Complete Tri

Bike Fitting: Cost and What to Exect

Bike fitting is an underrated service, and honestly one that more cyclists should get. In this article, I’ll give you an idea of what a bike fitting should cost, and what you can expect from the fitting session.

I know lots of cyclists who have cycled for years without a real bike fitting, and when they finally got one, they wish they would have done it sooner.

Bike fitting can range from a basic adjustment of the saddle and handlebars to a more comprehensive fitting process that involves analyzing the rider’s body measurements, flexibility, power positions, and riding style. The cost of bike fitting can vary depending on the type of bike, with road bikes often requiring more time and attention than other types of bikes. 

Basics of Bike Fitting

Bike fitting is the process of adjusting a bicycle to fit the rider’s body and riding style. It goes WAY behind just making sure that the bike generally fits, like you might do when hopping on a new or different bike. It often involves making changes to the bike’s components, such as the stem, saddle, handlebars, and pedals, to ensure that the rider is comfortable and efficient while riding.

A proper bike fitting is done by a professionally-trained fitter, who is often someone who does that as their only occupation. Secondarily, some bike shops have fitters on staff who might not be quite as advanced but still have the know-how to do a cursory fitting.

There are a few different types of bike fitting that you’ll see on the market, ranging from cursory to very detailed. I recommend doing the more extensive kind.

A proper bike fit can can be a gamechanger for a cyclist of any level, in my opinion. It can improve comfort, eliminate ride soreness, reduce the risk of injury, and increase efficiency and power output. A poorly fitting bike not only lessens your power output, but it can actually create misalignment and overuse injuries, believe it or not.

My Bike Fitting Experience

Put me in the camp of people who didn’t realize the importance of a real, professional bike fitting for a long time.
I rode for years without ever getting a professional bike fit. I would buy bikes that I knew fit me pretty well, have the bike shop spend 10 minutes adjusting things, and then I would tinker on the fit as I rode. The problem was that I did not have the technical expertise to know if I was adjusting things just right. I was just doing what I thought made sense, and eliminating any obvious discomfort.
I finally started investing in real bike fittings, and wow, the difference was immediate.  Within 10 minutes of my first professional fitting, I had learned so much from the fitter about assumptions I had been making that needed to be corrected. I learned from him that there is an absolute right way to set a bike up, and it should be based on many more factors than the typical cyclist assumes.
When I finally got a quality bike fitting from a pro, my ability to do longer and more demanding technical rides shot up immediately. I think my power increased by about 5% too.
Having a bike that is even a few millimeters off here or there will really compromise you!

Cost of Bike Fitting

The cost of bike fitting can vary depending on the type of fitting and the level of expertise required. It can also vary based on the type of package you decide to buy.

Professional Fitting

pro bike fitting
credit: JRA Bikes & Brews

A professional bike fitting is a comprehensive process that involves a detailed analysis of the rider’s body and bike. It is usually conducted by a certified bike fitter who has extensive knowledge and experience in bike fitting. The cost of a professional bike fitting can range from $250 to $500 or more, depending on the location and the level of expertise of the fitter.

The professional fitting cost often includes one brief follow-up visit to make minor adjustments that might be needed.

In some cases, you might buy a package of fittings from a professional bike fitter. I purchased on recently that was a “buy and fit” package, where the fitter had me go through a battery of measurement on a “fitting bike” – a bike that looks like a space-aged device and its sole purpose is to measure your cycling position. Based on my measurements, we ordered a new gravel bike that was nearly perfect for me right out of the box, and then he adjusted it to all the specifications that he had determined during the initial fitting.

During a professional fitting, the fitter will conduct a detailed analysis of your body measurements and your pedal stroke, along with your preferred position for maximum comfort and power. They will take detailed measurements and analyzing your power, flexibility, strength, and range of motion. They will also analyze the rider’s pedaling technique and adjust the bike’s components, such as the saddle, handlebars, and pedals, to ensure that they are in the optimal position for the rider’s body.

A good professional bike fitter will have the attitude that no cyclist should have any discomfort on the bike. If your back is getting sore, or your wrists are getting numb, there is a reason for it and it can be fixed.

Basic Fitting

A basic bike fitting is a less comprehensive process that is usually conducted by a bike shop or a bike mechanic. It involves adjusting the bike’s components to fit the rider’s body based on basic measurements and observations. The cost of a basic bike fitting can range from $50 to $150, depending on the location and the level of expertise of the mechanic. If you are buying a brand new bike from the bike shop, there is a chance that the fitting will be thrown in as part of your bike purchase.

