Fitted for opt performance or comfort?

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Fitted for opt performance or comfort?

Postby The Walrus » Tue Jan 22, 2013 9:49 pm

I'm still getting used to riding a road bike compared to years of MTB's...when you get a proper bike fit, as I did, are they fitting the bike to you for optimum performance rather than simple comfort?

I'm starting to learn that it takes a lot of tweaking to get your ride exactly as you want it. So I'm now considering making a few adjustments aimed at comfort before considering any changes.

It feels like I'm stretching too far forward on the hoods and feels better further back. And my MTB seat is a delight. The roadie feels like I'm sitting on a spike after 20 k's!
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by BNA » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:35 am

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Re: Fitted for opt performance or comfort?

Postby KenGS » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:35 am

If it was a proper bike fit they should have fitted for whatever you wanted (within the constraints of the bike geometry)
After my bike fit a few years back the only change I made was to turn the stem over as I improved my core strength.
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Re: Fitted for opt performance or comfort?

Postby g-boaf » Wed Jan 23, 2013 4:25 am

They should be doing it for both. Get the fit checked again. Do you feel pain in the top of your hands?

If you are comfortable, you can ride easily for a long time. IMO - comfortable is also faster over the long run.
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Re: Fitted for opt performance or comfort?

Postby wombatK » Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:37 am

A good bike fit shop will take into account your age, flexibility and aims. They'll tend to give
you a relaxed or comfort fit, rather than an aggressive racing position unless you ask for
that. The main difference in the aggressive fit is how low the handlebars are positioned
relative to your seat - to minimize your profile and wind resistance at the expense of
comfort. That is mostly achieved by reducing the stack height of the headstem, and if done
in the neatest way, the excess height of the fork is cut off and is not easily reversible.

Have a talk to the LBS you bought from and see if they can help. Extenders can be
fitted if you've got a stem that's too low, but I don't know how well they work.

Cheers
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Re: Fitted for opt performance or comfort?

Postby clackers » Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:42 am

The Walrus wrote:I'm still getting used to riding a road bike compared to years of MTB's...when you get a proper bike fit, as I did, are they fitting the bike to you for optimum performance rather than simple comfort?


And getting used to it is what you need to do, Walrus. But it happens. My wife has just stopped complaining after going from a hybrid to a drop bar touring bike.

The fitting will optimize your reach and knee placement, but, yes, it fundamentally can't match the comfort of a "sit up and beg" position.

You will have to let your lower back strengthen naturally or even better do core muscle exercises, because you shouldn't be taking all that new weight forward with a deathgrip on the bars, your trunk should be self-supporting with only a light resting of the hands.

In return, your new position is aerodynamic and will get you to your destination faster, especially against a headwind. You can ride for hours at a pace that would be exhausting for someone catching air with their chest in an upright position.

If your speeds are always going to be below 30 kmh a flat bar roadie is all you need! :smile:

Conversely, those looking to spend a lot of time above 40 kmh (such as triathletes) stretch even further when they buy time trial bars.
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Re: Fitted for opt performance or comfort?

Postby DoogleDave » Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:34 am

wombatK wrote:A good bike fit shop will take into account your age, flexibility and aims. They'll tend to give
you a relaxed or comfort fit, rather than an aggressive racing position unless you ask for
that. The main difference in the aggressive fit is how low the handlebars are positioned
relative to your seat - to minimize your profile and wind resistance at the expense of
comfort. That is mostly achieved by reducing the stack height of the headstem, and if done
in the neatest way, the excess height of the fork is cut off and is not easily reversible.

Have a talk to the LBS you bought from and see if they can help. Extenders can be
fitted if you've got a stem that's too low, but I don't know how well they work.

Cheers


I agree that a bike shop should do the fit based on your age, flexibility, aims and also the style of bike you have purchased (which the LBS should have sold you based on the same information).

If you bought an aggressive racing bike, they would likely set you up to cater more for performance and if you bout a touring bike it would be setup around comfort - though both should still be setup with comfort of the rider in mind.

