Category Archives: machines

Bike Fit – black art, or science?

In preparing for the WTF185 (post here) I decided to spend some time getting my fit evaluated. I’ve been reasonably comfortable on my bike(s) the last couple of years, but knew that I was probably experiencing very different fits on different bikes. I was especially concerned about the 185, as that’s more mileage than I’d done in a day by quite a bit.

Off to Bike Doctor Frederick to get the Guru fit. Nice group of people, and it appeared to me to be scientific enough I could believe it had merit. On the harness, start with a generic fit, fine tune everything and then measure my bikes to see how & where things needed to change.

One thing which surprised me a bit was the Optometrist approach… “Does this feel better than this?” All while pedaling under some load. (125 to 175 watts)

I remained optimistic, despite the changes in fit prescribed by the Guru system being more significant than I’d have expected.

Eventually, we ended up with something which met my scientific intent. Looks a bit like this :


Exciting, eh? Numbers! Ratios! Let’s get out the dual axis laser (LASERS!) and get started. Queue excitement.

We changed my cyclocross bike to meet this new science. Required new bars & stem. Not terrible, but not cheap. And removing OEM parts which were already paid for and almost entirely unused.

Completed the Cyclocross bike, and started the travel bike (Ritchey Break-Away Ti, totally love it). New Bars, stem and seat post. Urph. Expensive, but having a bike which totally fits me is worth it, right? Granted, this is a bike I’d done several centuries on without an issue, but I love me some science.

After running out of funding to change all of my bikes, I’ve left the others alone for now. I’ve also become somewhat disillusioned. The Cyclocross fit may have failed me on the WTF185 since I discovered pain in places where I’d never had problems. The travel bike has been okay, but I haven’t really ridden > 40 miles on that one yet.

More disconcerting is the fact that everyone I’ve talked to has a different opinion on how close this fit may be to any ideal fit. I did create an issue with achilles tendonitis on the WTF185 which has haunted me this entire summer. Now that I’ve gone to a foot & ankle specialist, I’m off the bike for two weeks to see if we can sort that out. I’ve gone to a fit coach, and he had a number of places where he felt the fit was completely wrong. I’d actually scheduled another fit with a different shop and while that didn’t happen due to scheduling issues, I’m concerned it’d just be another set of opinions I’m left to decipher on my own.

Color me frustrated. Biomechanics of cycling is a lot more complicated than I’d have guessed! After this achilles hiatus (argh!) I’m going to start experimenting with things and see if I can feel differences enough to start making adjustments.