Hello all – Martin here, Bike Adventures’ resident expert on all things training, fitness and sports injuries.
With more people in the UK than ever taking to cycling there has been a growth in associated businesses from cycle tourism to specialist bike fitting services.
Our question in this blog is why get a bike fitting? Is it right for me?
Most new cyclists think bike fitting is only for the elite rider, and many experienced riders think they know best!
But in both cases there is a lot to be gained from engaging a professional to study your bike setup. If you’re not convinced the first thing to consider is the cost of long term injury: time out of the saddle missing the thing you love most, and the financial cost of ongoing treatment for injury.
It is highly likely that poor bike set-up and sizing will negatively impact your body, be it back, neck or knees. Believe it or not, humans are not actually designed to ride bikes; really our feet should be placed on the ground where weight distribution through the muscles and spine are evenly balanced. That said, our bodies are extremely versatile and will adapt to new conditions; this can be helped by a considered bike fitting.
When discussing this with clients I get them to visualise the repetitive single plain rotational action of cycling. You only have to do the maths to understand the issue:
A one hour ride at a moderate 70rpm equals 4200 potentially negative actions on a misaligned limb or joint.
When you start to multiply this over longer sportive rides of 5 plus hours or multi-day trips like our LEJOG it’s easy to see where problems might arise.
So, yes, in my opinion bike fitting is important for all, to minimise the risk of injury.
But here is where it gets a little more complicated, because good bike fitting should be developed around not only your physical dimensions but your riding style. By this I mean are you looking for peak performance, max power output or touring comfort? There are obviously many positions between but you get the idea. It’s a fine balance between performance output, comfort and potential injury which you as an individual have to make allowances for.
So if you do decide on a bike fitting be sure to do your research: make sure the provider fully understands your needs, and remember these needs may change course over time, requiring further adjustment as your goals and cycling evolve.
Here’s a list of 12 specific areas a specialist should consider:
1) Frame size
2) Bar width
3) Headset length
4) Headset angle (height)
5) Saddle height
6) Saddle position (front to rear)
7) Saddle position (tilt)
8) Saddle type
9) Crank arm length
10) Pedal type
11) Cleat tension
12) Cleat position
On a final note, key areas of fitness which will also minimise the potential for injury are FLEXIBILITY (the one everyone loves to hate and can’t find time for) and CORE STRENGTH. Flexibility allowing unrestricted full range of motion of muscles and core strength stabilising movement, control and alignment.
There are numerous resources on the net for both, so take a look. I often refer to http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/. In the next blog we will start to look more specifically at individual injuries. Happy Christmas and safe cycling!