Road Bike, Cycling Forums banner
1 - 20 of 30 Posts

· waterproof*
Joined
·
41,745 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok it has to be said. Flame away.

There are about eleven bazillion competing bike fit "systems" and methods on the market, and yet anyone who rides much sees plenty of noobs with expensive bikes who paid for a fitting and are clearly not comfortable or efficient.

Scan the internet forums and you'll hear tales of pain and suffering from "professional" fit jobs.

Why is it so hard to tell riders that:
- a basic fit is just a starting point
- individuals are unique and the systems are based on averages, so it ain't all that precise and may in fact be wrong for you
- there is a surprisingly large range of "good fit" for any individual
- but, even within the "normal" fit range, it's possible to really injure yourself or at least get very uncomfortable.
- lasers and mirrors and spreadsheets are worthless if the underlying assumptions are wrong. Few riders are educated enought to ask about how the methodology was derived and how it applies to the individual.
- a few minutes on a trainer with zero to minimal warm up does not equate to being on the road, hot, tired, under pressure.
- the ultimate fit is something only a knowledgeable, experienced rider can arrive at. It helps if you have access to a wind tunnel and power meter and pro coaches, too.
- the "right" fit and will forever be tweaking as fitness, flexibility, riding demands, age, fatigue etc change.

Thanks for letting me vent. Hopefully this rant will save a well-meaning newb from pain.
 

· Anti-Hero
Joined
·
10,405 Posts
Yeah, I'm a bit wary of the really expensive/"advanced" lasers/formulas, etc. Personally, it seems like a basic seat height/fore-aft positioning can get a beginner started, but if you can tweak it & make it more comfortable, then go for it.

The gal who fit me told me to ride to her shop at the end of a 1-2 hour ride so I'd be warmed up and maybe a tiny bit fatigued. She takes some measurements of leg length/joint angles on the bike & lets you know if you're within a "range" that's considered acceptable & agrees that there isn't an exact right or wrong, and if you aren't comfortable, then it doesn't matter how "correct" your fit is.

I think that type of thing can help just about anyone that's never been fit, but it's when people start getting stuck on a set of rules or guidelines that they start getting into trouble.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
2,480 Posts
OK, I agree with you on some points and disagree with you on others. The big question is where did such hostility come from?

-A fit is only as good as the individual fitting. It doesn't matter how many lazers and motion detection you have, unless the person using the tools knows what they're doing. Sure you need to know the principals at work, but being empathetic and have the experience to know whats happening is whats important. I'd much rather go to a fitter whose done ten fits a week for the last ten years on a wind trainer than someone who just bought the newest high tech fit system this year.

-Total noobs with bad fit has nothing to do with the fit system/fitter. The dudes a noob, he's not gonna get a good fit until his body has a couple thousand miles in it and understands how to efficiently pedal a bike. The guy is probably riding a Trek Madone and has about $500 worth of Nike's Lance apparel on.

-I think an experienced fitter can find a better fit for someone else than an experienced rider can for themselves. Think about it, the rider has only fit one person whereas the fitter has to find comfort for hundreds.
 

· waterproof*
Joined
·
41,745 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
kbiker3111 said:
...where did such hostility come from?....

Just a recent string of incidents riding with folks like the newb you described, who paid good money for bike + fitting and are still obviously mis-fit.

I'm with you +1 about having a good fitter etc... but the core of my rant is there are a lot of charlatans who blindly follow some system but don't have the experience to know when the system's recommendations are wrong.

Combine that with the fact that cycling seems to attract personalities who aren't comfortable with fuzzy answers (is this bike faster than that bike?) and I feel like a lot of fitters are charging $ for snake oil.

kbiker3111 said:
...Total noobs with bad fit has nothing to do with the fit system/fitter. ....
This one I have to disagree with.. it's exactly the example that brought up the rant.
True, a "good fit" can possibly change as you get fitter and gain experience... but still there's no excuse for some of the mistakes I see.
 

