Can wearing padded cycling shorts versus regular shorts affect the adjustments during a bike fit?

My bike fitter who uses the Retul system requires tight fitting shorts so that the LED markers don't move around. The problem was that most or all the tight shorts that I could find seem to be padded, and I wear pants that are more suitable for work.

I imagine that the padding would lower the ideal saddle height and handlebar drop slightly so it may not optimized for those wearing non-padded pants. Often the goal of a professional bike fit is also optimization. Does that actually happen?

Retul bike fitting system LED markers

  • 4
    If I was spending all that money on a fitting, I'd take the fitter's advice.
    – Criggie
    Feb 13, 2019 at 18:59
  • You mean to wear padded shorts during the fit and most of the future rides?
    – Brian
    Feb 13, 2019 at 19:01
  • 5
    You should explain the situation to your bike fitter and ask their advice, rather than trying to play them off against us. Feb 13, 2019 at 20:03
  • 4
    Also, why do you need a bike fit for your commute in street clothes? For that kind of riding, anything that isn't uncomfortable will do just fine. Feb 13, 2019 at 20:06
  • 1
    If you still want to find tight shorts with no padding, search for compression shorts instead of bike shorts. Feb 13, 2019 at 21:23

2 Answers 2


You should go for a fitting in whatever clothes you'll be riding the bike in. Any fit system that doesn't let that happen is being misapplied at best. Clothes can affect your range of motion, preferred position, and effective body dimensions (more in the case of shoes than this), etc, sometimes in ways that are subtle or unforeseen.

I don't have anything necessarily bad to say about Retul in regard to the kind of riding it's really meant for (race/performance), but a professional fitter should be the first to tell you to come wearing your actual riding clothes. That's foundational, especially if a client is doing more utilitarian or casual riding that's outside the racer mold. You're experiencing the wrong end of the difference between using a fit system as a tool, not a crutch. Get a different fitter.

  • I think it was mostly communication difficulties that we had. If I was told about the option of using compression shorts, I would have likely bought one.
    – Brian
    Feb 14, 2019 at 1:01

When you sit on the saddle any padding from the chamois will be compressed to such an extent that any differences in fit, compared to regular cloths, will be minimal at best (we are talking at most a couple millimeters). As a general rule of them, few people will notice a half-centimeter change in saddle height, and many won't even notice a full 1 cm change in saddle height. As such, a couple millimeters will generally not be a concern.

Conversely, the Retul system is a high-end motion capture bike fit system that depends on being able to make accurate measurements of joint locations (and therefore angles). If regular clothing interferes with making accurate measurements of joint positions, then it makes little sense to wear regular clothing, as you are potentially wasting your money by handicapping the system.

Opinion if your only interest is commuting over a distance where the duration is short enough that regular cloths are comfortable, the Retul System is likely an overkill.

  • Correct. The padded shorts will ONLY affect the saddle height, not any of the other measurements. So at most OP simply needs to raise his saddle about 0.5 cm (if that) after the bike has been adjusted to spec. Should not affect handlebar height, once the pad thickness has been adjusted for. Feb 13, 2019 at 22:42

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