Bike fit: fitted vs. actual position

When I got my first road bike (I have been an avid mountain biker), I also got a bike fit. Here, the fit position was the “upright” position, and the fit was very good for that position. However, it turns out, I don’t ride like that, I really try to be more aero than that even when I climb. But in this more aero position, I feel crammed into place and I’d like more reach and more drop.

Should I have another bike fit done that adapts my bike to the position I ride the most? How would I do that? Whenever I see (non-time trial) bike fit videos, they all fit the rider in that upright position.

And how big a factor is frame geometry here? (I ride an endurance road bike.) Is it going to be more difficult to fit me to my bike because there is a larger difference between the position the frame has been designed for and the position I want to be in?

Endurance frames are generally more upright as you say but not so much so that you can’t get into a lower position.

I’m not a bike fitter but I’d try these but take note so you can revert back to the initial setup if need be.

Do you have spacers under the stem you can remove and lower the stem?
You can also try a longer stem or one with more of a drop or both.
Or if your stem points upward try flipping it over.
Getting lower at the front might affect your saddle position, keep it level but moving it forward a few mm might be needed.


My stem is slammed. Although I could get a thinner bearing cap, which would give me a few additional mm. I’ve already removed a large spacer compared to the initial bike fit.

For me the question is more whether and how to do a bike fit that takes the dominant riding position into account. Put another way, how do I determine that I am in the right position? Most of the videos and instructions go for the upright position independently of the type of road bike they are discussing.

Can also consider a more raked stem, -17 or more.

Handlebar shapes range hugely so you can have more reach and more drop whilst not compromising position on the tops.

Even rotation or bars and more significantly position of hoods can hugely change feel.

When you ride ‘aero’ are you on hoods or drops? If drops, then I would have a look a bar shapes first. If hoods, then good position. If generally, then maybe stem.

On your question I would suggest the best compromise between comfort and power. That you cannot define from anyone elses position in a bike but from testing. Loads of articles on protocols and toola out on web which you can read and follow (assuming you have a power meter)


I’ve had 2 road bike fits and 1 TT bike fit and I honestly don’t recognise the problem you’re mentioning. I’m wondering whether the issue is more about the communication with your bike fitter.

Whenever I’ve been, I’ve gone with a particular brief in mind, or a particular set of problems (saddle soreness, back pain, calf cramps, hot spots on feet, or whatever) that I’m trying to solve. I also tell him about the kind of riding I want to do. Last time I specifically said I want to get more aero for road racing, while avoiding the pain in the arms I was getting while in the drops.

So if you want to ride a particular way, and the fitter puts you in a radically different position, either you’re not explaining it to them, or they’re not listening to you.

They may of course advise you that your desired position is unwise or unsustainable. But at least then you’re tackling the issue.

Think of it like a haircut. They’re the expert, but if you want a mullet, then ask for one!


I agree with Martin.
If you turn up at a bike fitter and don’t give them any parameters, they will probably fit you for comfort. As a result, you’ll end up with a position that you could ride all day without pain, but you won’t be particularly quick. If you want to race (or you just want to go fast), and the fitter knows this, you should end up with a very different fit. It’s not going to be as comfortable, but so long as you can hold it for the duration of your events, that’s all that’s needed.
As an example, I got a TT fit a month or so ago, and as I only want to do 10s and maybe a 25 or two, it’s as aggressive as we could get with a sensible hip angle. I’m going to need to do quite a lot of work to be able to hold that for 25 minutes! Last year I had a sportive fit (same fitter) on a different bike - I can ride that for hours at a time with no issues.


I agree with Martin also. Last time I had a fit, the first hour was spent off the bike looking at my goals, the type of riding I do and what I wanted to achieve from the fit. Is this something that you went through wih the fitter?


That’s something you can do via email or phone beforehand as well. Saves time in the fit studio.


Haha, I sent a VERY long email to my fitter before my appointment. He had a slightly scared look when I met him…


Have a look at this book. I found it very interesting and useful
Bike Fit: Optimise Your Bike Position for High Performance and Injury Avoidance

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No, I don’t think it was a communication problem. See, this is my first road bike (having been an avid mountain biker before), and I didn’t know what position I would typically use. The bike fit was for a beginner in road cycling, and I think for that it was spot on. The bike fit was quite thorough, he put on a variable stem, and at that time the result was that I could use the default stem at a different rise (almost slammed).

I was writing this post in preparation of another bike fit, because I want to be able to explain better and check whether what my bike fitter does is best for me and my type of riding. Within that year of riding and test riding other bikes, I have found out quite a few things about my preferences, e. g. I would like narrower handlebars (currently on 42 cm bars, and 40 cm bars with a different bar shape definitely feel better, especially when I am in my aero hoods position), I would like shorter cranks and a different frame geometry to book. Ideally, I would like to start with another bike frame to get my perfect fit, but I don’t think this is in the cards in the near future (family obligations).

In the city I ride in the relaxed hood (arms almost straight) or aero hood position (meaning my elbows are angled at roughly 90 degrees) for the most part as shifting and breaking is easier for me on the tops.

Once I am out of the city, I ride the drops when it is close to flat and in an aero position in the hoods when I climb. I only use the “relaxed” position when I am doing very long, sustained climbs (think >20 minutes) or selectively when it gets very, very steep.

I didn’t know all this when the bike was fitted to me last year, because this was my first road bike in about 10 years.