As your body adapts and gets stronger (particularly your core strength), your position on the bike may be able to cope with a more aggressive setup which in turn means a follow-up fitting to tweak things to suit accordingly. A bike fit isn't necassarily a set & forget thing, but can be a dynamic thing that changes over time as your flexibility, strength and aims all change.

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Re: Fitted for opt performance or comfort?

Postby The Walrus » Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:18 am

clackers wrote:
If your speeds are always going to be below 30 kmh a flat bar roadie is all you need! :smile:

Conversely, those looking to spend a lot of time above 40 kmh (such as triathletes) stretch even further when they buy time trial bars.


I'm not out to race or set any new world records here, but comfort is crucial if I'm going to use it. I wont be going at or over 40 all the time, unless its all down hill :D

I've considered changing the bars but the cost is a it much for something that might not work out for me, plus I do see how the different hand positions on drops can be useful. I have dropped the seat a touch and rotated the bars so that the drops are higher/nearer to see how that feels.
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Re: Fitted for opt performance or comfort?

Postby sogood » Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:15 am

Quite simply, there's no performance without comfort. And comfort is much dependent on your flexibility, core strength and whether you are used to a road bike. In other words, your comfort fit will change within the first year of road bike ownership as you get used to the position. In terms of "optimal performance", the biggie really is in how low you can get on the bar ie. Aero profile. Others are pretty much unchanged to your flat bar bike.
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Re: Fitted for opt performance or comfort?

Postby The Walrus » Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:00 am

sogood wrote:Quite simply, there's no performance without comfort. And comfort is much dependent on your flexibility, core strength and whether you are used to a road bike. In other words, your comfort fit will change within the first year of road bike ownership as you get used to the position. In terms of "optimal performance", the biggie really is in how low you can get on the bar ie. Aero profile. Others are pretty much unchanged to your flat bar bike.


I dont want to get low to the bar! I like being upright on the hoods which I guess is due to years of flat bars! That low or lowest position feels like my arms/hands are over stretching to get onto the hoods...its uncomfortable on my spine, it feels like I'm forcing my body weight down onto the saddle, creating discomfort in the ass as well!

I have reasonable core strength but it needs improving. I do yoga and pilates regularly as I had a spinal fusion 5 years ago and fingers crossed had no issues since!

I'm considering going to another LBS to get their take on it but for now I'm going to start tweaking simple things that can make a difference.
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Re: Fitted for opt performance or comfort?

Postby whitey » Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:44 am

I specifically got fitted for comfort and injury prevention as I have a few niggles. I dont race but do reasonalble mileage in bunches and touring - I'm more interested in being comfortable on a 6 hour ride rather than being a bit faster and not enjoying it. 12 months later I am setting records on all Strava segments long and short, I'm so comfortable I ride all the time so am now performing :D

The Walrus wrote:I dont want to get low to the bar! I like being upright on the hoods which I guess is due to years of flat bars! That low or lowest position feels like my arms/hands are over stretching to get onto the hoods...its uncomfortable on my spine, it feels like I'm forcing my body weight down onto the saddle, creating discomfort in the ass as well!

That sounds like a poor bike fit to me, when I got properly fitted there was a lot of focus on ensuring ability to comfortably reach bars, hoods and drops. Before the fit riding in the drops felt similar to what you describe. Now it feels comfortable and natural. being able to get into the drops can be handy descending as it lowers centre of gravity and increases leverage on brakes. Also good to be ale to change positions on long rides to assist with fatigue

I'm considering going to another LBS to get their take on it but for now I'm going to start tweaking simple things that can make a difference.

Might be worth seeing a professional fitter rather than a LBS (unless the have a professional fitter) could be money well spent with your medical history. FWIW I got a fit when I bought the bike at the LBS, it never felt right. Was set up with a slammed stem and too agressive, felt unstable on hoods. Went and got a proper fit from a recognised fitter 12 months ago and have done 8000K since in comfort.

