Our Custom Sizing Bike
Our Custom Sizing Bike

Why a Bike Fitting?

Quite simply because the standard method of fitting bicycles is inadequate. Standing a rider over the top tube of a bicycle and having them pick up the front wheel to determine bike fit is like measuring your head to compute shoe size. There may be some correlation but wouldn’t it be more appropriate to measure your feet? For a cyclist to be able to ride comfortably and efficiently the critical adjustments are the relationship of the seat to the handlebars. This relationship is primarily influenced by torso, arm length, and flexibility. Therefore, we need to measure those body parts (like measuring feet for shoes) and base our sizing on these dimensions, not expecting to find some average ratio of inseam to torso and arm length. Unfortunately, this kind of “fitting” isn’t as easy as just standing you over a frame and having you pick up the front wheel. It requires  special measurement tools, an expensive Sizing Bike and most important, some very special expertise. To compound the problem, pre-existing injuries or lack of flexibility can increase the difficulty of arriving at the correct solution. In the “bad ole’ days” we adjusted seat height, pushed you out the door, and told you that if your neck was still sore in two months we’d put on a shorter stem. Sadly many potential riders could not make the adjustment. Hence, “Bicycle Fittings”, fitting the bicycle to the rider, not trying to bend the rider to the bike.

What is a Bike Fitting?

A bike fitting is a process in which we will use a series of specially made measurement devices to accurately measure inseam, torso length, arm length and shoulder width. Using percentages of these measurements we will set up our custom fully adjustable sizing bike. The sizing bike is a key part of the process. The sizing bike allows us to confirm that we took and recorded measurements correctly. It also allows the rider to pedal the device and experience, in a dynamic environment, what we are recommending. In addition if the rider would like to try the bars closer, or higher, we can change these adjustments quickly and easily so that an almost instant comparison can be made. Don’t be fooled, a true sizing cannot be done without a quality sizing bicycle. No amount of computer wizardry is a substitute for a sizing bike and someone who knows how to use it.

How is a Bike Fitting Done?

First and foremost, we talk to the customer about their wishes and desires regarding cycling. A rider, or potential rider, who has secret ambitions to ride Seattle to Portland requires a different fit and bicycle than a mom who wants to ride around the neighborhood with her kids, just as a bike racer and serious fitness rider will have different priorities and requirements.

Our Custom Measuring Device
Our Custom Measuring Device

Second, we will use our unique measuring tools to take body measurements. The tools were designed to be as non-intrusive as possible. Often our discussion of goals, what is working, or not working, with the rider’s current bike, pre-existing injuries, and flexibility will continue during the measurement phase.

Third, we will do some math. Based on percentages of inseam, torso and arm length we will set up the sizing bike for seat tube length and angle, top tube and stem length. By now the person being sized will have provided us with enough information that to give us a good idea of the relative height of bars in relationship to the stem etc.  Once we put the rider on the fit bike we can confirm our measurements and work with our customer to assure the setup is comfortable. Part of sizing a bicycle is the science of biomechanics.  Part is the art of making the individual rider interface with the bicycle in a way that makes the rider as comfortable and efficient as possible. We begin with no preconceived idea of where we will end up except for our interest in doing whatever is possible to allow the rider to meet their personal goals. Even Lance Armstrong required a somewhat modified position because of pre-existing injuries.

We will use precision tools to confirm critical measurements.
We will use precision tools to confirm critical measurements.

Finally we develop a computer print out which provides both traditional sizing info and a newer system which allows us to duplicate the seat to pedal, and seat to handlebar relationship which we developed on the sizing bike. If this information points towards a particular brand or style of bike we will discuss this at this point as well. We will also provide pointers on how to use the information on the sizing printout.

Where Does the Bike Fitting Take Place?

Currently we perform sizings at our frame shop in Tumwater, Washington.

What Should I Bring With Me?

1.Clothing that is comfortable for you to pedal what resembles a stationary bike for 20 to 30 minutes. We have a fan in the fitting area, but it can be warm process, particularly in the summer.

2. Your cycling shoes. If you are using an obscure pedal system it may not hurt to bring your pedals also. We have a variety of SPD and Look pedals,  Often we can come up with other brands if we are aware they are needed. When in doubt, it is always best to ask when you call for an appointment.

The Bike Fitters?

Bill has performed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of sizings.  Don’t be fooled by shops claiming to be able to do fittings by virtue of some new software they have just purchased. Forty years of experience does not come cheaply or easily. Nor can thousands of satisfied customers be wrong. References are available.

How Do I Set Up a Bike Fitting?

We can perform sizings most days of the week.  Contact us at (360) 402-2234 or to set up a fitting.

You should be aware that we Do Charge for bike fitting services. Our basic fitting charge is $50. The Basic Fit is targeted at the new bike buyer and is based on the expectation that this type of sizing will take about 45 minutes.

Our Expanded Fit is typically intended for a rider who is interested in improving the fit of an existing bike. Our time expectation on this fitting is approximately one hour. This includes a basic fitting at 35-45 minutes, plus 15-20 minutes to evaluate the current bike fit. The cost of this type of fitting is $75.

If you purchase a bicycle from Stevenson Custom Bikes the cost of a Basic Fit will be subtracted form the purchase price of the bicycle.

More involved “Special Issue” fittings are available at a rate of $75 per hour.

We accept cash, check, or most major credit cards as payment for sizings.

Mail: 3800 B Lorne St. SE, Olympia, WA 98501 | Phone: (360) 402-2234 | Email:

One comment

  1. I currently have a road Rex custom steel bike that I converted over to light touring using S&S couplers but was never touring specific so touring options were limited. The bike sort of fits into a Ritchey break-a- way case that has now come apart. I bike often in Europe so went that way to avoid excess baggage charges. I’m wondering your experience with these types of problems etc.. I’m 6′ 4 weigh about 175 with leg and arms evenly matched at about 36” and probably am riding close to 62cm. I realize without seeing me or my bike it may be difficult to make anything more then general comments but wonder what a custom bike from you could achieve . Live in WA Thanks

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