Too many people find cycling uncomfortable. The saddle is uncomfortable, the rider’s hands, their lower back…the list goes on. While these are common complaints there is a simple solution: get a bike fit! Everyone deserves to be comfortable and feel strong on the bike and we want to help you do just that.
Last year, before COVID-19 put a damper on the spring and summer (and fall and winter), Julie Horton, our Purveyor of Cycling Vacations decided that after many years and miles of cycling that she should get her bike(s) professionally fit. Little did she know that instead of joining the ExperiencePlus! Rhine to Adriatic Expedition trip she would be cycling around home (Fort Collins, CO) trying to remain sane and still interact with friends while adhering to socially distance protocols. We checked in with her and Zack, from Bike Sports in Fit Studio to learn more about why a good bike fit matters.
Julie, why did you decide to get your bike professionally fit after all these years and had you had one done before?
Sadly, the answer has to be my age. At a certain point in life your body becomes less willing to accept abuse. My knee and shoulder whispered their complaints to me for decades, but recently they’ve taken a more dramatic and pain giving approach that was impossible to ignore. I have never had a fit and always just “eyed” my saddle height but come to find the height was exactly the same within a millimeter on all of my bikes. A testimony to the fact that our bodies crave sameness no matter that it isn’t necessarily right for us!
Zack – why should someone who mostly just rides for recreational purposes get a professional bike fit?
Because cycling should be comfortable! A good bike fit is all encompassing and considers how your body works as a system. For example, changing your bike saddle fore and aft position has a profound effect on your hip angle, your knee angle, and everything down the line.
Your fitter should have expertise in the parts and mechanics of any style of bike. Whether you are a bike commuter, a recreational rider, or a seasoned professional, a professional bike fit will improve your cycling experience. Remember that as your body and bikes change you may need to revisit your fit throughout your cycling career.
We recommend that your fitter have the knowledge and expertise to consider every piece of the puzzle from past injuries, pedaling structure, knee angles, saddle positions, and front end adjustments. There are Dynamic video tools that zero in on possible causes of discomfort in your pedal stroke and in all parts of your bike fit. Everyone deserves to be comfortable on their bike and everyone deserves a good bike fit.
Julie, what was the most surprising change or take away from your bike fitting experience and has it made a difference?
The most dramatic changes were to my cleat position and my reach – particularly on my road bike. Come to find out I was too stretched out. Initially it was hard to accept the new position. I felt jammed into the cockpit, afraid my knees might hit the handlebars as I pedaled, but after just a few rides I settled in nicely.
Yes, the fit helps. Having your body in the correct position increases comfort and efficiency. It wasn’t a miracle however – ends up I still had to work with a physical therapist to correct the imbalances I’d been solidifying over the past 30 years. Without both the fit and the PT neither would have worked! It’s also a conundrum– does the fit have to accommodate our “dysfunction”, or can our body adjust to what “should” be the perfect position. It takes an experienced fitter to find that happy medium.
As you think about dusting off your road bike or mountain bike for the spring, it’s the perfect time to think about getting a professional bike fit. The good news is that most of the tools fitters use are compatible with social distancing. If you are a Colorado local, you can find Zack at the Bike Sports Fit Studio.