· extremely biased
Joined
·
874 Posts
Being a witchdoctor (and a good one at that) I agree with some of your points and not with others. The are some pretty firm guide lines as far as hip, torso, knee, and ankles angles go. Sticking to those usually produces the bets results in comfort/power. How you go about getting there is the "art" side of the fitting.

There are A LOT of "fitters" that will do the dog and pony show and smoke and mirrors. I think the experience of the fitter is the most important thing. They can have all the smoke and mirrors they want but if they don't know how and what a bikefit should go/be it won't do them any good.

Starnut
 

· Registered
Joined
·
2,480 Posts
Creakyknees said:
Just a recent string of incidents riding with folks like the newb you described, who paid good money for bike + fitting and are still obviously mis-fit.

I'm with you +1 about having a good fitter etc... but the core of my rant is there are a lot of charlatans who blindly follow some system but don't have the experience to know when the system's recommendations are wrong.

Combine that with the fact that cycling seems to attract personalities who aren't comfortable with fuzzy answers (is this bike faster than that bike?) and I feel like a lot of fitters are charging $ for snake oil.



This one I have to disagree with.. it's exactly the example that brought up the rant.
True, a "good fit" can possibly change as you get fitter and gain experience... but still there's no excuse for some of the mistakes I see.
Then I 100% agree with you. "Fittings" have become a huge fad in the last 5ish years that many shops take advantage of. If I were to guess, at least 3 of 4 fittings that are done don't accomplish much. A college buddy called me last month when he was buying a new Specialized Tarmac (he's been riding a little more than a year) and the shop he bought it from offered to ride next to him in the parking lot to check his fit... I told him not to bother.

My point about noobs is from personal experience. I've worked in a number of shops that did fittings and often we'd sell a bike to a new rider that (being the good customer) would ask for a fit. We could give it, but your flexibility/strenth/etc is going to change so greatly in the first year of serious riding that what was at first a good fit will probably be mediocre in the end. I think some fits should be offered on a time-basis, like your first tune up. Sort of, lets get the basics in place and then really look at it when you'd got enough experience that your fitness won't change much and you can identify some problems.
 

· Cycling Coach
Joined
·
1,734 Posts
Very good to excellent bike fitters are a rare breed. Indeed I would say there are probably less than a dozen in the world that really know what they are doing.

All the "systems" are about averages and general population (maybe riding population). I'm yet to meet the "average" rider.

It is however frustrating to see guys being sold bikes that are not only poorly fitted but could never be made to fit.

Women in particular suffer from this problem since most bikes are designed by blokes for blokes.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Ouchy Knees

So I bought a new bike last fall. I have about 4,000ish miles on it. The shop offered me a fit so I took it. The guy was overweight and didn't look the part but he talked the talk so I gave in. Thumbs down. Had some knee pain early on. Bought a book that described the pain that I was having exactly and it solved the problem. This year however, I have been doing some more reading about pedaling efficiency. Changed my pedal stroke a little and now my knees hurt again, but in a different way than before. Faster but painful for the rest of the day. So now I scheduled a fit with a sports medacine place that was four weeks out (apperantly they do a lot of fits). There is the part that the insurance is paying for and a 3-D part that I am paying about 150 for. Reading your thoughts leads me to some sceptacism. Have any of you done this 3-D thing? They say they are going to put some dot things on me and have a computer look at me. I am not sure if I want to waste my money.

Thanks
 

· Registered
Joined
·
2,480 Posts
Well the answer is probably "it depends". Have you talked to the guy? Did he seem to think the 3d fit was important? Have any of your friends had it done?

If you can pay the $150 to get it done right, up front, and have that fit to reference for the next ten years then the 3D is probably worth it. I know Kevin at gear west swears by his new 3d fit system and he's been fitting triathletes across the midwest for the last decade.

