If you’ve been to any swanky bike shops lately you may notice the newest craze in upper end retail cyclery. The exclusive fit session. Back in the day the sales dude looked at you and said, “Yeah you’re probably a 58.” Then he’d get a 58 down for you to try out. You could go to a different shop with a younger sales dude and he’d bike like, “Yeah I think you’re a 54.” The point being that you got on a bike adjusted the saddle height and rode.
Elite pro cyclist would never ride an off the shelf bike back in the day, and many of them had frames built by hotshot torch jockeys like Dario Pegoretti in custom sizes to their exact measurements. Those days are over for the pros but now even us lowlife recreational riders can get the custom fit treatment for a small fee to their shop. That is if you think several hundred dollars is a small fee.
Most shops actually have a wide range of fitting options available, some using the traditional plumb bob and level, others using lasers, 3D imaging, and lots of big words. Kozy cycles in Chicago offers the Specialized BG fit, which like everything Specialized makes is full of buzzwords, marketing speak, costs too much, but probably works really well.
So here’s the thing, I would gladly pay for a custom super laser 3D fit, if I thought it would fix the saddle sore problem that has creeped back into my life this week. I think it came from riding too far and too low last Saturday, but I tend to get saddle sores in the early season no matter what and have had good luck with them getting better and going away as the summer progressed.
Just for kicks tonight I took my measurements and entered them into Competitive Cyclist’s fit calculator to see what they recommended. My wife helped me with these measurements and I’m pretty she wasn’t putting scientific accuracy at the forefront of her mind, but instead getting finished and going back to bed, so there could be large errors here, but it appears that my own judgement in fitting matches their formulas pretty well and seems to indicate my 58cm CAAD9 is about right for a less aggressive fitting bike.
The French fit is their most laid back fit and features nearly level bars and saddle, this is pretty close to my bike’s measurements, but I’ve shortened it up about 2 cm and raised the saddle almost 5 cm higher than their BB-Saddle measurement.
I think getting a custom fit at a bike shop is probably a good idea if you’re dealing with pain, but it so easy to take some measurements of your bike and make some adjustments yourself. Measure from the center of your BB to the top of your saddle and the nose of the saddle to the handlebars and you’ve got your two most important measurements. Make small changes and pay attention to what you’re body tells you, something that feels mildly annoying in a few minutes will feel like agony after a few hours.
Remember pros ride with their bars 10cm below their saddles because someone is paying them to ride fast.