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Why do I keep changing my bike fit?

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Why do I keep changing my bike fit?

Old 02-07-19, 07:07 PM
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pakossa
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Why do I keep changing my bike fit?

I realize there may not be a true "answer" to this, but since I'm not exactly the brightest tool in the refrigerator, it may just be that there is something obvious that I'm overlooking. I have this O/C thing about constantly adjusting my bike fit (which seems to get worse as the years go by). No matter how I adjust it, it always feels like something is not right. I've made over 1,100 changes since 2008, in the last 5 years averaging over 120 changes per year. I've had 6 bike fittings — every one left me LESS comfortable, and slower — with such a variety in positioning, that you'd swear they were for 6 different cyclists! For example, one had a saddle-to-bar reach of 52 cm, another 59 cm! So, I know I won't find an answer there.The main issue seems to be that I need to keep changing my position in order to stay in the same position. What I mean is that with all my "fit fooling," I've determined the most efficient (and comfortable) saddle position is pretty much "heel-on-pedal" for height, and the furthest forward where I can pass the "hands-off" test, give or take a few mm. The thing is, some days I can pass the hands-off test with the saddle tip 8cm behind BB, other days I can't pass it unless the saddle tip is 10cm back.Likewise, some days a saddle height of 79 cm (BB — center of saddle) is HOP, other days it 80cm. (And, yes, I'm using the same bike, pedals, saddle, etc.) Usually, soon after I start a ride, I'm like, "WHAT THE &@%*!?!?!?!", because the position feels so screwed up, it's like I'm on someone else's bike! (Even though the day before, the fit felt perfect.)So, I spend most of the ride adjusting things, then — usually a mile or two before the end — I finally get it just right. Then, next ride, once again it's "WHAT THE @^#*?!?!?!?!" So, the whole process starts again. (Like a cross between "Breaking Away" and "Groundhog Day.") I also fool with the bar position some, but not nearly as much as the saddle. The only theory I came up with — that my job had something to do with it — didn't pan out. (I'm a mailman who walks 8+ miles a day. I was thinking I might need a different position when doing a ride after work than when riding on my day off. Experimented for a while with that, but didn't discover any pattern.)I suppose fitness/fatigue levels may have some affect. And, yes, there may be a "mental component" to my problem, but, surely, if I can pass the hands-off test at an 8cm setback one day, but need it at 10cm the next, there must be something PHYSICAL is going on, right? If I didn't know better, I'd think my legs randomly grow and shrink at will, or something! Is it possible that I just need a different position on different days? Could it be due to my torso being 10-11cm shorter than normal compared to my legs? Any suggestions appreciated, but, again, I understand if no one has a clear answer.
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Old 02-07-19, 07:10 PM
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Why do I pay for a bike fit and then feel the need to screw up by continuing to fiddle with everything???
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Old 02-07-19, 07:12 PM
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Maybe your amount flexibility is changing from day to day. I would work on some regular stretching, if you're not doing it already. Just a thought.
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Old 02-08-19, 02:31 PM
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Wink Maybe too much internet ?

Birthdays happen , they add up..

That's why my fit needs changed .. I got Old..








....

Last edited by fietsbob; 05-01-19 at 10:08 AM.
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Old 02-08-19, 05:11 PM
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I am guessing that you are not married.
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Old 02-08-19, 05:19 PM
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I know you are saying "it doesn't feel right" but based on your issues, I doubt it ever will. As long as you avoid the positions and adjustments that are causing pain or discomfort during your average ride, sounds like it is what it is. I tweak here and there but usually only with a change of equipment and after 2 years and many thousands of miles, that has settled down. My last issue on my main bike was about the 6 hour point I was getting numb nuts, eventually got a new seat and it's dimensions are not quite the same so it's been some slight tweaking here and there. I don't think I'd ever be able to track down the impact of changes if I was grossly changing all kinds of things every ride.

I'm not a recumbent owner myself but maybe that would give you a better experience?

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Old 02-08-19, 05:22 PM
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Adaptation matters.
If you went to an experienced fitter, or six, and promptly screwed around with the recommended fit(s) without following the inevitable instruction to "ease into" the new position and allow adaption to it over time you wasted lots of $$$.
Some people just can't be coached.
Have fun endlessly screwing around with "fit", and carping about bogus errata like "my job had something to do with it" and/or "my legs randomly grow and shrink at will".

