Advertise on Bikeforums.net



User Tag List

Results 1 to 20 of 20
  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    243
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    How Do You Know When a Bike Fits You?

    I'm trying to narrow down my bike search. I've been riding several times a week for over a decade on the same inexpensive hybrid bike. I've been visiting local bike shops looking for my first road bike. I've been reading several forums religiously. I've been talking to many cyclists. I've been reading books and articles. The bikes that have been recommended to me by many people are the Trek Madone 4.5, Specialized Roubaix Elite, Cannondale CAAD 9, Cannondale Synapse. I've been able to spin so far in the shop on the Cannondales. A few bike shop owners have told me that test rides are not as important as "fit". So, not to be dense, but what is "fit"? How do I know which brand or which individual bike "fits" me? I understand that I should be measured, a frame selected, and standard riding position achieved, but I suspect that this is not totally what people mean, and no one as of yet has been willing to concisely explain this to me, so I am stuck as to how I should proceed.

    Can anyone help?

  2. #2
    Mitcholo CrimsonKarter21's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Oost Vlaanderen in mind, Cleveland in body
    My Bikes
    2010 Mitcholo w/ Sram Force/Red
    Posts
    8,851
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    You'll know when a bike fits.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    243
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    This is what I suspect "fit" means, but anyone else?

  4. #4
    Senior Member Jinker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ottawa,ON
    My Bikes
    Univega Via Montega, Nashbar Aluminum frame/105 roadbike
    Posts
    642
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Your body has three interfaces with the bike: Handlebars, saddle and pedals.

    On bike models of the correct size, you should be able to get an identical fit on most any bike. You may even be able to go a size up or size down and get the exact same position.

    To customize the position on the bike you're adjusting saddle height, saddle setback, and stem length and angle.

    When a bike is the wrong size to achieve your desired fit you'd need to use an extreme stem, either very short or long, or of a large angle.

    A bike that's too big will require a very short stem, and may not have enough standover clearance for you. A frame that's too small will require a long stem, and will usually have a much lower handlebar height requiring a lot of rise to the stem to get your ideal fit.

    Comparing bikes of the same size (for argument's sake let's say Large, or 56 cm seat tube) you'll find some bikes will have longer or shorter top tubes, and some will have higher or lower stock handlebar height. These can both be accounted for by using different stems. You don't want to push things too far, stems range from 60 to 140mm, but 80-120 should probably be a more realistic range to shoot for. If you're using anything outside that range, I'd look at a different sized frame.

    Cost can factor into this whole thing. If one model fits you nicely and won't require you to swap stems, saddles, handlebars etc etc. to get your desired fit, that can save you money, even if it costs a few bucks more than a competing model that will require more customization.

    The problem is as a new road bike rider you're not going to be able to tell what's ideal for you to start out. Getting at least a 'freebie' bike fit from a shop when you buy a bike can get you started.

    Go to a couple bike shops, and get them to size you up on some bikes. Get them to describe WHY they feel a certain size is right for you. The one which inspires the most confidence will probably also be able to get you pointed in the right direction in terms of fitting you properly.

    Finding a shop you can trust to help you with this will be *FAR* more important than saving $50 or $100, or getting a free set of pedals thrown in with your purchase.

    Honestly, mid range roadbikes (aluminum or carbon) from the various big-name manufacturers are all VERY competitive. Pick your budget, get a bike you're able to be fit comfortably on, and go ride the wheels off of it.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Jinker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ottawa,ON
    My Bikes
    Univega Via Montega, Nashbar Aluminum frame/105 roadbike
    Posts
    642
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Just a couple other small things to look out for in terms of 'fit': handlebar width, saddle, crank length.

    All these can be customized, but most people ride what's stock at first.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    152
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    It not all that different from getting a well tailored suit - every component should be reflective of your unique body characteristics.

    Example: I take a size 42 in a suit off the rack but I have a shorter torso than most people my hight but longer than avg. arms. A 42 looks passable at a first glance but closer inspection shows a nice coat length but a little more cuff than desired. On the other hand a 42 tall also looks okay at first but then you'll notice that my sleeve length is fine but the coat hangs down too far below the belt. I could get away with either if I had to but the best thing for me is to get the 42 reg and have the sleeves lengthened.

    If I buy a bike off the rack most lbs will tell me I should be on a 56-58 but with my short torso the TT length and ST angle on most of those sizes will put my centre of gravity too far back although the reach to the bars will be fine.

    The solution for me is a 55 with a 74 degree ST and a longer stem.

    Like buying a suit all of those bikes you looked at might seem okay standing in front of the mirror ( i.e. riding them around the streets near the lbs) but after a while you might notice that on one of them the ST angle is too slack for the unique length of your thighs - your knees might start to hurt and you won't get max power from your stroke. Maybe you have short arms and while the TT is right for body position you have to put on a very short stem - but if you do that the steering gets a little wonky.

