Guy at bike shop, who appears to be a reputable bike fitter, tells me he can make a bike I like less fit like a bike I like more. Is he right or just trying to move last year's product?
July 18, 2012 1:45 PM   Subscribe

Truth or hyperbole: Guy at bike shop, who appears to be a reputable bike fitter, tells me he can make a bike I like less fit like a bike I like more. Is he right or just trying to move last year's product?

I'm upgrading my road bike. The shop I'm considering buying from includes a free bike fit from someone who knows what he's doing (according to the internet & local reviews) . When I was there, I road two Fujis (Fuli SL 2.0 & Fuli Acr 2.0) and a women's specific Felt ZW75. I liked the Fujis ok, but the Felt was way better. At the price they were selling at, the Fujis seem to be a better deal considering what little I know about components, etc.. The guy pointed out that one reason I might not feel great on the Fujis was because they had giant stems, which even I could see was true. He said he'd swap out stems during the free fitting.

So, how much can really be done in a bicycle fitting session? If I go for an on sale bike, will he really be able to make it ride like another bike? I'm not dying for a full carbon frame + fancy components, but if I could get a good deal on a nicer bike, that obviously would be cool.

I am a 5'2" female, 135lbs, with fairly short arms and I currently ride a 2006 Raleigh Cadent 1.0, FWIW.
posted by nanhey to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Have him swap the stems now and let you try it out.

He should be glad to do it, in order to make the sale.

And if you still don't like the Fujis with the new stem, then you'll buy the Felt.
posted by JimN2TAW at 1:50 PM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, if you'll buy the Felt anyway, tell him you'll buy one or the other, and have him swap stems on the Fujis to see how you like 'em. Swapping out that sort of component can have a big impact in how the bike fits and rides.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:52 PM on July 18, 2012

It may be a bit of both, but you can certainly use stem length, bar height, and saddle height to make a bike with one sort of geometry ride like another. A professional fitting is something you should look for anyway when buying a bike, so see what he can do for you. You can also go back for further adjustments. Both Fujis and Felts are pretty solid bikes, so why not save a bit of money?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:55 PM on July 18, 2012

Indeed, any bike shop worth their salt will do the fitting on the Fuji for you, and if you still like the Felt better, let you just buy the Felt.
posted by General Malaise at 1:56 PM on July 18, 2012

Best answer: Oh, and yes: a good fitting can definitely turn a "meh" bike into a "holy crap this is great" bike.
posted by General Malaise at 1:57 PM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Bike fitting is indeed huge, but it always involves trade-offs. Shortening the stem will change the way the bike handles, probably negatively.

I wouldn't buy the Fuji until you've had a chance to test-ride it with the shorter stem - swapping them out should only take a few minutes and should be something they're willing to do for you during the try-out process.
posted by 0xFCAF at 2:02 PM on July 18, 2012

Went through almost exactly this recently -- I'm a bit taller than you but a weird fit due to a long torso.

I was on a women's Giant, wanted to upgrade, he realized the reason it didn't fit was seatpost and stem...I ended up with a phenomenal deal on a prior-year's stock Scott Contessa, with a swapped out seatpost and stem. He swapped them out and let me ride (though he did have to order in the final ones, as he had to pull from other bikes in the shop at the time) and this is seriously the best fitting bike ever. Had I decided that swap didn't work, I would have gone with the much lower-priced Bianchi he'd originally suggested with the stock stem and seatpost, and all would still have been perfectly happy (and my wallet even more so!)

It's not necessarily that he'll be able to make one bike ride like another, but if he really is one of the great fitters, he'll be able to make it fit like another for sure.
posted by pixiecrinkle at 2:03 PM on July 18, 2012

It takes 5 minutes to swap a stem. Definitely ask him to swap the stem and let you test ride it. It's not at all an unreasonable request.

I work in a bike shop, and I do this type of stuff for customers somewhat frequently. It's seriously not a big deal.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 2:10 PM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Swapping stems is a classic way to adjust the fit. There's a chance that a shorter stem will make the handling too twitchy, but given that modern road bikes tend to err in the opposite direction--more trail, for stabler but less responsive handling--it's probably not a serious risk. Try the new stem and see what you think. For my last 700C bike purchase, I ended up getting a size larger than ideal (the best size wasn't available), and replacing the 100mm stem with a 70mm. I'm very happy with the result.

What you don't want to do is adjust the saddle position fore or aft to change the reach. Saddle position should depend on your leg length and body balance. Peter White has the best article I've ever read on bike fitting available free on his website.
posted by brianogilvie at 2:24 PM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the perspective and for letting me know that switching the stem isn't a big deal -- I'll definitely be asking to do that.
posted by nanhey at 7:16 AM on July 19, 2012

hey, i have the Fuji SL 2.0 (this is it right?) and for what it's worth I love it. It rides great and (in my opinion) looks great. Everything else people have said about fitting is spot on - best of luck!
posted by kev23f at 4:09 AM on July 20, 2012

« Older Meta-question about abstraction   |   Do you pay estimated taxes as a freelancer? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.