With bike fits often being a debatable subject, we bust 5 myths about bike fitting and demystify the process so you can get the most out of your next bike fit.
Myth #1: “It’s time to get a proper bike fit because I’m experiencing discomfort while cycling.”
Prevention > Solution
Many cyclists are unaware of the benefits and importance of a proper bike fitting process. Majority of cyclists will only seek to undergo a proper bike fitting process when they start to experience discomfort or pain.
In order to understand the benefits and importance of a proper bike fit, cyclists need to adopt a different mindset and view bike fit with fresh eyes.
Cyclists should undergo a bike fit process to improve their cycling efficiency, correct their cycling posture. Which ultimately prevents any form of unnecessary cycling related aches or injuries.
Seeking a bike fit only when experiencing pain or discomfort can be a little bit too late.
Treat a bike fit session as a form of investment, a prevention rather than a solution.
Myth #2: “You would need a bike in order to undergo a bike fitting process”
This is a common misconception of a bike fit process. In fact, for individuals who are new to cycling but would like to take their cycling endeavours more seriously, it is recommended to get a proper bike fit before purchasing a new bike.
Bikes are available in different geometries for different cycling goals. Therefore, in order to select the bike of the right size to suit your cycling needs, individuals are recommended to undergo a bike fitting session.
In a typical bike fit lab, bicycle fit jigs are available for individuals who don’t have a bike. Or to accommodate the limitations of a current bike setup.
Post fit, cyclists can expect to receive a report detailing what equipment to purchase if necessary and he or she can bring this report to any bike shop in Singapore and they will be able to build the bike according to the report.
Myth #3: “I need to slam my stem to get faster”
True to a certain extent.
Running very low stems have been a growing trend amongst professional riders these days. But does it always yield heightened performance for normal riders? Or merely put them at heightened risk of injury in pursuit of fashion?
The most obvious performance benefit from slamming your stem is that a lower front end is more aerodynamic.
However, this aerodynamic benefit only manifests itself if the rider is strong enough to maintain a low position. This would require good flexibility and core strength.
If you have terrible flexibility, then you might be better served maintaining a lower position on the bars just by bending your arms a touch more or using the drops rather than putting the stem lower.
Slamming the stem when you are have limiting flexibility in the lower back and hip flexors will only predispose you more injuries and possibly even reduce power output.
During a bike fit session, bike fitters will be aware of individual cycling goals, physical attributes, such as back flexibility and core strength etc.
The key is finding a position that doesn’t compromise power output. A sweet spot that optimises the combination of aero drag and power output to achieve the fastest overall position.
And for many athletes that position is not necessarily a slamming position.
Myth #4: “I can change equipment without having to change my fit.”
This is one of the most common mistakes that cyclists will make after their bike fit session. Usually, after undergoing a proper bike fit session, the cyclist will receive a bike fit report.
The report will include bike geometries/setup measurements. A result of various physical assessments and recommendations on exercises and purchase of bike components.
It is recommended to undergo a bike fit consultation/review if an individual makes any changes in terms of bike components after the fit unless the change of components is exactly the same in terms of dimensions as the recommendations detailed in the report.
Even with the same dimensions, correct measurements setup (installation angle or tilt) is imperative.
Many cyclists are not aware that just by making slight changes or adjustments on their own on a single bike component after their bike fit would potentially affect their whole bike fit.
Reason being, during a typical bike fitting session, numerous measurements and values provide the individual a comfortable and efficient position on their bike.
These anthropometric values and bike measurements contribute to the overall fit, therefore, making slight adjustments on a single component without knowing what relevant changes to make on the remaining components would cause a butterfly effect which would affect an individual’s overall position/experience during cycling.
Examples of these measurements/ anthropometric values include but not limited to, saddle height & saddle tilt (bike measurements), knee extension angle & back angle (anthropometric values).
A sample bike fit report sample (top) from Retul Bicycle Fit Technology, with detailed setup measurements. Whereas, an overview of various but not limited to bike components on a road bike setup that is changeable (below)
Myth #5: “If I get a bike fit once, that fit is my proper fit for life.”
Not entirely true.
Unlike a bike setup which can practically remain unchanged over the years, the human body is constantly undergoing changes.
Here are some main reasons why you would need a 2nd bike fit session:
- Minor changes in an individual’s physical attributes
Over a period of time, there would be slight changes in terms of height, weight, muscle strength, muscle flexibility and etc, depending on lifestyle changes.
- Major changes in an individual’s physical attributes in some extreme cases
Drastic changes in physical attributes could be observed due to an accident or a long period of inactivity which results in drastic muscle atrophy and etc.
- Maturation (Puberty period)
This is very common for young athletes who are in their teenage years. An individual’s physical attributes change at a very fast rate. It is important to reassess them on the bike at more frequent intervals.
- Changes in cycling goals
The position for a 20km race is not going to be the same position for a 200km event. Be it more comfortable or more aerodynamic, you will need to tailor it to be sustainable for the event.
- Changes in terms of cycling components
As mentioned in the above point, when there are changes in the bike components, especially those involving the human and bicycle contact points (saddle/handlebar/pedals), chances are the human body might interact with these components differently and will not be able to maintain biomechanical equivalence of the optimised position on the bike.
This is especially true if you change the saddle. Therefore, making slight changes on your own can sometimes affect the overall fit without you even knowing it.
Visit Loue Bicycles to find out more about bike fitting in Singapore.
Author: Edzel See (Loue Bicycles)
GebioMized Bike-fitter and Sports Scientist
Edzel is a certified GebioMized bike-fitter and an avid cyclist who participated in various cycling events organised regionally. He will be completing his Sports Science and Management (SSM) programme with Nanyang Technological University by 2018. He majors in growth and motor development, motor control & learning and motor movement analysis. With his background in motor related functions and development. He strongly believe that there isn’t just one optimized movement pattern for all cyclists but rather each and every cyclists would have their own individualised movement pattern which is optimal for them.