuting. And my bike fit now with plenty of hip flexor mobility doesn't look like my bike fit when I was quite a lot stiffer. People "buy" a bike fit thinking that they will get the end-all be-all of fitting on their bikes. It doesn't work that way. Because of different needs at different times and under different conditions, learning how to fit yourself to a bike will be much better than the best professional fit.

  6. #6
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    Great thread.

    I've been thinking about having a fitting done on my bike, but I'm hesitant. I think I've got it "close" right now, but it's not perfect. When I bought my bike two years ago (Cannondale CAAD-10) they "did a fitting," but it was pretty loosey goosey. They had me pedal in a trainer for 20 minutes and measured the angle of my leg at the bottom of my stroke and told me to bend my arms more. That was pretty much it. Didn't move the seat up or down, fore or aft. It wasn't helpful. So I don't "really" think I ever had a proper fitting.

    I was talking with a guy at a different shop today today. $80. He seemed knowledgeable enough. But I don't know if he's worth it. I don't doubt that I'd benefit from a decent fitting, but my question is:

    How can I tell whether THIS guy can give me a decent fitting?

    Word of mouth would be fine, but I don't really know anyone that has had it done by them. Is there any kind of certification or credentialing that I should ask for? What's the standard?

    Thanks,
    Tesgin

  7. #7
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    About to dive in.. The LBS offers two levels: $150 full fit, $50 pedal/cleat adjustment.. Trying the $50 one first.. (most of my issues are foot related)

    Will let you know!
    http://veloviewer.com/SigImage.php?a=207be&r=3&c=5&u=M&g=p&f=abcdefghij&z=a.png

  8. #8
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    For the record, the $300 fit is some fancy Retul thing, which uses computers and cameras to analyze your position on the bike and thus optimize the correct position for saddle, bar height, cleat placement, etc. Most of the really expensive fitting plans involve some form of proprietary computer/camera analysis and require the fitters to attend some extensive training. A fitting where a guy watches you pedal then changes a couple things or nothing at all is REALLY
    subjective, and usually, you get what you pay for unless the fitter was some guy who's been doing it for 30 or 40 years and knows his stuff without needing any fancy-schmancy computers or cameras. I've decided to hold off my my fitting for the time being. Installing a new Selle Anatomica Titanico X saddle has dramatically improved the ischial discomfort I was experiencing. Furthermore, the discomfort stemmed from the failure of one rivet on my Brooks B17 causing the entire saddle to sag more on the left side than the right. I'm still going in to see a sports medicine doc, just to find out exactly what the structure is that I have a tendency to pinch when my saddle position is incorrect. My PCP seems to think the most likely culprit is the ischial bursa which had become inflamed due to the extra pressure put on that side due to the saddle sagging excessively on the left side.
    My blog: http://aconservationist.blogspot.com

  9. #9
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    If you are having troubles that you can't figure out on your own then a fitting is a good idea. The difficult thing about finding a fitter is finding a good one that understands the dynamics of long distance riding. As you get fatigued on long rides your body tends to change position on the bike some and that needs to be accounted for. Most fitters put you in a "race" position that isn't necessarily the best for long distances. Additionally, things that nag you on a century can become ride enders on a 600K, those need to be taken care of. One thing I would demand is that if they don't get it right the first time they allow you to come back for fine tuning until you do get it right.
    I spent many hours on a fit bike before I got my riding position dialed in properly.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  10. #10
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    My wife and I both bought bikes in the ~$1100 range. She was never comfortable after riding 15+ miles. She went to a high end (experienced) LBS and spent an hour with a woman fitter who specialized in fitting female cyclists. after changing the stem, (final) seat and cleats on my wifes bike she can ride in comfort. The seat fitted the first time still wasn't right, the fitter (owner of the shop) credited the seat for a different one...problem solved. Since I had my bike, she also readjusted my cleats, seat position and new stem. It was like a new bike. I was amazed at how many very small adjustments she made. She measured nothing, her fit was "visual". $150 for both plus parts. Get referencesfor a fitter.

  11. #11
    Senior Member lonesomesteve's Avatar
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    My feeling about bike fitting is that it's a good thing to do once.

