Friday, November 21, 2008

The Right Fit


I'm still without a home computer, so my blog entries will continue to be sporadic for at least the next 10 days. Thanks for your patience.

The Right Fit

Several of my friends and co-workers ask me for advice when they are looking at buying bikes or upgrading components. Let's face it – I'm a gear geek. I read Mountain Bike Action cover to cover each month, and check out and whenever I have a few spare minutes.

One recurring question is: "How much do I have to spend to get a good bike?"

The answer varies depending on how you plan to use the bike – are you going to ride it around the neighborhood once a week with your kids in tow? Are you going to commute 10 or more miles each way to work? Are you going to ride at least 3 days per week for fitness? Are you going to try a 100 mile charity ride? Or maybe give racing – either on-road or off-road, a try?

If your stated objective is to ride more than 3 times per week, or to do some rides of significant distance, my advice is this: Figure out your planned budget for the purchase, then hold back between $100 - $400 for a professional bike fitting.

Having your bike fit to you – rather than you trying to compensate for a poorly fitting bike, will save you from a variety of nagging aches and pains, not to mention potentially serious injuries, in the long term. Both Phil and I have had bike fits at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine, and it has been worth every dime. [A bonus is that our insurance actually covered part of the cost of the fit as "physical therapy."] Phil was able to eliminate chronic back pain caused by a small misalignment of his cleats, and I have been able to reduce my chronic knee pain.

So, spend enough to get a nice frame that fits you. You can always upgrade components later if you find you are riding a lot and want to lighten up your bike.

Then spend the extra money you held back for a professional bike fit. No matter how much you spend on a new bike, if it doesn't fit you well, you will have discomfort when you ride, and eventually you'll just stop riding. Don't let that happen to you!


  1. I just want a bike
    lighter than my wife's!
    I am sure that will
    cost a lot, in more
    ways than one!

  2. My standard answer when someone asks me what's a good bike to buy is "one that fits you." Sure there are plenty of other factors depending on what you plan on doing but if it doesn't fit you're not going to have fun.

    My legs are short in proportion to my torso so I need a frame that has a long top tube. Even then I have to use a long stem and push my saddle all way back.