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Bike Fitting Myths

Physio&SoleClinic Physiotherapy May 19 2016

Bike Fitting Myth - The Sole Clinic

Myth #1: “I only need a bike fit if my position is uncomfortable or if I have just purchased a new bike.”

Fact #1: Bike fitting is an ongoing process. Your body is always changing in fitness, flexibility, weight and strength. In general, it is recommended to get a fit at least once a year. A bike fit is also necessary if you have just purchased a new bike or recovered from a recent injury/surgery. This will ensure you optimise your cycling performance.

Myth #2“It doesn’t work. I have already received a fit before and it didn’t help.”

Fact #2: It’s important to understand that the term “bike fit” is used in many different contexts. There are several philosophies of fit and many levels of fitting expertise. Some bike shops may advertise a “bike fit” but only offer minor adjustments, or the person performing the fit was never professionally trained. Another thing to note is that an excellent mechanic may not be an excellent bike fitter. A good bike fitter should possess good biomechanics knowledge, a good understanding of human anatomy and also the bike handling techniques involved with different terrains.

A more in-depth fit involves:

  • An interview to find out about your medical history;
  • Flexibility testing;
  • Range of motion;
  • Spinning on the bike to analyse your biomechanics and make adjustments to the bike and your position accordingly.

Myth #3“My hands/feet keep going numb. Maybe it’s my gloves or I’m just getting old.”

Fact #3: Your hands/feet are full of nerves and unfortunately, cycling puts a lot of pressure on these nerves. While such symptoms can be caused by the lack of appropriate gear (in this case, padded gloves), they can also be caused by poor bike fitting. Proper bike fitting should reduce the amount of pressure on your arms by distributing your upper body load to your seat. This is achieved by adjusting the distance and height of your handlebars, taking into account your upper body length. Good bike fitters may also pick a new handlebar to improve your fit as the shapes and sizes of handlebars would affect the amount of pressure on your hands.

Myth #4“I need to buy a bike before getting a bike fit.“

Fact #4: You can choose to do it in this order. In fact, many cyclists do it this way. However, we recommend getting a fit first and take your measurements to find your perfect new bike. There are many different geometries between brands, and even models within a brand. Depending on your riding style, flexibility, goals, and fit measurements, good bike fitters can help narrow down the options that will work best for you and your budget.

Myth #5“If I lower my stem and get as low as possible, it will make me more aerodynamic.”

Fact #5: The fact is if a cyclist forces him/herself to hunch lower into an “aero” position without taking into considerations the structural limitations or flexibility of the body, his/her performance can be negatively affected. There is a scientific formula to work out the optimal hip angle before you lose power on the bike. If going lower towards the stem comes at the expense of the power your legs can exert onto your pedals, there is no point in adopting the ‘aero’ position.

Raymond Teo

Exercise Physiologist & ErgoFit Bike Fitter

The contributor of this article is an Exercise Physiologist who is currently pursuing his PhD, with his research on bike fitting. Raymond has spent years working with the South African Cycling Team. Call us now @ 96450737 if you are interested to get a bike fit done!

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