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Often heard, never explained...

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Often heard, never explained...

Old 10-24-15, 07:45 PM
  #1  
one4smoke
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Often heard, never explained...

I often hear it said on these forums "buy the bike that fits you the best," but hardly never any real details or suggestions given. How do you know which one feels or fits the best? How can you possibly know in the short amount of time that you're given to test one?

I have ongoing issues with numbness in my hands, and have made numerous changes to my bike at the suggestions of the owner where I bought my bike. Nothing has helped very much. But the point I'm trying to make is, every time I make a change, I need to ride and ride to know how the change will affect me. Not just a short ride, but one of over 10 miles ...at least. It takes that to really be able to tell if what you've done is beneficial.

Having said that, when buying a new bike, how do you get on one long enough to know exactly how it really feels to you? Most LBS will only tolerate 5 or 10 mins of test riding. Not nearly long enough to see what the affects will be. I can certainly understand them wanting to keep new bikes new.

So, how can you put enough time on a bike you're testing to get a proper assessment and know it's the right bike for you?
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Old 10-24-15, 08:03 PM
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Personally, I rarely test ride bicycles. It all comes down to measurements.


Here's a thread I started in the Road forum about measurements:
http://www.bikeforums.net/road-cycli...surements.html
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Old 10-24-15, 08:11 PM
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Well, first off, there's a wealth of posts/discussion/information/references on this subject in the Fitting Your Bike sub forum. As to the second part/question....everyone's different as to how much trial and fitting they need. Some highly experienced can order out custom with confidence. New folk, it should take a lot more trial and dependence on a good LBS with good people to get the right fit. I'm a bit in between...not good nor confident enough buy without trying, but have a good LBS and it took me less than a minute on the bike I bought to know it would work out just fine with a few fitting tweaks.

Last edited by ltxi; 10-24-15 at 08:14 PM.
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Old 10-24-15, 08:35 PM
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It would be so easy if there was a one size fits all advice. We humans all go in to it with a preconceived idea of what we want. We have a vision of ourselves riding the bike we saw XX riding. We research the materials and brands. Get taken in by ad copy. Unfortunately the bike we often really need may seem pretty dorky. And when we don't impress everyone on the first ride, it must be the bike.

That is where the idea of a beginners bike comes in. Make your mistakes on a cheap bike, and don't upgrade, only change things that change the fit. And finally, as you gain fitness, figure it out or find you can't get there from here, start over.

But cheap bikes are slow, right?
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BHOJ2814J9Q
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Old 10-24-15, 09:41 PM
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I work in a store that has a very liberal return policy - I think that is the best part of getting a good fit. When I sell a bike (in particular a road bike or a mountain bike that is going to used as such), I really try to get the fit as close as possible in the static position. A test ride will sort allow the customer to find one that should work well.Then I explain the adjustments one can make while riding. But I always let the buyer know that they really need to get a couple hundred miles on the bike before they can know if it is the right one - they need to get it dialed in for their body and stle of riding. Thus, the liberal return policy for those who can'tget the bike to work.
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Old 10-24-15, 10:58 PM
  #6  
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I recently got back into cycling and it took me a while to achieve a good fit on my new to me second-hand bike. On the one hand it is very simple - find a bike that is your size and adjust seat and handle bars to your comfort. OTOH, we are all differently shaped with different flexibilities and different goals and riding styles. There are some basic guidelines to follow (for frame size and seat height, for example), but the fine-tuning will depend on so many different factors, there is no 'one size fits all.'

I started with the basic guidelines but was quite uncomfortable on the bike after a few kms. Through a lot of googling and trial and error I discovered that my right side is significantly tighter, i.e., less flexible than my left. I had to lower my saddle quite a bit (about 10cm I think) to be able to ride without pain. Once I did this a few other problems magically resolved themselves. In essence, I found a sweet spot for this particular bike with my particular body. So for me there was somewhat of a learning curve but I learned a lot about fit and my own body in the process and it was definitely worth it.

I guess what I am trying to say is that knowing what a good fit is for you personally will come with time and experience, trial and error.
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Old 10-24-15, 11:27 PM
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Personally I'm not big on the "fit". I do have some idea of what is close, and do tinker a bit. But, have now gone from a one-bike person to a two (or multiple) bike person, each with a bit different fit.

At most, if you think of 3 attachment points to the bike. Cranks, seat, and handlebars, then you can set those 3 points with a variety of bikes by changing your stem and seat positioning.

What kind of bike are you riding? I've seen a few other threads about a Giant Roam Hybrid??? One of the things that comes up is the ability to change hand positions. With the hybrid you're pretty much locked with a single hand position.

With drops, one often naturally moves from one hand position to another, from the drops to the hoods to the tops and etc. Sometimes I'll find new and unique hand positions. For example, sometimes simply holding on to the knobs on top of the brake levers, of just hanging on with a few fingers.

