Professional Bike Fitting

Filed under: Biking 

In a story for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, I wrote about the rise of professional bike fittings, a bike-adjusting procedure for experienced and intermediate riders alike.

Indeed, professional bike fittings are now offered at hundreds of shops around the country for prices ranging from $50 on up.

Most riders make ad hoc adjustments to their saddle height. Some might add spacers to the handlebar stem for better reach. A professional bike fitting takes these same kind of simple steps and applies a degree of science and precision developed through years of industry research.

The magic behind a bike fitting lies in its combination of an anatomical assessment and its qualitative consideration for every riders’ cycling style.

The body makes contact with a bike in three places — at the pedals, the saddle and the handlebars — and a fitting focuses on these areas almost exclusively. Changing the height of a saddle, for example, allows a fitter to position legs for optimal efficiency during a pedal stroke. By adjusting the handlebar stem, back angle and arm extension is manipulated to maximize comfort as well as an aerodynamic stance.

“The advantages I see of being fit are an increase in power, more comfort for greater distances, and less fatigue,” said Adrian Contreras, a manager at Flanders Bros. Cycles in Minneapolis, where up to 20 fittings are performed each month. “You feel more in tune with your bicycle.”

Contreras added that there has been a considerable increase in recreational cyclists being fit to their tool-around-town rides. The everyday cyclist who gets fit, he said, begins to see how much better cycling can be.

“It makes a once-tolerable exercise into an enjoyable experience.”

See here for my full story, a bike-fitting case study about a rider named Ryan Sportel.

Or, I wrote about my own bike-fitting session in preparation for the Ironman race in 2005. See this link for the Gear Junkie column on my personal fitting.

By
Stephen Regenold is Founder of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.
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