Bike Fitting Services
Our Fit Philosophy
At Gorham Bike & Ski the goal of our Bike Fitting Service is to keep you riding your bike. We firmly believe that you should be able to ride your bike comfortably and pain free while still being able to meet your cycling goals. As your local bike shop we have Maine's only industry certified fit technician, Dave Palese, who has been fitting road and aero bikes for over 10 years. Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist, casual rider or commuter, our fit process allows you to become one with your bike. Dave uses some of the most complete, up-to-date fitting methods and tools used in the industry today.
What makes our fit different?
The method of bike fitting we use at Gorham Bike and Ski starts with taking a good, long look at the rider. Any system or process that isn't assessing the rider's strength and functionality first is really fitting the bike to the individual rider. Numbers and angles don't tell the complete story. We start with a detailed interview of the the riders cycling history, short and long term goals as well as medical history. Then we put the rider up on the table and document the rider's current condition, flexibility, ranges of motion, limiters and strengths, and most important, functionality. This interview and assessment is what we feel distinguishes our fitting service from many others. At no point during our fit will we measure any part of your body and then generate a set-up dimension for your bike. Doing so assumes the rider is average, and no one is average. Our fitting method treats everyone like the unique individual they are. We first look at you and your structure, and then we look at you on the bike, fitting your machine to your body and needs. A perfect marriage between rider and machine.
Analysis in the X-Y Plane
After assessing you off the bike, we'll first document your current bike set-up (so we know where we started), prep the bike for the fitting. Then we'll fit the rider in the what is called the X-Y plane. In this part of the fitting process, we'll address your saddle height, fore and aft position, cleat alignment, as well as reach and drop to the handlebars. All the time we are adjusting the fit of your bike we are referring back to what we discovered and learned during the initial assessment. We work really hard to make decisions about the set-up of your bike based on you - your needs and your body - not what are considered ideals or the way things should be.
This is where a bike fit at Gorham Bike and Ski really separates itself from other fitting services. Most fit services stop at setting the bike up in just the X-Y planes - just from the side. But what if the rider isn't sitting square on the bike? Suppose there is a leg length difference (structural or functional)? Is it good enough to just find a happy medium? Maybe for some. But not for us. Assessing the rider from the front of the bike is critical to the most effective fitting of the bicycle to the rider. So we spend a good amount of time determining if the rider is sitting square on the bike, and if not, how do we give them what they need to perform their best and be as comfortable as possible. We'll address sitting square on the saddle, cleat position, foot support, and knee alignment during this part of the fit. All the time we are using the information gathered during the initial off-the-bike assessment to qualify the choices and changes we are making to the bike and equipment at this point. If at any point you are making haphazard changes to the bike without good reasons, you aren't doing the rider any favors.
Finishing It All Up
After the fitter and rider are in agreement that their done, we'll take after videos, document the bike's new set-up, install a stem so the rider can try their new bike fit out on the road. To complete the fitting process, we prepare a post-fit packet of a completed fit form in electronic form, with detailed notes documentation about the set-up of your bike.
Why get a bike fit?
Do you want to prevent cycling related injuries?
Pedaling a bicycle is a very repetitive motion. It is not uncommon for cyclists to accumulate over 5000 revolutions in 1 hour of riding. During your bike fit our fit technician will review your medical history, flexibility and take into account your cycling goals and any potential physical problems while adjusting your bike. Your seat height, fore-aft position, cleats and wedge placement (if needed) will be adjusted to help reduce injury potential and improve your position on the bike. Adjustments to your stem and handlebars may also be made. Recommendations for other changes (bars, stems, etc.) may also be discussed.
Do you have a cycling related injury?
Correct body position and biomechanics on the bike can prevent injury, eliminate pain, make cycling more enjoyable and even improve performance. Clients first undergo a pre-fit evaluation to pinpoint any potential problems, such as previous injuries, current pain and strength and flexibility inequalities. Afterwards, our specially trained staff members evaluate the client on their own bike. Measurements are taken and adjustments are made to the bike.
4 Rules of Good Bikes Fit
Bike fit is a marriage between the bicycle and the rider. If the two are incompatible, the marriage will fail. The bike can be adjusted to the riders anatomy in multiple ways, such as moving the saddle up and down or changing the stem. The body can be adjusted only in minor ways, such as with a carefully designed stretching program. This leads us to the second rule.
Make the bike fit the body, don’t make the body fit the bike. It is easy to adjust the bike, but difficult to stretch or contort the body into some preconceived “ideal” or “pro” position. For example, long legs coupled with a short torso and arms require a bike with a relatively short top tube/stem combination, which is referred to as reach. Stubby legs and most of the height in the torso requires a bike with a long top tube and stem. Forget what your favorite pro rider looks like... unless their body is a carbon copy of yours (which it’s not). Make your bike reflect you, not your hero.
Dynamic fit is better than static fit. This means that fit while pedaling the bike needs to be considered when fine tuning things such as saddle height and cleat position. Static formulas for deciding saddle height are only starting points. They must be overruled with dynamic findings, such as observing the rider on a trainer.
A pedaling rider is constantly moving on the bike. A rider actually rises slightly from the saddle with every down stroke. So, ideal saddle height is different when one is pedaling compared to just sitting motionless. The degree of ankling (how much the ankle articulates through the pedal stroke) also plays a role in saddle height. There is nothing wrong with static bike fit formulas as a starting place, but for the most effective fit, it is critical to observe the rider while pedaling.
This bike fit approach aids our experts in analyzing your cycling gait in real time. This method is used to analyze motion in 3 dimensions using specific reference points and various angles for viewing specific anatomic landmarks, which allows our technicians to accurately analyze cycling gait. This information is then used to make appropriate changes to the bike. These changes can greatly improve performance, prevent injuries and make cycling more enjoyable
Cycling is a sport of repetition. A cadence of 90 revolutions per minute is approximately 5000 revolutions per hour. A six-hour century would require 30,000 pedal revolutions. Every pedal stroke is almost identical, so it needs to be in the safest position to allow for this sort of repetitive activity. A saddle that is 5 millimeters too low on a six-hour century can lead to major knee problems over time. Because of this, the most important bike fit for a cyclist is the first one, to assure a long, comfortable, healthy cycling career.
It should be noted that our bodies change on a regular basis, therefore, bike fit is not static in its nature, but is dynamic throughout our cycling lives. Your position today is significantly different than it was earlier in your life. We should not expect the novice cyclist beginning their cycling career at middle age to be able to perform comfortably in an aggressive race position. Many people are entering cycling as a sport on the heels of an injury from another sport, and those injuries need to be addressed in their position on the bike.
Once you understand these four rules and reasons, you will begin to see how our fit method uniquely caters to the cyclist’s individual attributes to maximize their comfort and performance on the bike. That’s what gives Gorham Bike and Ski's fit the power to change riders lives for the better.
Bike Fit FAQ
- Who can benefit from a bike fit?
- Cyclists of all abilities can benefit from a bike fit. Recreational through elite cyclists can enjoy a more efficient and less injury-prone position. Bike fits can not only improve your performance on the bike, but may reduce injuries such as knee or back pain or help prevent things such as "hot" foot. Cycling should be a pain-free sport and your position on the bike is an important factor. We like to make the bike look like you, not make you look like the bike. That is, your body is unique and may or may not be symmetrical. The bike should make up for your uniqueness or asymmetry. The correct position for your friend probably isn’t the best position for you.
- Are Gorham Bike and Ski's bike fits different from other bike shop bike fits?
- Many reputable bike shops can give good bike fits. The primary difference that other shops are offering is a static bike fit. There is nothing wrong with static measurements as a starting place; however Gorham Bike and Ski specializes in dynamic fit techniques. This method involves what can be referred to as the Q-factor or squaring individuals up on the saddle, correcting knee and cleat alignment issues and diagnosing and resolving aches and pains. Although good bike shops can fit healthy individuals, they don’t have the knowledge that our specialists have, which aids them in diagnosing and treating leg length discrepancies, forefoot varus, neck/back pain, and other medical conditions that can affect your comfort and performance.
- Do I need a bike to get fit?
- Yes, we like to fit people to their existing bikes. So, you do need a bike to get fit. If you do not have a bike and are looking to buy a new one, you should first visit Gorham Bike and Ski to purchase a well sized bicycle. We are experts in selecting the correct bicycle size. Once you have a bike, you can schedule a professional BG FIT bike fit with Gorham Bike and Ski. Our bike fit is not meant to help you select specific bike frame sizes, geometry, etc. Every bike manufacturer uses different standards, and a quality bike shop like Gorham Bike and Ski can help you with that type of bike fit, and get you on an appropriate frame. From there, a BG FIT bike fit at Gorham Bike and Ski can make the fine adjustments to make cycling pain free and enjoyable.
- It doesn’t hurt when I ride, is there any reason to still get a bike fit?
- The old saying, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, doesn’t hold much truth when it comes to your position on the bike. We see many cases were people ride in a wrong position for years without pain, but suddenly have knee pain. Although we can help them, we can’t help but say, “If only we could have corrected their position five years ago...” Getting fit to your bike may prevent future injuries from occurring. Additionally, a properly fit bike will enable you to perform at your best.
- How do I prepare for a bike fit?
- Make sure your bike is clean and in good working condition. If your bike is not functioning properly, it can be difficult to do a good bike fit. Bring your cycling clothing, because we like to fit you while you are dressed as if you are going out for a ride. But for the initial interview and assessment, running shorts work best. SO wear those in to the fit session. Check your cleat screws! Before you come, make sure you can remove your cleats from your shoes. If your cleat screws are stripped, we can't adjust your cleat position, which will probably be a significant part of your fit. Once you have made an appointment, you will receive a reminder email a few days prior to your session. It will included information on what to bring. The bike fit is not a fitness test, so you don’t need to alter your training or nutrition prior to your appointment. However, we will make you work a little. Sometimes greater workloads can bring out certain abnormalities in your cycling gait.
- I have two bikes; can I get fit on both?
- If you have more than one bike, there are two options: First, from your bike fit visit, you will get a sheet that has all your bike measurements on it. From the information on this sheet, you should be able to duplicate the new position on your other similar (Ex. road to road, aero to aero) bike(s). If your other bikes are different styles (time trial vs road), we suggest scheduling a separate fitting session. If that second fit is scheduled within 6 months of the first fit, we'll deduct 40% of the second fit's cost.