Chase the Sun is an epic challenge, riding throughout the year’s longest day. You and your bike are going to spend a lot of time together, including many training miles before mid-summers day.
Considering the fit between you and your bike is important. Getting it wrong can lead to, or exacerbate injuries and discomfort, while getting it right can enhance your enjoyment of any ride, and bring performance benefits too.
We asked our friendly expert Wei-ho, experienced Bike-fitter of London based Foundation Fit studio, for more explanation and also some free tips to get you thinking…
Q: Why is a good fit to your bike important? Especially when Chasing the Sun…
A: Bike fitting is a process to optimise your movement on your bike to achieve a particular purpose. In situations where riders are riding long distances, pedalling at high intensities or riding frequently e.g. commuting daily, multi-day events, or doing a combination of all these three factors, it makes sense to get the most out of each pedal stroke. If you could go faster for the same effort just by adjusting your saddle 10mm, would you do this? Of course you would!
So if you are thinking about taking on Chase the Sun, ask yourself whether or not you are in the best bike position to complete the challenge? And does it matter for you? Not everyone needs a bike fit. You can find an efficient and comfortable position yourself and you’ll see many experienced riders have managed to self-fit themselves.
However, this can be a time consuming, trial-and-error process which can get confusing as there are so many different variables involved in creating a good position. After all bike fitting is really about understanding human biomechanics and how the bike will affect those movements. And human beings are complicated.
This is where a bike fitter can help. A good fitter will aim to provide you with an understanding about your individual movement patterns, what happens when you’re strapped to a bike and then how best to adjust the contact points of the bike so that your body can function optimally for your event. Each rider has a unique body shape, posture, flexibility, riding goal, injury history etc. so each rider can benefit from a tailored position.
Finally it’s important to note that a bike fit is far more than just setting a position for a single event. It provides you with the confidence that you are getting the most out of all the training miles you’ll be putting in. You’ll be both training the right muscle groups for optimal efficiency and significantly reducing the chances of a repetitive strain injury. And of course you can continue to enjoy your position for many miles after the event too.
Q: How do I know if I would benefit from a bike fit?
A: This has partly been answered in the previous question, but the key concept here is that a bike fit gives you knowledge. And with this knowledge you can make better decisions about your bike position. If you have a question about your bike position and you feel like you need some help in answering that question, then a bike fit session will be beneficial for you.
I most commonly get riders coming to my studio for the following reasons:
- They have sustained an injury from their riding, or are feeling discomfort when riding.
- They would like to improve their performance.
- They would like to know what size new bike would be best for them.
- They would like reassurance that their current position is sustainable.
- Their body/bike has changed over time and would like a reassessment.
- They would like their position measured and recorded.
Q: What can I do at home? Are there any basic tips or rules of thumb?
A: There’s definitely lots that you can do yourself to achieve a decent position. However there are no quick and easy fixes, time and patience is necessary to begin to replicate the insight that a bike fitter would offer. Bike fitting (yourself) requires a degree of commitment and an inquisitive mind. There are no rules of thumb because human beings are so varied. What works for one person will not always work for someone else. So the best way to go about it is to:
- Decide what you want to achieve with the bike fit.
- Make a best guess at what changes to make.
- Decide on a testing protocol / method.
- Make the changes, test the position and retest if needed.
- Evaluate and decide if more changes need to be made.
There’s loads of great information out on the internet so I’m going to direct you to some useful channels to enable you to go forth and experiment! You will learn a ton just by playing around with your position.
- Neil Stanbury gives you tips on how to perform a bike fit at home
- Bike Fit Adviser – does what it says on the tin
Q: What’s the difference between an on-line bike fit and an in-person session at a fit studio?
A: A bike fit can be performed in a variety of different ways, each with its own pros and cons. Foundation offers: Studio fitting, mobile (home) fitting and an online service.
At the end of the day there is no substitute for an in-person bike fit in a dedicated fit studio as the most comprehensive way to understand your fit. The studio environment offers much greater access to dedicated technology, tools and methods, which will improve the quality and outcome of each fit. Some fittings can only be performed at the studio e.g. when sizing a rider for a new bike, and the rider currently doesn’t have a bike, we have to use a fit jig. This is essentially a dynamic bike where we can change the position of the all the contact points to replicate any position we want to.
A mobile session or home visit is a convenient option for many riders. However the fitter is always limited to working directly on a rider’s bike (even if it is the wrong size) and is limited in equipment to what they can bring to the session. For example at the studio we have a saddle library with one hundred models. To a mobile session we usually take a selection of 5-10 saddles.
On-line services have certainly picked up this year! Although I would go as far as to say that an online bike fit service is not strictly bike fitting. It is just bike fit advice. However with the right advice and a willingness to investigate your own bike fit you can achieve a lot. With our on-line service we provide video analysis of your position, and a process through which you can make changes. You have to be confident enough to adjust your bike yourself and record measurements but if you’re happy to learn and experiment it’s very rewarding. After a period of testing the position can be re-evaluated through more video and rider feedback.
The take away point is that there’s many ways in which bike fitters can help bike riders. And many ways in which riders can help themselves. As a rider, don’t just accept any old position on the bike and attempt to force your body around it. Seek out knowledge, learn about your body, listen to your body, experiment with your bike position, and enjoy the ride!