This article is taken from the TriChicks webinar series. To watch the full webinar series head over to the TriChicks Hub. Not a member yet? You can join the TriChicks Hub HERE
Are bike fits important? YES. Ask any semi-experienced cyclist or triathlete what made a key difference to their comfort while riding and they will say a bike fit. But, when we say bike fit we don’t just mean the quick once over the guy selling you your bike will do. We mean a comprehensive look at your body positioning and the bike.
There’s a lot that goes into a proper bike fit and it can be confusing. Michael Baker from Custom Bike Fit shares what you can expect from a bike fit and the benefits that go with it.
When should I get bike fit?
- When you’ve just bought a new bike
- If you’re experiencing any pain or tingling
- If you’re looking to be more aerodynamic.
So you’ve booked in for a bike fit, what should you expect and what should you bring?
Allow ample time for your fit, around one to two hours. Bring your bike, cleats and typical gear you’d be riding in. Write down your key areas of concern as this will help ensure you get all of your questions answered.
Bike fit checklist: what are some things the bike fitter will look at?
- Cleat position
- Suitability of saddle
- Saddle height
- Knee angle flexion and extension
- Position of knee in relation to foot
- Position of the hands and elbows
- Riders back angle
- Overall comfort of the rider and sustainability of the position.
Common types of bike fit
This is a very average type of bike fit that a bike seller will usually do when you’re purchasing your bike. They will pop you onto your bike and bring out a few tools like a goniometer (an instrument that looks like something from year 10 maths to measure angles) and a plumb bob (string looking object with a weight at the bottom) that helps to measure the inseam and torso length. The bike fitter will ask you to pedal through and stop in a few positions so they can check and measure the positioning. While this might seem fine, it is not an in-depth fit as it only checks your set up while stopped in certain positions. When stopped in these positions, typically the rider does ‘funny things’ like relax and drop their heel or pull up on the handlebars which thus gives an inaccurate reading and adjustment of the bike fit.
Another thing to keep in mind is that bike shops make more money from selling bikes and components rather than giving bike fits. Meaning, their focus will be on sales not fit so be wary of the amount of time they spend with you and any ‘salesy’ behaviour. It’s better to book in with a proper bike fitter that will give you the time and attention you need.
Dynamic bike fit:
These will often be on a GURU Dynamic Fitting Unit or Retül which looks like a giant mechanical bike unit which can essentially be adjusted to mimic any type of bike. This is great if unsure about which bike to purchase (when buying your first or upgrading bikes) as it will show you what it feels like to ride different types of bikes without having to buy them first. The system can also give live readings on the rider’s power, cadence and other feedback which helps the fitter understand the adjustments they make in real time.
This is a key tool a proper bike fitter will often use. Video allows the fitter to put you on your bike, with a wind trainer or smart trainer attached, and record you riding for a period of time. The fitter can then review and analyse the video to see how your position changes over time, where your muscles are strained, pedal stroke and more. The fitter can then make adjustments that suit your ride from start to end. Plus, they can play the video back to you so you can see and understand what the issues are and why they’re adjusting the bike.
3D Motion Capture
This is an even more in-depth video capture system. A few LED markers are placed on the rider, a video is then captured which gives the fitter and rider real-time data on the rider’s position and motion. This data can be stored and reused when it’s time for a re-fit.
Things to remember…
- If you change one thing on a bike often you’ll need to change something else. This is especially true if you add clip-on aerobars to your road bike or new cleats.
- Bike fits are personal – don’t just DIY and copy what others are doing.
- If you can, find a fitter that has a dynamic bike fit like a Retül to help you buy the right bike from the very beginning.
- Be honest with your bike fitter, this includes your race ambitions, your fitness and experience, and any injuries.
- Ride like you normally do, don’t try to put on good technique in front of your fitter – you’ll only get a wrong fit and be back before you know it!
- Your body will take time to adjust after a fit, give it a good two to three weeks before deeming your bike fit successful or not.
To book in a fit with Michael, visit www.custombikefit.com/