Bike Fitting

Since I started my bike fitting service I’ve done over a thousand fittings and the response and feedback has been incredible.

Unlike some, my fittings involve no measurements of angles, no computers and no video (though if you would like me to film you and show you how you look I’m happy to do so).  I watch how you move and ask how you feel.  The goal is a position that enables you to push the pedals in the direction that they’re going to go anyway (i.e. along their circular path) while you sit comfortably on the saddle with no tendency to slide towards the front.  Your hands, arms and shoulders should be relaxed while holding the bars in any position.  Because cycling is about riding on real roads in the real world your position should give you control on climbs, descents, on rough and slippery surfaces, in traffic and through corners.  This is true whether you’re a racer, a tourist, a commuter or simply someone who wants to enjoy riding without a label.

I didn’t mention power and aerodynamics.  If you’re racing on your bike it can be difficult to think beyond power and aerodynamics: surely if you’re not going as fast as possible nothing else really matters.  Except that it does.  Whilst my setups are excellent for aerodynamics, because they encourage you to ride low on the drops and minimise your frontal area, and for power, because they encourage you to recruit your glute and calf muscles as well as your quads, they also ensure that you waste as little energy as possible.  How?  By maximising control and minimising tension.  If you’re tense you’re wasting energy – and that’s energy that you could use for generating power.

A bike fitting is a lesson on cycling

A bike fit with me isn’t an end in itself, it’s an enabler.  But if you don’t understand what it enables you risk missing out on the full benefits.  During your fitting you’ll learn why small adjustments to cleat position, saddle position and handlebar position (for that’s essentially all that a bike fitting is) make such a huge difference.  If you’ve been experiencing hand pain, back pain, arm pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, hip pain, knee pain, foot pain I’ll explain why.  If you find that riding out of the saddle is exhausting, that riding down hill is terrifying, that riding on the drops is – hmmm – OK for little while, that you don’t like bumpy roads, traffic, eating and drinking on the move, or other people riding too close you’ll learn why that is too.  If you can’t reach the brakes, can’t ride no handed and can’t find a saddle that you get on with you’ll probably find the answers to those too.

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Pre-purchase bike fits

Even in today’s world of off-the-peg frames, or perhaps even more so, it’s important and confidence building to know that your new bike will fit you.  I’ve met a lot of people who ‘love’ their bike, but somehow feel that their bike doesn’t quite love them back – like the beautiful friend who turns out to be rather self-obsesessed.

The best time to come for a fitting is before you buy, rather than just after. I can fit you on your old bike or on my jig if you have no suitable bike – highly likely if you’re thinking of buying a dedicated time trial bike.  You’ll feel the the setup and be able to see how you’ll look.  Though I will not be able to recommend a specific bike (there are simply too many on the market and I have no affiliation to any brand, manufacturer or supplier) I can help you make your decision.  I can specify a range of suitable geometries and I’ll check the bikes on your shortlist against your set up.  I’ll warn of potential pitfalls such as limited scope for adjustment (e.g. it’ll fit you now, but the handlebars won’t go any lower should you carry on losing weight) or potential maintenance issues (e.g. non-standard components that could be difficult or expensive to repair or replace).

Aerobar setups for time trialling and triathlon.

As with road my road setups, I believe that the key to a successful aero setup is minimising unnecessary tension.  Getting low is easy – sustaining power at the same time is not.  Having set up bikes for Olympians, World and National champions, professional cyclists and triathletes including Ironman winners and Age Group winners at all ages I believe that my aero setups work.

Bike fitting costs.

Weekend:  Fitting £130.  Additional bike setup £65

Weekday:  Fitting £90.  Additional bike setup £45

U18 review and growth adjustment – Free.  (See this FAQ)


Frequently Asked Questions

Is it the answer to all my problems?

Are there any hidden costs?

Do I have to be an experienced cyclist?

What happens if my bike is the wrong size?

I’ve been cycling for 10/20/30/40 years and never had a bike fit.  Why should I come?

Do you do a follow up?

What if I have more than one bike?

What’s the difference between a bike fitting and setting up a bike?

Will my setup change over time?

I have more than one bike.  Do I need a fitting for all of them?

Can you fit my cyclo-cross bike or my mountain bike?

Tourer, Hybrid?

Recumbent?

Do you use video analysis or Retul.

What do I need to bring with me?

Will you set up my cycling shoes?

What if I don’t have proper cycling shoes?

How long will it take me to adapt to my new setup?

How long will my fitting take?

Do you do bike fittings for children?


Is it the answer to all my problems?

I can’t promise that.  But it is amazing how much discomfort and stress people put up with on their bikes simply because the setup doesn’t enable them to ride effectively. See this testimonial from a satisfied customer…

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Are there any hidden costs?

My fittings cost £130 at the weekend and £90 during the week.  The end product of the fitting is a set of ‘bike agnostic’ measurements that describe your setup.  You keep a set and so do I (so I can send you a replacement set if you lose yours).  If I can adjust your bike to this setup I will and you can take it away ready to ride.  If you need any new components there will be an extra cost.  I keep a small stock so that, if you wish, I can fit them there and then and you can take the bike away ready to ride.  There is no extra charge for having them fitted.  If you prefer not to buy new components from me I will be happy to advise you on sourcing and fitting alternatives.

