Cycling is a highly static and a highly repetitive activity. Your upper body doesn’t move much when you ride a bicycle, or bike, but at an average pedaling rate of 60–90 revolutions per minute, your legs are bending and extending 3,600–5,400 times per hour. Therefore, it doesn’t take much riding in an uncomfortable position to generate aches, pains or a repetitive-use injury, such as tendinitis, according to American Academy of Family Physicians.
That’s why we’re pleased to see that more bike shops than ever before have fitting programs that are certified by manufacturers. These programs also are more complex than they were 3 years ago. Each manufacturer’s service varies slightly in its approach, but most systems now include alignment lasers and 3-D cameras that have live-motion video capture that will analyze your riding movement and posture, and will guide the bike shop to adjust your model precisely to your fit.
Your bike now can be evaluated for nearly every aspect of fit—from basics, such as handlebar and saddle height, to more intricate adjustments, such as saddle shape, shoe angle and slight asymmetries. Prices for the service range from $50 to $800 depending on how precise that you want your fit to be and how many adjustments that you’d like to have; $175 seems to be typical, according to the retailers with which we spoke and from what we saw at bike shops.
Using laser-guided systems and 3-D cameras will provide a more accurate fit assessment than will a pair of amateur eyeballs, of course, and we believe that such a service—although pricey—is worth it if you ride your bike a lot or if you believe that you’re prone to injury from riding in an uncomfortable position. Bike shops still provide free basic services, such as making an eyeball adjustment to your saddle height.