Bar ends, and perhaps Ergon grips may help a bit with your hybrid. Also consider touring butterfly bars.

Originally Posted by catgita View Post
But cheap bikes are slow, right?
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BHOJ2814J9Q
Not the vegan guy He is, however, a strong cyclist. So much is in the rider. And, yes, there is quite a bit of trickle down technology.
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Old 10-25-15, 05:19 AM
  #8  
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Some people do have fit problems and its because of prior injuries maybe from other sports or accidents, or over use. This translates to bike riding which is mostly a repetitive action. I don't think the human body was designed to ride a bike or to be a couch potato either.

Run and walk (hike)? Yes, more than bike. All the adjustments (fit) are about compensating for this bike thing. You get dialed in so that it feels comfortable, tolerable to your body.

Spawning of a niche: test riding for a week is something I would like to do. Maybe even two weeks, depending on circumstances. For a price of $500, you can have the frameset and groupset and a fitting. An additional fitting would be $100.
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Old 10-25-15, 06:38 AM
  #9  
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An experienced rider can usually tell in a very short ride that a bike fits right because they know the feel they are looking for. Newer riders should not consider a test ride 1 lap around the parking lot. You need to ride for an hour or so to know how it really feels to you. You are more likely to get it close if you know all your measurements, not just height, and can provide them to the LBS. That will allow them to hit the first guess pretty close. If you are test riding and need something adjusted differently then the test starts over with the adjustment. Most bikes will fit one size above and one size below ideal. You can make adjustments like stem length, seat position, bar width .... to dial it in.
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Old 10-25-15, 06:39 AM
  #10  
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Fortunately a bike that's close to the right size can be adjusted to fit. Most people can comfortably fit within a two size range. I can ride most 56's and some 58's. Heck, there's probably some 54's I an ride. Unfortunately fitting is not an exacting science. Science can put a fitter in a good starting point, but individual preferences and individual medical issues will likely have to be accounted for. Fitting shouldn't be looked at as a one time thing. A few adjustments may have to be made after you spend a little time on the bike.
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Old 10-25-15, 07:14 AM
  #11  
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I had the same concern at first. I wanted to get into road biking, but wanted to get a decent older bike used rather than an expensive LBS bike so having the LBS fit me wasn't really an option. My first bike was one I could barely stand over... top tube does push the man parts slightly and the flutes on the seat post are barely showing. Since that bike I have gone down one size, and then down an additional size... First was 23" frame, then I bought a 22" and 21". I think they all feel absolutely fine. The 21" doesn't feel small in the slightest so I could probably go even smaller. You can always extend the seat higher, and stem (all mine are quill) so basically anything shorter than nut-cruncher seems to fit fine for me.
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Old 10-25-15, 02:09 PM
  #12  
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For me with upright bars it's easier to go smaller than it is to go larger. You can always raise a seatpost. But, it's impossible to lower a frame. Unless you got mad welding skills. Smaller bikes are usually lighter & quicker too. Now with drop bars, that's a whole different discussion. Perfect fit becomes very important with drop bars. Of course, I avoid riding drop bar bikes unless it's absolutely necessary. They're so damn uncomfortable.
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Old 10-25-15, 02:37 PM
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All I can say is I test road several different bikes and the Sirrus Sport immediately felt good compared to the others. I still had a bike fitting and changed the stem and seat as well as seat placement, but I first started with the "right" bike just based upon feel. I am sure any one of the other bikes probably could have been "fitted" to me as well. The difference is that I just plain and simple felt better on the Sirrus from the start.
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Old 10-26-15, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by one4smoke View Post
I often hear it said on these forums "buy the bike that fits you the best," but hardly never any real details or suggestions given. How do you know which one feels or fits the best? How can you possibly know in the short amount of time that you're given to test one?

I have ongoing issues with numbness in my hands, and have made numerous changes to my bike at the suggestions of the owner where I bought my bike. Nothing has helped very much. But the point I'm trying to make is, every time I make a change, I need to ride and ride to know how the change will affect me. Not just a short ride, but one of over 10 miles ...at least. It takes that to really be able to tell if what you've done is beneficial.

Having said that, when buying a new bike, how do you get on one long enough to know exactly how it really feels to you? Most LBS will only tolerate 5 or 10 mins of test riding. Not nearly long enough to see what the affects will be. I can certainly understand them wanting to keep new bikes new.

So, how can you put enough time on a bike you're testing to get a proper assessment and know it's the right bike for you?
By riding. I started off riding a cheap 90s Schwinn using just the seat tube length. When that bike was stolen I rescued an old Panasonic from a junk heap and started playing around with crank arm lengths, stems, handlebar types, saddles, etc. then moved onto frames/forks. Been through a few different frame sizes and types. I'm still learning about what I like, what fits the best. Experience will reveal to you what you prefer in terms of compliance, what frame type is the most comfortable, if you even prefer comfort over sportiness, how you ride and why, etc.

