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I had two professional bike fits and the results diverge by a lot.

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I had two professional bike fits and the results diverge by a lot.

Old 01-22-23, 12:30 PM
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I had two professional bike fits and the results diverge by a lot.

Hi, I am a beginner without a road bike looking to get the first one. I recently first had a professional bike fit with bike fitter A in order to define my ideal position on the bike and have a guide for choosing the right frame size for me. Although, I wasn't blindly convinced by the recommendations of the bike fitter on bike sizes each time I consulted them, because they seemed to always suggest me a slightly big size for the standard geometries related to my measures.
Assaulted by many doubts, I thought of getting a second opinion booking another bike fit with bike fitter B, moved by the need of having a reassuring further confirmation of those "unusual" recommendations. However, the second bike fit produced very opposing results to the first one.

To start, bike fitter B frame sizes reccommendations were instead in line with the common standards for my proportions, and they actually specified that bike fitter A advices were in their opinion a bit unbalanced for me. For instance, bike fitter A would suggest me a size M, while bike fitter B a size S on the same bike.

Furthermore, though, what alarms me more is that, while body measurements they took about me are essentially the same, the prescribed position on the bike is very different among the two bike fitters.

Measures observed (bike fitter A):
169.7 cm height;
83.2 cm inseam.

Measures observed (bike fitter B):
169.3 cm height;
83.5 cm inseam.

Prescribed position (bike fitter A):
5.4 cm saddle nose setback;
6.4 cm saddle nose-handlebar drop;

73.5 cm saddle height;
143-145 degrees knee extension angle.

Prescribed position (bike fitter B):
3.5 cm saddle nose setback;
7 cm saddle nose-handlebar drop;

71 cm saddle height;
150 degrees knee extension angle.

After reporting my antropometric measures, I'll also include a specific example of their very different views on an ideal frame size for me.
I asked both about a Scott Addict 20 Disc 2020 (
geometries: [https]://99spokes.com/en-EU/bikes/scott/2020/addict-20-disc
remove the brackets around https ).
Bike fitter A told me I'd need a 110 mm stem and 3.5 cm spacers on size S while a 100 mm stem and 1.5 cm spacers on size M. They afterwards told me I could adapt both but the M size would be a little bit more balanced for me.
Bike fitter B told me I'd need a 100 mm stem and 2 cm spacers on size S while a a 80 mm stem on size M. They afterwards told me the correct one for me would be the size S, while the other would be a bit too big.

Among all things, I am the most worried about that difference in saddle height (73.5 cm vs 71 cm) and knee extension angle (143-145 degrees vs 150 degrees) suggested by each of them, I feel a bit lost and cannot determine which would actually be the correct values.

After some thoughts, I decided to go for the S size of the aforementioned Scott Addict 20 Disc 2020 (afraid that the M size would indeed be too long for my height), but I still have to decide which bike fitter I should bring the bike to for the actual set up. Substantially, my choice is between a 110 stem and 100 stem and ESPECIALLY between 73.5 cm saddle height and 71 cm saddle height.

I am undecided because, even though I am following bike fitter B's advice for the choice of the size, bike fitter A's visit was more deep, involved and apparently scientifically-numerically based about body angles on the bike (they accurately considered elbow, feet, pelvis, knee angles through a computer program and database), while bike fitter B's visit was more brief and "essential" (they only considered knee angle) and their opinions and suggestions were based on their instinctive experience on the field. I trusted bike fitter B's instinct on frame size, but should I also entrust them with the full bike set up or instead refer to the more "scientifically precise" bike fitter A?


What do you think on the matter? What would you do in my place?
Thank you all.

Last edited by Surpin; 01-22-23 at 12:52 PM.
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Old 01-22-23, 12:52 PM
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Bike fit is like religion. Although there may be some common starting points, they go off in different directions and reach different conclusions....and what feels right to one person feels awful to another. No one is necessarily more "right" or "wrong" than another.

Realize also that there are tradeoffs on some issues with fit, more comfort may be less efficient.
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Old 01-22-23, 01:01 PM
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What system was used by the two fitters? I also went to two fittings. One took my body measurements, punched them into some computer program, and it spat out the "ideal" setup for me. The second one was done with a Shimano fit system ( Shimano unveils new bike fitting system | Bicycle Retailer and Industry News ) where my body measurements were used as a starting point, and then dialed in - very accurately - as I pedaled on the fitting jig bike. Those measurements were transferred, by lasers, to my bike, and after small adjustments on the saddle and a minor change in stem, the bike is super comfortable to ride.
p.s.: the second fitting took almost 3 hours, was a lot more money, and was worth every penny.
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Old 01-22-23, 01:05 PM
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I don't think those numbers differ by a significant amount in most of the instances you list. The larger knee extension angle for the lower saddle option is a bit surprising, but having measured these angles, I do get that there are some large error bars.

