Cycling is the new golf and with the growth in the sport, bike fits have become an almost standard service provided by many bike retailers. But, not all bike fits are equal. They range from the basic static sizing to full dynamic analysis and all options in between.
For most riders, a bike fit will only give marginal gains but it’s potentially one of the biggest short term changes you can make to your performance and comfort. Most retailers offer a cursory static or even basic dynamic fit, but if you’re going to be spending significant time in the saddle, it’s worth taking it a step further.
Having a professional bike fit isn’t just about improving performance, although, for some riders, it’s obviously a priority. There are three key aspects to a good bike fit:
- Power production
- Comfort or sustainability
The key focus for you will depend on your specific goals. For example, if you’re mainly doing sportive style cycling, then your bike fit focus is likely to be on comfort and sustainability; for a short distance TT rider, power and aerodynamics will be more important.
So just what should a good bike fit look like? After all, we’re all different in our structure, flexibility and strength. Understanding your starting point is tricky if the only thing your bike fitter is looking at is your cycling position.
With a high quality bike fit, the pre-assessment is key and should involve:
- Stage 1: Pre-fitting Assessment
Your fitter will spend time getting to know you, your goals and what you want out of the session. This helps to establish the area of focus for your bike fit.
- Stage 2: Physical Assessment
This is probably one of the most important aspects of the session, where the fitter gains an understanding of your body’s structure, functional movement ranges and patterns, along with your core stability and strength. These quantify your limitations of power development, comfort and sustainability and will help the fitter to understand any misalignment you may have when cycling and how to resolve them.
Once the pre-assessment is completed, the focus will shift to:
- Stage 3: Dynamic Analysis & Fitting
This is what we usually think of as the bike fit and typically involves you getting on your bike and taking a 3D assessment from the front and side.
- Stage 4: Mobility & Strength Program
This stage is less common for all but the top fitting sessions. Most bike fits involve some compromise between comfort, speed and power. Sometimes, it’s helpful to prescribe a bespoke mobility or strength program to help an individual achieve a more aggressive, aerodynamic position without loss of sustainability or comfort.
- Stage 5: Follow-up Assessment
It’s hard to tell if your new position is going to be suitable during the bike fit session, so getting out on the road and testing is essential. Ensuring you have a follow-up with your bike fitter is useful to make any final tweaks to your position.
Top Tip for the Perfect Bike Fit #FTW
Knowing what a good bike fit should look like will ensure you get the most from your session and that you ask the right questions before choosing your bike fitter.