    I had a professional fit done by a highly recommended fitter a few years ago when I first started randonneuring. This particular fitter is a physical therapist specializing in cyclists and he also does fits. He did everything visually, didn't use any fancy equipment beyond a tape measure, a plumb bob and a device for measuring angles. I think the process took a couple of hours, but in the end the changes to the bike were very subtle. The fitter did a great job of explaining what he was looking for, why he made the changes he made, and how bike fit works in general.

    I don't remember what I paid, but whatever it was was well worth it. I say that not because I came away with a perfectly fitting bike. Rather, I came away with a much better understanding of how bike fit works. As a result, I'm now pretty good at recognizing fit problems and fixing them on my own.

    Personally, I think the idea of a perfect bike fit is a myth. It's all about compromises. You're trying to find the right balance between comfort and performance, and that depends on the kind of riding you're doing (are you racing, randonneuring, touring, etc.) and what kind of shape you're in. So, the "perfect fit" is always changing.

    I continue to tweak my fit all the time and the contact points are quite different from where they were after that initial fit. I doubt I'll ever pay for another professional fitting session, but that one that I paid for was worth it.
    "You can buy status, but sucking is immutable. After a certain point, upgrading only makes you suck more ostentatiously."
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lonesomesteve View Post
    ...Personally, I think the idea of a perfect bike fit is a myth. It's all about compromises. You're trying to find the right balance between comfort and performance, and that depends on the kind of riding you're doing (are you racing, randonneuring, touring, etc.) and what kind of shape you're in. So, the "perfect fit" is always changing....
    Well written Steve. Wish I'd have written it. My fit is different when I'm racing long distance vs randoneuring and depending on my conditioning.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  13. #13
    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lonesomesteve View Post
    My feeling about bike fitting is that it's a good thing to do once.

    I had a professional fit done by a highly recommended fitter a few years ago when I first started randonneuring. This particular fitter is a physical therapist specializing in cyclists and he also does fits. He did everything visually, didn't use any fancy equipment beyond a tape measure, a plumb bob and a device for measuring angles. I think the process took a couple of hours, but in the end the changes to the bike were very subtle. The fitter did a great job of explaining what he was looking for, why he made the changes he made, and how bike fit works in general.

    I don't remember what I paid, but whatever it was was well worth it. I say that not because I came away with a perfectly fitting bike. Rather, I came away with a much better understanding of how bike fit works. As a result, I'm now pretty good at recognizing fit problems and fixing them on my own.

    Personally, I think the idea of a perfect bike fit is a myth. It's all about compromises. You're trying to find the right balance between comfort and performance, and that depends on the kind of riding you're doing (are you racing, randonneuring, touring, etc.) and what kind of shape you're in. So, the "perfect fit" is always changing.

    I continue to tweak my fit all the time and the contact points are quite different from where they were after that initial fit. I doubt I'll ever pay for another professional fitting session, but that one that I paid for was worth it.
    This is what I've done. I did get a deal on my fit, but I still have to tweak it when need be. The fit I got was $300 and I got it for $150.
    George

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclogenesis View Post
    About to dive in.. The LBS offers two levels: $150 full fit, $50 pedal/cleat adjustment.. Trying the $50 one first.. (most of my issues are foot related)

    Will let you know!
    So went to Spokes in Wheaton today (Chicago Burbs).. $50.. Spend ~ an hour fussing around.. I say $50, but I dropped ~40 extra in bits.. All I can say is wow.. I will be interested to see the impact. Radical change in my set up.. Over 10mm spacer on my left pedal..
    http://veloviewer.com/SigImage.php?a=207be&r=3&c=5&u=M&g=p&f=abcdefghij&z=a.png

  15. #15
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lonesomesteve View Post
    Personally, I think the idea of a perfect bike fit is a myth. It's all about compromises. You're trying to find the right balance between comfort and performance, and that depends on the kind of riding you're doing (are you racing, randonneuring, touring, etc.) and what kind of shape you're in. So, the "perfect fit" is always changing.
    +1

    kiltedcelt says, "I figure it's going to be worth it to get everything dialed in once and for all". But it is rather unlikely that a $300 professional fitting is going to do that. It may dial everything in for now ... for this month ... maybe for the rest of the season ... maybe even for a year or two ... but things can change which can change the fit.

    There are many things which can change a fit.