Is there a good chance its a gimmick? Yep.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
2,817 Posts
How do you know these "noobs" have a poor fit? Did you ask them if they were uncomfortable? Or was it just the fact that he/she had an expensive bike and a style/fit different than yours?

I am curious because I would say I have a fairly odd style, but it works well for me and I can remain comfortable for hours on the bike. I was never given a fit and never taught anything about form and thus just tweak whenever I feel like it.
 

· waterproof*
Joined
·
41,745 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
jsedlak said:
How do you know these "noobs" have a poor fit? Did you ask them if they were uncomfortable? Or was it just the fact that he/she had an expensive bike and a style/fit different than yours?

I am curious because I would say I have a fairly odd style, but it works well for me and I can remain comfortable for hours on the bike. I was never given a fit and never taught anything about form and thus just tweak whenever I feel like it.
In a few cases it's obvious; one example I see a lot is a petite female who's really stretched out too far. Other times, I talk to the rider after I notice a couple of things that seem "off" to me, and sure enough they have the matching pain or problem. You know it's touchy to broach that subject with a stranger you just met on a ride, but a lot of guys if you ask will tell you all about it and are willing to listen.

But I understand and agree with what you're saying, that there a lot of positions that can be comfortable and efficient and they don't all have to (and shouldn't) look like Euro pro's.

The fact that you've taken ownership of your position and tweak it to taste are significant - that's what's missing in a lot of cases. Maybe it's rider experience missing, is all.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,070 Posts
i think the most helpful aspect of the fit is making sure your foot/knee/cleat position is correct - this is easily validated and can reduce knee pain/problems. to me, the rest is fluff. unless the fitter and fittee are willing to ride the trainer for 2 hours to really assess comfort then some of the basic fit stuff is suspect.
 

· waterproof*
Joined
·
41,745 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Another reason I opened this thread: I had a fitting done last night, along with a coaching assessment by a local coach.

Result? Seat is about 2mm higher, cleats about 2mm back. Kind of what I was going to do anyway, but I wanted an educated 2nd opinion.

We used the eyeball methodology... we've both been around for a while so there wasn't a lot of discussion about which measurement system is correct, or whether my knee angle should be x or y. Instead we talked about racing/riding scenarios, and he had me get into some serious pedaling on the trainer, to watch how my position looks "under pressure."

After all that, he said, "yeah, you could bring your seat up just a tad, I see you dropping your heels in easy riding but under pressure you go toes-down." So we made some minor changes.

Always make minor changes and give your body at least a week to adjust. In fact I'm a bit concerned about the size of the changes we did make... racing tonight will be interesting feedback.
 

· Gruntled
Joined
·
3,775 Posts
Creakyknees said:
... Combine that with the fact that cycling seems to attract personalities who aren't comfortable with fuzzy answers (is this bike faster than that bike?)
That is an interesting observation, and I think you are on to something. The "how much does that water bottle cage weigh" mentality transfers over to the fitting realm, and thinks there is (or should be) a single ideal position for each rider that can be objectively determined from body measurement. But what is the criteria for determining the ideal position? Max power output for a given level of percieved exertion? Max speed on a flat road for a given level of lower back pain? Max comfort on a bumpy road? Max speed in a sprint? Max power when climbing? There are so many different things I do on my bike that one position is unlikely to be perfect for everything. Add to that the differences between riders' styles, flexibility, core strength, etc., and it seems highly unlikely that any "system" other than trial and error will produce the best result.

Just my $.02. Now inflation indexed to $.0216.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
2,167 Posts
When I first got into cycling back in the early 90's, I was "fitted" by 3 different guys who people raved about over a 3 year period.They all had different setups for me as far as frame size, stem, seat height and set back. I never felt comfortable on the bikes, but figured that's the way it is.

I went to Italy for a training camp/race package deal. The old Italian mechanic took one look at me and said I looked aweful on the bike.He had a ex-team bike in his workshop that he made a few adjustments to and put me on it.....the only way I can explain it is you know that old pair of shoes you have that just feel "right"? that's the way the bike felt...perfect!

