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Great fitter at a Specialized-only shop or Guru system at another?

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Great fitter at a Specialized-only shop or Guru system at another?

Old 01-06-11, 04:12 PM
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Great fitter at a Specialized-only shop or Guru system at another?

I'm trying to decide between two situations and could use advice.

Option 1: A bike shop (B&L Bike and Sport in Solana Beach) about 10 minutes from my house has a local-legend fitter named Dan Rock. The shop only carries Specialized. I was referred to Dan by a triathlete acquaintance. I've test-ridden the Secteur Elite w/Apex and felt great on it. This shop includes a fit in the cost of purchase and they will happily schedule my fit session with Dan. The guys at the shop have been really nice to me about test-rides and generous with their time/etc, but local riders I've talked to through friends say that they are nasty to people who haven't bought bikes there.

Option 2: A shop further from my house has a super-fancy Guru fit-bike. It's a computer controlled machine that the fitter adjusts while you ride to find an optimal position, size, etc. They take the measurements and map them on to bikes they carry and others they might not to find the best possible bike for me. The same tri guy recommended this place as well and said the Guru fit-bike is "highly credible and scientific." The shop carries Ridley, Felt, and Giant bikes in my price range. They charge $200 for the fit, but will deduct 10% of the purchase price of the bike from the cost of the fit if I purchase from them. They haven't had Ridleys or Felts in my size (60-61cm ish) to test-ride. I asked the guys in the shop about the test-ride issue, and they said they understood my concerns but felt confident that after their fit, I'd love what they put me on...they said "We prefer to fit a bike to you rather than fit you to a bike. We've only had one person in thousands of fits who wasn't happy." I see what they mean, but my one question is whether that deals with the intangible ride qualities and other things that make a bike a bike.

Option 2 is available for the fit session on Monday afternoon. Option 1 is available for me to go in to talk final price and have them order me a bike anytime. Either way I'd likely have my bike a week from today. I'm open to feedback from you folks as to which sounds better.

Thanks!

Last edited by eyeheartny; 01-06-11 at 04:40 PM.
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Old 01-06-11, 04:23 PM
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Personally, I would probably go with the first option. Fit is something that can change a lot over time, and being able to talk things over (what you aim to achieve with your fit, type of riding you want to do, etc) with someone who is well known as a good fitter seems like a great option. The fact that they include the fit with the purchase of a bike also would be appealing to me, and even though test rides may not tell you a ton about it bike, I wouldn't really want to order a bike without doing one. I'm sure more people will chime in with more opinions for you...
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Old 01-06-11, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by cwk132
Fit is something that can change a lot over time, and being able to talk things over (what you aim to achieve with your fit, type of riding you want to do, etc) with someone who is well known as a good fitter seems like a great option.
The only problem is that I'd have to order the bike before the fit session at that shop, whereas the fit happens before the purchase at the second place. But maybe I'm thinking about this wrong?
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Old 01-06-11, 05:47 PM
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I guess what I would recommend is that trying out different bikes is going to be just as important as a good fit, so test riding, to me is important. A bike system (frame, tires, wheels, etc) will determine its riding characteristics like steering sensitivity and harshness/stiffness, etc. If you got a stiff aluminum racing bike and wanted a relaxed geo endurance bike, a good fit won't matter that much. I'd try and find a bike that you enjoyed the ride of, in the proper size, and THEN get a fit. Either way I think you would probably end up being happy, however.
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Old 01-06-11, 06:46 PM
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Like cwk123 points out, ride and handling are characteristics of the frame and largely independent of fit. Fit is simply the relative positions between cranks, saddle, and bar, and given a frame that isn't too far off you can choose components to get those relationships where you want/need them to be. I view fancy fit "systems" with a jaundiced eye and think it's primarily snake oil. There are lots of descriptions in books and on the web of how to set the saddle height, how far back the saddle needs to be behind the cranks, and about where the bars should be once you got those set. Bar position is just about entirely a matter of personal preference and comfort.

That being said, if you don't feel confident in your ability to select a frame size and arrive at a reasonable fit on your own, it may be well worth having a shop do it, but IMO, they should include it free with the purchase of a bike and should be willing to change out components for free over some period of time should you feel the fit needs modification.
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Old 01-06-11, 09:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Looigi
I view fancy fit "systems" with a jaundiced eye and think it's primarily snake oil.
Interesting. Help me understand this, because on here, in other forums, and with everyone I've talked to, fit seems to be a huge priority. Am I just being sold a bill of goods? The triathlete acquaintance I mentioned before is an Ironman Kona competitor and wrote me today saying "You are correct in thinking that fit on your bike is very important. In my opinion, the fit is more important that the quality of the bike. Consider the number of revolutions your legs, hips, ankles and lower back are pushing through…if your fit is off by fractions of an inch it will impact the health of your muscles and joints. Another data point to illustrate the importance of fit is that all bike shops and brands that sell high end bikes strive to make fit a specialty." He has no skin in this game-- he's not selling me anything. Another friend said this via email: "Fit is the most important thing, then spend your $$$ on the best wheelset you can afford."


