The Bike Fitting Mega-Thread

My take, ask yourself where you spend most of your time positioned on the bike and bars, as well as the most widely used effort relative to that position.

  • I consider this a type of 80/20 thing, where I want the default that you land on for most riding to be your “home” position, at your typical power output.

    • As such, I most often aim to get a rider with comfortable hold around the hoods, having the inner web of the hand (between the thumb and fore finger) resting very near or against the back curve of the hood, while doing their Tempo to Threshold effort for racer types, and Endurance for more casual riders.

    • I recommend this specific position (regular wrapped hand right on the hoods) as the 80% spot because you have the most control on the handlebars, ability to shift and break without moving your hands. Having to move from a gapped position as the 80% home position just seems less than ideal IMO.

  • When it comes to the “power” or “relaxed” positions as part of the 20% use, I want to make sure they are accommodated. But they are secondary to the most often used power and positions. Most often these seem to work as a result of arm reach (via elbow bend) and/or back angle changes from the 80% position.

As to adjusting your setup, with a short steer tube:

  1. Assuming you are already as high as you can go with with stem spacers under a negative angle stem (6-8*?), and if you think the flipped stem version is too tall, you need a stem with less angle.
  • If you have something with more angle than 6-8*, you can just pick a step down from there.
  • If you have a 6-8*, you might be able to use a Specialized 4D stem with their inner angle shim to get something in between yours simple flipped.
  1. One trick to consider, is to simply rotate the bar angle up a bit, with the same stem setup. This does two things. It actually raises the contact points a small amount, which may be what you want. It also changes the potential wrist angle to the forearm. I end up using flat to 5* positive bar angle (as viewed from the side of a level bike) for many riders. The angle is usually higher as the saddle to bar drop decreases. But just tweak from feel to see if you like it and how much is “best”.
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Thanks a lot Chad, this makes a lot of sense and is very helpful. I would say that most of my riding is around 180-220 watts and for that range I am also tending to hold the hoods as intended :slight_smile:

About the stem question, I use a 90mm -6* stem on top of 8mm of spacers and cannot go higher. I tried to get a 0* stem at some point but could not get any at the time (I could only find two models, one from Thomson and a Ritchey intended for MTB’s. During the stock-shortage-period of COVID I could not find these anywhere on stock). However the 4D stem sounds like it could be quite useful for trying out things also in the future.

Regarding the angle up tilt, I would rather not try it since (i) it also increases the reach, and (ii) anything more than 2-3* (which is what I have) makes it harder to reach my campy thumb shifters from the drops…

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At long last… I broke down and got a TT bike! Lots of background on how I got here over the past year:

I went with a 2016 Cervelo P3 - it’s a great fit with my existing deep wheels, and wanted something that allowed lots of front end flexibility and ease of use as I try to further work on position now that I am not constrained to also riding it as a road bike.

I tried using the PadX/PadY concept to set an initial position very similar to my final redshift/road position but with slightly more reach, slightly less stack now that I don’t have to keep a sustainable road position in mind.

I’ve only got about 3 hours on it (2 hr kitchen sink testing it out + 1 hr nonstop high Z2 the next day) and so far it feels surprisingly great. No pain anywhere at all yet.

Here are some things I’m wondering on the new bike (left) relative to old bike (right) - and maybe the pros will point out stuff I just don’t see or get!

  • Is my saddle too high? On the road, felt OK - if anything, I haven’t had any top of knee pain that has been a low level issue on the road bike… maybe road bike is too low?

  • I had S-bars with the redshift setup also angled up slightly - they look so much cooler and I never had wrist pain - so I almost want to just move them to this bike. I also added DuraAce 9071 shifters to my S-bars with buttons on top that line up with my thumbs perfectly, while these have chunky two button shifters that are slightly less natural to operate - possibly because they are too high. Is it reasonable to consider cutting down the end of the J-bar looking at how much they stick up for me? They are not bad for comfort - and if I go lower, maybe I’ll have issues with S-bars, so I’m going to keep experimenting with them

  • ISM says start with a 1-2 deg tilt - but not sure if that is more for road use? Should I be aiming for more tilt on a TT bike to help rotate forward? Really liked the redshift forward tilt built into the switch seatpost and wasn’t sure how much to push this one. Also, while I can fairly accurately measure pad X/Y relative to BB / ground, the saddles are so different that I’m not really sure if I have “equivalent” saddle position. Does the new bike look reasonable for setback?

