Tales of (mis)fitting

Discussion in 'Training / Health' started by kneedrachen, Jan 5, 2018.

  1. kneedrachen

    kneedrachen Moderator Staff Member Mod Team Tavern Member

    8,231
    394
    83
    Anyone have experience with fitting fixing their problems on the bike, be it pain, power, comfort etc?

    I ask because it seems to be (that in my experience) someone can "fit" you and totally screw things up for you. So, before I begin, let's hear the collective!
     
    John_V and cwtch like this.
  2. rola643

    rola643 Two skinny Js Staff Member Admin Staff Tavern Member

    17,410
    1,018
    113
    Never had a fit beyond what I’ve gotta at the LBS. Minor tweaks in saddle height, fore and and only a couple different stem lengths. Never even mucked about with different saddles. Tried one once that was supposed to be the **** and meh... went back to the one I had before.

    Very possible that I don’t know what I’m missing :) I ride with several that have paid hundreds for it and swear by it.
     
    John_V and cwtch like this.

  3. cwtch

    cwtch Well-Known Member

    2,409
    482
    83
    Just My Opinion

    Fit is beyond tricky. What works for one isn't going to work for another. A good fit starts with a setup that is standard to the norm. Issue here is norm is most efficient riding position (this doesn't mean comfortable). From there a rider needs ride and give the fitter feedback. At this point experience comes in and by what the rider says adjustment is made to get rid of pains or cramps or whatever issues arose post first fit.
    Personally I doubt most bike fitters have a clue what they are doing. I set people up at our shop and tell them that what I can do is get them close and to the standard riding position but am not great beyond that. Honestly I get the saddle height right and setup reach by what a rider says feels good to them. Beyond that I don't have a clue but am upfront about it. My belief is most fitters are the same but are less humble and claim to know. I took the Trek fitting class.
    A fit is like a saddle if two riders of exact measurements like the same one/position it is a miracle. Look at the pros, two guys racing side by side and same height and they are probs using different stem lengths and saddle heights.
    Guess I am trying to say in my opinion a good fit is a start. What a good fit is and who can do one is something I don't have an answer to.
    Short memory reflection. I met Laura Trott a few years back and asked about her saddle height on her track bike. She explained how it was way above her bars because it was the position she had the most power and efficiency. I asked about comfort. She laughed and said something like, yeah that isn't a huge part of the equation, it is about speed and power not comfort.
     
  4. Merlincustom

    Merlincustom Senior Member

    1,447
    71
    48
    Before I had my hip replaced I had limited flexion and swapped out bars for a little less drop and that solved the problem.
     
    kneedrachen and cwtch like this.
  5. John_V

    John_V Well-Known Member Tavern Member

    7,972
    288
    83
    I had signed up for an MS 150 just before getting my first road bike. The bike felt like a really great fit and I was happy with it until I did my first 30 mile ride. I was in so much pain from that ride that I was thinking of not doing the MS. After reading some posts about fitting, on another forum, I started to look at different fit systems and settled on Retul. I really didn't want to spend $250 for a bike fit but my wife talked me into it. I'm so glad she did.

    On the Retul website, I saw a mention about one of their trainers that did fittings at one of the LBS in our county. I called and made an appointment. Session number 1 was not what I thought it would be as I never got on the bike. The hour was spent with questions and answers, measuring and checking flexation and recording everything in the computer. I also purchased my first pair of cycling shoes since he told me I would be wasting my money getting a fit on platform pedals.

    On my second session we started the fitting. He checked the right side, then the left. Did some adjustments on the bike and repeated the process. After the third time, I was done for the day and was told to go out and ride for two weeks and come back. Did that.

    Third session was a repeat of the prior session except this time adjustments were more precise. He went so far as to take the tape off my bars to change the position of the brifters and replaced the tape with new tape. He put shims in my shoes and made several cleat adjustments. Again, I was told to go out and ride and come back in a week. On the last session, he made the final adjustments and got me as close to perfect (for me) as he was going to get.