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Do I have to be an experienced cyclist?

No.

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What happens if my bike is the wrong size?

It’s extremely rare for me to be unable to get a good fitting.  I keep a stock of ‘geometry busting’ components that can resolve most problems.  Occasionally I see a client who’s bike simply cannot be made to fit.  I can still help, however, as I can do the fitting on my jig.  From that I can establish the range of frame geometries that will work (see pre-purchase bike fit).

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I’ve been cycling for 10/20/30/40 years and never had a bike fit.  Why should I come?

Riding a bike is too easy.  Most of us simply get on and ride.  The only tuition that we get is from our parents and that stops as soon as we get both feet off the ground.  After that we work our way through a succession of bikes.  Each feels a little different and some are easier or better to ride than others – normally the ones that we spent the most money on. If we don’t get on too well with one we tend to blame the bike, or the manufacturer, or the saddle, or our lack of time to be really fit.  Over time we become ‘experienced’.  But that’s lots of experience of the same thing.  For many of my ‘experienced’ clients their fitting with me is a revelation.  They simply cannot believe how different they feel.  Typically they cannot believe how much more in control they feel at speed, and how much more sustainable their power is.

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Do you do a follow up?

If you have any problems with your new set up you may come back for a re-fitting or tweak free of charge.

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What if I have more than one bike?

If I’ve done a fitting for you already I will do second fittings and set up new bikes at reduced rates.

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What’s the difference between a bike fitting and setting up a bike?

Without getting into too much pedantry…

Bike fitting is a ‘bike-agnostic’ process of finding and recording where the contact points (cleats, saddle, handlebars) should be to put you in the right position. The outcome is a set of measurements.

Setting up a bike is the bike-specific process of adjusting the contact points.

Sometimes, for practical purposes, the two are the same.  However fitting involves a certain amount of experimenting that simply adjusting the bike doesn’t usually support – such as changing the length of the stem.

If the fitting results in a setup that is beyond the range of adjustment setting the bike up will require new/different components. In most cases I will be able to do this for you as I keep a small stock of components for sale. There’s no obligation to buy anything from me. I’m happy to advise on sourcing and fitting alternatives.

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Will my ideal setup change over time?

Maybe.  A number of factors that affect your position on the bike can change over time, particularly flexibility and bodyweight.

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I have more than one bike.  Do I need a fitting for all of them?

It goes without saying that I think it makes sense to have all of your bikes well set up!

At the end of your fitting I will provide you with a set of measurements that describes your set up.  You can use this to set up other bikes.  Of course I will be happy do do that for you but I’ll show you how to do it yourself.

There are some caveats:  different saddle and handlebar shapes can make a setup with the same measurements feel quite different and different pedal and shoe combinations can affect saddle height.  For two bikes to feel identical the contact points probably need to be the same or carefully matched.

See here and here for time trial and off-road bikes.

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Can you fit my cyclo-cross bike or my mountain bike?

Yes.

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Tourer, Hybrid?

Yes

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Recumbent?

No.  I’m afraid that I’m not familiar with recumbents and I don’t have the equipment for working with them.

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Do you use video analysis or Retul?

No, though I’ll happily video you and show you how you look.  The purpose of systems such as Retul is to eliminate the need for the operator to be an expert.  They use approximations to compare angles with statistical norms.  The Retul approximation of you looks like this:

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I fit the real you for riding in the real world.

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What do I need to bring with me?

Your cycling shorts, your cycling shoes and a close fitting top.  If you have any saddles, stems or seat posts its worth bringing those along too.  There’s nothing more frustrating than buying a new component when you have one just the same at home, except, perhaps, not taking your bike home with he new set up because you think you have the component you need at home, only to find that you don’t.

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Will you set up my cycling shoes?

Yes.  It’s an important part of the fitting process.

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What if I don’t have proper cycling shoes?

A few people come for their fittings with flat shoes.  Normally because they’re nervous about being clipped in.  I strongly recommend buying cycling shoes and pedals before you come.  You can buy both for less than the cost of the fitting and with the cleats correctly mounted (which is part of the bike fitting process) will have no trouble clipping in and out.  I recommend double sided SPD pedals and any compatible shoes.

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How long will it take me to adapt to my new setup?

That’s impossible to say.  The rationale behind my fittings is to use the muscles in the best way, and to allow the muscles that aren’t powering the bike to relax.   That can take a few rides to learn and then a few more to develop strength and power.  For some people the improvement is instantaneous, others take a little longer.  By the end of your fitting I’ll have a pretty good idea of what’s involved and I’ll be able to advise you accordingly.

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How long will my fitting take?

Each fitting is different, so I can’t predict how long a particular fitting will take.  Typically they take a little over two hours.

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Do you do bike fittings for children?

Yes.  I coach children so I’m acutely aware of the importance of bike fit for growing cyclists.  As your child grows so your child’s bike needs adjusting.  Accordingly I charge for the first fitting for under 18s and not for subsequent adjustments.

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