Bike fits can seem like an unnecessary expenditure when it comes to cycling if you’re not familiar with it. Cycling is an expensive sport! However, a bike fit should be as important to you as purchasing your cycling shoes. Cycling is a highly repetitive motion with a lot of variables. Without a bike fit, you are prone to repetitive use injury, discomfort, and less efficient position. Imagine trying to drive you car with the seat all the way back and that’s just a very basic example!
The challenge with getting a bike fit is knowing if your fitter is reputable. A good bike fit runs anywhere from $300-$500, but it’s dollars well spent if you have a good fitter. I am prone to knee pain and tendonitis. It can be very frustrating and debilitating. If you have pain, you can’t ride. A bike fit prevents these injuries. If you get injured due to a bad bike fit (or no bike fit), see a massage therapist and chiropractor(one that doesn’t just crack your back) and get a bike fit ASAP. I have put off getting fits or gotten new shoes slapped cleats on without a fitter. I seem to pay for it every time!
I have had some great fits! In Colorado, my fitter was Adam de la Pena atWheatridge Cyclery.When I moved to Kelowna, BC I had to find a new fitter. I was delighted to meet Luke Way fromBalance Point. Balance Point is a company that offers coaching, physiology testing, camps, spin classes, bike fits…you name it! They are fantastic and stay ahead of the curve in all avenues. I was impressed with no only my bike fit, but with my physiological assessments and some of their coaching recommendations.
What should you look for when getting a bike fit? These have been hallmarks in my experience with getting bike fits.
AccredationI like the Specialized BG Fit. You should also look for someone who is certified under the Serotta Cycling Institute. Both of these fits require training for the fitter. There are other methods as well (I have tried also Wobblenaught and Retul), but forms of the BG fit have been my favorite. Luke at Balance Point does a mix of the BG and some of his own methods which is normal with an experienced fitter. He is BG Fit master certified, sici master certified(which was the original school of bike fitting), and has bee doing fits for 10 years.
Flexibility TestThis is standard with a lot of the higher end fits. The importance of exploring flexibility and range of motion extends to how you will fit in your bike in space. Bike fits use computer programs measuring angles for optimal pedal stroke and reach. However, when you flexibility is compromised, it changes your bike fit. An example would be if you have very tight hamstrings, the seat would be lower than the program recommends. Luke was very attentive and spent a large amount of time assessing all of my joints and muscles.
Tweaks for Riding StyleLuke tweaks my bike fit for different types of riding. Some of my races are basically rough dirt road races; pretty standard for stage races when you leave North America. However, for races with singletrack, the fit is slightly different.
Suspension DialingAgain, this depends on riding style and riding terrain. A good fitter will want to make sure you suspension is set up properly. It drastically effects your ride. Your set up will be different if you are wearing a pack when you ride.
Cleat PlacementThis is one of the most important things for me when it comes to a bike fit. It makes a difference with power transfer and the angle of your knee.
Options for Follow-UpSo you just dropped all this cash on a bike fit. Your body changes a little bit, you get new cleats, or maybe you just need to tweak your fit a bit as the year progresses. I think it’s important to work with someone who lets you follow-up with questions as part of your initial fee.
Psychology AssessmentThis was a new one for me with the latest fit with Luke. While it doesn’t do much for the actual bike fit, I found it helpful to talk out loud with someone about my goals. He asked me a lot of sports psychology related questions. Since I am not currently working with a coach, it was nice to just talk and also self-analyze my mental strengths and weaknesses.