What Is a Bike Fit Anyway?

When I bought my first road bike, my coach told me, I would get a fitting. He never really explained what a fitting was, so, I didn’t know what to expect. What is a bike fit anyway?

I went to a local bike shop and worked with the owner and bought myself a carbon fiber Trek Silque.

And after that, it’s been an on-going saga of getting the right bike adjustment. Remember, I had very little experience cycling. Before this, I haven’t ridden a bike since I was in college. Once in a blue moon, I would get on a bike and ride a little on the boardwalk but never anything serious.

My fitting consisted of getting on the bike, riding around the lot and the owner saying it looks good. Was that a bike fit?

I’ve been trying to get comfortable on the bike ever since I bought it. After riding it a while, I started to get saddle sores and total discomfort. I was referred to another bike shop out east. The owner told me the nose was up way too high and he said, “you need a bike fit.”

“But I already had one,” I said.

He started to explain to me what a bike fit is and asked if I really got one. “Hmmmm…. No,” I answered.

“If you bought the bike here, I would have put you on my computer upstairs and would have fitted you properly,” he said.

I was angry. I called the original owner of the store where I bought the bike. The owner said since I was new he figured I would come in and they would readjust what I needed readjusting.

After deciding on purchasing a power meter, my coach sent me all the way out east to a small bike shop that put on a power meter. I wasn’t quite sure what a power meter was and why I needed one but I agreed to spend the $1200 to get one and while I was there, the owner measured me on the bike. He adjusted the bars and the seat to make it more aero. But that didn’t work out too well.

The bike was still uncomfortable and didn’t feel right.  Meanwhile, now I had a power meter that I had no idea what to do with and I started to feel totally inadequate that I didn’t do any research and made these major purchases without knowing any of the facts.

I spoke with the original owner again. He told me to come in for another fitting.  I went in and a young man put me on a computer that didn’t work. He also measured me.

“You know, you have to go 1000 miles before you really know what feels right with you on the bike,” the young man told me.

He raised the handle bars up and told me that they were going to be less aero and I would definitely go slower. I didn’t know what to do. I felt frustrated and confused. I let him raise the bars and the seat.

“I spent a lot of time with you,” he said to me when he was finished, “I’m not going to charge you for today but if you want any further adjustments, you need to pay for it.”

I left the bike store upset and confused. It was very nice that the owner tried to do the right thing. But, why didn’t I get a proper fit to begin with?  And why am I still upset about this after all these months?

I do know one thing for sure, when I buy my tri bike, I will do my homework and will insist on getting a proper fitting before leaving the store.

I don’t fault the bike store for feeling taken advantage of, but I do fault myself for not really knowing and trusting people who I thought would do the right thing.

To end this blog on a positive note, right before my last triathlon, I went into Brand’s in Wantagh to have my bike tuned up. The bike mechanic told me to sit on the bike seat. When I did and my feet didn’t touch the ground, he said my seat needed to be lowered significantly!

I felt comfortable but it wasn’t until Eric, the bike fitter at Brand’s took a look at me on the bike. He totally adjusted my bars and the seat and suggested aero bars.  I’m so grateful to him for adjusting the bike and making it actually feel comfortable!

So the long and the short of it is, make sure you do your homework and get fitted properly before walking out of the bike store… Love to hear your stories good or bad in the comments below.