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It looks fast and sexy…

Imagine this, a big name car manufacturer introduces a fantastic new sports car priced to be accessible to the amateur market.

The marketing spiel describes how every aspect of the car has been meticulously designed to give the ultimate driving experience, from the tuning of the suspension to the position of the rear view mirror.

When it arrives, however, it turns out that the elaborately sculpted, supportive seat is not adjustable.  You squeeze yourself in and you can’t bend your knee enough to release the accelerator pedal without it wedging against the steering wheel. 

Apparently an adjustable seat flexes when cornering at over 100mph (and spoils the aesthetics).

There is an option to fit a different seat that puts you 1.5 cm further away from the pedals – but it has to be a specific one from the manufacturer and it’s not adjustable either.    It’s also expensive for a seat, a bit awkward to fit, and you have to cut away the fittings for the original seat so you won’t be able to revert if, say, you want to sell the car to someone shorter.

A third size of seat (also not adjustable, but with 2.5cm of extra space) is only compatible with the more expensive, top of the range, version of the car.

Sounds like madness doesn’t it?

Couldn’t possibly imagine a bike manufacturer doing anything quite so ridiculous…

On a serious note, however, if anyone offers to sell you a bike like this, new or second hand, I respectfully suggest that you walk away, however familiar and well respected the brand names involved are.  Of course it might fit you perfectly, enable you to benefit from its advanced aerodynamic features and also provide many hours of enjoyable riding.  But if it doesn’t quite fit you perfectly there will be little that you (or I) can do about it and it’s likely to be a source of recurrent frustration.  

An unconstrained bike fitting, i.e. a fitting where you are not limited by the range of adjustment of the components that happen to be on your bike, is often a revelation.  Believe me.  And I have a long list of happy customers and testimonials to back me up.

I’m not against the marginal gains of better aerodynamics, that’s a key objective of a good bike fitting (and of coaching elite competitors), but wilfully and unnecessarily disregarding the individuality of the rider (the buyer) seems indefensible.

And yes, of course you could sell it on – but you’ll have to find someone exactly the right size and shape who’s looking for the tiniest marginal gain.  Or do the indefensible yourself, and pull a fast one on a naive and gullible fool.

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