The Four Generations of Road Cycling Bike Fitting


Most of the road cyclists are a little bit confused as far as bike fitting is concerned. We have made an effort to describe shortly the history of bike fitting.

It’s important to be noticed that some athletes and coaches were – and continue to be- ahead of their times but we describe the bike fitting evolution as it is perceived by the majority of athletes.


1st Generation- The practical rules

During this era experienced cyclists coaches and cyclists have established some practical rules concerning bike fitting, e.g when you stand over the horizontal tube with both legs toiuching the ground then …

Part of the “practical rules” bike fitting era was the observation by the eye. As Davis Phinney mentions “Even Eddy Merckx didn’t have the perfect eye for seat adjustements”. (“Training for Cycling” Davis Phinney- Connie Carpenter,A Perigee Book, page 79)


2nd Generation – Greg Lemond and Statistical era

We call it Greg Leemond formula although it has been created by his French coach. To determine the height of the saddle, that is considered the most important factor at bike fitting a formula (height = inseam * 0,883 was created). Such statistical and general rules were created.

So instead making the bike fitting by the eye coaches and cyclists have decided to use the rule and later the goiometer.


3rd Generation – The customized bike fitting

It was well understood that each body/ cyclist needs a customized bike fitting as he/she has different body characteristics, flexibility, muscle strength e.t.c.

Andy Pruitt is a key person at the third generation


4th Generation – Bike Fitting as a continuous process

We could say that we have moved to the fourth generation of bike fitting where bike fitting is a continuous process. The athlete adopts his/ her bike fitting :

  • To the training requirements (winter time, racing season e.t.c.)
  • To his/her physical condition evolution e.g. strength development of particular muscles e.t.c., flexibility
  • To the course demands, circuit, endurance events, TT


Technology and especially power meters and air tunnels help athletes to determine the optimum position where power production, consumption of the power produced (e.g. by air resistance) and side effects (e.g. risk of injury) might be optimized.

So the question remains : What will be the future of Bike Fitting?

I suspect that scientists from different fields will work under the guidance of some innovative coaches in order to optimize bike fitting.

A question arises the above statement : Will history make circles and we will try to create again statistical (one model fits all) models or we will decide to get rid of statistical models and customize the implementation of some bike fitting principles?

Text : Giannis Psarelis (Coach & Chemist, MSc- MBA) &

  • Triathlon New Zeeland Level 2 Accredited Coach (Candidate for Level 3)- Endorsed by International Triathlon Union (Level 1)
  • American Swimming Coaches Association Level 2 Coach
  • Australian Swimming Teaches and Coaches Association Bronze License
  • North American Academy For Sport and Fitness Marathon Certified Coach
  • USA National Federation of High Schools Accredited & Certified Coach
  • International Triathlon Coaches Association Certified Coach