Why do I need a bike fitter? Isn’t the bike store supposed to fit me for a bicycle?
Bikes stores are supposed to sell you the correct size bicycle. Manufacturers entrust their dealerships with this important job and it’s partly what you’re paying for. Unfortunately, that’s not what usually happens. Many bike shop employees don’t know how to make that assessment because they’ve never been trained. I, for one, have NEVER walked into a bike shop and had any adjustments made to a bike other than perhaps raising or lowering the seat. Proper sizing is the first step in getting a proper fit on a bicycle.
Bike store employees are more likely to try and sell you whatever they happen to have on the showroom floor, or talk you into purchasing one of last year’s models at a great price. They’ll rave about a bike’s great components. But when you’re 5’2” or under, correct frame size is the most important aspect of your purchase. I’d even wager that none of the bikes at the shop are close to the right size and the only test ride you’ll have is on a bike that’s too big. Remember, just because you can stand over a frame doesn’t mean you will be able to ride the bike comfortably!
What’s the difference between a sizing and a fitting?
A sizing is a preliminary assessment only. It’s like buying a wedding dress. You wouldn’t buy a size fourteen if you wore a size five. You find the correct size which can then be tailored to fit to your body.
What happens during a bike fit?
I’ll ask you about your goals as a cyclist, your current level of fitness, and whether your work requires you to sit, hunched over a computer, resulting in back or neck problems. You’ll tell me about any injuries that may limit your ability to ride. I’ll ask you to demonstrate your level of flexibility, and then I’ll measure you. After entering the numbers into my computer, the NEXT fit™ proprietary software program, will access over 23 years of fit data, and provide starting point measurements to help determine how to fit you on your current bicycle and/or which size Rodriguez will be the best fit for you.
What adjustments do you make during a bike fit?
Your hands, feet and rear end provide contact with your bicycle and are critical in connecting your motor (legs) and steerer (arms) with the bike so you can operate this marvelous machine with ease. These three points of contact require adjustments to saddle height, fore/aft saddle position, and stem (and handlebars). Observation and experience are key in determining how these measurements combine to make the bike fit exclusively to your body.
Do you use a mirror when you do a bike fit?
No! Comfort is the most important aspect of your fit. You cannot determine your comfort by looking at your position on the bicycle. The mirror will only distract you from paying attention to how you feel on the bike. FIT = COMFORT= BETTER PEFORMANCE!
Why should I listen to you?
First of all, I’m a woman. I’m just over 5 feet tall and I’m fifty-one years-old. I’ve been riding a bike since I was about six years-old. I’m ecstatic to report that I’ve finally found a bike that fits! It’s a STOCK Rodriguez 1S with a 47cm top tube. Like many other women my age, I’ve spent thousands of dollars on bikes made by Raleigh, Trek, Gitane, Cannondale and Terry. I want to save you money which means buying the right bike the first time.
Why do you want to save me money?
Buying a good bike is expensive. The lower end models start at around $800. I’m talking road bikes here. The ones with the skinny tires and drop handlebars like you see on the Tour de France (those models cost an average of $8,000). I’m a pragmatist and would hate for you to spend money needlessly and end up with a bike that sits in your garage, instead of one you can’t wait to ride.
I’ve suffered injuries from a poorly fit bicycle. Everything from a stiff neck and sore shoulders to a disabling case of sciatica, to having my clitoris chafed so intensely I worried I’d been castrated—not exactly a detail you would comfortably share with the guy at the bike shop.
I believe exercise is the elixir of youth. And when you’re riding your bike it brings you instantly back to when you first learned to ride and felt the wind in your face and the freedom to go where ever you wanted.
Bicycling is an activity you can enjoy your entire life. Trust me when I say you will still enjoy the thrill of a downhill when you’re fifty years old as much as you did when you were ten. The great news is that women specific bicycles are now available from a number of manufacturers. But unlike many random comments you’ll find on the web, I’m not going to lie, and tell you (for example) to check out Cannondale for a road bike if you’re five feet tall. Yes, they have women specific designs, but, in my sincerest opinion, they will not fit you.
Who is this website really geared for?
My focus is helping women 5’2 and under because so little accurate information is available. However, much of the data I post here will be useful to all women, because we are a sadly under-served demographic. Men under 5’2 may also benefit from some of the details available here. There’s a lot of borrowed basic information as well as the results of hours of personal research. I also hope men will visit this website and learn about the special needs of petite women before purchasing a bike for their partner because sharing cycling can enhance your lives together. Guys, if you read no more, please read this: Do not give your wife or girlfriend your old bicycle. This would not enrich your life together.
What makes you such a know it all?
I graduated from Chiropractic School in 1983 and have more understanding of biomechanics than most bike shop employees. Don’t ask me why I’m not in practice, (it’s a long boring story) but you can probably figure it out if you read my other website at http://www.brettha.com
I am passionate about bike fitting because I think every woman should be able to enjoy bike riding the same way men do. I also know a one half inch adjustment on a stem or a seat can allow you to ride a comfortable 80 miles instead of a painful 20.
But I’m not interested in racing or riding 80 miles, do I still need a fitting?
If you saw me, you’d realize that I’m not into racing either. I never thought I’d ride the way I did when I was younger. But the last two years I rode on Cycle Oregon (http://www.cycleoregon.com)with my family approximately 434 miles over 7 days, climbing approximately 21,000 feet with my husband and son. You never know where your bike might take you.
But, what makes you a bike fitter? Do you have any special training?
In addition to attending Chiropractic College, tweaking my seat and swapping stems on my bikes for many years, I have studied with Michael Sylvester (http://www.bicyclefittingservices.com) who was recently featured in Bicycling Magazine. Michael is a premiere bike fitter — he’s been doing this for over 20 years– and is the man who developed the fit system for bike manufacturers Serotta, and more recently, Trek. I have also had the unique opportunity to attend the Specialized BG Fit School.
I am currently using the Next-fit ™ bicycle fit system in conjunction with the expert fitters at R&E Cycles in Seattle.
What am I getting for my money?
Well, you’ve already gotten access to this website so consider it my gift to you. Share this information. Correct me if you find anything inaccurate. And mostly, every time you see another woman on a bike, cheer her on.
If you live in the Los Angeles area, I have a number of different services. If you want an advocate to go with you when you shop for your next bike, or you want me to try and fit you to your current bike or you want to go for a ride and talk about cycling, I’m available. I’ll even fit your boyfriend or husband. Check out the services page, and send me an email or just give me a call.
If you don’t live in the Los Angeles area, my first suggestion is that you click here and read More About Bikefitting and then contact a Specialized BG Bikefit technician in your area.