Putting the Joy Back in Cycling: Getting a Bike Fit

Bike_Fit

Getting my bike fitted

Recently, my riding has sucked. I was just not comfortable on the bike after 10 miles. Pain on my right leg would develop and I would have to shift my butt on the saddle to ease the problem. Then my right knee would be hurting after a good workout and to top it off, my hands were constantly numbing up. I tell you, after 25 miles on the bike, I’m ready to jump off of it! That’s sad because I love to bike! After a lot of self adjustments to try to solve the issues, I threw in the towel and decided to get a bike fit. I need to put the joy back into riding again.

I harp all the time that you need to get a bike fit when you get a new bike, but I never followed my advice. “Do as I say not as I do”, was my excuse. Well it was time to do as I say. I initially wanted to do the bike fit at a particular shop and even went so far to call and put my name down for an appointment the following week. After talking to others that went through the bike fitting process with that shop, they were not impressed nor satisfied. Disappointed, I started looking elsewhere to get it done.

My second thought was to try Bicycle World, that is, after all, where I got my bike at. Every time I would go to the shop I would see their bike fitting station looked unused and collecting dust. Hmm, not good I thought. It didn’t seem as if they were actively promoting bike fits to their customers. I went to the Specialized website to find an authorized shop for their fit: program. Bicycle World listed them as well as Bicycle Sport Shop in Austin. I remembered the Austin store where I bought my shoes. Their fit: station was up and running with cyclists getting fitted. That’s where I wanted to go. A trip to Austin and a bike fit at the same time would be great.

Last Saturday I was riding around McAllen going from store to store and I ended up in Bicycle World for a reprieve from the heat. Lo and behold I see their newly installed fit: station all spruced up and ready to go. My interest immediately picked up and I started to ask questions about it. Are they certified as the Specialized website says they are? Yes, two members have been through the training. Have they done any fittings? Yes, they already done several cyclists and their feedback has been positive. These answers to my questions an many more sounded good to my ears, so I signed up for a Monday morning fit. This saved me a trip to Austin, that’s both good and bad.

The Bike Fit

Monday morning I’m there early and ready to go. It was a long process as they prodded, poked, measured both the bike and myself. I did the sit bone test, the arch support test, flexibility, knees, ankles and some other stuff. Finally, I’m on the trainer and peddling to get warmed up. After the warm-up, the tweaking of the bike begins and in the end I ended up with the saddle raised 3 cm, new saddle, new saddle horizontal position, stem angle raised, cleats readjusted, new and insoles.

I got the new saddle because the ISM Adamo was the wrong type for my riding style. While out riding I noticed that was sitting on the left side of the saddle instead dead center. It was also harder to get the horizontal position correctly, so I opted to get a different saddle. I ended up with the Specialized Toupé RBX Comp Gel. It’s totally different and harder but I know my bum will get used to it.

One week after the Fit

My first ride after the fit as a short 18 mile ride in extremely windy conditions. It wasn’t a fast pace ride as we had two beginners that we were encouraging and coaching. My first impressions, it felt great. No knee pain, I was able to power through the wind a lot easier with the new saddle height. I still found myself wanting to slide forward on the seat and thus put pressure on my hands and wrists. I was starting to get a little numbness in the fingers but it was not as near as bad as before. I just compensated by moving my hands to different place on the flat bar. After the ride I was fine until I cooled down and started to feel the muscle ache. That’s good because I’m using a different set of muscles now. Now, I just need to ride the rest of the week and get my one hundred miles in and reevaluate afterwards.

Well, it’s Friday and I’ve done several easy and hard rides. So far, I have been very pleased with the results. No knee or leg pains to speak of, all very minor to non-existent. Hand numbness also dramatically improved. I still have a little but nowhere near as before. Lately, I couldn’t wait to get off the bike because I was so uncomfortable on it, but this weeks rides have been very pleasant. Can you have a pleasant ride with winds at a steady 20 mph and its occasional gust of wind?

Final Thoughts

I must admit, I’m like everyone else, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”. Well, better late than never I suppose. I’m very pleased with my bike fitting experience from Bicycle World and the results that I got afterwards. My rides are now more comfortable without the pains and hand numbness that I was getting. Best of all, I’m excited to see a shop here in the Valley that will do a proper fit as well as actively promote it to its current and potential customers (this is not to say that other shops don’t offer bike fits). The more cyclists are out on properly fitted bikes, the more likely they will continue the activity and not injure themselves. That is a win-win situation for everyone. Final word, get a bike fit, well worth the money spent.

Anyone out there has good or bad experience with their bike fit, drop a comment and share.

4 thoughts on “Putting the Joy Back in Cycling: Getting a Bike Fit

  1. Returning to cycling after a good 10+ year break, i decided a road bike was the way forward. Being a larger chap i found the bike a little uncomfortable, after speaking with the LBS they mentioned they did bike fits and it would help, i have to admit to expecting it to be just another way to grab some more of my cash.

    In reality the whole experience has changed the way i ride, a seat rise, handlebar stem extension, and some shoe inserts to solve my aching feet problems.

    My initial fit took just over 4 hours, and will be going back next week to have a catch up to check how i am doing and make more adjustments if necessary.

    I always wondered why bike shops had a pally atmosphere and i guess i now know why (at least in my LBS).

    • Hi Rob,

      I’m glad you had good success on your bike fit. I always preached it but never actually had it done. My fit was about 2.5 hours and my leg problems has disappeared. I’m still having hand numbness and I’m working with them to get it dialed in some more. I think it has something to do with saddle fore/aft position and maybe a small up-tilt on it. I’m taking mine in for the saddle adjustment after work today. I’m also looking at getting the Specialized Roubiax for the longer rides that I want to start doing.

      Yup a Bike fit is a must. Forgive my ignorance, but what does “pally” mean?

  2. pal·ly (pl)
    Friendly; chummy

    Now i’ve spent a fair few ££ at the LBS they know me, and different treatment to when i was a prospective customer. I guess thats because they now know a lot more about me thanks to the bike fit.

    I’ve just invested in a Sirrus Comp and will be going back for a mini fit in the next week or two.

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