Bike Fit Analysis – Fixing the Ideal Ride Position

Posted on March 7th, 2010 by Tim Bell in Getting Started, The Road to Tourmalet

Knowing that knee problems could put paid to my Etape dreams, I made every behavioural change I could think of; resting properly, stretching fully, supplementary excercises to support the patella… Now it was time to look at the mechanical side and ensure the bike setup was optimal. You wouldn’t wear an off-the-peg tux to the Oscars, so come race day my bike would be bespoke. I casually mentioned to an interested friend that I had been for some “analysis” to help prevent knee problems, and he jokingly wondered whether I was Lottery funded.

That would be a prerequisite for some of the options I browsed which, while not quite rigging up wind tunnels, were not that far off. I needed something sufficiently affordable that I could walk away with the new bike parts I would inevitably be upsold, and still be able to buy dinner. As I alluded to in my post on The Joys, and Dangers, of Turbo Training, I’d fallen under the spell of Specialized’s Body Geometry bikefit voodoo so sought out a London-based outfit who could oblige. Most places who are selling you a custom bike will do the whole analysis / fit service for a nominal fee around £35, but not buying a bike pushes the cost up to anywhere from £70 to over £400, depending on where you go and what they do. Sometimes the recommendations coming out of a session will be frustratingly prosaic; lower the saddle, bring it forward, change the cleat position. Not exactly N.A.S.A., but cyclists may labour for years in a position which is actively injuring them. My brother complained of neck problems for years, which seemingly disappeared after a simple saddle adjustment.

Sigma Sport Bike Fitting

Bike Fitting

In my case the process involved some basic body measurements, flexibility testing then more detailed on-the-bike measurements. Finally some  observation of my ride action revealed a bit of a waggly left knee. The right leg goes up and down like a piston, but the left doesn’t really know what it’s doing. Overall I am fairly symmetrical, which was a surprise given my feet are about half a size different, but there was definitely some play around the knee which was making a pestle and mortar out of it. I think the basic changes that we made were: saddle moved forward (height was OK), cleats moved forward and in, shim placed in the left shoe, new insoles placed in both shoes. Then I was talked into a new saddle which would keep my backside more stable; the whole thing comes down to the most efficient power transfer from your arse to the tarmac, apparently. Next came a new stem and pair of handlebars, which I must admit feel more comfortable. We lowered the stem and I learned the goal is to get the handlebars right down as far as possible – which requires good flexibility – so there is minimal power loss from your arms to the frame, and so your profile to the headwind is as small as can be.

I used Sigma Sport near Hampton Wick and overall I was happy with the service so would gladly recommend them to others. I did have some further knee pain a couple of weeks after the session, but would put this down mainly to overdoing the training again and not scheduling enough recovery periods. After a good break away on business and then doing some snowboarding, I got back into training, taking it easier this time, and so far so good.

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6 Comments on “Bike Fit Analysis – Fixing the Ideal Ride Position”

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    No matter what others say, I think it is still interesting and useful maybe necessary to improve some minor things

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