    Injury
    Age
    Fitness Level
    Weight gain or loss
    Terrain
    Flexibility

    They're all factors in the fit of a bicycle.

    I've never paid for a "professional fitting" ... I wouldn't even know where to find one. I did look to see if anyone was doing that sort of thing about a decade ago, but no one in my area was. However, I have had very quick, brief fittings which have just confirmed to me that I'm on the right track. I've also done a lot of reading on the subject of fitting. And then I tweak my fit as I go along.

    Whichever way you opt to do, it is a good idea to develop some understanding of how you and your bicycle work together.

  16. #16
    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lonesomesteve View Post
    Personally, I think the idea of a perfect bike fit is a myth. It's all about compromises. You're trying to find the right balance between comfort and performance, and that depends on the kind of riding you're doing (are you racing, randonneuring, touring, etc.) and what kind of shape you're in. So, the "perfect fit" is always changing.
    Well said, it's an iterative process.
    Once you get a good baseline or "Home" fit document date and keep all of the fitting data, and each change made to each bike you ride. Take pics.
    Record actual measurements of frame size, TT length and all of the contact point component measurements such as crank, stem, bar, shoe sizes makes and models.
    Document seat height, saddle rail, KOPS info, reach and drop. Use a magic marker for removable "scribe" marks.
    Once you know your home position accurately you can make adjustments that do/don't work out and get back home w/ no guesswork.

    -Bandera
    '74 Raleigh International - '77 Trek TX900FG - '92 Vitus 979 - '10 Merckx EMX-3- '11 Soma Stanyan

  17. #17
    Commuter & cyclotourist brianogilvie's Avatar
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    Everything I need to know about fitting I learned from Peter White's website: "How to Fit a Bicycle."
    Public accountability: my Beeminder weight loss graph.

  18. #18
    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brianogilvie View Post
    Everything I need to know about fitting I learned from Peter White's website: "How to Fit a Bicycle."
    That is a very good site, I forgot about that one and it's free. When I got my fit it wasn't far of from Peter White's.
    George

  19. #19
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    kiltedcelt, When I started riding any long distances all of the info was in print and no pro fitting as it exists today. With my last distance bike I felt there was something a little off in the fit (primarily with the aero bars), but overall I was comfortable enough to rack a ton of mileage over the years and dismissed it to trying to fit both sets of bars. Long story short I built a touring bike with a slightly larger frame and it hinted that my distance bike's frame was a tad too small. I sold that distance bike (hated to) and built one 2 cm larger and things are oh so much better. I'm sure a pro fitter would've helped me see what I needed much earlier.

    I think a pro fitter is best suited to finding the little changes that help, most of us can figure out the big ones.

    Brad
    Last edited by bradtx; 08-31-13 at 01:42 PM. Reason: sp

  20. #20
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    I was fitted by Get-a-grip, they are considered one of the fitting experts in Chicago. They will supervise the fitting of custom bikes. I asked them to recommend a Soma frame. A size 60cm Double Cross frame was recommended, I'm 6' 0".

    Bike fitting is a specialty, and most shops don’t offer in-depth fitting. In Chicago, Get a Grip Cycles provides a complete fitting for a fee. Considering that I would be spending 10 hours or more on a new bike every week, the cost of the fitting seemed like a good investment.

    See here: http://getagripcycles.com/page.cfm?pageID=93



    The goal during the fitting was check the angles of the ankles, knees, hips, shoulders elbows & wrists as I rode upon a test bike. These were measured both while I was stationary and also by camera while pedaling.

    After measuring my physical dimensions and range of motion, Adam was confident that fitting me to a bike would not be problematic. It was explained that the rider is positioned on the bike at three points, the pedals, the seat and the handlebars. Position those points correctly and the rider is comfortable, efficient and fast.

    I've been able to use the basic fit developed at Get a Grip whenever I build a new bike. I'm able to select a frame based on Geometry data, install correctly sized handlebars, stems and saddle. I would not be able to enjoy the bikes that I own without having been fitted.
    Last edited by Barrettscv; 08-31-13 at 06:04 PM.
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  21. #21
    Senior Member Blue Belly's Avatar
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    There are tons of videos on Ytube that go in depth on fitting. Spend some time going through those. A lot of good info there. If you feel more comfortable having someone else do it for you, you'll at least be more educated going in.

