by Greg Pelican
Over my breakfast coffee I was thumbing through Bicycling's Buyers Guide and read a review on a Canyon road bike. It was the typical great review (it seems that all bikes they write about are awesome), but what caught my attention was the magazine's blurb about the online brand's "Perfect Position System".
Interesting, as a bike fitter I wondered how they factored in the rider's flexibility or core strength. Seat height is fairly easy to get close with a good inseam measurement, but the perfect bar height and reach are very much affected by the rider's experience, flexibility, age, core strength, and of course their anatomy dimensions.
So I went to Canyon's website to see if their "Perfect Position" matched my bike's position which I have honed over many years of riding.
First it had me pick the bike type, bike model and bike spec. Next I entered my gender, weight and 5 body measurements. There was no explanation of how to take these measurements (for example where does the torso measurement start and end) so I used the practice defined by the old "Fit Kit".
The "Perfect Position System" answer was a bike size that isn't even close to what I ride. The top tube and cockpit reach was short and the drop from the bars was extreme. The bike size was too small. My current road bike is well proportioned (see pic lower right), has a reasonable drop, especially for someone 59 years old, is comfortable and fast. There is no way I could get comfortable on the bike size which was recommended.
When finding the perfect bike size and setup, there is no substitute for a experienced bike fitter, and no substitute to getting on a real or fitting bike to determine the optimum position. I find this especially true when fitting older cyclists or riders who are coming off another type of bike such as a hybrid and buying their first road bike.
At Trek Bicycle Stores of Florida we start with taking body measurements, and then get the cyclist riding on a trainer on a real bike. From there we adjust the position based on the rider's flexibility, core strength and feedback. This often requires a stem change, and sometimes a bike size or model change before everything is dialed in perfectly. I often give posture tips and make a video of the customer riding to help reinforce the proper posture and position.
In person bike fitting is a great no-charge added value that we offer with each road or tri bike purchase. Come on in to one of our stores to truly find the Perfect Position and Perfect Bike!