Fit Friday – When Should I Get My Bike Refit?

A few years ago, I was competing in triathlons and getting a good deal of miles in every riding season.  Searching for every possible performance gain led me to get my bicycle fit.  One of my main considerations was being able to run at my potential after the bike leg.

The results from that fitting session were fantastic; I felt at my best ever on a bike, and the only discomfort came as a result of pushing hard to best a personal record.

Last season, I got a new bike and backed off the competition schedule. My work schedule and my riding goals have also changed, and while I loved my new bike

(The Specialized Allez Race), I felt like I wasn’t as comfortable before. The frame geometry of my new bike was very similar to my old Specialized Tarmac and I copied the measurements over  (to the best of my ability). As far as riding schedule now, during most weeks I am fitting in 15-30 miles per ride during the weekdays when my schedule allows, but enjoy riding longer distances a handful of times a year such as 65-100 mile rides for a weekly mileage of around 100-150.

Through the end of the season, and in spending more time on the trainer, I realized that things were not as good as they could be, but I didn’t know when, or if I should update my fit.  To figure out more, I sat down with Chris Rogers, Certified Master BG Fit Technician -with Erik’s, hoping to better understand when is a re-fit necessary.  What follows is our question and answer session.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIs there an appropriate timeline for getting your bike refitted?

Not necessarily,  the general rule of thumb is that a fit should be good for about 5 years,  Changes in a rider’s fitness, health and any injuries are all typical reasons why someone may want to take a second look at their position on the bike. 

In your case, changing the focus of your rides from training and racing triathlons to a more recreational pace and longer rides will affect your ideal position on the bike.  The fact that you have picked up a new bike is also a good reason for an update.

Can’t I just copy my fit measurements to my new bike? Why didn’t that work?

Absolutely,  with every fit we make sure you have detailed notes and measurements on how your bike is set up,  so you can check your bike set up from time to time to make sure everything is set up perfectly for you.  Or in the case where you change bikes you can copy over the measurements to replicate your position exactly.

One word of caution,  there are many variables from one bike to another that can greatly affect the fit,  the only way to ensure that your position transfers over from your fit to another bike is to ensure that the following are replicated 100%.

  1. Saddle:  to guarantee the same fit on another bike you must start with exactly the same make model and size of saddle. Setting another saddle up to the same height, set-back and angle as the one that was fit will never achieve the same result.
  2. Shoes and Pedals:  Shoe sole thickness can vary greatly, shoes from the same manufacturer can vary as much as 6mm in thickness, thus affecting saddle height. Pedals can affect both stance width as well as saddle hight, typically if you stay within a brand and a family of pedals, the dimensions should be consistent, but when in doubt check with the manufacturer.
  3. Handlebar:  bars can vary greatly in shape, bend, reach, drop, and how shift/brake levers interact with them,  Having a different bar is okay, but additional adjustments will be necessary to optimize the position.
  4. Cranks:  Both bikes need to have the same crank length, this affects the saddle height, as well as the fore/aft adjustment of the saddle.  Also check the crank’s Q factor, or stance width, because this can affect the rider’s cleat position.  Triple cranks run wider than doubles, and from manufacturer to manufacturer there can be some differences. Any changes to stance width may need further cleat and pedal adjustments to compensate for a riders specific needs.

Given the list of variables it can be pretty tricky to match up a new bike perfectly.  And given the changes you made with your riding over the last couple of years it’s probable that your original position that emphasized triathlon racing was no longer comfortable for the way you are now riding

It's not pretty at this point, but it's not done either - handlebar and shifter/brake position is important to rider comfort and control.

It’s not pretty at this point, but it’s not done either – handlebar and shifter/brake position is important to rider comfort and control.

When else should I look at getting refitted?

Aside from a new bike or a change in riding goals, other circumstances where updating your fit can include an injury, surgery, or other circumstance that change how you feel or sit on your bike. Other items to include are changes in components – if you get new shoes, pedals, or other parts where you are connected to the bike (touch points), then your fit is likely going to change.

So in the years since my first fit, I’ve:

  • Gotten a new bike
  • Changed the focus of my riding
  • Changed my mileage
  • Gotten new shoes

As a result, I’ve had some numbness in my toes on longer rides, and some lower back discomfort. It was pretty clear based on the conversation above that a new fit was in order. In the next installment, I will detail the fit experience and some of the changes made.

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