    A few weeks later, I did the MS 150 and ended up feeling as if I had just gone around the block. It was my first 50 mile ride and I had no pain anywhere, although my legs were a bit tired. The return 50 miles the next day was just as painless as the day before.

    Roy (my fitter) is now doing fittings at a training center in Pinellas County (across the bay) and I was dropping in once in a while to get adjustments done. I haven't had an adjustment in a few years. Having learned more about fit over the years, I make some adjustments from time to time but often wonder if what I did was for the better or worse, even if it does fell a bit better at the time. I think I may call Roy this year if anything feels out of whack and I screw up the fitting.
     
  6. kneedrachen

    kneedrachen Moderator Staff Member Mod Team Tavern Member

    8,231
    394
    83
    So, my story. From those of you that have been around awhile, I got in to road cycling in February 2010 (I never claimed timing was a strong suit of mine). I ended up in size 47 cycling shoes because the shop owner/fitter told me that was my size. A shorter, more upright stem swap on a 54cm Synapse, some cleat positioning (Shimano SPD MTB cleats) and I was sent on my way. My sit bones were killing me, like I was getting a 2x4 rammed in to my pelvis.

    We moved to MD (thanks, Army!) and I met a fitter here, and that's all she did: fitting. New saddle, some cleat positioning (same shoes and cleats) and I was sent on my way. Well, it was a improvement, but she said the frame was too small for me so that it'd never be really "right." Next bike was a Giant TCR (well, I had a Defy that was defective, so I jumped from that to the TCR), in a size M/L. Longer, lower stem, same saddle that was on the Synapse and it was love, pure love. Stupidly sold that bike along with a Raleigh touring bike I was commuting on.

    After a stroke, some trikes, a velomobile and then a 56cm Trek Crockett. I never, ever could get really comfortable on it and that shop's fitter seemed to just slap together some adjustments without any measurements. Chafing, groin infection that took over a year to cure, horrible. I went to a Cruzbike but didn't really like the fact I couldn't see behind me and the handling was waaaaaay too skittish for my liking. It was a great bike, just not for me.

    A friend opened up an small, independent shopping only selling Specialized©®™. I bought a new Roubaix Comp in a 56cm frame. My friend is adamant he does not fit beyond a basic saddle height adjustment.

    2 months later, I headed to a very well-known shop in Baltimore that also sells Specialized ®©™ and advertises its fitting acumen. 3 hours later I had a Specialized ™©® BG Fit performed. I was told it was take a few weeks to feel comfortable and I went from the stock Roubaix saddle to 155mm Toupe saddle.

    Since then I have been so uncomfortable. Not just the hand pain/numbness etc, but the worst is the groin numbness about 12 minutes in to a ride. The numbness was so bad, passing urine was numb as well. The numbness would last a few days at a clip. Standing during rides would help some, but it was detrimental to training especially during the valleys of recovery on TrainerRoad because I am standing and loading up my legs when I should be recovering. After speaking with @John_V I looked up RETULl and found out that a shop in Maryland about 1.5 hours from me not only uses RETUL, but also uses the GURU DFU, basically a a fully adjustable bicycle fitting machine. The GURU is on a turnable so the RETUL system can get a 360 degree view.

    The fitter, Stu, has been doing this a long time and is an engineer by education. He's in to the scientific aspect of it, but also notes there is some art to it. 5 hours later, my shoes are significantly smaller (duh!), I'm on a 143mm Power Saddle, my bars are slammed and my saddle is significantly higher and set back further. To have the GURU machine go from my original fit (my bike was measured and those measurements were transferred to the GURU for a baseline) versus my new fit is incredible. Hand pain is gone, and I can feel my legs stretching now when I pedal. The groin numbness is gone and I feel pressure on my sit bones once again. I now can feel it when I pee (it sounds ridiculous, but once you're numb down there for a few days, you get used it).

    It wasn't cheap, when you add the fit, the shoes, the saddle and the time and tolls to get this done, but it truly was a revelation in how much comfort can be achieved once positioning is correct. For those of you that have been following me on Strava, you'll see I put a few hours in each week on the trainer. I think this new fitting is going to help me with those numbers since I will not dread the discomfort and genital numbness that came with my time on the saddle.

