Many of us have a couple of bikes sitting in the garage (or front room), but how can you make sure that they are set up identically (and so get the maximum benefit from them). Lennard Zinn from our sister publication VeloNews explains how you can do it without spending a ridiculous amount of money.
Saw in a Paris-Roubaix tech photo gallery a bike fit jig which is used by Movistar. I could not make out the brand – I could discern a label that said “Bike Size by ????.” No hits for said product on the Internet. Any idea what brand it may be or comparable products? I have struggled for years to get the measurements on my stable of rigs identical.
I don’t know what jig Movistar uses, and many pro team mechanics have jigs to quickly duplicate rider position as they set up a new bike for the rider. Some of these are homemade jigs that the mechanics made themselves, and others are more polished versions. All of them are roughly equivalent to the “FitStik,” a device by Cyclemetrics that you may remember consisted of graduated wooden sticks at 90 degrees from each other. Quality Bicycle Products (QBP) bought the rights to the FitStik around a decade ago but has shelved it.
In my January 11, 2011 column, two of the four photos show tools by Serotta and Specialized that do what you’re looking for. The Serotta Cycling Institute X-Y tool and the Specialized Body Geometry X-Y measurement tool. You can obtain both in the USA.
However, if you’re not setting up dozens of bikes in short order, as pro team mechanics do numerous times per year, you can get the same amount of accuracy yourself with just a tape measure, if you know a very simple trick. The key is to use “stack and reach,” which is simply a means of establishing the same starting point on both bikes – the center of the bottom bracket – and taking only horizontal and vertical measurements relative to that point. In other words, you are setting up an X-Y coordinate system with its origin at the bottom bracket.
This illustration shows how stack and reach is used in frame sizing (many manufacturers now list stack and reach numbers as well as the usual top tube length, seat tube length, seat angle, etc. for frame geometry specs) as well as handlebar position. However, stack and reach can also be used for finding the relative positions of any other components on the bike as well.
Here’s how you can get the position of the handlebar and saddle on your two bikes exactly the same quickly, inexpensively, and with a minimum of frustration:
1. Stand the bike up in a corner of the room with the rear tire touching one wall and the handlebar touching the adjacent wall. The bike should be vertical and parallel to the wall which the handlebar is touching. Measure horizontally from the back wall to the center of the bottom bracket. Measure vertically from the floor to the center of the bottom bracket. You’ve now found the origin of your X-Y coordinate system.
2. To find the position of your handlebar, first measure horizontally from the back wall to the center of the bar and vertically from the floor to the center of the bar. Subtract the horizontal distance from the back wall to the bottom bracket from the horizontal distance from the back wall to the center of the bar. This is the “reach” measurement of the bar, i.e., the X-coordinate of the center of the bar from the center of the bottom bracket. Subtract the vertical distance from the floor to the bottom bracket from the vertical distance from the floor to the center of the bar. This is the “stack” measurement of the bar, i.e., the Y-coordinate of the center of the bar from the center of the bottom bracket. You can use the same procedure to find the X-Y position of the saddle relative to the bottom bracket (pick a reference point on the saddle to measure to, like the tip of the nose).
3. To set up the second bike exactly the same as the first, stand it in the same corner of the room with the rear tire touching one wall and the handlebar touching the adjacent wall. As before, the bike should be vertical and parallel to the wall which the handlebar is touching. Take the same measurements. Then adjust its saddle and handlebar positions to duplicate the stack and reach measurements you got from the first bike. Voila! You’re done, with precise accuracy, and you didn’t have to buy an expensive tool you might use only occasionally.