The 6 most common bicycle fit myths
Over the years there have been many myths regarding bicycle fit. Some of them are harmless but many of them may be hampering your progress as a cyclist. By understanding some of the myths and misconceptions, you will get a clearer picture of the fitting process and the thinking behind it.
There are many myths about bicycle fit because all cyclists want to be more comfortable and ride more efficiently. When they find a position that works for them it gets shared with riding partners and friends, some of these turn into myths.
Myth: A Tape Measure and Calculator can be used to Determine Your Position
This is probably the most common myth in bicycle fitting. Measurements can determine body dimensions, but using them in a formula cannot accurately determine how you should fit on a bicycle. These types of measurement formulas fail to account for strength, flexibility and personal preference among other individual anomalies. They also don’t accommodate your “style”, the way you move and pedal on the bike. The most accurate way to fit a bike to you is to have an expert analyze your position while you are riding. Calculations do have their place, though. If you don’t already have some sort of position established, they can get you to a rough starting point.
Myth: Your Bike Position Should Always Stay the Same
It is recommended that you have your position checked every year, when you purchase a new piece of equipment or when your fitness level changes. For example, you should have your fit checked when you get a new saddle or new shoes. Your body is not static. Your fitness, weight, strength and flexibility all change over time. So your fit should change to accommodate your body changes.
Myth: You Should only get Fitted after you buy a new bike
The best scenario is to know what your correct fit is before you buy a bike. Then you will avoid costly mistakes of buying the wrong size and you will have real knowledge when you step on to the sales floor or speak to a builder of custom bikes. If you already own a bike you can adjust it now for a better fit. After a professional bicycle fit you will know more about how you are connected to the bike and what needs to be done to have a better riding experience. Most fitters will have a special fitting bike that can be adjusted to mimic any bike or position. This allows you to check out how a particular bike will fit your body.
Myth: A Professional Bicycle Fit is Expensive.
Considering what cyclists and triathletes spend on bikes, wheels, and other specialized equipment, the cost of a fitting is minimal. Typically a bicycle fitting is between $200 and $400 for an experienced fitter. In addition, there’s the added benefit of lessening your chance of injury and improving your power output as well as your overall riding experience. The biggest expense is not riding your bike at all which is what can happen if you are uncomfortable when you ride.
Myth: Brand “A” Bikes Fit Better than Brand “B”
The best brand is the one that has a bike that fits you as an individual. People come in all shapes and sizes, not in just 6 sizes or less like most bikes. There are many bicycle brands and designs available. Brand “A” may fit you better than brand “B” but it may be the opposite for your friend. Since we are all so individual, shouldn’t our bikes be as well? It’s not the design of the bike, per se, but the rider on it. When a cyclist is fit properly to a bike, that’s the latest, greatest design.
Myth: Your Position should look like the Pro’s
The top professionals you see on TV and in the magazines spend tremendous amounts of time on their bikes and working on their bodies. Their position has been optimized for them, not by some template. Comfort, power output and aerodynamics have all been considered to establish their positions individually. The point is that your bike should be customized for you, not for Lance or some other professional athlete.
Victor Jimenez is a bicycle fitting specialist and the owner of Bicycle Lab.
Bicycle Lab specializes in one-on-one bicycle fitting and building high end custom road and triathlon bicycles.
Classes and clinics on cycling skills and techniques are also offered to individuals, teams and coaches.
Victor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or Go to www.bicyclelab.com and sign up for the cycling tips newsletter.