    For what its worth, I spoke to my primary care physician and when you find out the damage that is done from compressing those bloood vessels and prostate, I'm glad I convinced Mrs. Drachen to give me the credit card and cut me loose to get my fit right.

    I have some work to do with stretching my hips and a LOT of work to do on core strength but I now I have a direction and marching orders to go with it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2018
  7. cwtch

    cwtch Well-Known Member

    2,409
    482
    83
    I think what everyone is noticing with fit and misfit is that it is not a simple formula.
    One thing of note that caught my attention. Like Knee's Specialized buddy it is important for those of us who work in shops to be upfront about what we can do.
    Another factor in Knee's struggle to get comfy in the saddle is bike geometry. While the frame size may be the same, (examples) the Trek Crockett (a race geometry cyclo-cross bike) is never going to ride as comfortable as a Robaix Comp (endurance H2 geometry bike). Not claiming a good fitting like he has now wouldn't have helped but the geometry is still going to play a factor. Not meaning either bike is better than the other but was designed with a totally different concept and purpose behind it.
    Valuable information in both John and Knee's experiences.
     
    Merlincustom, longjohn and John_V like this.
  8. kneedrachen

    kneedrachen Moderator Staff Member Mod Team Tavern Member

    8,231
    394
    83
    I agree about the frame geometry and it retrospect, I never really had a "good" fit performed on the Crockett which may have made all of the different in the world. I felt sort of splayed out, regardless of saddle height and fore-aft. In my head, I imagine the stem should have been swapped out, but as the RETUL fitter told me, improperly sized shoes will never allow for for cleat alignment since you will not get the cleat in the proper position under the foot (similar to what John was told regarding flats and a fit).

    I have a 20 minute FTP test coming up in a week or two, while the results will be skewed due to increased saddle time since the last test (with a boatload of intervals), I'm curious if the fit will affect those numbers since my legs can now extend significantly more. In theory, it should have a positive impact, so I am curious what shows up.
     
    John_V and cwtch like this.
  9. cwtch

    cwtch Well-Known Member

    2,409
    482
    83
    Knee keep us posted and updated. Totally stoked for you to have found comfort on the bike. Going numb and pain would make riding a chore instead of fun. Bet the power improves huge as well.
     
    longjohn and John_V like this.
  10. kneedrachen

    kneedrachen Moderator Staff Member Mod Team Tavern Member

    8,231
    394
    83
    The funny thing is, no component works for everyone. @John_V goes with an ISM, and I ordered one. Could not get it to fit right with my anatomy. I spoke to the company themselves and it just does not work for me. $190, and I am sure I can ebay it, but still, I should have waited but was desperate for some relief from the groin problems.
     
    newleaf150, John_V and cwtch like this.
  11. i12ride

    i12ride Spin Spin Spin Tavern Member

    3,070
    308
    83
    Another funny thing is that the same person will not be able to use the same fit for a bunch of bikes. I have a starting point with all which = 15 degree bend in knee at bottom stroke of pedal, 90 degree bend from torso to arms, wrists straight in line with forearms on levers. Also adjust stem length and/or saddle fore/aft position to make cockpit right with knees comfortably away from bars and/or back positioning. Some part of fit = rider preference, some part = bike type & some part = standard fit starting points IMO. I know the same fit on my offroad bikes won't be same for road....past the standard starting point.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018
    cwtch, John_V and kneedrachen like this.
  12. longjohn

    longjohn tall old member

    1,114
    127
    63
    I have a hard time seeing how someone who isn't me can tell me what is best for me. They have a guy at the fitness center where I used to take spin classes who insists HE knows how your spin bike needs to be adjusted. Ok, one spin class with him and I won't be back. The LBS owner is like cwtch, he helps you find the right size bike and seat height for your first bike. If you want to try some different adjustments and want his help to make them he will do it. I see noobs mostly on the bike trails where my wife likes to ride that could definitely use a fitting but not the $$$$$ fittings you are talking about but mostly a raise that saddle up before you ruin your knees fitting or a "it's time for you to get a bigger bike" fitting. I have never had a fitting and I am pretty sure I never will. I haven't had any issues and I have rode many thousands of miles on many different bikes over many years. I think it's just a certain type of people that try to make it rocket science. It's not, it's a bicycle. The jerk at the spin class insisted HE took a class and HE knows the right way and you have to ride the bike his way because it is the only way. He had my seat way too low and too far forward.
     
