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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Importance of Bike Fit!

By guest writer Josh Cohen of Foothill Cyclery

First off let me say congratulations to all of the Morro Bay Tri finshers. You all did a great job out there on a gloomy day that could have been a lot worse. One of the things I happened to observe on the road while driving support for the bike leg is that there are many of you guys and gals out there on poorly fit bikes. Granted this is just a casual observation but it seemed that the majority of the riders out there on the road could have had free speed and more comfort just by having their bikes fitted correctly. With that being said I know some of you are saying to yourselves, I got fitted when I bought my bike, I’m good. I say to you, ask yourself, did I really get fitted well? Do my shoulders feel sore after my ride? Do my knees track straight up and down or do they flail out sideways? Do my feet feel sore after I ride or even during? Do my hands or fingers go numb during my rides? Is my back sore? Do I have pressure on the front of my seat that makes me want to tilt the saddle way down? Is my bike really comfortable for 2 plus hours or does it make me want to get a massage the next day?

I’m sure most of you have asked your bike shop something along these lines and gotten the “You’ll get used to it” response. I can not stress enough that this is a horrible answer. Your bike shouldn’t hurt or make you sore except for your legs after a killer ride. I’m going to go out on a limb and outline the advanced fit we do at Foothill Cyclery so you can see what a fit should really consist of. Please note this is our advanced fit we offer in the aftermarket.

First step is to get to know you. We want to know if you have injuries or other factors which would change the way you fit on the bike. We also want to know what you want to do with the bike whether you are touring, racing, stunt riding, etc.

Second is to get you warmed up and look at your current set up and problems you are having with it. Even small things like sore shoulders hours after you ride. We are looking for all the things that contribute to your performance.

Third thing we do is get some basic measurements off of you. This includes inseam and shoulder width as well as foot varus and valgus (tilt). At this point we are also looking at your shoes and feet as well as how you walk and what your feet tend to do.

After that we make the first basic adjustments to the bike. Saddle height is based off the inseam measurement and set. With the seat height adjusted, we have the rider actually ride on the trainer, check saddle height and fore aft with a goniometer (measures body angles) and a laser. Then we look at the ride straight on with the laser and make adjustments to allow the knee to track as straight as possible. Once that is done, we go again to the saddle height and fore aft and readjust as needed.

The next steps involve rider flexibility. Post warm up we look at how flexible you are in the mid section primarily at your hips. This will determine how much drop and reach we can achieve from the saddle to the bars. The rest is in the details, fine tuning the shifter placement, looking at bar tape wrap options and so on.

These fits take roughly 1.5 – 3 hours and come with a 30 day comfort guarantee. We know that sometimes other little issues can come up post fit so within the first 30 days you can come back for a refit, and adjustments, including swapping out anything fit related that you bought during the bike fit.

That’s our overview of what we think a proper fit should be. I’m not saying that it’s the end all be all of bike fitting, but it’s a great place to start and more than enough for all but the most elite athletes. With that said we have worked on some of the fastest riders in the country, including Jr National Road Race Champion Evan Huffman, and Subaru Trek Pro mountain biker Sam Schultz.

If you haven’t been fitted at this level and would like to know how much more comfortable your bike can be, just call Foothill Cyclery at 805 541 4101 ask for Josh and schedule a fit appointment.

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