Friday, October 16, 2009

Bike fitting

Bike fitting, buying and finding and adjusting a bike to work well with your body, your flexibility, your strength, and your needs, is an important topic. Today I've put together a post that covers some of the online resources for bike fitting, and also briefly discusses fitting services and systems.

On-line Guides: First I'll give a brief survey of some of the online fitting guides. At top right is a chart detailing the topics covered by these sites:

Rivendell Bikes has a nice online guide for choosing a bike. This is predominantly a guide for choosing a frame size, based predominantly on pubic bone height (AKA "inseam"). It has an interesting rule for how to determine the leaning angle of the torso. This is oriented towards comfort and not racing sizing (which really is not addressed by any of these sites.)

Bikerowave (love the name) has a pretty plainly presented (looks like a forum entry) discussion, but the information there is good.

Jim Langley's excellent site has made the posts of this blog before. He presents fitting as a troubleshooting guide. Good if the bike you already own falls within the range of what you need, not so useful as a buyer's guide. (Langley quotes from Ivan Illich -- hm, good topic in itself for some future post.)

Kirby Palm's long discourse on bike fitting is encyclopedic. Anyone who can write this much on a topic probably knows something about his subject. If not, let's hope he gets lucky. Seriously, this is arranged in a somewhat wordy narrative, but is quite comprehensive and useful.

Peter White Cycles has a page on the topic. It provides some general advice on frame fitting as well as advice on selecting the kinds of merchandise Peter sells. (I really like Peter's site and sincerely appreciate the information he provides. I would buy from him a lot more if he made it easier to do so.)

The Colorado Cyclist site has a thorough (if not particularly broad) guide. It uses a step-by-step approach that I like in this kind of guide.

Wabicycles has a frame-spec focused site that is oriented toward fixies. It information is compactly organized and not unsophisticated. Definitely the place to go if you're thinking about converting that old Raleigh from the '70s into a fixie.

Fitting Systems: Let's suppose, however, that you don't feel confident about measuring a bike (or yourself) and just want to have it done for you. There are a couple of bike-fitting hardware systems sold to bike shops whose personnel are usually certified to use them. Perhaps a shop in your area has one of these systems:

Bike Fit Kit: The "Fit Kit" sold to cycle shops to determine bicycle fit. Since they sell the kits, they don't "give away" their methods online, but visiting their site is interesting in what it says about their approach.

The Fitmaster is the all-in-one fitting machine seen in many bike shops. Shops in at least 25 states in the US have these. A nice, integrated system combined with training on how to use it. This is a good investment for any bike shop, it would seem.

Some randomly-chosen services using (probably) one of the above systems are listed below:

Ride Boutique is certified on several different fitting systems. If you live near Ann Arbor and have a couple of Benjamins to spare, this might be time (oh, yes, and money) well spent.

Papa Wheelie's bicycle shops (again, I love that name) in Boston and Portsmouth, NH also has advanced fitting services. They mention the magic word, "chondromalacia," which I suffer from.

Bicycle fitting services in Tampa, FL. Seem reasonably priced.

eBooks: Lastly, you may simply be a book person, and the comfort of the printed page (that is, if you're willing to print it yourself, as these are ebooks) is the way to go for you. (I can certainly understand this.) There are a couple of titles that come to hand, based on my Internet search:

Arnie Baker's "Bike Fit" ebook. If you're a learning-oriented, self-reliant kind of person, this may be for you. A whole lot less expensive than a fitting session, too.

Andy Pruitt's Medical Guide for Cyclists. Ebook. Combines a section on bicycle fitting with a section on injuries / prevention / care.

1 comment:

Bilko said...

Bike Fitting and Bike Sizing are two different things.