Bike Fitting Syndrome (BFS)

Finding the right seat height takes a lot of work. You get multiple opinions, pay experts to size you up, read books and websites, and in the end your not sure if your right or not. I have been sized up multiple times and set up on a height range between 78.5 and 82 CM. I always thought the last fitting that set me up at 78.5 was a bit low, but I figured the guy knew right. I have had to raise the seat up to combat pain, but for the most part it was ok. The guy who set me up at 82 CM a few years ago I figured was crazy, as it seemed way too high. Today, I went to Mike Boester at Bike Connection in Palo Alto where I got my Scott Frame ordered. He came up with a number right between the high and low readings at 80.5 CM. I had to rise up to 80.5 on the Hoodoo due to knee pain so I have done it before. Mike was surprised at how low I was set up and he said it looked I was riding a BMX bike based on my knee bend. Clearly there are differing schools of thought on seat height. I think in the end, the key is building a good relationship with somebody you trust and has a lot of experience and happy clients. Make sure that person is real close by and amenable to hearing your boring stories about knee tweaks, breakthroughs, and pathetic attempts at humor. I made the mistake of using far-away bike fitter twice (San Anselmo and Sacramento). You need somebody willing to see you in a heart beat to deal with your latest fitting crisis. I am hoping Mike fits this bill. I think he deals with enough obsessive compulsive bike nuts based on his fitting many of the Alto Velo team. I am in the honeymoon phase of this new set-up as I feel I might have found that magic formula to lead me to cycling nirvana. 80.5 is the magic I needed and the 25 MPH speed I road home helped me justify this joy.

Joy: I finally found the magic formula!
Fear: Knee Tweak! I need to immediately go back to the old setting
Regret: I cant remember what I was set to before. Let me dig up that old email
Acceptance: Oh well, this is as good as its going to get.
Divorce: Find new Bike Fitter

Good old BFS. I had my seat raised an inch today and I am sitting on top of the world!


nrmrvrk said…
I know what you mean and I'm lucky that I'm not as sensitive to height changes as you are. Either that or I'm locked in at the right height currently. I struggled with knee pain and seat height for a month or two my first year of road biking but have been good since. I need to write down my numbers for next time I take a spin class and be "that guy" who shows up with a tape measure.
Chris O'Keefe said…
I have always found it insane that Testa came up with 82 cm and Whole Athlete came up with 78.5. 3.5 CM is HUGE difference. Clearly its up to the rider to solve this with hard work and patience. However, I find that its easy to get stuck in a poor position out of fear or due to some "expert" opinion that was way off base. Often people look at you and say, "if its working for you.. it must be ok". But is it really working? You could be stuck in horrible position for years out of fear of change that could easily be fixed. I guess this will be a life long quest. Glad you dont have much pain. I rode in hard today on the new 80.5 and felt pretty good, but the height created a new feeling for the crotch...
mthead said…
of course it's not just pain but power. I was reading in one magazine where the writer measured his before and after wattage at the same exertion level and found that a really tuned fit (including shims on one of his cleats) added some 10% of power.