Spoke Talk: Spring is the time to get bike fit
June 15, 2017
As we melt into spring, many who ride are thinking about getting a new/different/better bike. You might hear "What should I buy? Who makes the best bike? What about that company?"
With opinions that abound and tons of choices, it's easy to get confused. Many get silly excited at the prospect of introducing friends and family to riding a bike or the thought of a new ride, but one cardinal rule applies. Buy a bike that fits, one which encompasses four criteria.
- Buy a bike that fits your intended use.
- Buy a bike that fits your body type, your height/weight and flexibility.
- Buy a bike that fits your budget.
- Buy a bike that fits your personal style and aesthetic.
First, consider your intended use. How will you actually use this bike? A summertime ride to work? Pulling the kids on the Yampa River Core Trail? FTP laps on Howelsen? Town Challenge? The Enduro-X race? Moots Ranch Rally? Tour de Steamboat? Steamboat Stinger?
All are valid questions when considering a new bike. Many riders take months to pick their next ride. Others buy on the spot. Regardless of your goals, be brutally realistic with your use and purpose.
The second consideration is sizing and fit. Bike fit is based upon height, however, many shops try to use multiple factors beyond height. Torso length and flexibility can have a big impact. Stop in and ask for help. Maybe you're lucky enough to ask a knowledgeable friend like, Ernesto Colnago, the most famous of all bike builders. His nearly imperceptible glance would net (in Italian, of course) "You, a 57." Then, when expertly sized by staff, the frame was a 57. No question.
Number three? Consider your budget. Buy the wrong bike (use) or a bike that isn't the right size (height), it won't matter how cool or remarkable the deal. With good expertise and advice available, we still see nearly brand new bikes on Craigslist because they were unused or the wrong size. Don't learn this the hard way.
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Fourth, as impractical as it might seem, given our analytical approach above, get the cool bike. Get the bike you like. Don't discount the color, the feel, the aesthetic. Our advice to prospective buyers: If you're new to a particular bike, ride or demo five to six similar models before you make your purchase. The more experience you have, the better your choice.
Using the above guidelines, a friend and your local bike shop, you're certain to get the perfect bike for your summer adventure. Do you have your own evaluation process? Tell us about it.
Routt County Riders is the local source for grassroots advocacy and information for all types of cycling, be it road, gravel, trail, dirt jump or BMX. If you need help or advice, contact us. Find us at routtcountyriders.org, routcountyfacebook.com/rcriders or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alan Perkins is a Routt County Riders member and volunteer.