Like anything in life...there are people how are good at what they do...and there are those that are bad at what they do. Some use scientific theory and equipment...some go by eye and experience.
 

· Adventure Seeker
Joined
·
5,123 Posts
Ok, I'll flame this post - I think it's in the wrong forum section! I usually don't visit this section much, but by chance saw the title...
Other than that, I think you have an excellent point. I've been reading all I can about fit (darn analytical thinking!) and there are only just a couple well-defined areas of fit - to me it seems the cleat position and saddle height. The rest is all about what feels good to the rider.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
87 Posts
I think loudog hit it spot on--if the fit session doesn't last a couple of hours, it's not much of a fit. The reason to do a fit session is to be able to test out a lot of different positions without having to swap seatposts, stems, handlebars etc. around on your own bike.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
391 Posts
Creakyknees said:
. . .The fact that you've taken ownership of your position and tweak it to taste are significant - that's what's missing in a lot of cases. Maybe it's rider experience missing, is all.
There's the core of my rant on fit & fitters. It's become all about "the marketing" ("my system/my fitter is the best blah, blah. . .") and next to nothing about rider education & ownership.

Walk into any LBS in the nation, ask about fit, and "blah blah blah, $200 please." But seems like too few approach it as kbiker3111 said, ". . .lets get the basics in place and then really look at it when you'd got enough experience that your fitness won't change much and you can identify some problems." Enter the unsuspecting bicycling masses. . .what was it P.T.Barnum said?

good thread. . . good thoughts. Thanks for starting it.
 

· No Crybabies
Joined
·
11,692 Posts
you'll freak at this, then

http://velonews.com/article/81828/john-howard-launches-new-bike-fit-system

John Howard launches new bike fit system
Posted Aug. 15, 2008
John Howard introduces PowerFiTTE – way beyond bike-fitting
Most riders see 15-20% power gain immediately
Hall of Fame cyclist John Howard, the three-time Olympian and Ironman triathlon champion, who set the cycling speed record of 152 mph, has introduced a new system designed to instantly improve the efficiency of all cyclists.

PowerFiTTE combines mechanical and biomechanical adjustment to help riders get more out of their bikes and their bodies. It was developed over three decades by John Howard, and pioneering sports chiropractor and Olympic trainer Dr. Ernie Ferrel.

“Most people are measured for a bike but not really fit,” says Howard, who still wins championships as a Masters competitor. “PowerFiTTE brings bike and rider into a perfect biomechanical union.”

The PowerFiTTE session typically takes two hours and involves a series of measurements and re-adjustments based on computer analysis, and an assessment of flexibility strength to produce greater efficiency. Through careful micro-adjustment to the bike, and soft tissue adjustments to the rider, an ideal position is achieved. Howard’s before-and-after documented measurements typically show immediate boosts of 15-20% boost in power output, which continues to grow as riders practice personalized stretching exercises provided during the session.

“That’s just the beginning,” Howard says. “Riders see continued improvement in endurance and strength with reduced risk of injury.”

Advertisement
Howard has begun to train and certify FiTTE System practitioners around the country. To earn certification, they must first be sports-physiology professionals—coaches, trainers, chiropractors, physical therapists or physicians. “We want this to be the gold standard,” says Ralph Walker, CEO of John Howard Performance Sports.

PowerFiTTE is part of the FiTTE System, which stands for Fitness, Techniqe, Training and Equipment. It also includes BodyFiTTE, a program of flexibility and strength conditioning, and PedalFiTTE, which stabilizes the key interface of rider-to-bike power transfer.

John Howard Performance Sports is a leading performance improvement company for cyclists and triathletes, counting many champions among their clients.

A video demonstration of the FiTTE System can be viewed at www.fittesystem.com. For information about local practitioners, visit www.johnhowardsports.com.
 
1 - 20 of 30 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top