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Bikefitting - cycling

Getting a bike fit from a professional can help with ongoing issues especially when your mileage ramps up. Understanding which bike fit may be best and where to go can sometimes prove daunting. Over the years I've had many bike fits and here I offer some advice and have written a book on cycling including bike fitting advice.

 There are a number of different types of bike fits you can get, from the basic right up to a studio fitting with cameras recording 3D movement of you on the bike. As you spend more hours on the bike, small differences in a bike set up and result in injuries or discomfort on the bike. A skilled bike fitter can make a huge difference to your comfort on a bike. There is, of course, a caveat to this, you may also need to get imbalances in your body sorted to out too to reach your comfort nirvana.

Basic bike fit

Often a bike shop will offer a basic bike fit, their goal is to understand whether the bike will fit you or not. They may offer to fit your cleats and help you with the right saddle height. If you are starting in cycling, this is a great place to start, you'll want to ensure the bike is the right size. A bike that is too big will cause back and neck pain and handling can be compromised. It is easier to adjust a bike that is too small but there are limits to how much it can be adjusted.

Old school bike fit

The old school bike fit uses devices to measure joint angles when your legs are in a stationary position and often the eye of the bike fitter to look for symmetry in your pedalling style. While this may sound like a less effective system than the modern electronic system, you may find this is used by fitters who have years of experience and have come to know the right fit by just looking at you. If going this route, choosing a fitter with years of experience would be the way to go. 

Electronic bike fit

There are a number of electronic systems on the market used by fitters, markers are place at key points on the body and as you pedal these can be translated into a computer model. These are useful for looking at small variances in your pedalling and can pick up movement not seen with the naked eye. Whilst this allows a less skilled fitter to get you an "in-range" fit, where they fit you into a range that has proven to suit most riders, a more experience fitter will be able to hone your position more acutely within this range and may get you closest to your most comfortable or powerful position. This system will often only record you from the side.

Camera assisted 3D fit

A fully rigged studio with cameras give the fitter a 3D view of you on the bike. Again markers will be fitted to key points on your body, as you pedal these are transferred into a computer model. These systems often allow the computer module the ability to identify things like hip rotation, which could cause saddle friction for instance. This is the most comprehensive analysis you can get in a bike fit and may answer questions to your injuries that you may not have found before. These systems are often used by very experienced fitters, but it's always worth checking.

Saddle pressure measurements

Some fit studios will use a pressure monitor to see where your pressure is distributed on the saddle. If you are struggling in this area, I'd recommend looking at this and finding out if they offer test saddles for you to try or if they can do this during the fit.

Foot pressure measurements

Some fit studios will use a pressure monitor in our shoes, this can pick up where the pressure distribution is placed on your feet, whether your foot is pivoting on the pedal. Again this can help identify biomechanics or bit fit issues not normally picked up in a standard fit. Problems such as hot foot can be cause by pivoting on the pedals.

My bike fits of choice

Over the years I have had a number of bike fits using different systems. When I started cycling I was happy with a more basic bike fit, however as my experience built and the distances I cycled grew bigger and bigger, I found my needs moved to working with bike fitters who more experienced and were big bike riders themselves.

My old school choice is Ronan at Form Bikefit, his decade plus experience as a bike fitter and a very keen eye for detail means he can tweak my setup by millimeters when I feel I am not quite in the right spot. His is spot on every time, this is key for me especially when I am doing 300km plus a day in the saddle. He is close to me and when things like a new pair of cleats are needed and they're just not in the right spot, I can call in and get tweaked.

My tech fit of choice is with Magnus at Backstedt Bikefit, this high end studio with full camera set up, gives me an insight into my biomechanics and where my weaknesses lie. As an ex-pro Magnus comes with so much experience and bit fitting knowledge, I can discuss my ideas on rehab knowing he'll guide me in the right direction. Magnus is in Wales, but it's worth the visit when I feel my biomechanics are questionable and I can't find the right solution to my problem.

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