  • My arms are not so vertical on the new bike - I guess from the slightly increased pad X and/or saddle not quite same relative setback - and the front view seems to further suggest that I’m lower… maybe flatter? I also felt that I was reaching a bit more past the armrest pad to the get to the hand grip position - initially, I thought I’d definitely bring them back closer, but after riding it, I’m not so sure. What should dictate this pad-to-grip reach? The other thing I’ve noticed is that it’s a tad bit harder for me to look up the road - so rimless glasses may be on list soon. All in all, I think I’ve largely rotated down and out as I wanted to, but I don’t know how to read stuff like pelvis angle, etc. Should I be exploring pushing any further, or does this look too far in any direction, or something missing?

I’m supposed to go for a major bike fit soon but just trying to do some preliminary tweaking to get “close” and maybe have more specific feedback from a decent reference point that could help further inform that fit. Appreciate any input!

Left - P3 quick setup using a stem I had laying around to get close to my existing setup
Right Trek Madone H2 geometry w/Redshift that I’ve been on the past year

A few quick thoughts…

  • your saddle on the P3 does look a little high but it is always hard to tell for sure from a static shot.

  • as you discovered, extending your reach actually helps lower your upper body. You don’t necessarily have to always lower your stem to get your body lower. That said, you may have a bit too much reach going on. My initial reaction is that you could move back a bit…but then you should also lower your stem. That would help keep your body in a similar position. I’m a big fan of having your arms NOT be vertical…allows you to “turtle” your head better.

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One more for @mcneese.chad…been having annoying pain in/around the trapezius muscles. Sometimes extending up into the neck and down towards the lat level. Checked the saddle tilt and it was more nose up than I remembered/wanted/thought. So, I tilted it level maybe a touch nose down and I felt less pressure.

Question is have you seen a nose up saddle tilt cause pain like I described? Seems counterintuitive so, just checking as saddle height, reach, drop are all where they’ve been for years…

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@Landis, sorry for the delay. Poor time management again :stuck_out_tongue:

Can’t say that I have seen a direct 1:1 connection, but I would not be surprised if it would/could be related.

Anytime you have a saddle situation that leads to “instability” you are likely loading muscles in ways that are not ideal. In the case of a sloping saddle, that leads to a rider having to now support themselves more, it can lead to excess or inappropriate muscle loading.

With a nose high saddle, it may be causing you to hold the bars a bit more tightly, and the traps at the top of the chain in the triangle (formed by the back and arms) would be a likely candidate for “holding” you in place.

So I think it is very likely related to your feeling and improvement. My goal in saddle position and angle is to get the rider “stable” with foundation of support that doesn’t push or pull the rider in any particular direction. I want a neutral hip and mid section, with the upper and lower body able to do what they need without undue influence from a bad saddle setup.


This x1000…too often people tilt their saddles one way or another as a crutch to fix other fit issues. “neutral” and “stable” should be the starting points of any bike fit…

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I’ve noticed over the years a trend for my saddles to be all the way forward on their rails. This is true on both my road and cx/gravel bike. Both bikes are sized to me by using inseam and height and the saddle height over the BB is more or less identical. I like the position, have no issues with it but I can’t help feeling that it shouldn’t be like this, that I should have a different sized frame to make up for some weird anatomical feature that I don’t know I have.
I’ve set my saddles with KOPS from the start and tried out the hands on the back method, which didn’t indicate that anything was off. Anybody out there have a clue to what’s up with this? And in how should I think about frame size going forward?

@gandlf just making sure I understand where you’re coming from…are you saying you need/want to go down a frame size to maybe take advantage of a stepper STA which would get you more forward over the BB?

If so, one thing I hadn’t considered until going through a similar issue with a new bike, is how the saddle rails can affect fore/aft. As much as a couple cm’s in some cases. Anyways, just something to consider if you are trying to get a little more forward…

  • Nothing specific without more info. We know you have bikes that are sized by height and inseam, and you slam the saddle forward. We also hear that you have no complaints, other than wondering if your current saddle fore-aft position may indicate something “wrong”.

  • With no pain or other problems, this may be much ado about nothing. Or, it’s a flag that there is something off elsewhere, but you’ve not given any indication of that. Short of more info and pics of you on the bike, anything here is a guess at best.

  • Adding to that, saddle position in the seatpost rails is one thing. But the seatpost setback is an important variable in this discussion. My guess would be that you have stock ones that are often around 10-20mm setback, but you could have one that is 0mm or even longer than 20mm. And it may well be different between your bikes.

