When it comes to cycling, finding the right bike and equipment is crucial. However, one aspect that is often overlooked or underestimated is the importance of a proper bike fit. A bike fit is not just for professional cyclists; it is an essential step for riders of all levels. In this article, we will delve into the reasons why a bike fit is vital, what it typically involves, how often you should get a fit, the tools and software used, and who can benefit from a bike fit.
Why is it Important to Get a Bike Fit?
A bike fit is more than just ensuring a comfortable ride. It aims to optimise your performance, prevent injuries, and enhance efficiency on the bike. Here are a few key reasons why a bike fit is important:
Comfort: A well-fitted bike will reduce discomfort, pain, and fatigue, allowing you to enjoy longer and more enjoyable rides.
Injury Prevention: Proper bike fit can alleviate stress on joints, tendons, and muscles, reducing the risk of overuse injuries such as knee pain, lower back pain, and numbness in the hands.
Performance Enhancement: A bike fit can optimise your cycling position, maximising power transfer, aerodynamics, and efficiency. It enables you to generate more power and speed while expending less energy.
Correcting Imbalances: A bike fit can address any asymmetries or imbalances in your body mechanics, helping you ride in a more balanced and biomechanically efficient manner.
What's Involved in a Bike Fit?
A comprehensive bike fit involves several key components, including:
Pre-fit Assessment: The fitter will discuss your cycling goals, assess your flexibility, strength, and any past injuries. They may also inquire about your riding style and preferences.
Static Measurements: This involves taking anatomical measurements and analysing body proportions to determine the ideal bike size and frame geometry suitable for your physique.
Dynamic Analysis: The fitter will observe your riding position while pedalling to assess factors such as knee alignment, hip stability, foot position, and upper body posture. Adjustments to saddle height, fore-aft position, handlebar reach, and angle may be made during this stage.
Cleat Alignment: Aligning the cleats on your cycling shoes properly is crucial for optimal power transfer and knee alignment. The fitter will analyse your pedal stroke and make adjustments as necessary.
Follow-Up: After the initial fit, it's common to have a follow-up session to fine-tune the adjustments based on your feedback and any changes in your riding style or fitness level.
How Often Should You Get a Bike Fit?
The frequency of getting a bike fit depends on various factors, including your experience, fitness level, and any changes in your body or cycling goals. As a general guideline:
New Riders: If you're new to cycling, it's advisable to get a bike fit early on to ensure a comfortable and efficient riding position. As you gain experience and confidence, you may want to revisit the fit to accommodate any changes in your fitness or technique.
Experienced Riders: For experienced cyclists, it's recommended to get a bike fit every couple of years or whenever you make significant changes to your equipment, such as a new bike or cycling shoes. Additionally, if you experience discomfort or changes in your body mechanics, it's a good idea to schedule a fit session.
Do you need a state-of-the-art fit?
There are many different tools and software that have been developed to help aid bicycle fitment such as the Retül System, motion capture systems and pressure mapping systems. While they may be helpful to get consistent results from a range of different fitters at various locations, they are not essential for a good fit. The most important aspect of the fit is the fitter and their knowledge. It is always a good idea to ask lots of questions of the fitter before the session to decide if they will provide a good service/fit for you.