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A Guide to Bike Fitting

Has it been years since your last bike fit? Or maybe you’ve never had one before?

You’ll find there are countless approaches and techniques to bike fitting but all these methods have one key thing in common; to get the most out of your cycling performance and to better tailor your bike to your riding style and your physical geometry.

If you’re wondering whether booking yourself in for a bike fit is worth it – here’s the guide for you. We’ll talk you through what a bike fit is, why they’re beneficial for your triathlon or cycling performance, and where you can go to get a bike fit carried out by true pros.

 

What is bike fitting?

Put simply, a bike fitting is about achieving a correctly-fitted bicycle. So, it is just a case of sitting on the bike and seeing if it’s comfy, right? Wrong.

We all know that riders do not come in standard sizes – and the same most certainly applies to bikes these days as well. Gone are the days when bikes all had similar geometry and it was a case of just choosing between small, medium, Large or X-large. Bikes come in all sizes, all with different geometries and all measured from different places on the frame. So a 54cm Pinerello is most certainly not the same size or geometry as a 54cm Cannondale Synapse.

Confused? Don’t worry – this is where bike fitting services are your saviour. Finding the right bike for you is more than just trying out a few models in the shop. Just ask any triathlete’s better-half as they wait patiently in TRI UK’s Kona Coffee House whilst their partner tries all the available options!

Bike fitting involves firstly finding out what you are wanting from your current bike or the bike of your choice. After initially ensuring that your bike choice will fulfill your requirements, bike fitting then involves making adjustments to various key parts of the bike in order to give you the maximum performance, stability and comfort you need to reach your goals. This process can be used to improve your existing bike and or to set-up your new bike to the exact spec that you require for your build and your geometry – and also for your triathlon or cycling goals.

Sometimes small adjustments are all that is required to get that perfect fit and feel. However, in most cases, and especially with time trial/triathlon bikes, it is never as simple as small micro-adjustments to your saddle height and stem length. Bike fitting is an in-depth process that takes into account you as a rider, the bike and your riding needs. A TT set-up will be different from a triathlon set-up where you need to be able to run off the bike.

Even if you and your training buddy are the same height, your set-ups will be different as your arm, leg and torso lengths will be different – so will your riding style. Everything is looked at as part of a bike fit as everything and anything makes a huge difference to your riding position, and most importantly, feel and comfort.

As part of a bike fit, the following aspects are adjusted based on your current physical condition and riding style:

  • Cleat position
  • Saddle height
  • Handlebar reach and height
  • Bar width
  • Stem length and angle

 

Why have a bike fit?

If you’re spending hours training and racing while sitting in an unnatural, uncomfortable position this is likely to lead to injury and will compromise your performance. If you are a triathlete the bike fit is of vital importance as you have to still be able to complete the run discipline once off your bike.

Having a bike fit will help you get the most out of your cycling, as the person performing the fitting will draw connections between your current physical state and what you want to achieve. They’ll use this information to find your optimum position, which in turn can improve your power, speed and comfort. More importantly, the GURU Bike Fit system favoured by TRI UK does not try to make a bike fit you. It uses ‘fit-first’ processes to create your optimal riding position for your own personal requirements and then pairs you with the best choice bike for your needs. GURU uses your personal fit to drive your final product selection.

So if you think reducing pain, decreasing your chance of injury and maximising your output sounds good, get yourself booked in for a bike fit! After all, cycling should be enjoyable (maybe not up the hills!) and your bike should feel as if it a part of you. Knowing that you have the bike that is best for you, set up in the optimal position for your needs will make cycling even more enjoyable than before.

When should you consider a bike fit?

There are several key moments a bike fit may be necessary. These include:

When you’re considering buying a new bike.

By having a bike fit with a trained pro you can use the measurements to help you choose a bike that’s best suited to your riding style and goals.

When you’ve changed your training regime or goal.

Are you wanting to speed up or maybe build your endurance? You may need a position that’s more aggressive and aerodynamic. Or you may be focusing on longer distance triathlon events and so now require a bike set-up better suited to endurance rides that is easier to hold and that will allow you to still run off the bike.

When any major changes happen to your body.

If you’re injured, recovering from a crash, lost or gained weight, it could be time to get a bike fit to ensure your position is as comfortable as possible. Or you may well find that your flexibility is not what it once was! A more relaxed bike set-up may well be more comfortable rather than that fast, aero position you could maintain 20 years ago!

When you’re struggling with pain while riding.

