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Thread: Lesson learned

  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Apr 2004

    Lesson learned

    Hello all,

    It has been a while since I have been here, lotsa work and even, gasp, riding!

    I had a very interesting thing happen this last weekend that I thought fit very well into the Beginner's Corner.

    I had just finished a loop of some very easy trails with my wife and dog when a young couple pulled into the parking lot with two very new looking bikes on the car. My wife wanted to go off and do a flat trail with our dog and I was going to go do the "difficult" loop. But before I left I wanted to see who had just bought the new bikes.

    When the guy and gal got out of the car I had to do a double take, they were both about the same size but the bikes they had on the back of the car looked like they should have been for two very different people, now I just had to wait!

    They pulled the bikes off, the woman got on a bike that looked like it was about a 15 inch frame and the saddle was way too low - she looked as if she was riding a BMX bike! The man got on his and it looked "ok" but it seemed as though he was reaching for the pedals. I just shook my head and started to head to the trail. I decided that I couldn't just leave them to be miserable. I really enjoy the sport and I want others to, also. So I turned around.

    I started the conversation by saying something like "New bikes?" It turns out that they bought the bikes from a dealer that I know, but they got them on "sale" and the sales person said they were the right size.

    I said I worked in the bike business and could I make a few suggestions. They welcomed this since no one at the store really made any adjustments to size the bikes. I moved the guy's seat down about 2 inches and he said it felt much better. I told him that the bike looked the right size but he may want to have a lower stem if he rode more off road.

    The woman... well, there was no way she was going to fit that bike. After raising the seat post to the max mark she had ok leg extension but the saddle to handlebar reach was way to short. She looked like one of those students you see on college campuses that are still riding the bikes that they got in middle school.

    I told her in my opinion that the bike was way to small and I suggested that she return the bike for the right size. She didn't think she could do that, she didn't feel right. I asked if she felt right riding the bike?

    I suggested that they go to a different bike shop and get properly sized and that she would feel a lot better on the bike. I gave them my e-ddress and asked that they contact me if they had problems. I got this e-mail this morning:

    "Tad- Thank you so much for helping us at the trail. After you took off we decided to go right back to ***** and get the right size. The owner *** helped me this time but didn't have the right size in the bike I wanted but they did give my money back. We went to ***** and got sized on the Bike Comfort system you told us about. Wow, what a difference! I spent more money then I wanted but I got a bike that really fits! It feels great! Thank you for taking time to talk to us!"

    Bottom line to the story - get the right sized bike and don't go for the deal! Make sure that you are getting fit for the bike; if it is from a modern system like the system, or just a good person in a shop taking time and watching you ride. Then go out, get dirty, have fun!



  2. #2
    Domestic Fowl
    Reputation: FreeRangeChicken's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Excellent post, Scanner. That's a great lesson for newbs. A bike is basically worthless if it doen't fit you correctly.

    I also try to offer up help when I can..... trying not to be invasive or pushy. I really hate to see people pay a shop outrageous amounts of money(and time) for minor repairs/adjustments. I like to teach people to make these repairs and adjustments and get and become less dependant on the bike shop.

    I'm not trying to imply that bike shops are evil. Their time is money and they have to pay the bills, but it is silly to pay a bike shop $50 to put a chain on a bike when you can do the job for the price of the part (about $20) and you will know how to deal with a broken chain if it happens on the trail.

    Good on ya, Scanner.

  3. #3
    Riding free's the mind
    Join Date
    Jan 2004

    Can't agree more

    Bike fit is so key to an enjoyable ride. The further you get into the sport, the more you'll appreciate proper fit, as it can really make the difference in efficiency when climbing and handling while descending.

    It's does get tricky as with my wife who is just under 5' to find a frame that fits without awkwardly proportions using todays 80-100mm travel forks. She currently rides a 13.5" Specialized Rockhopper, and her toes clip the front tire during tight turns. Showed the bike to a local custom frame builder and he laughed saying the whole bike was poorly designed.
    Question to a custom frame builder..."So what makes your bikes climb better?"....his answer, "Uh, your legs?"

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    I almost road off but I knew the bad Karma would haunt me for my ride and many rides after! I have been e-mailing this couple and we are going to meet, weather holding, for a ride this weekend for a few off road lessons.

    In my years of fitting people on bikes I have often had to "put up" with fitting women, especially, on production bikes. Then the WSD (Women Specific Designs) came around - thanks to Georgina Terry - and the industry was able to fit many more people on bikes.

    But a word of caution about WSDs - not all women need or will fit a WSD! Newbie women beware! That is why I think a good fit system is essential in fitting people to bikes and not just the old eye-ball method. Bike companies will 'push' the WSDs as the do all end all for women. Far from true! Some short statured men fit WSDs perfect and many women do. But sometimes a 'normal' bike is just fine. And again a good fit system will get the right bike for the right body.

    Enough of a soap box this morning!

    Enjoy the day!


  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    So glad I read this post. First of all, Much Thanks to the people who are willing to help. I have been in that bike store, you know the one that wants to unload the clearanced bikes. I have been given many answers regarding sizing. Primarily using the eyeball method. I have also gone online. A trek dealer sized me for a WSD 18, locals put me on a Giant 17 & a Raleigh 15. I felt like I had to start over because of it.

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    May 2009
    It's awesome that you took the time to help those folks. I've stopped to talk with several different people who were having issues with their bikes and helped them fix it, as well. Last summer during a local organized century road ride, I even stopped my car and helped a guy fix a broken chain. Like you, I try not to be pushy about it, but offer up my help if they need it.

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