For the past few months we’ve been using The Bike Fitting Kit to check the fit on our bikes, both road and mountain.
The $29.95 kit is an all-in-one package with everything you need to properly measure cleat placement, seat height and fore/aft position, handlebar height, rotation and brake lever placement and stem length based on your physique.
It contains a DVD to walk you through the process, plus a plumb bob, 4/5/6mm hex keys (ie. allen wrenches) goniometer, tape measure and level.Ã‚Â It also has a reference guide that explains different aches or pains common among cyclists with suggestions on what to change to improve comfort and performance.
So, how do the results compare to a $100 – $200 fit from a bike shop or pro fitter?Ã‚Â Will it make a difference in your ride?
Read “more” to find out, see what we liked and disliked about the kit and what four different riders thought about their results…
A lot of riders, even experienced riders, don’t understand how certain changes in position affect their riding comfort and performance.Ã‚Â This kit provides an effective way to make simple changes, and it gives even novices the tools and information necessary to really improve their comfort.
What you see above is what comes in the kit (click to enlarge)…which is pretty much everything you need to adjust everything worth adjusting on your bike (at least in terms on positioning).Ã‚Â This is one of the great things about this kit…it’s all inclusive.
What else did we like?
It’s reusable – you can use it again and again on all your old bikes and future new bikes.
It’s cheap – at $29.95, it’s less than a third of what a basic bike shop fit costs.Ã‚Â Spread that cost across all of your bikes and it’s dirt cheap on a per bike cost.Ã‚Â For a bike shop, it’s a good upsell for more casual riders that don’t want to drop $100 or more on a professional fit…or a great gift idea around holiday time.
It’s easy to use – it’s quicker and easier with two people, but if you don’t have any friends, you can do it yourself on a trainer.
The plumb line helps you determine proper fore/aft position with the seat.Ã‚Â For the DIYers, dropping it inside the shoe makes it easier to see where it’s falling in relation to the spindle.Ã‚Â If you’ve got a friend helping, which is highly recommended, drop it to the outside so they can see it better.
If you’re doing the fit yourself, you can place the seat level on the crank arm to get it as close to level as possible…this is a very important measurement to get right because it’s the key to getting the right plumb bob placement.Ã‚Â Just a slight drop or rise of the crank beyond level can have a pretty major impact on where the plumb line drops in relation to the pedal spindle…and it’s very hard to tell when it’s level by looking down from your seat without this visual aid.
Another measurement that’s a lot easier with a friend is the angles measured with the Goniometer.Ã‚Â Trying to hold it yourself and see if it’s lined up with ankle, knee and hip forces you out of your normal riding position, so the results may not be as perfect as they could be.Ã‚Â Having a spotter hold and adjust it lets you remain in position while they take the measurements.
We also liked that it’s quick.Ã‚Â The DVD running time is only 17 minutes, and with pausing for adjustments and a few backtracks to make sure we were doing it correctly, it only took 40 to 60 minutes per fit.Ã‚Â Once you’ve done one of your bikes, basic measurements like seat height can be quickly replicated to shave time on fitting the rest of your quiver.
What did our reviewers think?
Brad – 6’2″ / 175lbs – Full Suspension Mountain Bike:
“After using the bike fit kit I noticed a pretty substantial difference. After watching the video I needed to raise my seat about 2 1/2 inches, and slide my cleats back a half inch.Ã‚Â I feel I have more power on the hill climbs, and it’s not taking as much power out of my legs with the new adjustments. It took a bit to get used to, but definitely better.”
Evan -5’5″ / 135lbs – Road bike:
“The kit’s easy to use and understand, but it’s a two-person operation. My changes were raising the seat and moving it forward, and I rotated my handlebars up. Usually after about 45 minutes my hands are numb, but after I used the fit kit, I did a two hour ride with no discomfort.Ã‚Â I was more comfortable and felt less fatigue.Ã‚Â What I liked about the kit was how easy it was to use, and the Fine Tuning Guide is great ’cause you can throw it in your jersey with a couple of allen wrenches and make minor tweaks on the ride.”
Daniel – 6’0″ / 160lbs – Hardtail Mountain Bike:
“What I liked about it was the subtle changes that the kit helped me make…stuff that I never would have thought to check or knew how to check.Ã‚Â My cleats were completely out of sync with each other, but I had never known to check that. We raised my seat and moved it forward, putting a lot more of the seat under my butt whereas I used to feel like I was always sitting right on the nose.Ã‚Â The next ride I did after the fit was a 90 minute mountain bike ride in the mountains with lots of climbing, and I noticed that I was able to comfortably stay seated for much more of the ride.”
Tyler – 6’2″ – 179lbs – Full Suspension MTB and Road Bike:
“I used the kit on both my mountain bike and road bike.Ã‚Â On my mountain bike, I ended up just moving the seat back about half an inch.Ã‚Â For my road bike, I used my “B” bike since I’ve had a professional fit on my “A” bike, and I was very curious to see how the two measured up afterward.Ã‚Â I ended up moving that seat back about 1/2″ also…I had always thought having a move “forward” position allowed for more power, kind of like a time trial bike, so I had my seats pretty far forward.Ã‚Â I wouldn’t say I was ever really uncomfortable on either bike, but with my road bike, it’s just an easier feeling…almost like long rides are just casual rides, which is really great.Ã‚Â I actually used the measurements from the Bike Fitting Kit on the “B” bike to change the stem length on my “A” bike and am considerably more comfortable on both now.”
What’s NOT to like?
Well, production value of the DVD is really the only thing to complain about…it ain’t gonna win any awards.Ã‚Â The segments are fairly quick and they could use some illustrations or diagrams over the images to better convey the various adjustments, and the “acting” is on the dry side.Ã‚Â One graphic in particular that would be helpful is cleat placement…this seems to be a pretty vague instruction in the video and may leave a lot of riders wondering exactly where the cleat should be centered.
We also wished there were chapter markers for skipping ahead or jumping back to the start of a particular segment.Ã‚Â Unfortunately, you have to rewind or fast forward to get where you want to go.Ã‚Â Also, the DVD itself was finicky…on the DVD player in our workshop, it played great the first few times, then started getting jumbled up.Ã‚Â It wouldn’t play at all on my laptop (MacBook Pro), but it played flawlessly on a PS3.
Just a comment rather than a dislike, but it doesn’t get into Time Trial or Triathlon positioning.Ã‚Â It doesn’t claim to, so we’re not faulting it for not having this info, but it would be sweet if they added this to the DVD for people that only have one road bike but want to experiment with different events.
For $29.95, this is a bargain, and all of us thought it worked great.Ã‚Â We all ended up making adjustments to our bikes and in every instance, it improved comfort and perceived performance. On the one hand, results are more important than the lack of aesthetic quality for a product like this.Ã‚Â On the other hand, if the information was presented a little better through the use of graphics and overlays, it would be a little easier to understand some of the measurements and adjustments.
As it stands, we give it FOUR Thumbs Up and recommend it for anyone looking to improve their comfort or get more power.Ã‚Â In fact, if you’re like Brad and Daniel were before testing this and just feel like you never really have the power you think you should, this could be just the fix. If the DVD worked reliably in all of the players we tested it in, it’d probably get another half-thumb.