Bike “Fit” – What’s the big deal?

By Mike Clark

In the past 10 years or so, the topic of “Bike Fit” in bike shops has gone from a behind-the-scenes protocol practiced by a few forward-thinking shops to “the mainstream”. You can “get fitted” now with lasers, stop-motion video capture, adjustable-while-you-pedal fit bikes or the tried-and-true tape measure and eyeball technique. (And you can expect to pay accordingly. The going rate for a “fitting” in U.S. shops ranges from $50-$600)

You can also find a bevy of physical therapists, sports medicine practitioners and yoga instructors offering fit consultations devoid of a shop connection – not to mention frame builders, coaches, and racers.

So, how did we get from “stand over this one, does it hit you in the crotch?” to a several-hundred dollar session involving body measurements, a flexibility assessment, and maybe some fancy tools? Basically, the advance of sports medicine and orthopedics gave us a lot of insight into how the body works best while on the bike. Lots of apparently small pieces make up the whole puzzle. Folks realized that bikes weren’t built for everyone out of the box.

The current general consensus that “Fit Matters” is great in our opinion, and we’d place ourselves among those aforementioned forward-thinking shops that figured out back in the day that offering our clients a more evolved level of bike fit was going to result in happier, more efficient, faster, and more comfortable riders with fewer injuries. We LOVE that the bike biz has caught on!

Fundamentally, your bike fits properly when your contact points (hands, feet, butt) are in the proper relationship when you sit on your bike(s). When your saddle height and fore-aft position is spot on you are a pedaling machine: efficient and powerful and protected from injury. When your “reach” or “cockpit” (the distance from saddle to handlebars) is correct for your particular combination of torso length, arm length, flexibility, age, injury history, riding style, goals, and preferences you are the ideal combination of biomechanics, aerodynamics, and comfort. When your handlebars are the proper width for your shoulder measurements, you slip through the air without giving up control or leverage.

And most of all: you ride without pain (or at least only with the pain of the effort – should you chose to go there)

How do we do “Fit” here at Alger Bikes?

We’re a bit “old school”. We believe in and rely upon The Fit Kit, the industry’s original fitting system. The Fit Kit showed up waaaay back in 1982 and remains utterly valid in the face of about 23 bazillion (estimated) new systems that have been developed over the past couple of decades. In addition to The Fit Kit’s database and bevy of tools we apply the knowledge and insights we’ve gained from performing hundreds of fits as well as riding thousands of miles. We’ll take some skeletal measurements, ask you a few questions about your injury history and goals and do a quick flexibility check. This will allow us to properly size your new bike and help us position you properly on it.

(This service is included with the purchase of any road, gravel, cyclocross, mountain or tandem bike)

We also offer “remedial” fittings for a bike that you like enough to keep but doesn’t currently fit well enough to ride. We can “fix” fit issues, help you nail down your aero bar position, chase away aches and pains, help you shop for a used bike that fits you and make sure that you’re in the proper position.

Regardless of your fit needs, we’re ready and eager to help you out. Please stop by any time!

Mike Clark has fit a pretty huge percentage of West Michigan’s riders, and has been professionally trained to fit a couple custom makers, like Seven Cycles