Bike Fit Conspiracy

Okay, here’s what I’m thinking. Somewhere along the way, someone said, “You shouldn’t try to ride the pros positions.”
That seems to have stuck amongst most of the amateur peloton, and I’m starting…well continuing to think that someone isn’t giving out all the info.

How many on here have actually been on a pro level team that provided bike fittings?

How did the fit then come out compared to maybe a fit by someone in the amateur ranks?

I have searched my entire cycling time, from when I was 26 to now as I get ready to turn 47. I raced regionally during that time up to Cat1 road, but never signed a pro contract.
During that time I’ve been fit by bike fitters of all manner with differing degrees of success.

I’ve finally closed in after 20 plus years with constant searching.
Now with motion capture, you can see things you couldn’t before, but even with Retul, I’ve gotten two totally different fits.

All that being said, I have never agreed that a pros position is different. Possibly more refined.


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Per the “conspiracy” angle… what exactly are you claiming?

  • conspiracy: A secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful.

Are average riders being denied something here that pro’s are getting?

I am not clear on your thoughts here.


I don’t think it’s the classical definition, but I think the adage that an amateur shouldn’t be fit to a bike like a pro isn’t necessarily true.

Thru my time on the bike, I’ve been on numerous size team bikes, of all varying sizes.

We never had the option of a professional staff to do fittings and then pick bike size.

You can do some general searching for ProBike setups and I’ve looked at everyone that’s my size over the years and none were on bike sizes like me. It always seemed that we were put in larger bikes and the pro level racers were put on smaller frames.

Race distance was the same, training was very close as well.


I am so exhausted from work that i read the title as ‘fit bit conspiracy’ and was scratching my head over bike fit and fit bit…


Well, this can be summarized as “Fits will vary between riders”. The idea that pro fits aren’t necessarily ideal for average riders may not be true across the board, but again… that matches the reality that there are no absolutes in fitting.

When we dive into what we see in common pro fits, and then try to apply that to non-pro riders, LOTS of variables come into play. General fitness, flexibility, age, performance goals, comfort goals, etc. and more are all factors that come into play.

Generally speaking, Pro’s are pro’s for a reason. They are different (better?) than 95-99% of the related common population. That comes into play with fits in their abilities to live and deal with certain fit choices. The small frame trend you mention is largely about getting lower stack height frame, in order to get very low handlebars. They tend to couple that small frame with “abnormally” long stems as well, to get the right saddle to bar reach, while getting a very large saddle to bar drop. All that is most often aimed at aerodynamics for peak performance.

Take that same setup with an identical sized rider in his 40’s, who likely trains 10 hours or less and lacks the peak physical abilities and flexibility of those 20 something pros… and you often get a recipe for pain and discomfort in short order.

Typical riders aren’t looking to nail the marginal gains sought by pros. Getting a fit that is more aimed at “comfort” to state it simply, is a better deal for the greater public.

All fine and good for any rider to follow that pro trend if it works for them. A good fitter will look at the rider in front of them, couple that with their goals and end up with the fit that is “right for them”. If that happens to mimic a pro setup, then great. Fitting to a template without those considerations is a mistake, IMO.

There is not some hidden agenda by fitters to keep people from pro fits for some nefarious reason. But it doesn’t make sense to slap someone on a pro fit if/when we know or strongly suspect that they will return shortly with complaints.

Does that make sense?


I dont believe they are literally saying pros can be fit like this and amatuers like this. I think they are saying pro bike fits are not comfortable/compatible with 90% of amateurs because of the amount of time pros have spent in those positions getting used to them. So dont assume you can do what pros can do. Now if you can and its comfortable, go for it.


I agree to a point, and I’m not saying there’s a dark web type scenario to keep the amateur from knowing.

I do however think that most are fit to a bike on a more conservative approach than not.

And I don’t truly agree with the pros tolerance thoughts either, because I’ve trained at that 20-25 hours per week aspect and can tell you that you don’t do that day in and day out if your not comfortable.


That’s part of my argument, because you can’t train at that level and be told to just get used to a position.
I can attest to that. You don’t do 20+ hour weeks without a level of comfort.


While nothing in bikes, training and anything in between and in tangent can’t be covered with a blanket statement, there IS some truth that the amateurs won’t gel with pro bike fits IMO. For a few reasons. Here’s some unorganized thoughts:

  • Fit can not and doesn’t have to be as precise as, say, the manufacturing tolerances of bikes and bike parts. Human bodies and motion is far from requiring that precision anyway. We’re not machines. We don’t pedal exactly the same way from one revolution to another. Why should the fit be “perfect” to accommodate something that imperfect anyway?

  • Fit is not black and white. It is a balance between max aero, max power and max comfort. You can be very comfortable and able to apply your max power but your aero might suck. You might be super aero but uncomfortable and unable to apply your best power and so on. This is why expecting one immovable fit target is unrealistic. It always has a subjective element that needs to be dictated by… well… the subject of the fit.

  • Pros do this for WAYYYYY more hours than amateurs. Flexibility, like anything else is a matter of practice. Genes can play part but working at it can and will improve it. Someone who rides their bike 24-36 hours a week WILL be more comfortable in comfort compromising positions on the bike than a person (non-pro) who rides 8-10 hours a week. Hell, I’m comfortable with my slammed stem right now but it takes 2-3 weeks of 0 riding to not be nearly as comfortable in the same position.

So yeah. There’s truth to needing different fits but it’s not about being a pro versus amateur. It depends on other factors that are a result of being a pro (ride A LOT. have genes out of this world. prioritize performance above all. ability to stand much more pain than average joe. have dozens of health professionals working on getting your body back to the best shape as possible to perform again and again) versus an amateur who, 99% of the time, has non of those.

