There’s no “set in stone” method for fitting a bike to the rider, but generally speaking, knowing a few benchmark measurements will help to ensure you’re comfortable and ready to roll on your new bike. Below are five Alchemy tips to consider for the perfect bike fit:
1. Make sure you have the correct frame size. If you don’t have the right frame from the beginning, you’ll find it nearly impossible to get comfortable no matter what adjustments you make later. To figure out the right size for you, a few basic measurements are necessary:
- Your leg inseam (from your saddle to your foot)
- Your torso length (from your saddle to your sternum)
- Your arm length (from the end of your collarbone to the middle of your closed fist)
From there, enlisting the help of professionals like Alchemy can help even further. We can run a few measurement equations once we have the information listed above and ensure you’re selecting the perfect size.
2. Fit your bike for how you currently ride. An important rule of the road: do what’s best for you. You may aspire to match a riding partner or pro that you follow, but it’s important to set your bike up to match your current tendencies and abilities. Basically, the better the fit, the longer you’ll ride the bike.
3. Make easy adjustments to existing components: Seems like a no-brainer, but remember to make obvious adjustments with the bike’s existing components, including the seat height, seat angle, and fore-and-aft seat position. The saddle height is important because, if not adjusted properly, it can add constant stress on the legs and knees. Another critical adjustment you can make is handlebar reach, which is the distance you reach from your saddle to your handlebars. Too-long of a reach can mess with your weight distribution across the front and back wheels of your bike, which ultimately means you’ll be uncomfortable and not have good control of your bike. Too-short of a reach can position you too upright, ultimately decreasing your power.
4. Consider getting fit by someone certified in the Retül Fit System: We may be biased since we’ve been certified in the Retül Fit System for a decade, but Retül Fit is undoubtedly one of the most comprehensive bike fitting processes in the industry. Refined into a repeatable step-by-step methodology, certified fitters, like some of us at Alchemy, can customize riders’ bikes and equipment to keep them riding longer, faster, and with more comfort. Starting with a pre-fit physical assessment, your fitter will consider your body’s limitations, any previous injuries and pains, and your overall goal for the bike. From there, the process turns to their Vantage Motion Capture System to collect real-time, three-dimensional data from your pedal stroke. The data is then compiled into a system so we dial you into the perfect ride position.
5. Check your cleat fit: Though not necessarily in line with the basic bike fit, the placement of cleats on your bike shoes can also impact fit. Set too far forward, they can cause knee pain, Achilles discomfort, numbness, or hotspots. Too far back and you won’t be getting the optimal power transfer from your muscles to the bike. There are various ways to do this, but this is a place where professional fit advice may be worth it to help avoid injury.
At the end of the day, the importance of fitting a bike comes down to taking active measures to decrease the chance of physical damage to you as the rider. Take the cautionary time to cross all your “T’s” and dot all your “I’s” when it comes to the fitting, and see a professional fitter so that you’re ultimately not inflicting any extra (and unnecessary) harm to your body, or to the bike you want to enjoy for years to come.