Ride More, Enjoy More With Properly Fit Bike.

Harriet gets fit in a bike shop studio with an Oriental rug on the floor. Credit: Harriet Wallis

If you think your bike hates you, it’s time to schedule a bike fitting. If you hurt when you ride, there’s probably a mismatch between your body’s geometry and the geometry of your bike.

Sure, all bikes look pretty much alike. They have wheels, pedals, handlebars and seats. And they come in sizes – essentially small, medium and large. But your body’s measurements are more complex than that.

Unfortunately, many dedicated bike shops will say: “Find the bike you like and we’ll fit it to you.” That usually means they’ll jiggle the seat up and down.

A real bike fitting includes taking body measurements: shoulder width, arm length, leg length, sit-bone width, and more. You’ll have to ask around to find who’s the real bike fitter in your area.

Some physical therapists are qualified bike fitters, while others are bicycle fitting gurus. A skilled fitter can solve arthritis-related and other structure-related aging problems so it will be fun to ride your bike.

This is what the computer sees. Credit: Harriet Wallis

A fitting  can take about an hour, and the fitter is likely to suggest a different seat or stem or some other component to make it compatible with your body’s unique geometry. They can’t change your body, but they change the bike to suit your body! All this comes with a price tag, but it’s worth it if you want to have fun riding after the snow melts.

Here are some ways to figure out what’s wrong, but if you change one thing then something else will probably feel wrong. A real bike fitting should help you be “one with your bike.”

1. If your knees hurt, you’re seat’s probably too low, too far back, or both.

2. Ask a friend to watch you from behind. If your hips rock back and forth even a little bit, your seat’s probably too high.

3 If your hands, arms, shoulders or neck hurt, you’re probably too far away from the handlebars.

4. If your neck hurts, your handle bars might be too low, too far away, or both.

5. If you feel you’re just not getting enough power for your push, lots of things are probably out of whack.

Friend Laurie is fit by a physical therapist. He placed markers on key areas to analyze her alignments on the computer. Credit: Harriet Wallis

One Comment

  1. Nicola Nelson says:

    We live in North Salt Lake. Can you recommend a good bike fitter it the Salt Lake/Park City area? I’m 76, not a skilled bicyclist at all, but would like to bicycle more. I feel my current bike is too big and too heavy.

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