PS / EDIT: I think a good bike fitter SHOULD listen to you and be able to accommodate your needs (aero? comfort? more power?) as best as he/she can. And this is possible BECAUSE there is always a few millimeters in bike fit where as long as you are within range, you aren’t causing issues to the rider.

  • It depends. 90% of the fits I do is when someone already owns a bike and wants adjustments. As such, even if they want the “pro fit”, I can’t overcome the 56cm bike they have and give them the 54cm pro fit. So what they come in with is a HUGE factor.

  • True, if someone is buying new and not already in possession of a larger frame, we can head down the Pro fit road (small frame or whatever is best). I’m happy to do that and have actual done that for a few locals. But that is a small handful of fits compared to the roughly 200 I have done for other average riders.

  • I never said the pros weren’t comfortable on their fits. I was trying to get to the basic point that they likely are comfortable, but may well be that way considering how special and capable they are. I agreed that some “average” people can and do ride pro fits comfortably.

  • But from what I have seen, it is a small percentage of riders when looking at the full population. Hence the presence of the generalization that seems to be the point of concern for you.

  • It’s not an all or nothing situation in my eyes. People can ride whatever fit works for them… pro or otherwise.

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Oh btw, to add something anecdotal,

I ride a more than average but not “too crazy” aggressive position on my bikes.
At the end of a 4 hour ride with just one 15 minute brake, sometimes I do have a little bit of neck pain but nothing crazy or unavoidable if I remember to stretch it the other way once in a while.

But this is an endurance ride with 75% of it in Z2, 15-20% recovery / Z1 and maybe 5% dipping in threshold briefly cause it’s steep.

I can then say “oh yeah I ride a pro fit without any issues” but then can I ride 120 miles at wayyy higher wattage and mostly in aero position for that whole time? That’s when the choice of aggressive fit can and in my case most definitely might become an issue.

A lot of people can get away with more aggressive fits for shorter rides. A sports car is super fun on a 30 min drive through the mountains. Try it on an across the country road trip :slight_smile:

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The pro position is optimal for everyone. Your bars should be way lower than your seat and your hips should rotate forward. It not only makes you more aero it allows you to generate more force with your legs. You can read about this in more detail in Lemond’s book (1987).

The industry has been working hard to court a richer demo which includes older people who are more interested in comfort than performance. This move has been fantastic for the industry bc pro bikes are now north of $10k while in 1997 you could get a 15.x lb steel bike for $4k (size 59cm). I know. I had one.

There are definitely people who have mobility issues that actually need a more upright position. But for the rest of us, upright is not optimal bc the discomfort is only temporary. How many serious cyclists wouldn’t be okay with 3 weeks of wrist and sit bone discomfort in exchange for future advantages?

I was off the bike for 18 years and when I bought a new one, it came with modern geometry. I am too old, fat, and unfit to race so I decided to leave it alone. After a year, I decided I’m riding consistently so I want it to feel right. I got rid of the spacers and cut down the stem. At the same watts, I immediately got nearly 1mph improvement. After that test, I then blindly rode at the same RPE and got another 1/2 mph from the pelvic rotation.

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I think this thread should be titled…

Bike Fit Conventional Wisdom

Old and heavy - can I ride in a pro position? Yes.

Do I want to ride in pro position on a weekend group ride? No

Would I mind the pro position when I am taking a one minute pull on a weekend group ride? Perhaps.

Do I want to ride in a pro position when I have been dropped in the local crit and am hopeless chasing? Damn straight.


Of course unless you go to bike fitters who just completely use Retul to tell them everything and then you’re likely to be seeing a poor bike fitter.

There certainly are different views on bike fits so it wouldn’t surprise me to get a slightly different fit from different bike fitters

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Indeed. No different than something like mechanics, doctors and the like… the tools are only part of the equation. There are good and bad fitters, just like any other profession. The best take a wide range of training and experience in conjunction with the rider in front of them, aligned with their goals and ends up with a fit that hopefully meets their needs.

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I’ve had 5 bike fits on 3 different bikes. 1st was at high end tri shop and guy just did EXACTLY what retul told him.

The other 3 fitters were great. One used retul but honestly I’d say he mainly used that as a way to easily make adjustments and not telling him what to do. They all did a lot of watching me on the train at varying intensities. Tweaking thinks slightly. Asking me a lot of questions.

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I was always told a bike should be comfortable. I don’t remember being told not to “fit like a pro”. But I don’t care what “pros” do.

My stem is completely slammed on my road bike, I am 100% comfortable. I can ride 200 miles on that bike without issue.

You are comparing a $7000 steel bike to a $10000 carbon bike.

Inflation is a thing.

I could buy a brand new liter bike for $11000 in 2004. I know, I had one.

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The top end for a race bike in the late 90’s was closer to $3K…and no steel bike was coming in at 15 lbs…at least not without a crapton of aftermarket lightweight goodies (in which case I suppose $7K was feasible).

I think it can all be summed up in one sentence:

“Have your bike set up for you, not for anyone else”.

That applies if you’re a pro, just as much as it applies if you’re a normie. If you’re a pro, you’re likely to be thinner, lighter, stronger, and more flexible so your fit is likely to be lower and longer. If you’re a normie you’re likely to be fatter, heavier, weaker, and less flexible so your fit is likely to be shorter and taller.
If you’re a thin, light, strong, flexible normie, your fit is likely to be similar to a pro’s fit.
It’s not a case of avoiding a pro’s bike fit, its a case of avoiding a bike fit for anyone other than you.


Well said.