The Bike Fitter made some big changes, went from a slammed stem to having `4cm of spacers and a flipped stem. Why the LBS wanted me folded like a pretzel I will never know.

The bike fit seemed expensive at the time but looking back on it was the best money spent on cycling. And relative to the total investment in cycling gear (bike, shoes, helmet, lights, kit, shoes etc) was <15% of the total.

Longer reply than I anticipated, hope it helps.
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Re: Fitted for opt performance or comfort?

Postby simonn » Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:53 am

The Walrus wrote:I do yoga and pilates regularly...


Oh well, there goes what I was going to add :).
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Re: Fitted for opt performance or comfort?

Postby sogood » Wed Jan 23, 2013 5:41 pm

The Walrus wrote:I dont want to get low to the bar! I like being upright on the hoods...

I don't think these are contradictory requirements at the amateur level. Given that you have been a cyclist and have what sounded like good flexibility, then the first step is to fit you up for the saddle. This step is independent of your ultimate preferred position and bikes (except a TT bike I guess). Once that's done, how high or how low you want to go on the bar is determined independently. Start high and then try to move lower over a period of time. There'll be a sweet spot for you somewhere.
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Re: Fitted for opt performance or comfort?

Postby toolonglegs » Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:37 pm

sogood wrote:Quite simply, there's no performance without comfort.

TT bikes are not comfy but boy they preform :P .
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Re: Fitted for opt performance or comfort?

Postby sogood » Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:47 pm

toolonglegs wrote:TT bikes are not comfy but boy they preform :P .

Comfy within a context. :P
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Re: Fitted for opt performance or comfort?

Postby toolonglegs » Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:01 pm

If we are talking standard double triangle bikes ( otherwise someone will harp up about recumbents being comfy and fast... although when ever I grow a beard it itches too much :P )...
I would go so far as to say the higher the performance,the lower the comfort. Everything is compromise.
But... that doesn't mean set up becomes more complicated... if we are talking about a standard road bike, then your saddle height and position once set up to your bb properly will not change much at all. But your bar position will / can as you change depending on many things. After all you can ride two hours solid on the tops or drops... hugely different positions but your saddle position remains the same.
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Re: Fitted for opt performance or comfort?

Postby wombatK » Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:24 pm

While your feeling stretched on the bike, a more enlightening test is to check how neutral your balance is when
hands are placed on the bars. The aim should be to adjust the seat (foreward and aft) and then possibly
headstem length/position (e.g. by turning upside down, or getting longer/shorter one), until your balance is
neutral - i.e. little if any weight on the bars.

The way to test of neutral balance is to see if you can pedal (on flat ground, or safer still on a trainer), with
your hands 5 mm above the bars. If you find yourself falling forward onto the bars, you've got to move your weight
backwards (e.g. seat back on rails). If you can hold your hands (say) 1 cm higher without falling forward, you might
need to move your weight forward (e.g. seat forward on rails).

This is somewhat dependent on your core strength, which as others have said, will improve with more km's on the
bike. But that's no reason not to tweak it now, and untweak again maybe 6 months or so down the track when
you feel your core strength is handling it better.

Cheers
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Re: Fitted for opt performance or comfort?

Postby The Walrus » Thu Jan 24, 2013 7:38 am

Thanks for the input. Whitey that was a very comprehensive answer and all very good info.

I've been thinking about the bike fit I had. They are a very professional LBS and have a fitting room with computers, cameras and plumb bobs etc etc. They are a part of the Specialized BG Fit program but I think that was close to $500. The fit I had seemed very thorough and it took at least 45 minutes but I reckon the problem may have been is that I simply didn't know how any of it would feel when out pedalling!

Its all very well the guy saying "how does that feel" but being new to a roadie I just went with what felt 'ok', but now it feels quite different!

Maybe I need a fit tweak so I'm going to go back to the LBS based on my findings, theories and the valuable info from you guys and see what they say.
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