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Old 02-09-19, 11:25 AM
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The Universe has been evolving from it's very first moments so it is not too surprising that we, products of that same Universe, would evolve also. For me, I've continually messed with my fit for 24,000 miles and, by golly, I seem to have arrived at a place where fit is perfect or near perfect. It is lower and longer than I have tried in the past. I think it is perfect because it is comfortable and I just about don't need cycling gloves to deal with hand discomfort. Equally at play it the fact that I exercise regularly and most recently I've been strengthening back muscles so there is less weight on the hands. To sum up, the best fit is a matter of more than a single avenue of approach. For yourself, I would suggest you continue messing with fit and get that core up to strength.
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Old 02-09-19, 12:28 PM
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Watch a couple Youtube videos of Sean Kelly racing (his fit flew in the face everything, yet he still won races); then stop thinking about bike fit and keep riding your bike without making anymore changes. In a month's time, that will be your new normal.
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Old 02-09-19, 01:50 PM
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That you have definite numbers over an 11 year period suggests some detailed record keeping-

you must have a good system.
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Old 02-10-19, 09:50 AM
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I would say that the fit is not the problem.
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Old 02-10-19, 06:39 PM
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Get a different saddle and call it good.
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Old 02-10-19, 07:58 PM
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Heel on pedal while riding - ride a bit, then unclip and test each foot while pedaling forward normally, with your butt where you like it on the saddle. Then test for power pulling back at the bottom of the stroke. Fool around with this on one ride, then don't change it. Just don't.

Same thing with fore-and-aft. Set it and forget it. But do the height adjustment after getting balance about right.

For reach, set your balance position then, using a mirror, set your reach so that your upper arms make a 90° angle with your straight torso when in your normal hoods position with bent elbows.

Set all this and then simply don't change it. It takes time for the body to adapt to a new position. It can't adapt if you keep messing with it. Get a good technical position and than leave it alone for a couple years.

I've seen very experienced riders using positions that I'd never use. They'd adapted to them so that any change would be uncomfortable, never mind if it was really best for them. So the main thing is to adapt.
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Old 02-10-19, 11:19 PM
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Originally Posted by pakossa View Post
, there must be something PHYSICAL is going on, right? If I didn't know better, I'd think my legs randomly grow and shrink at will, or something!
I took the flexibility thing seriously, committed to yoga and fitness training, lost a bunch of weight. The bike fit issues solved themselves but to my surprise I went up two sizes in my frames. Very happy now. I guess my point is it might be a mistake to focus on your bike fit, focus on your physical conditioning and flexibility.
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Old 02-11-19, 02:00 PM
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Give yourself time to adapt to whatever changes you make. Establish a minimum amount of time on the bike or # of rides before making additional changes(unless you're really in pain). I'd also suggest small changes, like +/- 1cm saddle height adjustments at a time. Sounds like you have a record of what you're doing though.

I recognized that I get in a "fit happy" mood after watching videos or scrolling past articles. Lately it has mostly been time spent on Zwift that's motivated me to tweak things, but it feels like time on the trainer is designed to be a PITA. After reading a "Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance" book I made some adjustments and am going to try to commit to waiting another month before doing anything else. I've found that warm ups and cool downs help me feel more comfortable overall. They are something I don't really do when I ride on the road.

Best of luck!
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Old 02-12-19, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by TakingMyTime View Post
I would say that the fit is not the problem.
Then what exactly is?
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Old 02-12-19, 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by pakossa View Post
Then what exactly is?
I think you pointed it out in your second sentence of this post....

"I have this O/C thing about constantly adjusting my bike fit"

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Old 02-13-19, 06:38 AM
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Wow, Mo Collins from Mad TV. Her character "Lorraine" was hysterical. Also Stuart's mom.
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Old 02-21-19, 11:31 AM
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I've done the same thing. Eventually I discovered the love of extreme bar drop. Now Iove having my bars 170mm below the saddle. I would have never believed this could be comfortable until I tried it with what I then considered a too-small frame. I had this small framed bike and just experimented with increasing bar drop after I saw professional cyclists who ride all day every day in this radically aero position. I shocked to discover how much I love it. It's counter-intuitive but lowering the bars relieves pressure on my arms and hands. Previously I was having discomfort from shoulder, neck, and back pain, hand and arm numbness.

