Bike Fit: Part I

Participate in any Facebook bike groups or post a problem in an on-line bike forum and there is a good chance that one of the many self-proclaimed cycling experts will recommend a professional bike fit as a solution to all your problems. Sometimes they are even correct in giving you this free, highly qualified, totally unsolicited, expert advice.  Numb hands or toes, knee pain, lower back pain, shoulder discomfort or other aches and pains after riding your bike? You probably are suffering due to an improper bike fit. Come with me as I prepare for my fifth bike fitting and you may decide it is time for you to get one as well.

You may think you were fitted when you bought your bike but in most shops, you are sized so the shop can sell you the proper sized bike. Did they have you jump on a few different bikes and give them a test ride? Tell you the best way to know what size bike you should be riding was to sit in the saddle? That reach and stand-over height are the most important elements in deciding which size bike is the best fit for you? After purchasing the bike, did they ensure that your seat height was close to the right height and other basic elements were adjusted properly? You were sized.

I will be 68 next month and my body is not the same as it was when I first started riding seriously some 30 years ago. Still, it should not hurt to cycle and right now I am hurting. My saddle has started to rub on my right sit bone, my neck feels stiff after riding and I am unexpectedly suffering some hand numbness. My Litespeed L3 frame cannot be changed but luckily every touch point on the bike can be adjusted, altered or moved to fit me better. My expectations from the fitting are:

  • Enhanced overall comfort
  • Injury prevention
  • Reducing or eliminating pain and numbness
  • Reducing or eliminating discomfort associated with riding
  • Reducing fatigue by enhancing efficiency, and
  • Improving my overall performance on the bike

Of course, before any fitting, there is the task of finding a fitter. I had a limited number of options for the simple reason that Honolulu and the island of Oahu are small. Still, I had some choices, and all had a number of positives. I decided to go to with Velohana. Founded by former pro and international coach Will Mather in 2017, Velohana was originally founded as a comprehensive, cycling and triathlon specific training program.  One of the primary reasons for selecting him was his background and experience, his responsiveness and his understanding that the fitting would be comprehensive. I expect to spend up to 3 hours with him on the initial fitting and then to have a follow up visit after cycling in my new position for a few weeks.

My fitting is today, April 19th, and I will give you a full report next week. In going to my appointment, I will dress just as I would for a ride and be prepared to work up a sweat. Will needs to see me in my current normal position on the bike so he will know what changes might be required. This requires more than a quick glance which is why a good fitting requires time.

Depending on what issues he finds, adjustments that might be made to my Litespeed during the fitting include:

  • Saddle height
  • Saddle fore/aft position
  • Saddle tilt
  • A new saddle
  • Stem length
  • Stem height
  • Handlebar width
  • Grip/ grip tape diameter
  • Brake lever adjustments
  • Crank length, and
  • Shoe, insole and cleat adjustments

Come back next week for a full report. In the meantime, think about your own riding position and comfort. Maybe it is time for you to consider a fitting.

One thought on “Bike Fit: Part I

  1. Will be looking forward to your thoughts and what changes were made. I’ve never had a bike fit, just made incremental changes until it felt “right” I guess. I’m not in any pain, but I always think maybe I could be more comfortable or more efficient on the bike.

    Like

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