Bike fit: A personal experience.

Boardman Hybrid ready for it’s first winter.
Cube Stereo
Cube Stereo with Sella Italia Saddle and Easton Carbon handlebars.
Mondraker Foxy just after being built up.
Removing the old bar tape before clean up.
Now I have my shifters in the right place it’s time for some fresh bar tape.
Shiny red bar tape.
In the stand after a good days work.

I started my cycling life commuting to work and back to save money on bus fare. I bought a Carrera Subway in a size Halfords recommended for my height (20 inch). It was a flat-bar hybrid and I was so unaccustomed to cycling I fitted a steerer extender to increase the bar height to make it comfortable.

As I got used to being on a bike I got rid of the steerer extender and continued to play with the bike’s fit so it was comfortable.

I eventually bought my Boardman Hybrid, this time I bought the biggest size they had (56cm). I was constantly tuning the fit, in the 3 years I’ve had that bike it’s had numerous saddles, 3 sets of handlebars, 2 seatposts, countless pedals, god knows how many sets of grips and slowly the bar height has come down.

My next foray in to cycling was Mountain Biking. I bought my first MTB, a Cube Stereo (the only carbon bike I’ve ever owned) in a 20 inch frame. It was cramped and tall and I didn’t much like it, so I sold it and bought my Mondraker Foxy. Being 188cm (6 foot 2 inches) I chose the biggest frame they had which coupled with the 30mm stem was the perfect size for me. Although I was still tuning the fit as much as possible (2 handlebars with different rises, new grips, new pedals).

Last September I decided to buy the Pinnacle Arkose 4 while it was on sale. It was amazing value and my first ride out on it was brilliant, I fell in love with it instantly. I began my usual ritual, new saddle, new seatpost, new handlebars, new bar tape (wrapping them is a hassle isn’t it?) and so it slowly became my own. The problem is wrapping bar tape is a lot more time consuming and involved than changing grips on a flat bar, so I put up the shifters being in the wrong place because “they were close enough”. I put the fact that I felt stretched out down to my lack of flexibility, and my inability to take corners quickly due to my crash a few months ago, but secretly, in the back of my mind a little voice was telling me that something else was wrong. I was not comfortable on the bike.

Today I decided to take some time out from being on the bike and spend it tweaking the bike and it’s fit. As I was removing the old bar tape I realised the handlebars had a slight downward tilt which meant that I was putting a lot of my weight through my arms when riding on the hoods, this leads to me locking my elbows and reducing my confidence in the corners. I spent a few hours making changes to the shifter positions to make sure it worked for me. Once I was happy I re-wrapped my handlebars in some new (red!!) bar tape and the bike feels a lot better now.

The point of this tale is that no matter how much experience you have, no matter how long you’ve been cycling, do not stop tweaking your bike fit if it’s not comfortable. “Close enough” is not good enough. When you get your fit right it makes the entire experience more enjoyable and that’s why we do this isn’t it?

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