Saddle height doesn't cost anything to change (assuming the frame can handle the extremes. The difference between a 100 mm and 110 mm stem is 1cm, so I wouldn't worry too much about that, either. Aluminum stems aren't that expensive, and although it would be good to have the optimal size, you would be hard-pressed to tell the difference blindfolded (don't try that while riding).

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Old 01-22-23, 01:24 PM
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I have found I can use a stem a cm longer if I raise it another 1/2 cm so I wouldn't sweat the difference.

Different philosophies here on seat height. I am a fan of knee bend and ride a lower seat than many. For me it works. It sounds to me like both of these fitters suggested same bike and almost the same parts. A great start. If I were you, I'd leave the steerer long and start with either the 100 or 110 (if the bike comes with one of those, that one), space it as suggested. Set the seat toward the higher of the two. Seat setback to the fitter of the stem you went with.

Now ride. First, mark all your settings with either measurements on paper of tape. Bring the wrenches. Every three weeks, drop the seat 3mm (1/8"). Keep doing this until it is obvious "this is too low!" after a week or two. Go back to the last setting.

Also bring the wrenches for your brake levers and handlebars. (Consider your first bar tape sacrificial.) I like to use the cloth tape with adhesive. Wrapped from the bottom, unwrapping, moving the levers and rewrapping is easy, even on rides.) Adjust HB rotation and lever position so they fit perfect, both going uphill and all day on the flat. Good in the drops upwind.

Fit evolves. No fitter can get you "the" position right off. You will change. Sounds like both fitters got you into the same ballpark. Going back to one for the final fine tune is probably good, but it won't be the final answer and that's not his fault. You have to ride, put in the time to get your body to adopt and observe what your body and bike need.

Priorities, in order - seat height and tilt. Seat setback. Now - overall "reach". ("Reach" in quotations because stem length and height both affect how far the handlebars are from your shoulders, the dimension that matters. For now, shuffling spacers is far easier.) Tweak HB rotation (and perhaps look at handlebar shape, width, drop and reach if it doesn't seem natural), brake lever location (and angle in - straight ahead isn't the best for everybody and not me).

And relax! This is fun. And it goes on forever! My fit journey started almost 50 years ago (after years of riding bikes that didn't fit). Oh, on seat height, I started way too high. The vets in my club worked on me to bring it down. By my third year racing it was down a lot but over the next 40 years, it came down more. I haven't measured knee bend but I'm probably at the second fitter's angle.
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Old 01-22-23, 01:30 PM
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Comparing your set back and stem numbers from both fitters, I'm a little floored that the total reach difference of 3cm with about the same bar drop. Didn't one of those feel cramped or too stretched out?

Also, the second fit has less knee bend angle, yet a lower saddle, which is illogical. Was he measuring your knee bend with your heel dropped, or the other guy with you toes pointed down? Based on your cycling inseam (you have longish legs, BTW), the 73.5 saddle height sounds closer to ideal based on the .883 method.

Finally, the difference in effective TT length is 1cm, adjusted for STA. Given that, why does the second guy have a 2cm difference in stems between M and S? It should be a 1cm difference to counter the 1cm ETT difference.


Overall, the first fit seems closer to correct, and I think the second guy has you sitting too low, which makes the stem come down to where it has few or no spacers. I think that is why the second guy thinks M is too big - no spacers. Meanwhile the first guy has you needing almost the max spacers for the S, which is why he probably favors the M. I think the second guy is just messy in his knee angle measurements, which is how you ended up so low. He's also messy with other math. I don't know who is right about your reach, since those numbers are wildly different as well.

I think you can ride either bike fine. You won't need an 80 stem - 90mm at the shortest for the M. Pick the one you think will look best with spacers and stem length. I would favor using the first guy's fit numbers, either way. You can certainly play with set back and stem length without needing a different frame, so there isn't a lot of risk.
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Old 01-22-23, 05:00 PM
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Saddle height measured the same way by both fitters? There is more than one way to measure it. It would help if you posted actual stack and reach numbers. FWIW, I'm 2cm shorter with 83cm cycling inseam and use a saddle height into the 72-73cm range, but with 60-65mm of saddle tip setback. I use 10cm of saddle to bar drop and a 100-110mm stem, so I have more reach, despite being shorter.

​​​​​Changing saddle to bar drop can be done with stem angle and/or spacers. Changing from a -6 to -17 stem will drop the bars by about 20mm.

