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Did I just waste $100 on my bike fit?

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Did I just waste $100 on my bike fit?

Old 10-15-21, 01:15 PM
  #1  
ivane07
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Did I just waste $100 on my bike fit?

Hey all! First post here.

Some stats:
1.71m, riding a 52 Specialized Allez Elite 2018

After injuring myself on a bike that's too big (I know) I replaced it with a 52 Allez Elite and, following advice, got a bike fir right away. Now, I know that size charts are only a reference and a professional fit can throw that off. But according to the Specialized I should be on the top end of a 52 or a low end of a 54, which is great, so I sized down to a 52.

I book my appointment at my country's biggest LBS (by far) only to be recommended a size 49 (I don't mind) but with a 60mm stem.

I don't think a 60mm stem belongs on an adult road bike?

Now, I know that proportions matter a lot in bike fitting. But I'd have to have some sort of abnormality (T-Rex arms) to need a 60mm stem on a size 49 bike @1.72. The fitter was adamant it was okay and that he has fitted a lot of 60mm stems.

It left me wondering what size of bike would I need to use a normal (90mm-100mm) stem. A size 44? A kids bike?
Now my handling is severly impacted with the 70mm stem he fitted me on my 52 (because I complained) and riding no handed is very scary.

Note: he also adjusted my saddle for reach. Also said that if I could see my front hub that was "perfect". I though the general rule of thumb was the opposite?

Any comments welcome.

EDIT: Well, thank you all for your comments. It's nice to know I'm not crazy! I switched back to my stock 90mm stem and kept everything else the same, it still feels good and stable. What a waste of money.
On the bright side the cleats and saddle height seem to be okay. He also noticed I had a leg shorter than the other (I confirmed-- it is actually shorter) and gave me a cleat wedge for free. Still, I would've liked to find another fitter.
Ride on!

Last edited by ivane07; 10-18-21 at 08:51 AM.
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Old 10-15-21, 01:59 PM
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If you don't take any of the fitters suggestions then it was probably a waste of money.

I'm, between two sizes of Tarmac 56 & 58cm and think a 54cm might actually have been best for me. Wish I'd thought to try one.

I have put a 70 mm stem and 38cm bars on it and improved the very minor annoying things that a smaller frame might have given me.

​​​​​​So if you are having issues then try the fitters suggestions for a dozen or two dozen rides to see.

And general rules of thumb are only useful when you have no better idea. Only look at them as maybe some thing to get you in the ballpark.

Last edited by Iride01; 10-15-21 at 02:02 PM.
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Old 10-17-21, 05:41 AM
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I'd be skeptical of advice from that fitter. Aside from an anatomical abnormality, a "clean slate" fit that uses a 60mm stem on a road bike is pretty far afield. At 5'6" the 52 should be workable. I'd start with a 90mm stem and set the saddle height and fore/aft by one of the several established methods. That should get you pretty close.
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Old 10-17-21, 09:16 AM
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I found the size charts to be a good place to start. Giant nailed it with my new bike in 2018. I would have worked with the stock stem on your Allez (90 mm on a 2020) for some time first.

As for fitting, I would have reservations about a fitter that recomends too small or large a bike according to the chart, and uses seat set back to adjust reach. Seat set back should be used mainly to set the riding position relative to the pedals, not the handlebar. For that we can use the stem length, angle, and handlebar choice if necessary if adjusting the height and angle (on some stems) doesn't work.

Even with a textbook fit, Everyone has different needs. At best all they can do is get you in the ballpark. Which is why I always start with the proper size bike and set the seat height & set back first, Then play with handlebar height and stem angle (on some stems).

For professional racers and people with serious limitations a professional fit might be best, but for the rest of us I think if we do some research we can get the bike to feel right. I had some knee pain and read seat setback is important here, so I slid it back on the rails and it works fine now. Previously I used it to adjust reach...bad choice.

Last edited by xroadcharlie; 10-17-21 at 09:26 AM.
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Old 10-17-21, 05:15 PM
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Originally Posted by ivane07 View Post
Hey all! First post here.

