Bike fitting, like cycling in general, is constantly evolving with the creation of new technology. But whether you decide to get a fit done at a high-tech shop or an old-school expert, the result should ultimately be the same. The tools used by a fitter should not determine the quality of your bike fit.
It's well documented that a good bike fit can improve comfort, speed and efficiency, and in some instances, prevent injury on the bike. Whatever your reason for seeking a bike fit, let's take a look at what it is that you should expect during the fitting process and what a successful bike fit will look like in the end.
The Goals of a Bike Fit
Cyclists have different goals. Some train to win the next Gran Fondo while others aim to simply improve overall fitness. It doesn't matter why you ride; the goals of a good bike fit should be the same for all cyclists, no matter what your goals are. At minimum, your bike fit must achieve these three objectives:
- Become comfortable on a new or existing bike.
- Improve speed, power, balance, efficiency and bike handling.
- Minimize the risk of repetitive injury.
At the end of a bike fit, improvements should be verified by output reports on speed, power and efficiency.
Along with what our scientific tools tell us, the subjective response of the cyclist is just as important. "My neck doesn't hurt now," "I feel more neutral on the bike" or "I hate it, put me back where I was" are a few common responses that a fitter should look for.
The "How does it feel" question should be applied before the fit, directly after the fit and a week following the fit for a follow up evaluation.
In over 35 years of bike fitting, I've learned to classify my clients into two categories:
New bike buyers: This is more of a sizing exercise. Body measurements are taken to find the top tube length, seat tube length, stem length, crank arm length, etc. that's best suited for an individual client before they purchase a bike.