Please excuse my dear aunt Sally.
If you went to primary school in the U.S., you know that this has nothing to do with a rude relative. It’s a pneumonic device to help kids remember the order of operations when solving complex equations–parentheses, followed by exponents, then multiplication/division and finally addition/subtraction. Adhering to this order is critical to producing the correct answer.
With all of the options available when considering a new bike, buying the right new bike for your body and the riding that you intend to do can be a pretty complex equation in itself. Handlebar width, stem length, stack, reach, crank length, gearing, tire clearance, handling characteristics, frame material, rider position…need we say more? If you want to end up with the right bike, you’ll need to follow the correct order of operations. In this case, a comprehensive fitting is in your parentheses.
Just like parentheticals in a complex equation, a bike fit is its own separate problem that needs a solution before you can proceed. Everything else is secondary. There are a number of variables being solved for in determining a rider’s optimal position and discussing their aspirations, and it is rare to see those exact same values mirrored in the spec description or geometry table of a new bike. Failing to check for these discrepancies can lead to the wrong solution down the line, and unlike school there won’t be partial credit for showing your work.
Did you ever feel as though you could follow along with a lesson in the classroom only to cry into your homework later that evening? Making all the necessary considerations regarding a big purchase can be just like that. It’s no secret that purchasing from home has become the new normal, whether that be directly from a retailer or through a third-party delivery service. With that, it has also become normal for over 1 in 5 purchases to be returned. When you look specifically at apparel that number jumps to almost 1 in 3. Not only is this process harmful to the environment, it’s a waste of time and money too. It’s also an indication that, despite access to sizing guides and online reviews, people are just not very good at getting these purchases right on their first attempt.
Bikes come with sizing guides and online reviews too. Still, all too often when attempting to fit a client to their new bike, we find that they have not only purchased the wrong size but that the “right” size requires modifications to work for them. You can learn a lot from online research, but with no JSTOR or EBSCOHost for bikes you could just as easily become that rude relative from earlier in this piece. You know, the one whose Facebook page you can’t look at without your blood pressure spiking? Don’t fall down the rabbit hole, consult with an expert instead. Let us filter the results. Take the opportunity to be heard one on one and have all of your needs addressed so that you can be confident you’ll have the right equipment.
Whatever cycling is to you, enjoyment should be the main focus. Making sure you’ve got the right equipment is central to that enjoyment. Unlike your schoolwork, you can’t just erase it and start over—but you sure could erase your bank balance trying. This is an answer worth getting right the first time, so be sure to follow the order of operations!