My latest frames have a stack of only 505mm, but have integrated bars with only a -7 degree angle, so spacers are used to change bar height and new bars are needed if the stem length is off. My total stack is 505mm, plus 20mm of headset top cover and one 10mm spacer. With a -17 stem on other frames, I use 540mm of total stack.
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Old 01-22-23, 05:08 PM
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There are some traditional fitting variables that do not depend on body measurements. One I can think of now is whether you pedal relatively flat-footed or toes-down (ankling) at the bottom of your pedal stroke, which would affect seat height. Another would be whether you curl up tight, or stretch out, while under stress, which would affect seat fore and aft positioning and stem length.

I'm a toes-down curler myself, so my seat is high and forward, comparatively.
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Old 01-22-23, 05:15 PM
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Didn't you already start a thread about this? https://www.bikeforums.net/road-cycl...who-right.html
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Old 01-22-23, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott
Didn't you already start a thread about this? https://www.bikeforums.net/road-cycl...who-right.html
Good catch. I think I gave essentially the same reply in thread #1 as I did above.
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Old 01-22-23, 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott
Didn't you already start a thread about this? https://www.bikeforums.net/road-cycl...who-right.html
Good catch. The answer is probably either size can be made to fit. I'm picky and never use a big spacer stack.
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Old 01-23-23, 05:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Surpin
[color=#222222]

What do you think on the matter? What would you do in my place?
Thank you all.
It sounds like you are in danger of overthinking this.

I'm sure you would be able to fit on either frame size - most people have a choice of at least 2 frame sizes. Preference for a smaller or larger size depends on how aggressive you want the fit and bike handling. Pros tend to size down for a more aggressive fit i.e. more bar-drop and then fit a longer stem to get the reach. A larger frame allows a more relaxed fit with less bar drop. Bike handling is also usually slightly more stable on a larger frame with a longer wheelbase, though probably not a big deal.

Saddle height - I would start off with the lower recommended height and then adjust it yourself to suit. Going too high will cause more problems than being too low, so better to start off conservatively. Perhaps the first fitter had taken into account that you are a beginner. A very experienced and well-regarded UK fitter made an observation in one of his videos that most cyclists he fits arrive with their saddle set way too high. He put this down to our culture of "looking pro".

Bike fitting is not an exact science and is full of conflicting opinions. As an experienced rider, I do my own fitting, but I do occasionally talk to local experienced fitters and read up on the subject and the advice out there is not always consistent and sometimes directly conflicting. As a complete beginner I do think you did the right thing consulting 2 different fitters, but I wouldn't take either of them as gospel - just consider them a half-decent starting point. At this point you just have to start riding and see how you feel on the bike. It takes time to take it all in and get a feel for what you really like.

Last edited by PeteHski; 01-23-23 at 05:17 AM.
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Old 01-23-23, 07:59 AM
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I don't see any argument for having your saddle low as a beginner or any other time. It only creates knee strain. My experience is that people come in with it low, not high.

Fitter B might be measuring to some point on the saddle nose. That would explain the disparity. Most fitters measured to the sit bone contact point. But Retul measures to center. The amount of disparity between the two numbers and the degrees of knee bend stated suggest a larger change than just between sit bone and center, though.
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Old 01-23-23, 08:38 AM
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I could hang out a shingle as a bike fitter tomorrow, but I'd make more money as a life coach.
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Old 01-23-23, 09:05 AM
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In a perfect world, you should ride a bike for a few hundred miles and settle in before seeing a bike fitter. Get the bike approximately set up, tweak as you ride those first few hundred miles, and then go see a fitter.
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Old 01-23-23, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Surpin
Hi, I am a beginner without a road bike looking to get the first one. I recently first had a professional bike fit with bike fitter A in order to define my ideal position on the bike and have a guide for choosing the right frame size for me. Although, I wasn't blindly convinced by the recommendations of the bike fitter on bike sizes each time I consulted them, because they seemed to always suggest me a slightly big size for the standard geometries related to my measures.
Assaulted by many doubts, I thought of getting a second opinion booking another bike fit with bike fitter B, moved by the need of having a reassuring further confirmation of those "unusual" recommendations. However, the second bike fit produced very opposing results to the first one.

To start, bike fitter B frame sizes reccommendations were instead in line with the common standards for my proportions, and they actually specified that bike fitter A advices were in their opinion a bit unbalanced for me. For instance, bike fitter A would suggest me a size M, while bike fitter B a size S on the same bike.

Furthermore, though, what alarms me more is that, while body measurements they took about me are essentially the same, the prescribed position on the bike is very different among the two bike fitters.

Measures observed (bike fitter A):
169.7 cm height;
83.2 cm inseam.