I believe that bicycle fit is often a psychological hurdle. People just have erroneous beliefs about what positions can be comfortable, and that riding upright is somehow better than riding aero. I'm sure my setup looks torturous to other people, but to me it feels terrific.

Even my mountain bike has to be set up this way. I've quit tweaking my riding position after doing this.

Last edited by Clem von Jones; 02-21-19 at 12:04 PM.
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Old 02-23-19, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Clem von Jones View Post
I've done the same thing. Eventually I discovered the love of extreme bar drop. Now Iove having my bars 170mm below the saddle. I would have never believed this could be comfortable until I tried it with what I then considered a too-small frame. I had this small framed bike and just experimented with increasing bar drop after I saw professional cyclists who ride all day every day in this radically aero position. I shocked to discover how much I love it. It's counter-intuitive but lowering the bars relieves pressure on my arms and hands. Previously I was having discomfort from shoulder, neck, and back pain, hand and arm numbness.

I believe that bicycle fit is often a psychological hurdle. People just have erroneous beliefs about what positions can be comfortable, and that riding upright is somehow better than riding aero. I'm sure my setup looks torturous to other people, but to me it feels terrific.

Even my mountain bike has to be set up this way. I've quit tweaking my riding position after doing this.
That's a rad MTB setup. Why not use MTB bars and shifters?

I agree with the drop issue. I run slammed -17° stems and wish my legs were longer so I'd have more drop. So much more comfortable to have lots of drop.
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Old 02-23-19, 08:34 PM
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If you had pain and numbness in your hands/arm, it sounds a lot more like the problem was/is the saddle being too far forward. (In the photo, it appears the tip of saddle is only 2-3cm behind BB. My hands/arms would be a wreck in that position, too!)
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Old 02-26-19, 11:23 AM
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>>If you had pain and numbness in your hands/arm, it sounds a lot more like the problem was/is the saddle being too far forward. (In the photo, it appears the tip of saddle is only 2-3cm behind BB. My hands/arms would be a wreck in that position, too!)

You're right. I have put a shorter stem on and moved by saddle backward since this photo was taken. Setback is around 70mm now.

>>That's a rad MTB setup. Why not use MTB bars and shifters?

I just prefer drop bars. Having my wrists parallel to the frame is more comfortable, and the extra drop is fantastic on steep climbs, or when riding long distance at fast speed on the flats. This bike was inspired by Jackie Phelan and John Tomac who pioneered professional racing drop-bar mountain bikes.

Initially I had bar-end shifters but I kept bumping them with my knees. I've been pleased with these Microshift brifters but people with small hands tend to dislike them because they require a long distance sideways throw for shifts.

Last edited by Clem von Jones; 02-26-19 at 03:59 PM.
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Old 04-24-19, 10:21 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by FrenchFit View Post
I took the flexibility thing seriously, committed to yoga and fitness training, lost a bunch of weight. The bike fit issues solved themselves but to my surprise I went up two sizes in my frames. Very happy now. I guess my point is it might be a mistake to focus on your bike fit, focus on your physical conditioning and flexibility.
This has been my experience as well. I am approaching 70. I dropped 30-40 lbs. I do sit ups on an inclined bench and work with bar bells too. I have permanent nerve damage to my cranial vertebra, from a car accident. If I skip just a few days I feel it!
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Old 04-25-19, 12:47 PM
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Just ride. Stop thinking about your position and enjoy the scenery. Otherwise, you're missing the forest for the trees.
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Old 04-28-19, 06:13 PM
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Wow, that many fits and all those changes would be a recipe for divorce. Maintain flexibility and core strength, drop a few kilos if necessary. I have struggled before with fit. Once all that is addressed the only issue I have is I am in search of the grail - the perfect saddle. Not just one I ride with no issues, but actually FEEL 100% comfortable in at every point of the ride. But to the OP, I think you may be overanalysing things. As another said, just enjoy the ride and all of a sudden you will find your bike fit really is alright.
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