I love bike fitting because it is not simply a cookie-cutter manipulation of the bike, it’s often a puzzle and an opportunity to educate the rider on the value of consistent off-bike practices that will improve the position and power-output. Each fit is predicated on the individual rider’s goals, fitness and flexibility as well as injury history and in some cases current pain issues.
The fit process is an opportunity to help athletes understand how joint range of motion and muscle length, as well as stability and posture relate to improving their position, power production and performance. It is also an opportunity to share insights about pedal stroke technique and efficiency.
It seems many cyclists, just hop on the bike and go, with little regard to fit. That may have been the case on our street cruisers, but once cyclists are locked at the foot in a cleat-pedal system, things change. While cycling is low impact, there is potential for overuse injuries because we are locked at the hip and the foot, making a repetitive movement over extended periods of time.
We also want to ensure we are maximizing the bike as a tool. For this to happen we need to properly place the cyclist over the bottom bracket in order to recruit the right muscle at the right time, around the circle.
Bike Fitting is Based on a System
Oftentimes clients come in for a fit, and they have cherry-picked the fit system, tried this, tried that, and find themselves in a spiral of confusion. It goes something like this: “Oh, I read this blog, so I tried moving my seat back. Then I felt stretched, so I lowered the saddle and then moved it forward. And then…”
An effective fit is systematic and approached methodically.
Understanding the individual and how they present off the bike, is the first priority. Our system considers what each individual rider brings to the fit in terms of – past injuries; muscular length; joint range of motion; how they spend the majority of their day; their personal cycling goals; and if they are contending with current pain.
During the fit process, we help educate the cyclist on how different aspects of the off-bike physical assessment relate to the on-bike fit. For example, we measure hamstring length and hip flexion, which helps determine the appropriate saddle-to-bar drop. Some cyclist come to the fit in with a conception of how they should look on the bike, i.e, super racey. But an aggressive fit can only be achieved and effective, if the rider possesses adequate range of motion/muscle length and the ability to hold neutral pelvis and spine.
This leads to the opportunity to help the cyclist understand how consistent off-bike mobility and stability work will ultimately continue to improve the fit. Because of this, bike fit process is not a one-and-done, but rather an evolution.