    cwtch likes this.
  13. maelochs

    maelochs Old, fat, and slow

    162
    185
    43
    My understanding—which I will keep repeating until at least I believe it—is that many riders can fit themselves better than most “fitters” who might be “kids who got hired by an uncle” or even “salesmen who like to ride and wanted a job not selling vacuum cleaners.”

    Some folks, it just doesn’t work. They can change everything, move everything, study online ... and just not feel it.

    I read stuff online, I study what I see ... but to me it is a feeling. I know the range of motion I can manage, I understand the basics of how far the leg should extend, I understand the balance between aero and comfort ... I know the most efficient position isn’t always the most comfortable, but also that the most comfortable is often the most efficient, unless you are a dedicated pain-based rider (racer or competitor, for you lay people.)

    I do a basic set-up based on experience,. and tweak it as time goes on. As my fitness level changes, I tweak some more.

    Most people look at my bikes and tell me I need a different size. None of them seem to repeat that after i ride with them a couple hours with no discomfort.

    I have had a bunch of people look at photos of my bikes and tell me my bikes don’t fit me. I have yet to hear one person say, “Does your bike fit you?”

    I think a pro fitter can help someone who has tried a bunch of stuff and just can’t get the pieces to fit, and also someone who is looking to extend the envelope. I am sure the Retul guy could increase my efficiency some measurable but minor percentage with no loss of comfort with micro adjustments like cleat-shims .... but for me a two percent increase in efficiency is meaningless—certainly not worth a couple hundred dollars.

    On top of that, if I can’t ride for a month, or pull or twist something, suddenly I cannot fit that “perfect” fit. Six months later I might have all the fitness back, and maybe the same range of motion ... or maybe not, which means my bike might “fit" for a few weeks each season ... or not.

    On another hand, if I had a lot more cash, I would do it (get a pro fitting) just because ... and if the first time was not fully satisfying, I would still be okay with that. But right now ... a couple hundred dollars for “performance” which I don’t even measure? Not for me.

    If I competed, or if I just couldn’t get a particular bike to fit quite right .... I’d take a chance. But ... what if I got someone like Longjohn’s “expert” who didn’t have a clue about what my body could do?

    Or what if I got someone who was really good at putting people into a racy setup ... but didn’t understand that my shoulders are toasted pretty crispy, my neck is pretty stiff, and my lower back is stronger than cooked spaghetti but not stronger than uncooked spaghetti?

    What if the guy just couldn’t grasp the idea that I would rather be more comfortable and less aero and less efficient? That I would have a better experience riding farther, more slowly, in greater comfort than working hard and suffering?

    For $250, I would need to feel better after a ride than before .... and when I hit a set-up on my own, I feel about the same except for the kind of fatigue one would expect after a couple of few hours of exertion ... so ....
     
    cwtch and longjohn like this.
  14. cwtch

    cwtch Well-Known Member

    2,409
    482
    83
    On my personal bikes I set the saddle at a measurement I know works for me. It is from top of pedal to top of saddle. After that I drop the bars as low to the head tube as I can get them and ride. Cockpit length I try to buy frames at a certain horizontal seat to stem.
    I have never been uncomfortable on a bike so never saw a reason to do more.
     
    newleaf150 and longjohn like this.
  15. kneedrachen

    kneedrachen Moderator Staff Member Mod Team Tavern Member

    8,231
    394
    83
    And again, different strokes for different folks. The standard is to have a level saddle, right? For me, it is 3.5 degrees negative (nose down) tilt. As @John_V can attest, the physical assessment takes longer than the actual measurements and adjustments. For me it worked, from what I understand, some folks are highly sensitive to saddle tilt, others not so much. I have multiple herniated discs in my neck and L3,4,5. I have total shoulder reconstruction in my left shoulder and a few fractured bones in my left foot that didn't heal so well. For me, the $ outlay was worth being comfortable since I couldn't get it right.
     