    Bottom line: all of those bikes probably have slightly different lengths and angles - go with the one that has the overall best match to your body and then fine tune it by making adjustments to saddle hight/ for-aft/ stem length etc. Don't make the mistake of trying to make those adjustments to compensate for poor frame geometry in the first place. Lengthening the sleeves is always better than shortening the coat.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Huntington Beach, CA
    My Bikes
    Cervelo Prodigy
    Posts
    5,114
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    If you go to a pro bike fitter, you may get a more objective answer to your questions. This type of fitter is not affiliated with any particular bike shop so the sales pressure for any brand is off. Certain bike frame geometries work and some others don't. It depends on your riding preferences.

    Riding preferences may change in time. Then when you get older like me, its more about comfort.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    243
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Thanks for the GREAT suggestions. My only extended experience so far was sitting on a CAAD9. I noticed that most of the weight was on my hands, and when I stood up to pedal, my knees were basically coming up right at the end of the drops (about 1.5 inches away). What do you think this means.

  9. #9
    Recovering mentalist Randochap's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    On the Edge
    My Bikes
    Too many
    Posts
    2,808
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    "Test rides are not as important as fit?" This makes no sense. A decent shop should be able to do a preliminary fit on an appropriately-sized bike and send you out for a spin around the block. If you feel something's not right, then the shop should be willing to change a stem, tweak saddle position, etc. and send you back out.

    Assuming they are wanting to make a sale, that is.
    VeloWeb | VeloWebLog

    "The bicycle is the noblest invention of mankind." ~William Saroyan

  10. #10
    Senior Member yogi13's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Torrance, CA
    My Bikes
    '06 Specialized Allez Expert
    Posts
    1,113
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Randochap View Post
    "Test rides are not as important as fit?" This makes no sense. A decent shop should be able to do a preliminary fit on an appropriately-sized bike and send you out for a spin around the block. If you feel something's not right, then the shop should be willing to change a stem, tweak saddle position, etc. and send you back out.

    Assuming they are wanting to make a sale, that is.
    What he said.

    And like crimsonkarter said, when the bike is fitted right you'll know it. Nothing will feel cramped or awkward, and there will be a stillness to your whole body except your legs spinning the cranks, and even that will require less effort.
    Every time that wheel turn 'round
    Bound to cover just a little more ground

  11. #11
    Senior Member nostromo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    351
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I was fortunate enough that a friend suggested a fit first, before buying my first road bike. I was tempted at the time because there were several good sales at various stores, but I decided to go to a store that had a dedicated fitting area (and technician) first. It was well worth it. Took about 40 minutes, I got a chart with all my ideal frame measurements, then a another staff member took out various frames that would be ideal.

    From the day I got my new bike the fit was dead on. I've since bought another bike this winter and did a fitting again (different store). Again, the bike fit is dead on, and I don't even think about anything but riding and training. The other good thing about a fitting is when you get your chart you can pretty much go to any store (or if you buy used) and you'll know what is the ideal frame size and geometry for you. You won't be wasting time and money on something that will not work for you.

    People think that just because they're not 'serious' about cycling or buying a $5000 bike that they don't need a fit. But if you ride your bike regularly the demands a bad fitting bike will put on your knees, back, seat, etc. will all be there to punish you, and with each longer ride it will only get worse.

    I had a friend who wanted to get a road bike. She wasn't 'serious' so she bought a cheap dept. store bike (with drop bars). Terrible fit, knee aches, could barely ride 20 mins. on it. So she found a slightly better dept. store bike, and that worked a bit better, but same problem. Then she got serious and had a fitting, and got a slightly more expensive (but better) bike...she's been riding regularly for 2 years with no aches or pains.
    "Serenity now....insanity later!"---Lloyd Braun

  12. #12
    Senior Member slacker_express's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Sudbury, MA
    My Bikes
    2006 Cannondale R1000, 2003 Lemond Tourmalet
    Posts
    160
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I've had the experience of buying a bike that didn't fit and then spending a lot of time trying to make it fit. It was my first real road bike (ignoring my old Univega that I still have). I had tried a few bikes at the time and one bike I tried (I believe a Cannondale R600?) fit better, but was more expensive than the one I got (Lemond Tourmalet). I never did get the Lemond to fit.

    A couple of years later, I decided to buy a new bike and spend a good amount of time just riding a lot of bikes over and over again, with different materials and geometries. The last day I did this, I had three bikes that made it to the finale, an Orbea, a Felt, and a Cannondale. It then came down to Felt and Cannondale, and I really tried to convince myself that I could make the Felt (all Carbon) fit as well as the Cannondale, which just disappeared under me. In the end, I picked the Cannondale (R1000) and know I made the right decision. It may have been possible to have a fitter fit the Felt to me, but I did not want to take the chance. I've comfortably ridden centuries on the Cannondale with only minor tweaks.

    So in my case, it was a matter of taking time to the point where I knew the bike would fit. I may still get a fitting some day, but I'm not sure it would result in anything more than a small incremental improvement.

