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How does bike fit mesh with test rides and purchases?

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How does bike fit mesh with test rides and purchases?

Old 06-16-18, 06:13 PM
  #1  
puma1552
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How does bike fit mesh with test rides and purchases?

I've been wondering about this. My local LBS will provide a free fitting with purchase of a road bike (a $60 one, not a full blown fit which they offer for another $259). But of course you will have bought the bike before getting that $60 fit.

But how do you know you're buying a bike that ultimately will fit well if you are making the purchase before the fitting? What do you look for in the test ride, do you just test a couple sizes and figure if it's reasonably comfortable off the rack, it can surely be dialed in to fit like a glove? Is that all you really need to look for when test riding? And likewise, if it's pretty uncomfortable right off the rack, probably best to avoid trying to make it fit?

With all the discussion about how important fit and geometry is, I don't think I'm overthinking this, but I don't know. The way people talk about fit, you'd think one bike is going to be amazeballs while another is going to be absolutely atrocious with no chance of ever fitting well or being comfortable.

Just curious how you decide that the bike is going to be sufficient and able to be fit well prior to purchase and actually having that fit done.
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Old 06-16-18, 07:26 PM
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Many people talk about fit from a theoretical perspective, just something they read about in an article and regurgitate. There is also something called confirmation bias, wherein, if one pays for an expensive service they tend to defend it being worthwhile, otherwise they would appear foolish for worrying about it so much. $259 for a bike fit? Not unless you are racing I say. How much does that work out to an hour? Cause that's about 2.5 hr's for a plumber who also needs tools and a service vehicle.
And, quite frankly, we are pretty soft and spoiled these days and think things need to be absolutely perfect for what is at best, moderate performance goals.

Having said that, unless one is racing, a general fit (as opposed to very specific) is fairly important so what you are doing is a pretty good call. Could it be though that you pay for the bike, get a free fit, and then they order the bike based on that fit? This makes sense to pay for the generic bike first (size to be determined later) as otherwise people would just get the fit and then walk out saying they changed their mind. I have also seen it where you pay for the fit separate, but if you buy the bike, the fit cost is deducted from the final sale price. It certainly doesn't make sense to order a size of bike and then do the fitting so I would check on that.

Last edited by Happy Feet; 06-16-18 at 07:30 PM.
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Old 06-17-18, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by puma1552 View Post
But how do you know you're buying a bike that ultimately will fit well if you are making the purchase before the fitting? What do you look for in the test ride, do you just test a couple sizes and figure if it's reasonably comfortable off the rack, it can surely be dialed in to fit like a glove?
That's pretty much my approach. I like to be able to bracket my target size. If I think I need a 55 cm, then I like to also try a 53 and 57 to be sure things get worse in either direction. In any case, if the bike feels good off the rack, then I'm confident I can swap parts like bars, seat, stem to dial in the fit.
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Old 06-17-18, 09:07 AM
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What does a "full blown fit" involve? I could see spending $259.00 if you were having a custom frame built. The bike shop should not try to sell you a bike that doesn't fit! All adjustments and fine tuning should be included in the bikes price. I recently bought a bike and wanted an adjustable handlebar stem, which I bought. They installed it for free along with some other accessories that I purchased.
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Old 06-17-18, 09:35 AM
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What if you just want to figure out general sizing at a very basic level, like figuring out an effective top tube length to go initial shopping based off of? I don't know if I'd want to pay $60 to find that out since no shop sells all brands and I'm not sure where I'm going to land.
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Old 06-17-18, 11:32 AM
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I bought my first drop bar in decades last year and 4500 miles later I am still tweaking it. Get the general size and comfort from a test ride and go from there. A 10 minute test ride is not the same as a 30 minute ride or rides multiple times a week but good for a start. Depending on your riding history and amount, your comfort can change quickly as you adapt and ride more. Initially problems may not be a fit problem but a body problem.

I wouldn't pay a single cent for a generic bike fitting that did not involve me on the bike I owned or was about to own. How is that even done?

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Old 06-17-18, 12:02 PM
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'Fit' is now a product / service, where before it was a conversation with the customer...

and changing a couple parts from what the factory supplied , to have a bike to test ride.


BITD, We did some self analysis over the years , and had preferences change,
as we Aged..





..
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Old 06-17-18, 01:16 PM
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My take? A good bike fit should tell where the seat ans handlebars should be relative to the bottom bracket. (And to a lesser degree, where the wheels should be relative to the BB for good weight distribution for cornering, especially on a race bike.)

Once you have these numbers it is just a matter of finding a bike you like that allows you to put the seat and handlebars so they match the fit numbers.

I'll confess right now I have never had a fit done. When I was racing in the '70s, the Serrota fit bike, if it existed yet, had never been seen in our neighborhood. I either lucked out or our shop mechanic had the rare eye. He strongly recommended I purchase last year's Fuji Professional sitting in the basement. I did and set everything roughly in the middle setting and rode. I was immediately doing lifetime best and just kept getting faster all that summer. Rode the hardest races of my life, the fastest and put in the longest rides (by far). The bike was always comfortable. I rarely thought about it at all when I was on it. I have used that "fit" as a basis for all my bikes since (after a few years of a more "relaxed" position advised by others as I was no longer racing; until my body gave me the wake-up call that I needed to go back to my racing position or continue to suffer).

I now play with the "triangle" of BB, seat and handlebar, rotating it forward or back a small amount depending .on the function of that particular bike. In general, I rotate it forward for my fix gears and back for a more cruiser-like rider.