My other concern is about going to a shop that only carries Specialized. Granted they seem to make great bikes, but I wonder whether shopping at a store that only carries one brand is a bit limiting. Granted, the Specialized Secteur felt great, but I haven't been able to ride a Ridley, Giant, Felt, BMC, etc. I guess I feel a bit unprepared to make a decision, because I know that what felt good to me now (more upright/longer head tube, more comfort geometry) may not be what I want in 6-12 months, and I want to get something I can "grow in to" as I get better/faster/stronger. My interest in the shop that uses the Guru fit bike is that they might be able to recommend something I hadn't even thought of.
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Old 01-06-11, 09:36 PM
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option one at the specialized shop. that guru fit bike has mixed results in my experiance, however the BG fit from specialized it awesome and it works for the TDF guys, itll work for me
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Old 01-07-11, 12:53 AM
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there is something not right about a bike shop that sells only one brand of bike. As good as the specialized reputation is, why would you limit yourself.
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Old 01-07-11, 05:20 AM
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Originally Posted by catonec
there is something not right about a bike shop that sells only one brand of bike. As good as the specialized reputation is, why would you limit yourself.
While I sort of agree with your premise, the manufacturers have pressured some shops into carryng only their brand. But this is like the difference between a State Farm agent and an Independent Insurance agent. If you fit the State Farm profile, they can help you. An Independent has a lot of options. Trek is another manufacturer that has "only their brand" shops.

Not every manufacturer makes a geometry that fits every rider. They all have their own bell curve for what works. When going to a one brand shop they are fitting you for that brand only. In my case, we have four brands and some riders will work with all, some with only one.

As a fitter and a person who sells this stuff, there are really two fits (and it's been mentioned already in this thread). First is a size of frame fit. Second is the minute adjustments to dial in that particular bike. The bike may come with a 100mm stem and you need 120mm with a different rise, maybe wider or more narrow bars, seat height, etc. The second fit is what takes away the numb hands after 20 miles, sore shoulders, sore knee if riding clipless, things like that. Some get lucky and can do it on their own. We had a guy in the shop who was "self-fit" who was talking to us about how a computer fitting was pretty worthless, he could do it on his own. Our Serotta fitter bet him the cost of the fit that he could find 15% more power in his fit. If he couldn't the fit was free and he'd get a $50 gift card. He could view the computer screen which does the diagnostic analysis of his pedal stroke. We'd copy it, adjust the bike accordingly (we recorded his starting fit measurements so we could put it back if he wanted), then take an "after' picture of the analysis.

The fitter won.

But it's not for everyone and that's OK.

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Old 01-10-11, 01:44 PM
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FYI, I've been on a Ridley Excalibur (size XL) for 3 years now and love it. I also bought it without a test ride.

I don't really think test rides are necessary or even beneficial. Too much going on to REALLY know about a bike. Honestly, I could put you on two identical bikes, make a minor (mis)adjustment in the drivetrain, or inflate the tires differently, and you'd get two very different test rides. With all of the variables that go into a bike, it's almost impossible to make a true "apples to apples" comparison based on a test ride.

I'd also be leery of the Specialized dealer for 2 reasons:
1.) they don't carry other brands. If there's not a Specialized model that's perfect for you, you'll end up on a Specialized anyway.
2.) consensus of complaints from other riders. While EVERYONE might not be complaining, you've spotted a trend.

As for the Guru dealer, the $200 fit fee with 10% refunded is a bit steep if you're buying the bike. IMHO if you're buying the bike, a basic fitting should be included. If you can negotiate that into the deal, I'd go with that shop. That way you've got at least 3 brands of bikes to choose from, and they can get you the one that's best for you.
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Old 01-10-11, 01:54 PM
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If you go with option #2 and order a bike on their recommendation, can you return that bike to the manufacturer or will they place it on their floor for sale if you don't like it? If so, I would go with option 2. The other suggestion I would have is to try out some other shops, even in other towns if necessary to see if they have any of those brands or even others you haven't tried out yet - like Cannondale, Trek, Cervelo, etc...
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Old 01-10-11, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by eyeheartny
Interesting. Help me understand this, because on here, in other forums, and with everyone I've talked to, fit seems to be a huge priority.
Fit is extremely important. It's just not mysterious or difficult to achieve a good fit unless you're unusually constructed or have some unusual issues. Bike shops should include it for free, and I believe it's easy enough to study up on and figure out for yourself...you know; heel on the pedals for saddle height, front top of the tibia over the pedal spindle with the crank horizontal, height of the bars set your preference, and the length of the stem selected such that the tops of the bars obscure the front wheel axle when you're in the riding position. From here you can make minor adjustments per your individual preferences.

The size/geometry of the frame needs to be such that relative positions of the crank, seat, and bars as described above can be achieved through adjustment and/or selection of appropriate components.

Last edited by Looigi; 01-10-11 at 02:56 PM.
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