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May 24

Bike Fit

(This post sponsored by my Mom and brother because of their Christmas gifts of $$ towards a bike fit)

I had my long overdue bike fit this afternoon.  Immediately following a nice swim, I hopped on the bike and headed to Grand Rapids Bike Co.  After getting out of the pool, I learned how difficult it is to put on bike shorts when wet.  Not pleasant.

I got to Grand Rapids Bike Co. a little early, which gave me some time to drool over the merchandise.  The Craig Alexander Orbea bike was very tempting, but I didn’t have an extra $10K just laying around.  Maybe next time.

Bryan spent an hour working with me, and we made some drastic changes.  I went from a 100% “Comfort” configuration to between a “Sport” and “Racing” configuration.  This included raising my seat 2.5” and dropping the handle bars almost 3”.  Previously, my handlebars were 1” above my saddle.  Now, they are almost 3” below the saddle.

This did a couple of things.  By raising the seat, I have an improved pedal stroke, which should optimize output power.  As you can see in the picture on the right, I now have the “ideal” 150 degree angle at the bottom of my stroke.  Also, by lowering the handlebars, I am put in a more forward aero position.

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You can see the results of the fit.  Before on the left, after on the right.

On top of the fit, I bought new aero bars.  My old aero bars were the Century by Profile Design.  They worked well for me and were the right price when I bought them two years ago.  However, with the more aggressive bike fit, the Century’s limited adjustments would have left me way too stretched out.  So, I upgraded to the Airstryke.  These have two main benefits over the Century.  The first is lots more adjustments, both forward and back, as well as more options for where the pads are.  The second is that the pads are spring loaded and flip up when not in use.  This allows more access to handlebars for changing positions.  However, the downside to the spring loaded pads is that they are a bit noisier because they rattle when going over rough patches of the road.  It was annoying at first, but I am already getting used to it.

I took the bike out for a quick spin tonight to test it out.  It is AWESOME!  I was cruising in gears that I didn’t even know existed.  I stayed in the big ring nearly the entire time without tiring.  I did an hour ride; 4 loops around Reeds Lake.  Not only did I feel like I had more cruising power, but climbs were much easier.  I managed to stay in the saddle on all 4 climbs of the Hall street hill.  In the past, after two loops, I have to stand to make it to the top.  While not totally scientific, here is a comparison of my ride tonight with a similar one from a week ago.

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A week ago.  4+ loops around Reeds Lake, 20.99 miles in 1:09:58 for a 18.0 mph pace.

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After my ride today.  4 loops around Reeds Lake, 19.39 miles in 59:38 for a 19.5 mph pace.

Oh yeah, and did I mention that it was 90*F today?  I was sweating buckets by the end of the ride.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ironmanbythirty.com/2010/05/24/bike-fit

8 comments

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  1. rachel

    Very cool! How much does getting a bike fit cost? Sounds like it has immediately helped a lot…would you recommend it even for a total newbie or are you glad that you did it when you did?

  2. kevin

    @rachel – I would totally recommend it for a newbie. I wish I would have done this long ago. As for cost, they can be all over the map. Mine cost $80 which I felt was a fair price for what they did. I’ve seen them as low as $50 as well as $250+. I just did a standard fit where they adjust only the bike. You can get more detailed in the fit by having them inspect/adjust bike shoes and cleats as well.

    There are plenty of shops that do fits, I just wasn’t sure which one to go to. It really took someone saying “I went here and they really helped me out” for me to take the plunge.

    Good luck!

  3. Maria

    Congrats on the awesome bike fit, I know they make a huge difference!

  4. Jon

    As long as you are comfy to stay in that position for 56 miles, then the fit works! Totally worth it!

  5. Mark

    The new position looks harder on your back? do you feel that?

  6. Jennifer

    How funny, I am getting a bike fit tomorrow! I figured since I finally got a bike of my own I might as well make sure it fits me properly :)

  7. lindsay

    i’m sold! that’s awesome improvement, and on a hot/humid day no less. that kind of weather doesn’t make it easier, that’s for sure.

    i am 200% sure i need to get my bike fitted. it’s nothing fancy, but i sure am inefficient (/slow) when i do ride :)

  8. Megan

    I personally love how much of a difference a fit makes. Hope it makes your next race that much faster.

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