It’s probably been a few years since your last bike fit, if you’ve had one at all. But if you look back, just how much as your body changed?! It’s easy to fall in the trap of assuming one bike fit ever is enough, but that’s not the case. Moving forward means making sure that the past isn’t holding you back.
Bike fitting is a careful process that should be regularly considered. It’s fluid, it changes through the year and reflects the way in which your body adapts both to the bike and to the training. Making sure your body is working in harmony with the bike to get the best out of your body is imperative.
We change small things on our bike as and when we can to keep it well serviced and moving properly. Well our bodies are quite the same and to keep them moving as they should, the bike needs to help.
This is backed up when we look closely at the bike fits of a lot of our customers. There isn’t a definite fit for a bike, but there’s certainly an optimum window. There’s a whole variety of things that need to be considered outside of the data, and our bike-fitter shad has years of experience looking at bike positions. Too often we see people coming for a fit because it’s too late, they’re injured, losing speed or uncomfortable. Among a plethora of other reasons. You might fall under one of the categories below, and if you do, it’s time to book in!
You’ve had time away from cycling.
Time away can be great, clear head space, time for work and the family, plenty of other jobs ticked off. Time off the bike can offer the clarity you need. But when our muscles become unaccustomed to cycling, it can lead to changes in the legs.
Whether it’s a lack of flexibility, a decrease in fitness, or you’re now just getting more saddle sore. All of these factors could be having an impact of the way you’re transferring power to pedals or handling the bike. Making sure that the fit is appropriate is imperative before you begin to build the strength back into your legs.
Making sure that your back is in an appropriate position, your glutes are firing and your hamstrings aren’t overstretching can prevent any injuries before you pick them up. Keep your knees moving straight and your handling on point.
You want to go faster.
A bike fit can often lead to better performance. Whether it’s better aerodynamics or a greater power output, there’s gains to be had for everyone. It’s not as simple as putting the saddle up and the bars down, as this can often cause a lot of issues. Sustainability is important in cycling as we build up our fitness.
An aggressive position may be faster for a short period of time, but if you’re riding an all day event your back could hold you back before you make the end. Comfort and sustainability need to be weighed up to find the perfect balance of going quick and holding the pace.
The fit should work back from your end goal. If your goal is an ironman, you’ll need a much comfier set up than a flat out frack sprinter. But similarly a sprinters road bike will reflect comfort as they’ll use it for recovery out on the roads. Making sure that you pick the right position early is important so your body gets used to it.
You’ve had a child.
Obviously this one is for the women, though one of the more important times for a bike fit. During child birth your body undergoes a huge amount of changes and can take a while to return to it’s normal state. Giving birth is quite traumatic for the female body. Though quite a sensitive matter, giving birth changes you in a place that’s very important when you’re cycling.
If the way you sit on the saddle as changed, then the saddle needs to accommodate that to offer maximum comfort. Working out a solution slowly and revisiting the bike fit over time is very important to keep a fluid, working solution for your body.
Comfort needs to take priority as you return to cycling, and as the fitness and flexibility returns, then the rest will follow. We’ve seen some of the sports best return to high level cycling after child birth, but they were in no rush.
Your weight or flexibility have changed.
Both of these things are very important in cycling, if your reach has been restricted or improved, you’ll need to change your fit. You need to make sure that your hips are in the right position and all the muscles in your legs are functioning as they should.
If your knees are tracking in the wrong way, or your ankles end up doing strange things, then you need to have a look at this. Alternatively if you’ve lost weight then you might be able to get more out of your ride by just addressing the fit and bringing back the full range of motion.
There are a lot of factors a bike fit can change to offer you this. Saddle height or position, saddle angle, crank length, pedal float, handlebar position. All these things work together to provide a suitable solution, and an expert bike fitter will be able to advise which are best to play with.
You’ve had an injury or crash.
If you’ve been off the bike for an injury or a crash, it’s no surprise that your body has changed. During your rehab phase the bike will need to help you along in the recovery and reflect what you’re trying to achieve. A knock can often change your hip alignment or back muscles.
A careful routine of stretching and rehab should compliment the bike fit to help you along your way. Both should be looked at regularly to make sure you’re on track to fitness. Some bad crashes and broken bones can permanently alter your bike position, or injuries you had in your younger days can change the way you ride.
If your hips aren’t properly aligned we often see this come out through the knees. Knee pain in cyclist isn’t uncommon and can come from a variety of factors. Accommodating for the lack of range should be taken into consideration when providing the right fit.
You’re older than when you had your last bike fit.
If you’ve seen a few birthdays recently, then your body might not be up to what it used to be. Holding the aggressive position from a few years ago may need to be addressed. Unfortunately this will get round to all of us at some point.
Cycling is much easier for the body to handle into your older age. Sports such as running, hockey, rugby, all turn to cycling when their days are done. There’s no high impact so lots of people make the move.
But, being old doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to adopt a comfortable or slow bike position. If you work on flexibility and core strength then your body can adapt to hold the more aggressive position. Practice makes perfect after all! And as you get to retirement or semi retirement age you can get to spend more time on these aspects to make sure you’re functioning to top performance!
Paying the price for a good quality helmet might save your life, but paying the price for a good quality bike fit will save your body. If you’re a neighbour of CycleStore we’d recommend dropping by to see if our bike fit will suit you.