  • That all ignores the seat tube angle, that may also differ between your bikes. To some degree, this can be ignored. But when people are at the limits of one or more adjustments, it raises this higher up in the review process.

  • You mention KOPS, so can you clarify precisely what you did for setup with respect to alignment and markers on you and the bike? This may all settle into something of a non-issue, but it’s hard to say with more info.

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I just went and had a look at my road bike and I’d say it has a setback of 20mm at least, the seat tube angle for that bike is 73.2. The saddle is a Selle Italia SLR. I’ll try to get some photos the next time I have an indoor ride booked. The reason I’m asking is that I’ve started to the slow process of looking for a new bike and I’m starting to question whether I should look for a smaller frame than recommended. It works well, but it looks a bit off, like the fit compensates for something.
The KOPS I did was from the spot just under the kneecap, I dropped a stiff, weighted tape measure in a line from that spot down through the pedal spindle in the 9 o’clock position. But this was years ago. I’ve never felt any knee pain.

I’ll get some photos though so you can see how it looks next time I have the bike on the trainer.

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I’m thinking I might be better served by a smaller frame, but to be honest I 'm not sure why? It feels weird that a bike that should fit me well, requires me to keep the saddle all the way forward. Chad pointed out the setback, which I didn’t think about. If I would have a zero-setback seat post I think my saddle would look more normally positioned.
I’m wondering because I’m slowly getting ready to get a new bike, and I just wonder if this is a known thing that I should take into account and how to do that going forward.

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For startes, can you give us your height, inseam and what size bike you are currently on?

As noted by chad, a saddle’s position on a seatpost is relative to a lot of different factors.

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I’ve been dealing with saddle sores for the past few months. I read at multiple places that bringing the saddle down could help so I dropped it by 5mm but now I feel like it’s too low. From the pictures bellow does it look like I’m too low?

Qualifier, it’s impossible to make more than a decent guess with just two pictures.

  • That said, it could be a tad low, but you still have a toe point (slightly elevated heel), so it’s not drastically too low, if at all. I mention the toe point because dropping the heel can be one way our body compensates for a saddle that is too low.

  • You didn’t mention the state of saddle issue after the height change. If you were chasing a saddle comfort improvement, and the drop didn’t fix the problem, you may want to return to the prior height.

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Thanks Chad. I did a quick spin and it seems to have improved the issue but I have a longer workout planned tomorrow so I will reassess and update. Appreciate your input!

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I 100% agree with the points James makes in this video. I was fitted by James when I bought by Festka - which is insidently is custom made based on a 52 cm - whereas most manufactures suggest i should be on either 54 or 56cm


Need a little help. I have been cycling for over 10 years. I have had several fits in that time to address some issues with saddle sores mainly. Those seem to be behind me. What came up in my last fitting was a foot pressure mapping. I never had one of these done. This is the map I had. first was before, second is after.

For reference this was done with speedplays that had 65mm axles. I was told to size down to 59mm, which I did. I use S Works shoes with 2 3mm spacers on the right foot (small functional leg length issue) with one varus shim on the cleat and one varus shim in the shoe. I also use G2 insoles with metatarsal pad and heel wedge. The changes came from mostly dropping the saddle. The after still looks a bit off to me. I tried, and felt more even force with DA pedals, but they seemed to give me IT band issues even with the +4mm spindles. I tried adding a washer and I can still feel my ITB stretching for lack of a better description. I dont think I can lower the saddle any further. I was thinking this could have been from prior issues with the saddle height and leg length problem that caused me to use my left leg primarily to prevent pain. Does this mapping look way off to anyone else lol ? If so any suggestions? @mcneese.chad thoughts?

I’ve never worked with the foot pressure mapping. Ideally, I am guessing you want the right to look more like the left. Hard to say with just this and a few of your comments. It almost seems that there could be more spacers on the right, but you already have 2.

For the ITB, and sticking with the Shimano +4 pedals, you might try adding a pedal washer between the pedal and crank. But there may be a limit of 1 since you already have the wider spindle.

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Yeah, I may try and add two shims stacking the meaty parts opposite each other for another 1mm. I watched some hip stretching videos, going to do a lot of those to see if I cant fix the problem rather than band aid it. I may try and play with the shimano pedals, it may be that I need to rotate the right cleat slightly pointed to the right for my duck feet, see if that helps with the itb. Thanks for the reply.

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