If you’re suffering from pain whilst riding it’s always worth considering if this could be related to your bike positioning. Often riders will experience pain because their bike is forcing them to move in an unnatural way.

Given the time and money we invest in the obvious things like training, nutrition, supplements and equipment it’s odd how often we can overlook a basic aspect like posture and position. As a general rule of thumb, if you’ve got any niggling doubts about whether your current riding position is hurting, rather than helping, your efforts – then it’s time to speak to an experienced bike fitter.

 

Why go for a professional bike fitting?

For those of you who really know their way around a bike and are used to stripping it down and reconstructing it, you may be wondering whether booking a professional bike fitting is worth it.

Whereas there are some basic bike fits that will involve you on a bike attached to a basic turbo trainer, this method relies on the trained eye of the fitter – and is also more of a trial and error method. With more sophisticated bike fitting equipment and software, micro-small changes can be made in a matter of seconds. As the rider, you can then instantly feel what difference such micro-adjustments have made. The GURU system also lets the rider feel a new position and then the previous position for instant comparables. Is it better like this…or like this…

Here are 5 reasons to go for a professional bike fitting:

1. Gain advice from trained and experienced bike fitters.

2. Benefit from a bike fit experience entirely tailored to your goals and physical attributes.

3. Discover small adjustments that can have a huge impact on your performance.

4. State-of-the-art technology gives technical data-driven results you can rely on.

5. Use your accurate fit report to optimise your current bike or use it to choose your new one.

Beyond these factors, if you visit experienced, knowledgeable bike fitters like the team at TRI UK, you’re getting more than just a well-fitted bike, you’re getting a cycling and/or triathlon experience entirely customised to your needs.

 

TRI UK offers the THE GURU FIT SYSTEM™

 

 

THE GURU FIT SYSTEM™ enables cyclists of all ages and experience levels to find the perfect bike and riding position to match their personal preferences.

This is a state-of-the-art, computer-controlled unit that adjusts itself into whatever bike model, size and geometry you want to try out. It can turn itself into a 58cm Cannondale Slice or a 54cm Cervelo P5. Then it can adjust your own riding position in real-time to maximise comfort and efficiency on that particular model and size that you are wanting to try the feel and fit of. It simulates the inclines and descents of real riding conditions so that you can test positions out as if you were out on the road. An innovative 3D camera system is integrated with Rider Scan technology to seamlessly capture your anatomic data and identify the best bike for you.

This bike fit system is powered by F.I.S.T. protocol, which was created by renowned bike fit guru Dan Empfield. Every GURU FIT SYSTEM™ retailer is F.I.S.T. certified – providing you with the most professional, rider-focused fit experience and ensuring maximum satisfaction with your results.

What you’re left with is a tailored fit report, giving you an overview of your data that can be used to set up a new bike or optimise your existing one.

At TRI UK, we’re also equipped with 14 Fizik test saddles that cover all major riding categories – road, triathlon, mountain and recreation. You can choose from Zipp handlebars or Truvatic handlebars, plus our Aline insole system creates a 3D-based personalised insole recommendation for cycling shoes.

 

How much does a bike fitting cost?

Bike fitting costs will vary depending on where you go and the level of service being offered.

All new full-priced bikes purchased from us come with a complete GURU Bike Fit free of charge – all part of the service here at TRI UK.

If you buy a discounted bike from us, then there is a subsidised charge for a GURU Bike Fit. This can range from £75 up to £300. The price is always discussed prior to you coming for your fit so you know the price it will be.

If it is a GURU Bike Fit on a bike that you currently own then the prices range from £150 up to £300. The actual price depends on what bike it is. For example, a road bike fitting tends to be cheaper than a TT bike fitting. Plus the brand can sometimes affect the time spent (which affects the price) as some brands are more tricky than others to deal with! Again this is fully discussed prior to you coming for your fit.

If it is for a bike that you haven’t yet chosen then there is still a charge, but when you decide on a bike to purchase from us then that previously paid Bike Fit cost comes off that bike – based on the scales above for full RRP bikes or discounted bikes.

 

Where to go for bike fitting

Visit one of our TRI UK stores for your GURU bike fitting – we have stores in Yeovil and Shirebrook, both of which boasts fully equipped GURU Bike Fit systems – as well as their instore Endless Pools, fully equipped and Cytech staff workshops, Mizuno Running Solutions systems – and a whole team of TRI UK staff members ready to give you their undivided attention, experience, help and advise.

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