A bike fit is like going to the tailors and having dress pants altered, perhaps you think it is a waste of time and you could just wear them off the rack but how much nicer is it when they really fit you properly.
How you hold your handlebars, sit on your saddle and even something as simple as pedal cleat position can drastically effect your comfort on the bike. You would be surprised just how much your comfort directly effects your performance. The two main reasons to have a professional bike fit done are to avoid injuries and improve performance, a third might also be efficiency but I think that falls under performance.
Here are a few common discomforts you might have experienced on your bike:
- Knee pain while riding is often a sign of incorrect saddle height and or wrong cleat position
- Neck pain, handle bars are to low or perhaps your aero position is set far to aggressively
- Lower back pain from your saddle position being to far rearward
Making sure your knees are tracking straight through the entire pedal stroke has to be one of the most important things because if it is not proper you will get injured and have decreased performance. A simple item like a mirror can help you correct any strange tracking issues you might have and my coach will often place a mirror in front of us while we are riding to help show exactly the importance of keeping your “knees in”. As knee joints get tired or weak your knees can start to track outward causing problems in inefficiency with your pedal stroke.
As you can see even with my fit last year my left knee was tracking out of alignment, this was because my saddle height was a too low and I was not able to fully extend my leg.
When I had my fit done this was my largest problem I had tracking issues and in correct saddle height. Being able to settle into a very comfortable riding position with no discomfort was something I was looking for with my fit.
The pictures below display the before and after shots from my bike fit. The images look very similar but to give you an idea of how much comfort increased: I was only able to ride in aero for about thirty five minutes before my neck would ache and knees would start to feel tight. After my fit I was able to stay in aero for hour long rides both trainer and outdoor and had zero neck cramping.
Performance is probably best measured in watts for this scenario with no elements like wind to skew the results. The two workouts below are the same 5×4:00 rides done on a computrainer indoors about two/three weeks apart. The first is from pre bike fit and the second is after, while I realize that this is not perfect for comparison you get the idea. It is a demonstration of how much easier I found it to make power as a result of being in a more efficient position on my bike. I was able to ride farther and faster in the same amount of time with less wattage. What I also found most interesting was how much lower my max HR was second time around thanks for being more efficient overall.
If you are experiencing pain while riding or looking to squeeze every available watt out of your pedal stroke a bike fit is a sure way to help you out. I benefited largely from a bike fit with the elimination of pain, increased performance and better efficiency in my pedal stroke.
I went to the Dundas Speed Shop in Dundas, Ontario and saw Scott Kelly for my Retül bike fit back in March of last year. This year I will again be seeing Scott for a refit before the season starts because some of my equipment has changed and I will be testing out a slightly more aggressive position this year for racing. Scott is a Retül Certified bike fitter and great guy who has worked with age groupers like myself and professionals alike so if you are interested then I suggest you get in touch with him.
12 Millers Lane, Dundas ON
“We are a bicycle studio located in picturesque Dundas, Ontario. Our focus is on providing our customers with an unparalleled bicycle service and fit experience, regardless of the type of bicycle you have”