Some stats:
1.71m, riding a 52 Specialized Allez Elite 2018

After injuring myself on a bike that's too big (I know) I replaced it with a 52 Allez Elite and, following advice, got a bike fir right away. Now, I know that size charts are only a reference and a professional fit can throw that off. But according to the Specialized I should be on the top end of a 52 or a low end of a 54, which is great, so I sized down to a 52.
I book my appointment at my country's biggest LBS (by far) only to be recommended a size 49 (I don't mind) but with a 60mm stem.
I don't think a 60mm stem belongs on an adult road bike?
Now, I know that proportions matter a lot in bike fitting. But I'd have to have some sort of abnormality (T-Rex arms) to need a 60mm stem on a size 49 bike @1.72. The fitter was adamant it was okay and that he has fitted a lot of 60mm stems.
It left me wondering what size of bike would I need to use a normal (90mm-100mm) stem. A size 44? A kids bike?
Now my handling is severly impacted with the 70mm stem he fitted me on my 52 (because I complained) and riding no handed is very scary.
Note: he also adjusted my saddle for reach. Also said that if I could see my front hub that was "perfect". I though the general rule of thumb was the opposite?
Any comments welcome.
OK, everything else aside - you're on the bike you're on... so the idea is to make it fit.
1st thing is to get the saddle position in a good spot for you - height and saddle setback. I'm not gonna go into 'How' - there are a ton of references out there. But once you get height within 4-5mm or so, the saddle setback decides everything else. It's NOT adjusted to find the best 'reach' - reach and 'Drop', bar rotation is adjusted once the saddle is set.
if you already had a saddle 'setback' on a prior bike - I would start with that - it may be way off, but your knees/legs/muscles would be accustomed - especially if you're a frequent rider (3-5+ 1hr+ rides a week or more...) Then do adjustments in 1 cm increments so you don;t screw up your knees/muscles - DON'T DO Metric Centuries or longer rides after making an adjustment - give legs some time to adjust (4-5 rides min...). most common setback measure is to measure distance saddle nose to center of bottom bracket via vertical plumb line - drop plumb line from seat nose - measure horizontal. THIS ASSUMES some std saddle Dims - 270-275 saddle length, key is where you actually sit - where sitzbones are placed on saddle ... for me that's 220 from nose approx +-2-3mm. KEY - make sure bike is LEVEL when you measure and adjust saddle setback - you'd be surprised at how many floors are way off 'level' !!!
THEN after saddle position - you work on reach/drop - that then depends on how much 'lean' you prefer in the most used 'position/posture', for many riders that's hands on hoods.
now my litany for 'posture' - arms bent at elbows, elbows tucked close to torso (as comfortable, for all of this), shoulders dropped not held up near ears - NOT straight arming or A-Framing arms and body !!!
start with whatever Stem length you have/like - ride that, then adjust as to what you might wish - more aero or more upright. A lot depends on your torso core/hip/and back strength AND how much mass you're carrying in your torso and your FLEXIBILTY... some easily go forward, others are challenged...
When I help someone adjust their 'fit/position', there are always objectives stated before! Then we work from saddle and cleat position 1st! Ride for some days, then work on bar/stem.
The idea is also to get a good balance which allows the least fatigue, best power, least chance of focused injury (hands-carpal tunnel, knees, hips etc...)
And it always means min. of 2 or more sessions - first saddle, then stem - often that will take additional changes...
Saddle is not adjusted to create a 'reach', your reach is adjusted after you find a good saddle setup. This, itself has many contentious disagreements - but once you have overall setup completed, you might find you have a very light touch on the bars most of the time - and this is often independent of the amount of body lean in a 'position'.
Given your Height, and assuming some median human proportions, a saddle setback of 6 to 6.5 cm would be a reasonable start point. Could easily go greater - likely not less...
But then, there are plenty of riders (road bike) who ride with less - much harder on the knees, patella, meniscus...
OLD SCHOOL BS = if I could see my front hub that was "perfect" or the opposite " Hub view hidden behind Bars" . Vast majority of riders will be all over the place on where they see the Frt hub. Body proportions and ultimate preferred 'posture' will decide what you see...
If this fitter didn't ask a bunch of questions regarding what you'd like to achieve, Qs about yourself and how, why you ride, and what you have been riding (and current posture); then he didn;t do the home work.
good luck
let us know how you fair...
remember this is just an outline ! internet fitting is impossible. obviously even fitting in meat space often doesn;t seem to work.
Ride On
Yuri

EDIT : stem length has a great effect on perceived 'stability' of the front end. short stem will feel more 'twitchy' , longer stem will feel more 'directional/stable'.
As speed increases, small changes in your 'steering' can have greater effects - think riding downhill at 30+ mph... most riders are surprised how 'twithcy' a bike becomes at higher speeds - often that due to their own steering/arm instabilities.... Being stretched too far is also an issue - there's a 'sweet spot' for most riders.
EDIT2: You don;t happen to be in Barcelona, Espana area ??? LOL!