  22. #22
    Senior Member dwmckee's Avatar
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    This is a really interesting and helpful thread. I have never had a shop help me fit a bike with and great degree of confidence that they wee any better than I was. My favorite shop flat out told me that they are not the best ones for these fine tuning consultations.

    Does anyone have a fitter they would recommend in the Pittsburgh area?

  23. #23
    Senior Member kris7047th's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kiltedcelt View Post
    Okay, since I've gotten more interested in riding regular centuries and hoping to try some brevets and permanents, I've decided to get my bike fit dialed in better. I built my bike from the wheels up a couple years back and for the most part it's been great for commuting and I've experienced little discomfort riding it on lengthy rides like centuries. However, recently I've started to experience aches and pains that I've had all along to a certain extent which for the most part I could ignore. For instance, sometimes when I've been off the bike for a few days, the first day back on, my hip flexors and the leading edge of my sit bones give me some discomfort. Additionally, lately I've been experiencing some muscle tightness/pain in my right shoulder which seems to be worse when I'm exerting myself biking into a headwind. Couple all this with losing 25 pounds over the last three months, and possibly having ruined my Brooks B17 by allowing it to get soaking wet while I was riding a few weeks back (forgot covers/baggies at home), and now I'm experiencing a kind of pinched nerve twinge sensation along my left sit bone if I sit on the saddle just right. So, I ordered a new Selle Anatomica which should arrive tomorrow and I'm going for a comprehensive $300 Retul fitting next week. How many of you have just given up on trying to figure out all those infinite little adjustments and just said "screw it!" and gone for a professional fitting. I figure it's going to be worth it to get everything dialed in once and for all, including things like cleat adjustment and such. It's just that I don't have a whole lot of money and it's tough to swallow, spending $300 on something kind of intangible like a bike fitting. I guess I've been pretty stubborn in the past, thinking I could just keep adjusting things a little bit here and there until I got the fit right, yet here I am with about 8000 miles on this bike over two years and still dealing with nagging discomforts.
    It's very easy to restore leather after being wet/soaked. Buy a small amount of Lexol Leather conditioner (either ebay .. amazon .. can be found) It's actually for horse saddles and considered to be the best conditioner by the horse people for decades. I also use BlackRock Leather 'N' Rich excellent for a top coat that has a tackiness and you won't slip/slide on smooth leather. You should have a wrench to tighten at the nose of your saddle as well.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by kris7047th View Post
    It's very easy to restore leather after being wet/soaked. Buy a small amount of Lexol Leather conditioner (either ebay .. amazon .. can be found) It's actually for horse saddles and considered to be the best conditioner by the horse people for decades. I also use BlackRock Leather 'N' Rich excellent for a top coat that has a tackiness and you won't slip/slide on smooth leather. You should have a wrench to tighten at the nose of your saddle as well.
    It is pretty easy to restore a misshapen leather seat to its original shape; just soak it in water for a few hours, push it back into the shape you want, stuff it with newspapers, and wrap more newspaper around it to prevent the skirt from splaying as it dries.

    It is not so easy to restore the original hardness to a saddle that has been ridden wet; so if you reshape a saddle as described, it may stretch back to the ruined shape in a few hours of riding. The proper application of heat will help; I've successfully re-hardened a couple saddles by soaking and reshaping, as described, and then putting them in a 150 oven for a while. But too much heat will ruin it. I'm now experimenting with beeswax for this purpose....

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    Senior Member kris7047th's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhm View Post
    It is pretty easy to restore a misshapen leather seat to its original shape; just soak it in water for a few hours, push it back into the shape you want, stuff it with newspapers, and wrap more newspaper around it to prevent the skirt from splaying as it dries.

    It is not so easy to restore the original hardness to a saddle that has been ridden wet; so if you reshape a saddle as described, it may stretch back to the ruined shape in a few hours of riding. The proper application of heat will help; I've successfully re-hardened a couple saddles by soaking and reshaping, as described, and then putting them in a 150 oven for a while. But too much heat will ruin it. I'm now experimenting with beeswax for this purpose....
    You are more experienced working with leather than the average person and know just how much heat & how long before harming the leather.

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