4 Reasons to get a bike fit.
It has been nine years since we started fitting cyclists to their bikes. A lot has changed in this time. In 2006, there were only a small number of specialist bike fit consultants in the industry. Fit veterans like Steve Hogg, and Emma Colson were the go to guys at that time and still work as respected leaders in a growing industry. The number of bike shops offering in store bike fit services has increased dramatically as well with countless stores now offering fits utilizing tools like Retul, Bike Fit Systems, Specialized BG Fit and other Motion Capture Systems. Generally speaking this is a good thing for the industry as both shops and riders now have a much greater awareness of the benefits which can be achieved through a good bike fit. We could easily rattle off a long list of specific benefits but here are the four most important to consider.
1. RIDE FASTER
Although not the primary reason that many of our clients book in for a fit, adjusting your setup can allow you to ride quite a bit faster. Small adjustments to the cleat, saddle and handlebar position can make a significant difference to power and performance. The saddle needs to be set in a position which allows your leg muscles to fire efficiently and to produce high levels of power output, as economically as possible. Handlebar position greatly affects riding aerodynamics and can have a drastic effect on performance.
2. RIDE IN COMFORT
Everyone has ridden a bike that is the wrong size at some point. Whether it is too big or too small, riding the damn thing is just not enjoyable. There are many adjustments to your position which can make the bike feel more comfortable. For example if the handlebars are too close to the saddle the rider will brace extra weight through their arms and shoulder. If the bars are too far away from the saddle, the rider will have to slide forwards on the saddle to reach the bars. And trust us on this one, sitting on the nose of the saddle causes all sorts of problems for riders.
3. REDUCE INJURY RATES
Whether it’s an acute impact injury to the perineal area as a rider hits a pothole in the road whilst sitting on the nose of the saddle or an overuse injury to the knee due to a saddle height being too low causing your kneecap to grind on your femur, reducing the risk of injury is always at the forefront of our mind when we are adjusting your riding position. Riding a bike is a completely unnatural activity for humans to do. Endurance riders can be sitting in the same position for hours on end with your neck constantly hyperextended, hips and lumbar spine constantly in a state of flexion and your legs pedaling through the same motion more than 5000 times per hour.
Injuries to the knees, spine, hips and extremities are all commonly addressed through our bike fit sessions.
4. IMPROVED BIKE HANDLING
It might be surprising to some, but the position of your saddle, handlebars and stem, can actually have a significant impact on the characteristics of the bike below you. If you don’t believe us compare sprinting full-gas out of a corner with your stem slammed down on the head tube, then flip the stem around and raise it as high as you can and repeat the sprint.
Good bike handling is not only important for racing cyclists. Even the casual commuter needs the bike to handle well enough to avoid hitting the deck when that taxi opens a door in their path or when a greyhound comes barreling out of a driveway in your direction whilst descending Mount Macedon.
As a general rule, when you get a Bike Fit at Aligned Sports Therapy we try to find a good balance of all four concepts. Power, Comfort, Handling and Injury Prevention. The way in which we set your bike up is highly individualized and based on your specific needs. A professional rider will have a fit with a large focus on speed and handling whereas a recreational cyclist who has had a prostatectomy and multiple disc herniations will need more emphasis on comfort.