bike fit: the Randy method



Randyforriding

New Member
Nov 30, 2012
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In the early seventies, I started getting a subscription to Bicycling! and got a couple books on cycling. In these, there were formulas on bike fit and general rules of thumb. For many years, I tried to get my bikes to fit the way they were "supposed " to fit and suffered for it. Years later, you could go to a bike shop and get fit by an "expert" using a number of different systems. An improvement, but I never got fit without having to make some changes after giving it a fair trial. After being measured a number of times, I've come to realize that I have unusual dimensions. I have a short torso and long legs. The femur being especially long. But I contend that any experienced cyclist with even a tiny amount of body awareness and some mechanical aptitude will end up making changes after being "fit" to his bike. Why not skip the middle man and the middle step? I no longer trust someone else to fit me. I'm the only one that knows if the bike fits, and you are too. When an experienced racer's saddle is too high, he knows it. How does he know it? What clues is his body giving him? Stem too long or too short? Don't use a formula, listen to what your body is telling you. I've found that the best way to set saddle height is on an indoor trainer. In fact, probably all adjustments are best done on an indoor trainer. The first step is to make sure the bike is level on the trainer. That is the hub axles are the same distance from the floor. Starting with a saddle position that is too low, I put the bike in a low gear so that I can spin at a fairly high cadence. I gradually raise the saddle till I feel like I can't spin smoothly or I feel tightness in the back of my knee, then back off till things feel good again. For stem length, and this is a bit controversial, I've found that if the stem is too long, I tend to slide forward on the seat.. I suffered with saddle discomfort for years before I discovered that the problem was stem length and not the saddle. Alternatively, you can move the seat forward. It depends on the situation whether to get a different stem or move the seat forward. For handle bar height, I go mostly by seat comfort. If I'm rotated too far forward, the nose of the saddle starts to impart an unpleasant pressure. I raise the bar just enough to bring relief. For positioning the brake levers or angle of the handle bar, I've found that if they are rotated too far up (with hands on the hoods) I tend to rotate my hands so that the meaty part on the outside of my hand is riding on the bar, rather than center of my palm. My body is trying to get my wrist more in a straight line. I rotate bar or raise the levers till this starts to happen, then back off a bit. I think most experience riders are doing similar things without thinking much about it. They just know the bike doesn't feel right and they know what needs to be done to make it feel right. .
 

CAMPYBOB

Well-Known Member
Sep 12, 2005
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"I no longer trust someone else to fit me. I'm the only one that knows if the bike fits, and you are too."

Agreed.

I've been 'fit' twice by high-end bike shops that specialized in fitting elite racers. The first fit was with the old Fit Kid RAD. Both fitters FUBAR'd the position from cleats to saddle height to saddle angle to bar rotation to reach.

Maybe the new, high tech fit systems with their power meter output readings and a wind tunnel position tuning have advanced enough to get the professionals that last 1/2 of 1% of speed, but IME the 'pro' bike shop fitters and the experienced rider/racer is a waste of time and effort.

For the neophyte, I think the fitters can provide a base position to work from. As you said, changes will be necessary and even beginners will probably make them.

And then there are those that can not or will not listen to their bodies. They're the sort that need a fitter. And a coach. And a trainer. And a sports psychologist. And a massotherapist. And a mechanic. And a nutritionist.
 

Volnix

Well-Known Member
Feb 19, 2011
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Originally Posted by CAMPYBOB .



And then there are those that can not or will not listen to their bodies. They're the sort that need a fitter. And a coach. And a trainer. And a sports psychologist. And a massotherapist. And a mechanic. And a nutritionist.
I would love a sports psychologist. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif Actually anything psycho-something would do... /img/vbsmilies/smilies/mad.gif
 

danfoz

Well-Known Member
Apr 12, 2011
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It's like cooking food. Takes some trial and error. How does one know if the saddle is too high or too low? Same thing as adding salt, you'll know how much is too much only once you've added too much, then next time add a little less. Or like you said, just pay for someone else to cook dinner and hope you like what they cook. If not, cook it yourself or pay someone else again. Maybe they'll get it right.

Of course some very basic tips can go a long way and help a novice out quite a bit.
 

alienator

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Jun 10, 2004
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danfoz said:
It's like cooking food. Takes some trial and error. How does one know if the saddle is too high or too low? Same thing as adding salt, you'll know how much is too much only once you've added too much, then next time add a little less. Or like you said, just pay for someone else to cook dinner and hope you like what they cook. If not, cook it yourself or pay someone else again. Maybe they'll get it right. Of course some very basic tips can go a long way and help a novice out quite a bit.
Yup, and there are cases wherein fitters are quite useful. They don't have to be cases involving cyclists that just don't know how to fit themselves. Not every cyclist is a simple fit, and fitting can't always be so dumbed down.