What Is Bike Fitting?
Relationship counseling for humans who ride bicycles. A bike fitter assesses the interaction between you and your bicycle, and adjusts your bicycle to best suit your physical condition and riding intentions.
When Should I Consider a Bike Fit?
Persistent and recurring discomfort or pain should not be a part of your everyday riding experience. If it is, your body is probably asking for a bike fit.
If you enjoy riding but cannot ride as far or for as long you would like without a distracting protest from some part of your anatomy, a bike fit can often make a significant and positive change to your riding experience. A cyclist may experience discomfort in one or more of the following areas:
- hands / wrists
- shoulders / upper back
- lower back
- crotch / butt
There are many possible reasons for these symptoms, including:
- a correctly sized bike frame that is incorrectly set up for you with regard to seat and handlebar position
- attempting to launch from the couch to a century ride in too short of a time frame
- unsuitable components for your body, most commonly the saddle but could be cranks or handlebars
- general physical conditioning, core strength, mobility, or lack thereof
- a history of accident / trauma / surgery reducing your comfortable and effective range of motion
- a bike frame that is fundamentally too large or too small for your proportions
A Complete Fit take a diagnostic approach to gather evidence of cause and effect relationships to help identify and resolves issues. In some situations you may be recommended to see a physical therapist or other body work professional for additional support.
A bike fit that is adequate for one goal may not be optimal for another, especially if the intensity and duration increase. Maybe you are going from 30 mile rides to doing your first century, or from Gran Fondos or casual mountain bike rides to competitive racing, or from a sprint distance triathlon to your first full Ironman.
A significant change in the sort of riding you are doing which asks your body to go further, faster or harder is going to create additional stress.
Bike Fit issues that are snoozing on a casual ride may suddenly spring awake and inhibit your ambitions, and what works for one level of duration and intensity may not support you for riding longer or harder.
This is often a symptom that your body is working too hard just to hold you in place on your bike. You may not experience any acute symptoms of pain, but may just tire out sooner than expected or desired, given your level of physical conditioning. If your riding position is not optimal, energy is expended simply supporting and stabilizing you on your bike. This compensation takes its toll on the duration you can sustain or the effort you can expend. Likewise, poor pedaling mechanics (technique) can detract from your overall forward motion. You are expending energy and literally spinning the wheels without going as far or as fast as is reasonably achievable. A bike fit can increase your cycling efficiency.