Since I know what my "triangle" is, it is a simple matter (with a CAD drafting program) to see what seatpost and stem will be required to put the seat and handlebars where they belong on any given bike. Sometimes the required post and stem have to be of unusual geometry. Then the question becomes "do I want to do this? (Perhaps have an expensive custom stem or post made that will require a months-long wait and cost several hundred dollars.)" Usually I say "nah" but I've gone that route on several bikes and not regretted it at all.

So that is my take on "fit". If the $60 is just to best tweak the stem and seat of the bike they want to sell the OP, well $60 isn't much money, spent for a service that isn't much value. Better if the shop will happily swap for handlebars, post and stem of better dimensions based on that fit. (I didn't mention this above, but handlebar type and rotation plus brake hood type and location on the bars should also be a full part of any worthwhile fit.)

To give shops a little break, I also realize that the best fit is something that cannot always be determined "right now" no matter how good the fitter is. A rider either starting from scratch or has spent a long time on a poor fit simply may not be able to ride the best fit for him.

OP, with all of this, keep in mind you are trying to evolve toward a moving target. The bike shop can be either an ally or a hindrance. I'd start assuming they are there to both help you and make money; put reasonable trust in them but also listen to your gut. One thing I do not recommend is buying the most expensive bike, thinking that will solve the issues. No, hold back those final thousands until you've owned and ridden the bike that is, fit-wise, "it". I lucked out 40 years ago and raced a bike that got every ounce of energy this body could produce. It was a Japanese bike that was sneered at by most of the race crowd and cost less than half of any "respectable" race bike.

Ben
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Old 06-18-18, 09:20 AM
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OP is overthinking things. Go to the bike shop, look around, pick out a few models and sizes, and take test rides. Talk to the shop people, listen to their advice, get them to tweak the most comfortable (and fun!) bike to be even more comfortable (and fun!). Buy the bike, take it home and ride it a lot.
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Old 06-18-18, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by puma1552 View Post

But how do you know you're buying a bike that ultimately will fit well if you are making the purchase before the fitting? What do you look for in the test ride, do you just test a couple sizes and figure if it's reasonably comfortable off the rack, it can surely be dialed in to fit like a glove? Is that all you really need to look for when test riding? And likewise, if it's pretty uncomfortable right off the rack, probably best to avoid trying to make it fit?

With all the discussion about how important fit and geometry is, I don't think I'm overthinking this, but I don't know. The way people talk about fit, you'd think one bike is going to be amazeballs while another is going to be absolutely atrocious with no chance of ever fitting well or being comfortable.
Frame size is pretty easy. A good shop will do a quick measurement of your leg, arm and torso length to figure out what's the correct size frame. After that, for most people a basic fit is fine, and any decent shop is going to throw that in with the purchase, as the last thing they want is you bringing the bike back in saying it's uncomfortable. Basic fit is going to be a quick check to make sure the bar and saddle heights are OK, make sure the saddle is set at the correct for/aft to put your foot in the correct position over the pedal, and that you're comfortable on the bike. For most people, that's probably good enough.

What you want to look for when you're test riding is handling, if the bike feels too stiff, jarring, twitchy, sluggish, lots of vibration, etc. Basically, you're trying to get an idea of the frame qualities, the geometry, the materials, and how the bike handles and feels and try to get an idea on if you'll be comfortable on it.

I wouldn't suggest getting a pro fitting unless you are having a lot of comfort issues or developing pains when on the bike. that's going to delve more into things like stem length, angle, do you need wedges in your shoes, adjust cleat positions, crank lengths, different saddle, handlebar angles. Basically, spending an hour or two between the bike, a fit bike, trainer, rollers, measuring, testing flexibility, etc. just trying to get the bike exactly where it needs to be for your body. Then you ride it for a week or two, go back in and tweak things. If you are having cycling related pains, it's worth every penny [know from experience], otherwise, there are probably better things to spend the money on.
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Old 06-18-18, 03:17 PM
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There's a whole fitting section in these forums, which would probably be a better fit for this discussion.
I've had 2 professional fits done. One was static, one was more fancy with sensors, a TV, computerized analysis and all that stuff. In the fitting world, small changes make a big to huge difference in how the bike and you get along. If you're the type to make those type of adjustments on your own, cool. Also, if you're young and flexible, your body may be able to adapt to changes easier, and a fit will be less important. For me there's no way I'll say a fit is critically important, unless you're having pain and don't know how to fix it.
Having said all that, we're moving targets, and a fit this year may not be optimal for a year from now as we age / get stronger / loose or gain weight, start riding longer distances, etc..
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Old 06-18-18, 07:06 PM
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Update -

Went to two LBSs, the one with the $60/$259 fit and another one.

The first one did about 10 minutes of basic measurements first and put them in the computer. I asked if I could have a printout and he said that would be $60, so I guess that's the $60 fit. The guy was cool and told me take a pic of the screen with my phone and he'd say he didn't see it, so that's what I did. He came up with an effective top tube range of 49.3-52.3 cm.

I tried a 49cm Allez just to try, which has an ETT of 51.5. It felt small. Super cramped in the drops, which was a bit unexpected given the sizing. Good control of e bike, just felt small overall and knees kind of in my chest. Theyhad no52 to try back to back.

I then went to another shop, where I tried a 48s Colnago C-RS (shocked they had one! Was tryingto figure out if I need a 45s or 48s, add 4 cm to convert Colnago to a traditionally sized bike) which has a 52.7cm ETT and it fit fantastic off the rack. Much better than the Allez. The drops were perfect and neck was more comfortable (it's not quite as aggressive as an Allez), I was stretched maybe 1 cm on the hoods but that was the only (minor) complaint, so the guy suggested just tilting the hoods up a tad so as to not affect the drops reach.

I want that Colnago.
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