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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm another one of those old, fat guys who have taken up cycling to lose weight / get in shape / get outside more often. Over the last year or so, I've had some success using a hybrid "fitness bike", but I'm about to move up into an entry level road bike. I have not yet selected a bike, but it will be somewhere in the Specialized Allez Sport/Elite, Felt Z70, Trek 2.1 range (aluminum bikes with some carbon components). I am not a racer, nor will I ever be a racer, I'm just in this to have fun riding.

My main question is just how much "fitting" I need to do, and whether to do it before or after I select the bike.

I've been to a couple of the nearby LBSs. For these small shops, fitting seems to be mostly by "eyeball", although they have some measurement tools (and take measurements) they feel free to ignore the measurements when they conflict with their expert judgement. They don't have the facilities to do much (if any) testing.

The larger shops in the area offer 2 (or more) levels of "fitting". The basic fitting comes with the bike purchase: this will include saddle and bar positioning, etc. The more comprehensive fitting involves more time on the trainer, videos, various angle measurements, etc. This cost an extra $100 to $250 (depending on the shop and the exact services).

From what I read here in the forums, getting a good fit is important. I'm pretty sure that I can get the basic fit right either at the local shop (where I bought my last bike) or at one of the larger shops (where I will get a bit more guidance). I will probably start off with a fairly relaxed position, and gradually lower and extend the bars as I get fitter (and hopefully thinner). I've already done this with my hybrid, and so I'm comfortable with the process.

For the kind of casual riding I do (an hour or so each morning, and 2 or 3 hours on weekends) do I need more that that? If so, should I get more thorough measurements BEFORE I select a bike, or wait until I have it and then get it fine tuned by the shop where I do the testing?

Any thoughts or wisdom from the experts would be most welcome.
 

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I think the best answer is "both." You need a shop that can fit you to the right bike before purchase, then dial that bike in after you've taken ownership. You want a shop that's willing to work with you as far as dialing in your purchase. Swapping out stems of varying lengths, trading cranks, and exchanging seats and generally working with you until you're in a good riding position. You obviously don't need to eek another 3 watts out of a 20K TT, but you don't want to suffer with knee / back / neck pain because you're riding a stem that is too long or some other easily remedied problem.

I think the more expensive fitting is probably overkill for your needs unless you have a "special needs" situation like artificial joints, history of pain, or an unusually shaped body (e.g. extremely short legs relative to your torso, etc.).

Remember that bike fitting is as much art as science. It's as much an interaction between the fitter and the rider as it is pure measurements and calculations. A good fitting will fully utilize both the science and the fitter's experience. I guess it's like going to a doctor. You rely on his/her experience as well as the blood work, x-rays, urinalysis, etc. to arrive at a diagnosis and course of action.
 

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From what I read here in the forums, getting a good fit is important. I'm pretty sure that I can get the basic fit right either at the local shop (where I bought my last bike) or at one of the larger shops (where I will get a bit more guidance).
Just remember that the larger shop won't necessarily be better. If you're concerned with getting the best fit, find the guy who has been doing it the longest and with the most frequency.

For the kind of casual riding I do (an hour or so each morning, and 2 or 3 hours on weekends) do I need more that that? If so, should I get more thorough measurements BEFORE I select a bike, or wait until I have it and then get it fine tuned by the shop where I do the testing?
I'm generally of the opinion that you shouldn't drop a ton of hard earned money on a fit until you're familiar with the bike. If they throw the fit in as part of the sale (and some shops will to make a sale), thats worth doing, but if you're paying extra, I'd say ride it around a few days on your own so you can tell what fells right and what doesn't. Remember that a bike fells different after an hour in the saddle than five minutes on the trainer.

The big thing to worry about fit wise when purchasing is that the frame is the right size. This isn't that hard to do and doesn't necessarily require a specialize "fit". Test ride a couple bikes in a number of sizes, ask questions and you should be OK. The little things can be dialed in later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I think I have a reasonable handle on what "fit" feels like, and for my riding style, that's probably enough. So far, I've never had any issues with pain (beyond the occasional case of road rash, but that has nothing to do with proper fitting).

At both of the "one man band" type shops I've been to, sizing consisted mostly of looking at me and my existing bike, and then selecting a size. I then "sat" on the bike and felt how the reach. The next step was a spin around the block.

At the one larger shop I've been to, the routine started off the same way, but was followed about about 10 min on the trainer, with the fit guru watching me from the side, and a couple of minor saddle adjustments. In no case did we get as far as stem adjustments, although I fully expect that I will not ride away with the "stock" stem on any of these bikes.

All of the shops selected a frame between 58 and 61 cm (I'm 6' 2"with a 32" inseam), and I could probably fit either size, but I'd need a longer stem on the 58, of course. There's a bit more "saddle aft" room (because of the increased seat tube angle) in the 61, and I suspect that I'm riding a tiny bit forward of the ideal saddle position.

The other thing that hasn't been addressed is cleat position and alignment. I ride with SPD pedals, and there seems to be enough "float" that there is no apparent pressure on my feet or knees. I guess that I'm not too far off on cleat positioning, but once again I wonder if a professional alignment would help any.

Although this is not entirely about money, the small shops sell strictly at MSRP, where the larger shop takes a bit off.

Thanks Again for the suggestions.
 

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To me, it sounds like you truly enjoy riding. You WILL lose weight, as I have too. I would say get a pro fit, based on how you ride, because you very well will want to ride more later down the road. A great fit will make that all the more enjoyable. I'd say get the fit after, but consult the pro fitter on what they think about sizing first.
 
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