    Merlincustom, newleaf150 and cwtch like this.
  16. cwtch

    cwtch Well-Known Member

    2,409
    482
    83
    I have had a lot of people talk to me about saddle tilt. The standard is level but most people I put on bikes seem happier when it has a slight tilt. It does seem to be a huge factor either way.
    It also makes sense to have focus be on the rider physically over just numbers related to the bike.
    Road bike fit is probably far more important than MTB if for no other reason than time in the saddle is greater for most. Plus on the mtb one is always shifting weight.

    This thread is great because it shows a lot of different thoughts on fit. I don't think anyone is wrong, everyone should do what works for them and gets them riding.
     
    i12ride and longjohn like this.
  17. maelochs

    maelochs Old, fat, and slow

    162
    185
    43
    Mr. Kneedrachen--I hope I didn't seem to be implying that fitting was a waste of money. It is like going to the doctor---a person with a a lung problem would be wasting time going to to an osteopath. A person who doesn't fit on his bike shouldn't go to a carpenter and a guy whose wife wants the kitchen remodeled should consider suicide---no, I mean Should call a carpenter ... and plumber ... and electrician ... and stonemason .... and probably the bank to arrange a huge loan .....

    My wife would never encourage me to spend a penny on riding, and if I was in pain from riding she would tell me it was time to stop.

    I'd tell her to stay in her new kitchen but I guess that would be dangerously anti-feminist nowadays. :)

    I 'd say you have been lucky with both the spouse lottery and the bike-fitting. Bravo for you.
     
    FRISKY and kneedrachen like this.
  18. kneedrachen

    kneedrachen Moderator Staff Member Mod Team Tavern Member

    8,231
    394
    83
    @maelochs , no worries. It's like the way some people "need" aero wheels to enjoy riding, while others are happy just riding metal box section rims. There's a guy I ride with that has been fit more times than I can count, and I cannot imagine why since he never complains of discomfort. I guess if you have the $$$$$$$.....

    We've survived deployment, shift work, mandatory over time, kids, etc. We're solid. I have learned to be an adept negotiator, I do not ride unless the dishes have been washed, kids tucked in etc. Working 2jobs affords me the luxury of her saying " go ahead, you earned it, spend some time on the bike." Of course, i've also heard "that #%$&ing bike!"
     
