Fitting the bicycle to the rider

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The art of fitting a bicycle to a rider has come a long way since I first realized that some of my aches and pains were caused by poor fit.

For my style of riding — getting from Point A to Point B without unnecessary discomfort — there are a couple of measurements that seem adequate.

But racers and competitive amateurs seek adjustments that will give them an edge. When you're plucking down several thousand dollars on a new bicycle, another couple of hundred doesn't seem like much to pay to get the most out of it.

The Boulder (Colo.) Camera writes about a local firm, Retul, that has developed a system that uses motion-capture technology to create a 3-D biomechanical analysis at a cost of $250 a session.

The Retul technology is available at more than 300 locations worldwide, although most are located in the US. Each system costs $12,000.

According to the Camera, the device measures the angles created by a pedaling bicyclist, then uses that data to produce a list of bike frames and models that match the rider's movement.

A competing system is the Cyfac Postural System, developed in France. It uses body measurements, rider characteristics, injury history and type of bicycling to create the best position and frame geometry.

That system is available in only three locations in the US.

Wheel-maker Peter Jon White created a do-it-yourself bike fit routine, “How to Fit a Bicycle,” that doesn't use anything more complicated than a mirror. It contains a lot of suggestions for adjustments that can be made to improve bit fit.

As you can imagine, there's a lot of disagreement over bike fitting techniques and results. At right, John Crook of Lancaster, Ohio, does some myth-busting regarding the Knee of Pedal Spindle (KOPS) guideline.

A Performance Bikes video also features a video on bike fit and offers suggestions based on your style of cycling. You'll also notice the KOPS measurement is recommended in this video.

There's also a five-part bike fit series offered by endurance cyclist and coach John Howard.

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