Why Get a Bike Fit ?
A proper fit is at least as important as the frame material and components in determining your performance on the bike. And, it is considerably more important in to your comfort on the bike. If you are riding 4 hours a week with a cadence of 80, you are turning the cranks more than 1 million times in a year! A poor fit is setting you up for a repetitive stress injury. Everyone can benefit from a proper fit, it is considerably more important for road cyclists. Road riders, especially time trialists and triathletes, maintain the same position for far longer than mountain bikers who move around more on their bikes to deal with the varied terrain off-road.
Speaking of different types of riders, there is no one fit that is perfect for everyone. A 20 year old professional track sprinter will have a very different optimum position than a somewhat inflexible 50 year old looking to survive her first charity ride.
There is a difference between the general bicycle sizing and the precise adjustments involved in a bike fitting. Ultimately your relationship with your bicycle is centered around 5 points of contact – your two hands on the handlebars, butt on the saddle, and two feet on the pedals.
A sizing gets you on the right size frame to put these points of contact in the general ball park. But…, each of these can be adjusted to fine tune the fit. Wider (or narrower) bars with different length (and rise) stems can make a significant change. Saddles can move forward and back to give the best possible position over the cranks and help with weight distribution between hands, seat , and feet. For that matter quite different saddle shapes and sizes can work best for each individual. You will likely need to try several to find one that’s just right for you. North Shore Road Bike has a setup that allows quick saddle swaps to make this an easy process
Current pedal designs provide more tolerance for a bad adjustment, but there are still improvements which can be made with proper set up. This includes cleat placement fore & aft on the shoe, side to side adjustment, rotation, and canting. Ideally your cleats should be positioned under, or slightly behind, the ball of your foot. Side to side and canting adjustments should align your second toe under a straight tracking knee. Cleats should be rotated so that they are set in the middle of the range of motion provided by your pedals. That million revolutions we talked about earlier can do some real damage to your knees if they are not moving correctly.
While there are formulas and computer programs to provide a reasonably accurate bike size, bike fitting is an iterative process between a skilled bike fitter and the rider. The fitter will assess the rider and make changes based on his training and experience. The rider will provide feedback on the results achieved. This can lead to further changes, and more results. You can expect a proper fitting to take a couple of hours. They will likely be the most beneficial 2 hours you ever spend on the bike.