    maelochs and longjohn like this.
  19. rushlake

    rushlake Member Tavern Member

    1,738
    154
    63
    Good points being brought up. There are differing reason riders are looking for fit. Comfort on the bike or a more specific area of discomfort or pain. Or looking to get the best efficiency and speed out of your machine.
    If you're riding and have your saddle height and fore and aft. set comfortably and your reach is fine then ride on.
    Many of the experiences with fitting spoken of here were with people who were not bike fitters even though they may have claimed to be so. Taking a class does not make one a fitter. It takes years to become a good fitter.
    Attempting to address only road bikes here. There are the different schools of thought on how to fit. Retul was mentioned. The Bike Fit program is another. Using the saddle selection as an example. Specialized has the device we all know as the "assometer" to measure the distance between our ischial tuberosities to help with the correct saddle width selection. Some companies, Italian, just plain prefer riders using narrower saddles while Steve Hogg argues that we don't even bear our weight on our ischial tuberosity but it is the ischiopubic ramus.
    Crank arm length is more a standard now between a few choices. If I use the 20% method, actually inseam in mm x .216, with a say 30" or 762mm inseam my cranks, that's cranks not crank knee, should be 164.5mm. Using Graeme Obree's suggestion which is 9.5% of height. At 67" or 1701.8mm x .095 = 161.67 for crank length. Less than 3mm difference.
    But I ride what I have, 172.5. So without building a new bike from scratch a fitter needs to work with what you have with some exceptions, shims, stems etc. that are generally changed out.
    The fitter I use, Lyle, is $150, if your shoes are shimmed and the cleats in proper placement, $75, and incorporates methods gleaned from many different schools of thought and bike fit schools. Also free adjustments for 6 months after. But that depends on when you're fit and when winter hits. So Lyle generally will help you out anytime as long as you don't abuse his generosity.
    Lyle is very passionate about fitting and never stops learning. He is a cancer survivor in his 50's who has been involved in the cycling industry his entire life. Certified at the highest level of the Bike Fit program he incorporates other methods because he believes in what he sees that works. After spending time on each foot getting the cleats and shims and position on my shoes I get on and warm up while he sets up his devices and get the TV going. He makes certain you warm up and will wait if he finishes his set up and just talks for a while. I can see my cadence, mph, and wattage. He watches how I ride, listens to and watches my pedal stroke. He looks at your calf muscles. He sees how you sit on your bike. Yes he uses lasers to get a starting point for symmetry. But from there he looks at position. My right pedal has a spacer to move it out and my saddle it turned slightly to the left of center. All because of what he saw. And these are small changes that have a big impact.
    If you have your hoods straight out from your bars try putting your arms out in front of you imitating that position. Now relax your forearms by rotating them slightly inward. The knuckle at the base of your index finger should be more or less pointing up. And you can feel the tension leave your forearms. You can feel the release. I liken this to the late Freddie Gruber's approach to drumming where a natural position is best. These little things that use energy and muscle to hold in unnatural positions are fatiguing. Even if the hoods force your hands and arms in that position it is uncomfortable and travels up the arm to the neck and shoulders. Lyle feels the muscles in the neck and shoulder area to set placement and the rotation of the hoods after the stem is properly sized. So bla bla bla right. Point being that he takes the time to fit me to the bike based on my body, riding style and feedback from me on comfort. He is constantly asking questions so he can better help me. Everyone is proportionately different so specificity given to fit instead of general accepted measurements and angles, in my opinion only, should be the practice.
    I know when I get a new bike and get fit I can tell the difference. I feel more in control of the bike and more comfy. Yes the Zen at one with the bike. Also when the fit was completed last time Lyle told me to look at the TV monitor and notice my increased wattage output was significant. All this could be interpreted that I am just not good at setting up my bikes. But I have been comfortable on many bikes and if not I did my own tweaking until I was or a sore spot went away. I was happy with my avg. mph on those as well. But I was curious about a fit. A GOOD bike fit does make a difference but that all depends if what it provides is of any importance to you. And if you haven't had a good fit then there is nothing for comparison to know if it helps or not. I know some people just can't justify the $$$. and I get it. But I also know riders who go through a fortune in saddles trying to find the right one. And maybe the saddle isn't the issue.
    I have had bikes that were supposed to be my size, around 54 + or -, and worked and felt comfortable. But when I went to the compact 49 frame it felt right.
    I think when a customer looks at purchasing a new bike the shop employee who is knowledgeable should saddle the customer up on a bike measuring machine, like the GURU. But one shop here has a much more simplified machine that gets the measurements to assist with a purchase. That way the proper size bike, stem, cranks can be installed on the bike for a better out the door fit instead of just saying "this frame is in your size, here you go" a pull a stock bike off the floor and out the door.
    That's my bike fit story knee, some names may have been changed to protect the innocent and some events may have been added or changed to provide less boring more dramatic effect.:oops:o_O:confused:
     
  20. kneedrachen

    kneedrachen Moderator Staff Member Mod Team Tavern Member

    8,231
    394
    83
    Interesting you mentioned the hoods, that's (from what I understand) an oft-missed point. The being a lot of folks ride with their hoods way too low (from what I was told), so its like they are pointing a pistol at the floor. I am too fat and slow to gain much in the way of power, but I figure that with comfort comes time, and with time comes power.
     
    cwtch, i12ride and newleaf150 like this.