During a basic fitting, the fitter will ask the rider basic questions about their riding style, goals, and experience, take measurements of the rider’s body, and adjust the bike’s components accordingly. You may also go for a short ride with the fitter watching or recording you, so they can tweak and refine your positioning. While a basic fitting may not provide the same level of customization as a professional fitting, it can still improve the rider’s comfort and efficiency on the bike and is much better than eyeballing it yourself.

Additional Fitting Steps and Options

Follow-Up Sessions

After the initial bike fitting session, it is very common for the fitter to recommend follow-up sessions to ensure that the adjustments made are working well for the rider. Trust me, these are worth it — it is not just the fitter trying to upsell you.  I recommend riding for at least 200 miles on the new fit, and then going back for any modifications that might be called fitting

Equipment Adjustments

In many cases, a bike fitting may require adjustments to the rider’s existing equipment, such as a new saddle or handlebars. These adjustments may come at an additional cost, which can vary depending on the specific components needed, but are often worth it to be sure you are getting the most out of the bike you want to spend hours and hours on.  When I’ve been fitted, I’ve usually required a new stem (my arms are short) and often a new saddle that shifts my sit bones ever-so-slightly.

What to Expect During the Bike Fitting

bike measurementsAs far as a professional bike fitting goes, you will need to make an appointment and the fitting process will typically take between 1-2 hours and may involve several steps.

First, the fitter will talk to you and ask questions such as what your goals are, if you have injury history, and anything else that will help them setup your bike correctly. The setup for a hard core, competitive time trial rider will be different than someone who wants to do comfortable 40 mile rides on weekends.

Next, the fitter will take measurements of the cyclist’s body to determine the optimal bike size and position. This may involve using a fitting bike, which I recommend if you want to really start with a clean slate and not have your current bike influence the fitting.

During the fitting, the fitter will ask you to pedal on the fitting bike or your bike (on a trainer) to see your posture, where your weight is distributed, your positioning on the saddle, and most importantly your pedal stroke.

A good fitter will be making adjustments throughout, and will go through many cycles of adjusting and then watching you ride. Be sure to speak up if something doesn’t feel right — otherwise they have no way of knowing!

How to Prepare for a Bike Fitting

1. Bring the Right Gear

Make sure to bring all the gear you would typically use on your bike, including shoes with your bike cleats, cycling shorts, and a jersey or tighter shirt so the fitter can see your body form on the bike.  A good fitter will actually adjust the cleat positioning on your shoe as well — it is definitely part of the pedal stroke equation.

2. Think About Your Goals

Think in advance about what you want to get out of the bike fitting. Do you have a chronic knee issue? Make sure to mention that. Do you want to improve your speed?  Be able to do a century ride with ease?  All of those factors are important for the fitter to know.

I once had a problem of my hands falling asleep on one of my bikes. I mentioned it to the fitter, and he immediately knew how to fix it.

3. Communicate Clearly

During the fitting, be sure to communicate clearly with the fitter. Let them know if you are experiencing any discomfort or pain, and provide feedback on how the adjustments feel. Think of it like talking to a doctor who is trying to help diagnose an issue you are having.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much should I expect to pay for a professional bike fitting service?

The cost of a professional bike fitting service can vary depending on several factors. On average, you can expect to pay between $100 and $300 for a basic bike fitting by a bike shop mechanic, while more advanced fittings with a pro can usually run about $300 to $500. It’s important to note that the cost may also vary depending on the location of the service and the experience of the fitter.

What factors contribute to the cost of a bike fitting?

The cost of a bike fitting service depends on several factors, including the level of expertise of the fitter, the type of equipment used, and the length of the fitting session. A more experienced fitter may charge more than a less experienced one. Similarly, a fitting that uses advanced equipment such as motion capture systems may cost more than a fitting that relies on manual measurements.

What are the benefits of investing in a bike fitting?

Investing in a bike fitting will help improve your comfort and performance on the bike. A proper bike fitting can help prevent injuries or deal with existing injuries, reduce discomfort, and improve your overall efficiency on the bike. After a proper fitting, you should be able to ride longer and with less fatigue.

How often should I get a bike fitting?

More often than you think!

A cyclist’s ideal fit will change as their conditioning improves or degrades. If your core has gotten weaker than it used to be, for example, you probably can’t ride comfortably in as aggressive a position as you did before. Likewise, injuries like a tweak or knee issue may call for a different position on the bike than before.

Of course, any time you get a new bike, you should have it fitted as well.

What should I bring to a bike fitting?

When going for a bike fitting, it’s important to bring your bike, cycling shoes, cycling shorts, and any other equipment you normally use when riding — but don’t worry about a helmet.

Leave a Comment