A proper bike fit is one of the single best investments you can make after you have bought your new shiny wheels. Not a lot people believe this especially when you are a beginner. You just purchased a bike that equates to the amount of a used car and now I need a bike fit? YES!!!
Bike fits matter. And they matter a lot! Why? You want your bike to feel like you’re putting on the most comfortable pair of shoes you own. It should fit like a glove. And how it makes you feel when you get on it should never be a deterrent as to why you are not.
- stretched out in the upper body – like you’re reaching for your handle bars
- reaching for your pedals
- rocking in the hips
- numbness or pain anywhere (hands, arms, feet, knees, nether region, neck, back, etc.)
- that you just can’t get comfortable
- uncomfortable in your shoes
- a seat that is still hurting the sensitive bits after more than a few rides
There’s no denying you may experience tenderness when you first start riding bikes especially in the nether regions. HOWEVER (and that’s a BIG however for a reason), tenderness in the nether regions should not last more than 3 or 4 rides if you are riding consistently. If you’re only riding every few weeks then of course it’s going to be tender almost every time! It’s like the time you stopped going to the gym to work-out and then you went back and wished you had never stopped. Yeahhhhh, you know what I’m talking about!
So, we have decided how you shouldn’t feel on your bike. Next up is what you should be doing when it comes to finding a bike that fits. Here we go!
1. First and foremost, build a relationship with your local bike shop. There could be more than one so ask some of your friends that are into riding who they like to go to. If you don’t have friends that ride, then contact your local cycling club to find out what bike shops there are in town. Then, simply walk into the different bike shops and see what kind of vibe you get and who you resonate with. If you have talked to someone and they referred you to a particular bike shop, go in there and tell them who recommended you go there so you can start to make that connection and develop that relationship. This is SO SO SO important and bike shops love this!!! Who wouldn’t like a loyal client? And who wouldn’t love to trust their bike shop wholeheartedly? Yeah, that’s what I thought!!!
2. Buy a bike that fits your physical size. This is a big one! You want to find a bike that fits you size-wise. So, if you’re 5’9” you don’t want to be buying a 61” size bike frame right? It will be HUGE and impossible to do a bike fit and just be downright uncomfortable. This is why my #1 point above is so important. Build that relationship with your bike shop so you can start building that sense of trust and belief that they will steer you in the right direction. I have heard many stories of people buying bikes that don’t fit. AND this is where buying a used bike gets tricky especially if you’re new and don’t know much about them. You better be bringing someone who knows a lot about bikes with you. Sorry used bike sellers but it’s true!!!
Now, let’s get on with my tips for getting you a great bike fit and why it matters so dang much!
3. Find an experienced bike fitter that does a lot of bike fits. Again, ask around. Like anything, word of mouth is usually the best. When you start hearing the same name over and over you know where it might be a good idea to go. It might be someone who has their own business doing it or it could be a person at a bike shop. Any bike shop can give you a bike fit BUT do they have extensive training AND do they do them a lot? Ask them!
Knowing what I know now, I would look for a bike shop that has a person dedicated and up to date on training to do bike fits or can recommend someone to me. You want someone that truly cares and wants you to feel good on your bike.
When I bought my first road bike I bought it in Whistler. I still have it and will NEVER sell it!!! I had it for probably two seasons before I found out that getting a bike fit was a good idea! I had built a relationship with a bike shop and trusted them wholeheartedly. In the end, we had to swap out the handlebars for narrower ones, change the seat because it was literally killing my girly bits (which no one likes to talk about :) ) AND shorten the stem as I was stretched out because of my shorter torso.
What I’m getting at here is that you may need to spend a little more money to get that bike to “fit like a glove”. AND if you get the fit done where you bought the bike and are building that relationship, who knows what the bike shop might do to help you out.
AND if you are thinking of getting a new or first bike, I always tend to go for middle of the road when I’m buying any big ticket item. The way I look at it is then there is room for growth AND I’m buying something that has some pretty decent parts and will last longer.
5. Bike fits should be done at least once a year and when you’re a beginner more than once. Bike fits are not just for beginner cyclists. This is across the board from beginners to the pros! If you are a beginner, the reason you will need more than one fit is because as a newbie you will make leaps and bounds when you first start out riding. Not only will you be stronger but you will also be more flexible in terms of riding position.
A good bike fitter will take it easy on your first bike fit to allow for this flexibility transition to happen more organically as you get fitter. If they’re good, they’re not going to put you into a super aggressive bike position because…well…you just wouldn’t be comfortable.
They will also tell you to come back for a follow-up fit for these reasons. These follow-up fits shouldn’t take as long as the first one and shouldn’t cost as much if anything at all. Make sure you follow up!
Conclusion - nip this bike fitting process in the bud! The whole point of a bike fit is to get you comfortable on your bike and to avoid unnecessary injuries. It will also allow you to ride more efficiently which means you will get to ride for longer! :) Get the bike fit done. Spend what you need to make it comfortable. Then ride your little heart out because getting on it is like putting on your favourite pair of slippers. :)