Man's Greatest Invention

When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. And (unlike subsequent inventions for man's convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became. Here, for once, was a product of man's brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle. - Elizabeth West

Purpose and Mission

To share our experience and to encourage and inspire others to use a bicycle as a form of year round recreation and transportation. To be an example of living car-free and to help others to make the transition to having a car-light or car-free life style.

Our bodies is the engine that moves us.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mobile Bike Fit Studio and Laboratory

I received a phone call at the shop from a gentleman that wanted to buy his wife a road bike. He informed me that he needed a 54cm bike with a 70mm stem.  When I asked him why he needed those exact dimensions, he told me he paid for his wife to have a bike fit.  He paid $300 to have his wife fit to a bike with "imaginary measurements" that don't exist. 

Let's take a moment and imagine going to the website of your favourite bike manufacturer and looking at the geometry of any 54cm road bike.  You won't find one that comes with a 70mm stem. Most of them will come with a stem of 100mm long. 

Let's do some math for a moment.  A 54cm bike could typically have a top tube length of 550mm, plus 100mm for the stem, for a total of 650mm.  If we go back to the guy on the phone and we build the bike that he wanted, it would be 550mm top tube plus 70mm stem for a total of 620mm. 

If we go back to our manufacturer's catalogue and looked at 51-52cm bikes, we would find top tube lengths closer to 530mm and they mostly come with stems 90mm long for a total of 620mm.  The bike he was looking does not exist.  One that requires no modification and has the same final measurements actually does. 

Be careful when choosing a person to do your bike fit and make sure he or she has some credentials, training and integrity.  This gentleman could have saved himself $300 had he gone bicycle shopping first.  I can't imagine someone looking to purchase an automobile without trying it out first.  You need to sit in the driver's seat to make sure the car "fits" you and feels good.

It's the same when shopping for a production line bicycle.  It makes no sense to be paying for a bike fit when there isn't actually a bike at this point.  This guy was telling me what his wife needed without her actually trying the bike first.  This is really a case of putting the cart before the horse.  He prepaid $300 for a fit service for a bike that doesn't exist. 

People think they need to get custom fit first (or get told they are supposed to) and then go shopping for a production version of a bike expecting custom fitting.  Find the right size of bike first and then get  custom fit to it.  Finding the right size of bike is not a mystery. Actually, it's a really simple process.  There are general guidelines based on the rider's height which is a good place to start.  Bike sizing is beyond the scope of this article, but there are many sources on the Internet that can assist you.  Developing a relationship with your local bike shop would be my first recommendation.

Once the proper size of bicycle is selected, a bike fit should serve to fine tune the bike to your body.  "Make the bike fit your body, don't make your body fit the bike", is a quote I first heard from Dr Andy Pruitt.  It seems so logical yet is often ignored.  I am often confronted by riders that purchased an ill fitting bike because it was on sale and now expect a bike fitter to make the bike actually fit them.  A bike on sale is only a good deal if it fits you.

The relationship between your saddle/sit bones, your knees and your feet is one of science and can be measured.  The relationship between your saddle and handlebar location is one of art but also personal preference, flexibilty and core strength.  Proper road bike fit strikes a balance between arm extension, reach and core strength.     

There are as many opinions on what constitutes proper fit as there are bike fitters.  Some make more sense than others.  The formula we subscribe to is one practiced by Dr Andy Pruitt, Director of the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine.  Dr Pruitt first became involved with bicycle fit by treating injured cyclists.  Some of Dr Pruitt's well known clients include: Lance Armstrong, Lance's personal coach Chris Carmichael and Axel Merckx, son of Eddy Merckx (both known in the cycling world).  It's safe to say that Dr Pruitt is one of the world's leading authorities on bicycle fit. I recommend to anyone that chooses to live a long and injury free life in cycling, that they read his book "Andy Pruitt's Complete Medical Guide for Cyclists".  The methods that Saddle Up utilizes for bike fit are based on Dr Pruitt's experience and expertise.

Now that you have a road bike in the proper size, a bike fit will assist you in getting the most from your machine and it's engine, namely you.  We feel that it is our responsibility as bike fitters to fit you in a manner that helps to ensure that you do not suffer from physical injury as a result of riding your bike.  A "century" ride (100 miles) at a cadence of 90 revolutions per minute, requires that each leg pedals through more than 32,000 revolutions.  If improperly fitted to your bike, you could cause injury and unnecessary wear or damage in a very short period of time.

The Bike Fit Lab that comes to you.  Seen here is our mobile studio with all of the necessary equipment to do a proper bike fit on your bicycle.

All of the needed gear:  stationary roller trainer and front fork support.

Tools of the trade.

Good leg extension to ensure maximum power output with less stress on the knees.

A plumb bob is used to line the knee with the front of the crank arm.

A slight bend in the elbow without overextending or rolling the shoulders forward to reach the handlebar.

The final result is a neutral riding position allowing the rider to spend long days in the saddle without pain or discomfort.

Saddle Up offers different fit packages based on your needs and objectives.  Our goal is to make your bike fit you.   

Contact us via email by clicking the "View My Complete Profile" at the top left of the page to discuss which bike fit package best suits your needs.  Please write 'bike fit' in the subject line.  Look forward to hearing from you.


  1. This is a very interesting blog and so i like to visit your blog again and again. Keep it up.


  2. Cool idea! We have customers asking pretty regularly about bike fit - send me the best contact info for you and we'll forward them to you.