Fitting In a Custom Bike Jan 31, 2011


As I mentioned earlier today, there was a bit of a discussion surrounding Jon’s fit on his new Icarus over on the NYC Fixed boards. It’s easy to see someone standing with their bike and say that the bike is either too big or too small for them. So much goes into custom measurements and fit that it’s kinda hard to look at a custom bicycle and say that it’s not fit for a rider. Especially when experts describe riding a bike that’s custom sized as “riding in the bike”, versus “riding on the bike”. One thing’s for sure, Jon went through many steps to ensure this bike fit him perfectly.

Check out more below.


Jon consulted with his physical therapist and fit expert Greg Robidoux at The Cycling PT to work on the exact measurements he needed. Going to someone like Greg really ensures your fit is perfect for not only your body but your cycling form and habits. The end result is eerie. Jon sent me this photo with his geometry sheet overlaid on top after I sent him my photos. Pretty spot on right?

You can read all the ins and outs of Jon’s process for this bike over at Arc En Ciel. If you’re considering a custom bicycle, I’d suggest you give it a read! It’s very informative.

But all that is only half of bicycle fitting. What about biometrics and technique?

That’s where my buddy Brett Cleaver‘s recent experience comes in:

“I recently went to Signature Cycles to be sized up by fit-master Paul Levine. He took one look and determined my saddle was too high. Paul then discovered I was reaching too far, so he suggested a shorter stem (without such an extreme drop). He shot some video of me during my fit on the Serotta Size Cycle. The entire process took about 2 hours. I did everything from flexibility tests, to an interview, to hopping back and forth between bikes. Paul sent me the video clips and I cobbled them together in iMovie. Sure, it’s no 21st Ave Bikes movie, but hopefully Mr. Levine doesn’t regret sending me the clips.”

Now that’s precision and it brings up a good point. Never ride on the bike. Ride in the bike. Every little detail matters and that’s why saddle angle, saddle to bar drop and everything else having to do with your bike’s set up can affect how you ride.

Anyone else got any fitting stories to share? Please do!

  • hater69

    great the bike fits!

    still looks like a rivendell…

  • Ian

    Thanks! Rivendell makes some classy bikes. Never seen a Rivendell with fillets, carbon integration or satin finish so not quite sure what you’re getting at.

  • hater69

    I’ve never seen a custom fillet bike with carbon integration, satin finish, and that many spacers.

  • Dan’s just being a hater.

  • and Dan, not everyone can be a rockstar bike racer and not every bike needs to be set up for said racer.


  • ian

    so he should make it fit worse, to look better? at least we know where your priorities lie.

  • hater69

    And Rivendell indeed makes some classy bikes for those people. Just because Icarus made a gorgeous frame doesn’t mean I have to like how its set up.


  • I think one of the biggest depends of fit is how flexible you are. When I first saw the Incarus bike I thought “wow, there isn’t much seatpost showing there. Must be the wrong size frame.” Then I took a better look and thought maybe he isn’t as flexible and going to a smaller frame would have too much saddle to bar drop.

    Plus fit is such a personal thing that can vary from bike to bike. I know my bikes have slightly different fits. My race bike has a saddle-bar drop of 10cm and a 130 stem, while my commuting steel whip is on a few cm with a shorter stem because I like the upright riding position when I have a backpack on.

    Maybe these are all factors of his fit?

  • If you’ve never had a professional bike fitting done, consider booking an appointment. I’ve done over 200 of these things (and there are plenty of fit guys who’ve done waaaay more than me) and the most common compliment I hear is “If I had known what a difference this would make, I would have done this years ago!”. Fittings can be pricey, but not everyone is certified to do them. If you’re unsure of where to start, look for someone who’s certified by Serotta or Trek. (and remember- just because a fitter uses Retul or some other motion-capture software, it doesn’t make them better!)

  • Adding to the above:

    If the fitter is a Specialized body geometry fit certified fitter, that is another plus along with the Serotta or Trek. Andy Pruitt practically invented the proper bike fit. Guys who get there level one bg fit certificate have to do 25 “3d” fits and send them in to the head BG fitters for review before they are actually deemed a BG fitter. Even more if they want to get there level two.