Or you can take the easy/cheaper way by test riding. Or make a guesstimate based on a fit calculator and just ride it.

Last edited by jfowler85; 10-26-15 at 07:58 AM.
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Old 10-26-15, 08:14 AM
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For all the pontificating the seat should be more or less level with the handlebars and your feet while sitting on the seat should not be flat on the ground but on your tip toes a little bit. I can;'t adjust my handlebars anyway as i have a hybrid.

For a while i had my seat particularly low (all the way down) for tricks and downhill stuff but figured I'd use the extra power of full leg extension more than I need the freedom of movement of not having a seat in the way. Didn't bother me to ride like that but didn't get full range of motion on pedaling. When I 1st got it they said eh looks about the right fit and they didn't adjust anything.

I do feel like I'd like my handle bars a tad higher so i could sit straight up sometimes but it's a hybrid not a cruiser so I think it's meant to be a little forward and aggressive like that. I'd shorten the whole bike by an inch and raise the bar a tad. Maybe i needed a smaller size but I'm 6'2, L is likely appropriate. I could maybe Move the seat all the way forward and a little down, might be better.
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Old 10-26-15, 09:01 AM
  #16  
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Originally Posted by one4smoke View Post
I often hear it said on these forums "buy the bike that fits you the best," but hardly never any real details or suggestions given. How do you know which one feels or fits the best? How can you possibly know in the short amount of time that you're given to test one?
Through experience, with help from your local bike shop, or via a fit calculator like the one at Competitive Cyclist, you should be able to get a ballpark understanding of what'll fit, and you can adjust your contact points to make it work. So long as you get reasonably close on the frame size, you should be able get your fit dialed in through adjustments (such as saddle height and angle) and component selection (handlebar stem length and angle).

Originally Posted by one4smoke View Post
I have ongoing issues with numbness in my hands, and have made numerous changes to my bike at the suggestions of the owner where I bought my bike. Nothing has helped very much.
This could be a sign of a physiological issue like nerve compression, beyond the scope of basic bike fitting. You may want to ask your doctor for his advice. Are you having numbness in the thumb and first two fingers or that half of the palm, which might indicate carpal tunnel syndrome? Or maybe the ring finger & pinky, which might hint at ulnar nerve compression?

With that said, there are things you can try to alleviate numbness: Try a different type of handlebar or grip so you're not putting pressure on the same points. Change your hand position frequently as you ride. Make sure you're not putting too much weight on your hands, which may require adjustments to saddle & handlebar position. Try padded cycling gloves and/or fatter, more padded grips.

Originally Posted by one4smoke View Post
But the point I'm trying to make is, every time I make a change, I need to ride and ride to know how the change will affect me. Not just a short ride, but one of over 10 miles ...at least ...So, how can you put enough time on a bike you're testing to get a proper assessment and know it's the right bike for you?
I can pretty quickly get a feel for whether the frame size is right. Is the bike too tall for me? Top tube too long or too short for me? If not, everything else is adjustable. I know I'll be tweaking things after the first ten (or hundred) miles to get things dialed in perfectly. At that point, it's not a matter of buying the bike that fits right, but adjusting your bike so that it fits just right.
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Old 10-26-15, 09:02 AM
  #17  
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Originally Posted by one4smoke View Post
I often hear it said on these forums "buy the bike that fits you the best," but hardly never any real details or suggestions given.
That's because it's bad advice. If a person is experienced enough to know what fits him the best he wouldn't be asking, and what feels good initially to an inexperienced cyclist isn't indicative of the best fit in the long term. Fortunately for us, most bikes can be adjusted to various fits and what we really need is a frame in the right general size.

How do you know which one feels or fits the best? How can you possibly know in the short amount of time that you're given to test one?
Someone who's ridden for years can tell by feel.

I have ongoing issues with numbness in my hands, and have made numerous changes to my bike at the suggestions of the owner where I bought my bike. Nothing has helped very much. But the point I'm trying to make is, every time I make a change, I need to ride and ride to know how the change will affect me. Not just a short ride, but one of over 10 miles ...at least. It takes that to really be able to tell if what you've done is beneficial.
I think it takes a couple of weeks and a lot more miles to really tell what the adjustment has done, because our body has to adapt, we may utilize our muscles slightly differently and recruit different muscle groups, and we have to learn to hold our bodies differently.

For hand numbness, although sometimes people say "fit, fit, fit" sometimes it's not fit at all. Sometimes it's how and where you hold your hands, or how you're holding your body up. I'd look at technique first, and then equipment.
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