Measures observed (bike fitter B):
169.3 cm height;
83.5 cm inseam.

Prescribed position (bike fitter A):
5.4 cm saddle nose setback;
6.4 cm saddle nose-handlebar drop;

73.5 cm saddle height;
143-145 degrees knee extension angle.

Prescribed position (bike fitter B):
3.5 cm saddle nose setback;
7 cm saddle nose-handlebar drop;

71 cm saddle height;
150 degrees knee extension angle.

After reporting my antropometric measures, I'll also include a specific example of their very different views on an ideal frame size for me.
I asked both about a Scott Addict 20 Disc 2020 (
geometries: [https]://99spokes.com/en-EU/bikes/scott/2020/addict-20-disc
remove the brackets around https ).
Bike fitter A told me I'd need a 110 mm stem and 3.5 cm spacers on size S while a 100 mm stem and 1.5 cm spacers on size M. They afterwards told me I could adapt both but the M size would be a little bit more balanced for me.
Bike fitter B told me I'd need a 100 mm stem and 2 cm spacers on size S while a a 80 mm stem on size M. They afterwards told me the correct one for me would be the size S, while the other would be a bit too big.

Among all things, I am the most worried about that difference in saddle height (73.5 cm vs 71 cm) and knee extension angle (143-145 degrees vs 150 degrees) suggested by each of them, I feel a bit lost and cannot determine which would actually be the correct values.

After some thoughts, I decided to go for the S size of the aforementioned Scott Addict 20 Disc 2020 (afraid that the M size would indeed be too long for my height), but I still have to decide which bike fitter I should bring the bike to for the actual set up. Substantially, my choice is between a 110 stem and 100 stem and ESPECIALLY between 73.5 cm saddle height and 71 cm saddle height.

I am undecided because, even though I am following bike fitter B's advice for the choice of the size, bike fitter A's visit was more deep, involved and apparently scientifically-numerically based about body angles on the bike (they accurately considered elbow, feet, pelvis, knee angles through a computer program and database), while bike fitter B's visit was more brief and "essential" (they only considered knee angle) and their opinions and suggestions were based on their instinctive experience on the field. I trusted bike fitter B's instinct on frame size, but should I also entrust them with the full bike set up or instead refer to the more "scientifically precise" bike fitter A?


What do you think on the matter? What would you do in my place?
Thank you all.
Find the bike you want. Sit on both sizes, ride them around the block or around two blocks, or even further, and the right size should be fairly evident. Then use the bike fit to fine tune.

Or go see a psychic to help you pick a size which is pretty much what you are doing.

When I bought my bike, all the measurements said I needed a 58cm. When I actually sat on one and rode it, it was very obvious that in that bike a 58cm was simply too big. 56cm ended up being just about perfect.
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Old 01-23-23, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by MoAlpha
I could hang out a shingle as a bike fitter tomorrow, but I'd make more money as a life coach.
Or a psychic.
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Old 01-23-23, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
It sounds like you are in danger of overthinking this.
Yeah, and the Titanic is in danger of hitting an iceberg...
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Old 01-23-23, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
I don't see any argument for having your saddle low as a beginner or any other time. It only creates knee strain. My experience is that people come in with it low, not high.
There you go, this is my point. There is no real consensus among fitters about saddle height - presuming you are a bike fitter right?


My personal n=1 experience is that I have far more margin for error on the low side of saddle height. I can drop my saddle a good 20 mm below my preferred height with no significant issues. But if I go 20 mm too high I'm in a world of pain. But that's just me.
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Old 01-23-23, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by MoAlpha
I could hang out a shingle as a bike fitter tomorrow, but I'd make more money as a life coach.
Can I hire you?!?

Should I work more or ride my bike more??

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Old 01-23-23, 09:32 AM
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If the two bike fits diverge a lot, at least the OP knows which brand/model to buy.
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Old 01-23-23, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by datlas
Can I hire you?!?

Should I work more or ride my bike more??

Or, ride your bike to work more.
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Old 01-23-23, 10:13 AM
  #23  
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I'd go with the small at your height. You can play with the fit once you ride it for a while. These are just numbers. You really don't know how comfortable you'll be until you've had some time on the saddle.
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Old 01-23-23, 10:31 AM
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Fit isn't all about comfort. There is a balance between power output and comfort that requires compromise. So things like how long your average rides will be and how hard you'll ride those rides along with other considerations will come into play. As will whether or not you convince your fitter how well you do or don't want to be in a aero position or a relaxed position.
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Old 01-23-23, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by datlas
Can I hire you?!?

Should I work more or ride my bike more??

You want to pay my retainer, I suggest you keep working, swanky.
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