In my more than 20 years as a cyclist and multisport athlete, I discovered that there is a common belief among cyclists: if nothing hurts, their bike fit is just fine. In my more than 4 years as a certified bike fitter, 99% of the people that come to me for a bike fit will report some type of pain or discomfort. So, this number seems to corroborate the belief that if nothing hurts, your bike fit is fine.
What most people do not realize is almost all cyclists ride asymmetrically. Most everyone favors one side of their body. They may hang over the saddle on one side more than the other, which creates an uneven pedal stroke favoring one side on the down pedal stroke. Most people do not have limbs that are equal in length, even a centimeter can make a difference in your bike fit. Lack of flexibility in one side can also play a part in unevenness on a bike.
Along with the natural inclination to favor one side over the other, as the human body ages certain changes are inevitable. You will lose flexibility, change your posture and even change how your body responds to your bike. Changes in your body mean changes in how your bike fits. If at one time you were used to an aggressive road bike for competitive purposes and your riding style has changed to more of a recreational style, changes need to be made to your bike to accommodate the changes in your body. It is important to remember that a properly fit bike is only as good as your biomechanics, flexibility and fitness level and as those change, so must your bike fit.
The 10 Percenters
Yes, cyclists do get bike fits even when nothing hurts. They are obviously the minority because why bother if everything feels good. Consider our discussion about changes in the bio-mechanics of the body and the changes in your personal style of riding. If you know that change is inevitable, it only makes sense to adapt over time. Translated into bike fit speak, this means that the way you fit on your bike needs to be checked and re-checked over time regardless of how your body is responding. By following this simple strategy you will mitigate future discomfort, pain and even injury.
Comfort = Fast
The three components of proper bike fit are
All three are not necessary for a proper fit, but all three are optimal. Sometimes two will suffice if the situation calls for it. If you have power but not efficiency, then you are working harder than you have to. Your power is at a deficit. Likewise, if you have power but you also have discomfort or pain, your power will also be at a deficit. Being comfortable on your bike and having the most efficient set-up possible will help you to maximize your power and maintain it for longer.
What Makes a Great Bike Fit
Any bike fit studio can be loaded with the latest and greatest technology but if the fitter, the actual human in charge of your bike fit, does not have the experience or the “eye” for a good bike fit, then you might as well do your own fit by following a You Tube video. While technology helps us notice pieces of the fit that we may not normally see, nothing can replace the knowledge of a well-trained and experienced bike fitter.
For example we use the Dartfish system of motion analysis to track pedal stroke, angles of the body and symmetry between both sides of the body, however it takes a knowledgeable and experienced bike fitter to know what to do with that information. Before your next bike fit do yourself a favor and learn as much as you can about the individual performing your fit just as the bike fitter interviews you to learn as much as they can about you, you will be glad you did.
Visit our new bike fit studio in Brookland! Matt will work with you to make sure your bike fit is just right