What Does a Great Bike Fit Include?
Updated: Jan 18, 2021
Have you been thinking about a bike fit but aren’t really sure if it’s worth it? A great bike fit takes time to do properly, and as result costs more than a hastily done job. Here’s some things to look for to see if your bike fit is being done thoroughly and is worth your time and money.
PRINCIPLES OF A GREAT BIKE FIT:
3. Performance Optimisation
5. Injury management
6. Science based
An individualised bike fit helps you achieve a position that is specific to you - your goals, needs and your body’s capabilities. Formulas can never do this as they make assumptions that may or may not hold true for your individual body (at best they are hit and miss).
A great bike fit is educational. It helps you understand what position will work for you, what won’t and why. If you are having problems your fitter should help you understand which issues are bike related, which are body-related, which involve component selection (eg shoe choice), and what you can do about each. You should come away knowing more about yourself and your bike.
Great bike fits optimise your performance in terms of comfort, power production, aerodynamics, bike handling and efficiency. ALL of these factors are important for how you feel and perform on your bike, and they are inter-related. There are dangers associated with focussing on one at the expense of others. For example some riders zero-in on aerodynamics not realising they have lost more power output from their position than they gained from any aero advantages. Defining performance goals is important as it can be very different for different people. For example performance might be viewed quite differently if your goal is to “bike-pack” 1000km across the country compared to racing a time trial, so positions and equipment selection will be very different as well.
A great bike fit prevents problems. Future problems arising from a poor or overly aggressive position your body cannot tolerate often arise a few weeks or months following an inappropriate fit, but can feel ok on the first ride or two. Some clients want a particularly competitive position, so a great bike fitter can advise you on when your position may need a “trial period” and how to modify it if you find that you desire for an aggressive position doesn’t quite match your body’s capabilities down the track.
Injuries and discomfort on the bike are common reasons to seek a bike fit. A great bike fitter can evaluate which problems are caused either by your position or your own body, and advise accordingly on how to address each factor. A Sports Physiotherapist is ideally placed in this regard as they can combine detailed knowledge of performance and injury into the one service.
Lastly it's important that your bike fit is based on facts (ie science), not myths and opinions. Check to see if your fitter has any scientific qualifications or training behind them, as science is what makes it possible to explain all of the choices made about your position in a logical manner. Myths simply don't work reliably on a day to day basis.
Want to understand more about your body, bike fitting for performance and injury management? Start with this article by David Wadsworth: