This article will not be telling you how to check your seat height because you shouldn’t do it alone, and you probably don’t know enough to get it perfect. Instead, think of this article as a public service announcement. There is a great chance your bike doesn’t fit you and that isn’t your fault.

A list of reasons your bike may not fit you:

  1. You never were fit on it to begin with
  2. You started stretching
  3. You stopped stretching
  4. You gained weight
  5. You lost weight
  6. You started working out
  7. You stopped working out
  8. You started running
  9. You stopped riding
  10. You had an injury
  11. You lost your favorite pair of bike shoes
  12. You have new pedals
  13. Your favorite seat is wearing out
  14. ________ (Life happened)

Get Your Fit Checked

I have a personal rule that I get my fit checked roughly every 5,000 miles. In my younger life that was every 3-4 months, now it is every year. Think of it as an oil change and not a full service. Chances are your seat will be adjusted 5mm up or down and back or front. Your stem may be flipped one way or another, and your cleats may be replaced. Why? Our bodies and needs change. Things like cleats and saddles wear out. Our hamstrings can get tighter, our core might get stronger and we must understand that the bike should adapt under you. Prevent injury, get your fit checked.


  1. Absolutely correct, only more so. In addition to all these considerations, we need to consider the fitters themselves.

    I’m waiting for some well-heeled bike magazine with the guts to take 10 riders–5 each, men and women–with all different body types and riding styles, and send each of them to the same ten different fitters around the country. That’s 100 different fittings covering a wide range of cyclists.

    Then we compare the results.

    I’m willing to bet that the same folks who claim to be able to dial-in your bike fit to within a millimeter will have a very different results per cyclist than the colleagues. And I’ll further bet there’s no consensus. If fitting were the exact science it’s claimed to be, we’d expect to find most of the results clustered around the middle and few outliers at either end. But we won’t–they’ll be scattered all across the board. Moreover, even fitters with the same schooling will produce significantly different results.

    Point is, nobody really know the exact “right” fit for any rider. Bike fitting is a process, it’s a product. And all those things (and probably more) Arleigh talks about are part of that process.

    • Rick – All great points to add to the conversation. I know a lot of fitters that specialize in specific areas, typically racing / tri. While I have focused a good part of my fitting in that area I find the most joy out of helping people enjoy cycling and not geeking out the most watts from someone’s pedal stroke. This is where I am in life and think breaking down those barriers as a good fitter is very much needed!

      The second part I want to add on to your comment is that most bike fitters are not medically trained in the human body. A friend who is a PT has a great business model where she is partnering with bike fitters to do functional movement screens before the fit so she can educate the rider and fitter on what is happening with the human body.

    • Good points, Arleigh. In my fit sessions, I like to urge riders to ‘be good to themselves’, by getting a massage etc. to counteract the effects of having fun on a bike (haha). Sometimes a rider will change quickly – weight loss in particular, or extremely heavy training loads such as for Ironman. I keep a list of clients doing Ironman events, and mark my calendar to contact them about six weeks before their event to check on them. Sometimes they will need a little tweak, or more importantly, a mechanical checkover. The body may be ‘tight’ but the armrests may have sagged too!

      Rick – will take some disagreement on your statement that you will not find consensus amongst Fitters. I’ve certainly been in some fine company with peers, and I can say that we as a group are indeed looking for consensus. The purpose of Fit schools and certifications is to inculcate protocols and methodologies across individuals, so that our outcomes are systematic.

      I would also say that few of us will claim that bike fitting is an exact science, but we are schooled on science, physiology and biomechanics. We want to avoid outliers, we want people happy in the middle of the bell curve.

  2. Here in Denmark most of us are just short range casual riders. Many rides a day, but usually under 5km each. When you buy a bike, someone fits it, but not with great care. A few people want more. Those who also use bikes for sport, which is a very small percentage, and people like me who want a better ride. The shop I use has several levels of a maintenance subscription. Mine has two careful fittings a year and two mechanical adjustments in addition to a discount on services. I find it is some of the best money I spend.

  3. I just got trained as a Retul fitter. I have a rather large background in human anatomy/physiology and myself bike a fair amount. I, myself, have been fitted, with several different ways and for me the most important is: the riders well being and enjoying being on the bike. I’m sure some professionals are willing to sacrifice comfort for performance but the majority of us want to enjoy the ride, not dread it!

    • Matt,

      Enjoying the ride is something we often don’t preach enough to people. You shouldn’t be uncomfortable as an “everyday” (non-professional) rider! The more enjoyment you get out of it then the more likely you are to continue.

      Good on you for continuing your education! Did you get certified in CO?

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