Last edited by cyclezen; 10-17-21 at 06:53 PM.
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Old 10-17-21, 06:15 PM
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Specialized chart shows 5' 7" - 5 10" is a 54cm, comes with a 100mm stem. You went down 1 size to a 52cm, comes with a 90mm? Cranks 170mm vs. 172.5. That's prob what I would have done. If you have pretty "average" proportions, I think you are on the right bike. You could try different lengths of stem, +or- 10mm. More likely +10mm to 100mm. But -30mm? I would seriously question the judgement of anyone who says you need to drop to a 49 and go to a 60mm stem. I would say you didn't get much value for your $100. Kind of like betting on the Vikings to cover the spread. Adjust your saddle to "neutral" or "standard" on the bike you have. Set the seat height properly, then ride it. A few times. I don't think you'll be too far off optimum. Tweak as needed. Specialized aren't a bunch of fools. If your proportions are skewed then I have no idea.

5'8 on a 49cm with a 60mm stem, short legs and really short arms?

Last edited by grizzly59; 10-17-21 at 06:19 PM.
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Old 10-18-21, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
I'd be skeptical of advice from that fitter. Aside from an anatomical abnormality, a "clean slate" fit that uses a 60mm stem on a road bike is pretty far afield. At 5'6" the 52 should be workable. I'd start with a 90mm stem and set the saddle height and fore/aft by one of the several established methods. That should get you pretty close.
Exactly. I could never understand how my "optimum fit" would include a 60mm stem on any size bike, let alone a sized down two times bike. Thanks for the suggestion! I'm back on my 90mm stem and it feels fine.
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Old 10-18-21, 08:47 AM
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Thank you for the detailed answer. I agree, I'm no bike fitter by a long shot but even I know saddle fore/aft should be relative to the pedals and not to accomodate reach.

If this fitter didn't ask a bunch of questions regarding what you'd like to achieve, Qs about yourself and how, why you ride, and what you have been riding (and current posture); then he didn;t do the home work.
good luck
Nope. He did not, sadly
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Old 10-18-21, 09:00 AM
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EDIT : stem length has a great effect on perceived 'stability' of the front end. short stem will feel more 'twitchy' , longer stem will feel more 'directional/stable'.
As speed increases, small changes in your 'steering' can have greater effects - think riding downhill at 30+ mph... most riders are surprised how 'twithcy' a bike becomes at higher speeds - often that due to their own steering/arm instabilities.... Being stretched too far is also an issue - there's a 'sweet spot' for most riders.
I'd probably get myself killed descending on a 60mm stem at 30+ mph lmao

EDIT2: You don;t happen to be in Barcelona, Espana area ??? LOL!
No, but I wish ha! Probably in some years for a master's degree. I'm in Panama, saludos!
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Old 10-18-21, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by ivane07 View Post
I'd probably get myself killed descending on a 60mm stem at 30+ mph lmao
That just reeks of pre-conceived ideas that probably will keep you from ever trying something long enough to see if it's helpful or not.

When I change my positions up significantly, it does feel odd at first. But you get use to them over time and sometimes they are in fact better positions for me. If you didn't ride with the 60 mm stem for very many miles and a dozen maybe 2 dozen rides, then I can't see how you really would have given it a fair try.

If it gave you more pains then yes you probably should change it back. But if it just felt odd to you, then use it till it didn't feel odd and then see if it's better overall. IMO.

If you are comfortable in the position you had on your bike, then there was no need to go to a fitter. And if you two didn't talk about what the goals were for the fit, then shame on both of you. Fits aren't just for maximizing comfort. They also can be about maximizing power. And the two don't always go together perfectly.
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