  13. #13
    FBoD Member at Large khatfull's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Woodbury, MN
    Posts
    6,189
    Mentioned
    1 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)
    I have a new '09 CAAD9-5 for a couple of weeks now. We did the basic (non-aggressive) fit at the LBS. The bike came with a 100mm stem and they sent me home with "loaner" 110mm and 120mm cheapie Cannondale stems (presumably pulls from fitting bikes). I flipped the stem first thing, adhering to BF tenets. I then tried the 120mm and it felt long, just not quite right. I tried the 110mm for about 20 miles night before last and it felt better. I dropped the stem three spacers worth (maybe 15mm?) last night and went out for another ride. POOF! The bike now feels awesome in the drops, hoods, and bars. I can't exactly explain why it does, I know it just does.

    I still have some fiddling to do but with each adjustment it gets dialed in a little better I think. I'm going to hit a 30-50 mile ride this weekend with the current setup to see how it feels at a little longer distance.

    The point of this tirade? When previous posters say "you'll know when it fits" they're right. When the bike fits you'll feel the comfort in all three major hand positions. When the bike fits you'll feel it in the pedals in better power generation and pedal stroke.

    You'll know.

  14. #14
    ..... Jynx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Long Island
    My Bikes
    2006 Cannondale CAAD8
    Posts
    4,823
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    How Do You Know When a Bike Fits You?

    When it doesn't hurt to ride.

  15. #15
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    243
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by khatfull View Post
    I have a new '09 CAAD9-5 for a couple of weeks now. We did the basic (non-aggressive) fit at the LBS. The bike came with a 100mm stem and they sent me home with "loaner" 110mm and 120mm cheapie Cannondale stems (presumably pulls from fitting bikes). I flipped the stem first thing, adhering to BF tenets. I then tried the 120mm and it felt long, just not quite right. I tried the 110mm for about 20 miles night before last and it felt better. I dropped the stem three spacers worth (maybe 15mm?) last night and went out for another ride. POOF! The bike now feels awesome in the drops, hoods, and bars. I can't exactly explain why it does, I know it just does.

    I still have some fiddling to do but with each adjustment it gets dialed in a little better I think. I'm going to hit a 30-50 mile ride this weekend with the current setup to see how it feels at a little longer distance.

    The point of this tirade? When previous posters say "you'll know when it fits" they're right. When the bike fits you'll feel the comfort in all three major hand positions. When the bike fits you'll feel it in the pedals in better power generation and pedal stroke.

    You'll know.
    How much pressure should be on your hands in relation to your sit bones?

  16. #16
    It's ALL base... DScott's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Los Angeles
    Posts
    6,717
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Fullforce View Post
    How much pressure should be on your hands in relation to your sit bones?

    Only my opinion, but you should be able to un-weight your hands while you are in the drops, and hold yourself up just with your abs, at least for a few seconds. Even better if you can do that from the hoods/tops, but I think that's more possible if your core strength is in the "pretty good" range.

    A saddle position that's too far forward puts more weight on the hands. Handelbars that are too far out/down because of stem length/spacers will, too, but are secondary to saddle position, IMO.

  17. #17
    J E R S E Y S B E S T Jerseysbest's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    DC
    Posts
    1,852
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    For me, I fit better on a bike when I'm wearing bike appropriate clothes like a bib and bike shoes. Test riding a bike with jeans and sneakers sucks, and can make a bike feel totally different. Keep that in mind... but if you plan to ride in jeans and sneakers, wear those I guess.

  18. #18
    Senior Member daxr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    K.F., Orygun
    My Bikes
    08 Giant Boulder, 08 Scattante XLR
    Posts
    905
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by slacker_express View Post
    ........
    A couple of years later, I decided to buy a new bike and spend a good amount of time just riding a lot of bikes over and over again, with different materials and geometries. The last day I did this, I had three bikes that made it to the finale, an Orbea, a Felt, and a Cannondale. It then came down to Felt and Cannondale, and I really tried to convince myself that I could make the Felt (all Carbon) fit as well as the Cannondale,
    which just disappeared under me. In the end, I picked the Cannondale (R1000) and know I made the right decision. It may have been possible to have a fitter fit the Felt to me, but I did not want to take the chance. I've comfortably ridden centuries on the Cannondale with only minor tweaks.
    now that's a good way of putting it. Its a weird thing really, though, like whether a saddle works for you. A bunch of different ones might feel ok, but you know you're good when you can ride for a week and realize you haven't thought about the saddle the whole time.

    I've got a Scattante that works pretty good for me, but I'd be happier with a stiffer bike. Though my last road bike was a very stiff Klein with their long wheelbase, and never really responded the way I wanted - riding it was always "making the bike do stuff" instead of just doing it...anyway, its worth trying a bunch of different bikes. It helps if you're in good shape and broken in, but you'll probably know when its a good fit.
    "... the age of Happy Motoring is over. Many Americans have already bought their last car -- they just don't know it yet."

    James Howard Kunstler, 2008.

  19. #19
    :p Harun's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    bay area
    Posts
    349
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by jynx View Post
    how do you know when a bike fits you?

    when the only thing that hurts are your lungs/legs.
    ftfy

  20. #20
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    243
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    That's how I feel now on my hybrid. I want to have that same feeling on a road bike.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •