A professional bike fit is one of the best investments you can make to improve your riding. The slightest adjustments help to achieve the most comfortable, efficient and powerful riding position possible.
I’ve been experiencing discomfort when riding, particularly numb hands, neck and forearms. It’s hard to motivate myself to ride when I know that I will be in pain, so I knew something had to change in my bike set up. I treated myself to an early Christmas present and booked in with Bianca at Fit Your Bike. Bianca came highly recommended as qualified physiotherapist with a wealth of knowledge in cycling.
Fit Your Bike use the Retul system, which is one of the most advanced fitting tools in the world. Three-dimensional data is captured and analysed, which helps the bike fitter make adjustments to find your optimum riding position.
Before getting on the bike, the process starts with a consultation about your riding style, volume and goals. I discussed with Bianca my injury history and the areas where I’m experiencing discomfort when cycling.
Next up was a thorough assessment of my body’s flexibility, stability, symmetry and strength. Bianca immediately identified that I have very flat feet, small kneecaps, short thumbs and one leg longer than the other- doesn’t sound like a ideal combination!
She also noted that I am incredibly flexible and was amazed by the range of movement in my joints. In fact I score highly on the Beighton’s test for hypermobility. After reading up on Hypermobility syndrome, I realise I can identify with almost all of the symptoms and it makes sense why my body behaves the way it does. I’m surprised I was not diagnosed sooner.
Despite my imbalances and instabilities, Bianca noted that I actually have good control when squatting and lunging- my body is obviously compensating well. She suggested some progressions to the exercise programme which my physio gave me, in order to further strengthen these areas.
My bike was mounted onto a turbo trainer on a revolving platform and I was wired up with electrodes on my wrist, elbow, shoulder, hip, knee, ankle, heel, and toe. I was advised to wear my trisuit for the bike fit, so that my legs and arms are exposed for the placement of the electrodes.
As I cycled, the Retul’s sensor bar gathered real-time, three-dimensional data of my pedal strokes and movements. Bianca also assessed and videoed my current riding position. The first change was that my saddle needed to be raised considerably. Bianca commented that I was sitting at an angle on the saddle and that my left knee was tracking inwards. My cleat needed to be rotated slightly into a neutral position and a foam wedge inserted in the heel of my shoe.
Saddle discomfort was one of my main issues. I currently use a female-specific saddle, but it’s still not quite the right shape for my anatomy and was causing painful pressure in sensitive areas. Fit Your Bike stock a huge range of saddles, which can be rented for a trial period. Bianca suggested three models which might be suitable for me. I tested them and eventually the Cobb V-Flow felt like the best fit, with it’s narrow nose and cutaway centre. Cobb design their saddles based on the two types of female anatomy- the ‘innie’ and the ‘outie’- this article explains this in further detail.
Finally to solve the problem of my numb hands and arms, we shortened my stem to 70mm, rotated my handlebars away and moved up the hoods. I was stretching too far to reach the handlebars and placing too much pressure through my hands. It was a fiddly job to adjust the hoods- Campagnolo do not make it easy to get under the rubber.
After some fine-tuning, I pedalled again as the Retul recaptured the data. Comparing my before and after pictures, there is only a slight difference in my position but it’s actually made a big impact.
When we were satisfied with the final set-up, Bianca used a handheld digitizer to scan my bike and produce a set of measurements creating a digital map of my bike. Any bike I purchase in future can now be set up according to these measurements.
After a month of riding my newly fitted bike, I’ve noticed a huge improvement in comfort, particularly the saddle. It looks a bit odd in neon green, but I’ll be exchanging it for a black version soon! I now find it much easier to clip into my cleats, I’m no longer faffing for half a mile along the road!
It can be hard to part with the cash for a bike fit when you essentially come out of the shop with exactly the same bike as you went in. In my opinion, it was well worth the expense to solve those persistent niggles.
Have you ever had a bike fit?