Cycling is a sport that has really taken off in the past few years, with more people than ever being out riding, especially after the British Cycling team’s huge success at both the London and Rio Olympics. Particularly at this time of year, more people will be getting out on the road as the days become longer, brighter and warmer. I bought my first road bike almost 2 years ago and love being out on the road. Admittedly, I am a fair-weather cyclist, and over the past couple of summers I probably rode only about once every couple of weeks. Over the past 4 months, however, I have purchased a turbo-trainer so have been cycling much more frequently indoors at home, and this increased frequency has brought to light some issues I had whilst riding. You can read about my experience of my bike fit here, but this blog will focus on how a bike bit can benefit a cyclist.
So, let’s talk a little about bike fitting. Why is it important and who should have one done? A professional bike fit is often overlooked when buying a bike, but it is one of the most important aspects. If you want to ride happily and pain-free for many years and miles to come, then do yourself a favour and give yourself the gift of a proper bicycle fit! Bikes have so many adjustable components in order to tailor the bike to an individual, so this begs the question, why wouldn’t you have one done? A lot of people don’t know how they should be positioned properly on a bike and therefore aren’t aware that it is their position that can be contributing to niggles when cycling.
Anyone who plans to spend any length of time riding a bicycle will benefit greatly from a professional bike fit. Don’t forget; everyone’s body is different. Some of us have a leg length difference, some have small hands so struggle to reach the breaks, some have long legs and a short torso. All these factors can be addressed during a bike fit.
Your professional bike fitter will first of all take a detailed history, consisting of previous injuries, riding history and goals for the future, how much/how far you cycle weekly and if you experience any trouble while riding at present. Then they will carry out a physical examination. This involves a postural examination, range of motion assessment of the hips, knees, ankles and lower back, muscle length testing and height & feet measurements. These are all taken to identify if any problems with the joints or muscles are contributing to any compensation/overloading other areas whilst riding. A good fitter should also be able to identify any underlying problems which may require treatment, such as rotation within the pelvis, muscle/joint injuries, muscle imbalances, etc. This is where we come into play!
The adjustments that can be made during a bike fit are;
– Saddle height
– Saddle fore/aft position (movement of seat on the saddle rails)
– Saddle tilt (angle of saddle in relation to the floor)
– Getting a new saddle (your fitter may suggest a completely different saddle based on your body position and anatomy)
– Stem length (for reach adjustments)
– Stem height (“drop” or how high/low your handlebars sit on the steer tube. Generally, the lower the handlebars, the flatter your back; the higher the handlebars, the more upright you will be)
– Handlebar width
– Brake lever adjustments (brake levers can be dialled in our out so you can comfortably reach them, the brake levers can also be moved on the bar so you have an ideal hand position)
– Crank length
– Shoe, insole and cleat adjustments (relatively small adjustments here can make a big difference in how your knees and hips move as you pedal, which could be the cause of discomfort in those areas)
A lot of people seek a bike fit due to discomfort they experience on the bike. A proper fit can improve overall rider comfort, help prevent cycling-induced repetitive stress injuries, reduce or eliminate back, knee, neck and wrist pain, reduce or eliminate saddle discomfort, reduce or eliminate numbness in the hands and fingers and reduce rider fatigue. Others simply want to maximise comfort, efficiency and power, along with reducing their risk of injury and improving technique. Of course, as I mentioned before, not all issues can be solved by a bike fit, so if you have any issues that persist, or your fitter has identified areas which need treatment then come and see one of our chiropractors or sports therapist. But trust me, having a bike fit done is well and truly worth it. You won’t believe the difference it can make and how it can improve your cycling.
Enjoy your riding!