Now that summer is in full swing and we’re all out riding our bikes on a regular basis, it’s important to be mindful of all the elements that can affect our comfort while riding.
While hydration and nutrition are significant, your posture while on the bike is even more important. It will determine your performance and influence your level of enjoyment during a ride.
If you are new to road bicycling (and even if you’ve been riding for a number of years), the best way to dial in your comfort on the bike is to have a professional bike fitting. While not always a cheap procedure, the investment pays for itself in the long run. It will enhance your performance and maybe even help you to avoid injury to your knees, your back, or other areas of your anatomy.
Many bike shops now offer a bike fitting if you purchase a new bike from them, although it may or may not be free. Even if you didn’t buy your bike at a specific bike shop, most of them will do a fit for you if asked.
If you pay to have a bike fitting done, expect a price point of $200 to $300. That’s about what I paid when I had a fitting done eight years ago. But mine was supported by some pretty high-end technology. Most shops do it with rulers and in a hands-on type fashion.
For me, the process of doing a bike fitting was worth it for the experience and it was also pretty cool. And it is probably the only time I’ve had someone there watching me as I ride. The technician helped me to understand what my body is doing while riding my bike. For me, the bike fitting process went like this:
- Your bike gets mounted in a trainer.
- Electrical receptors/ sensors are attached to key points on your body.
- As you ride the trainer, points about your position are recorded in a computer application designed to analyze one’s cycling posture.
- The technician will have you stand, spin fast and spin slow with your hands on top of the handlebars and in the drops.
- From this analysis, the technician can tell you if your saddle needs to be adjusted, if you need a longer or shorter handlebar stem, if your crank arms are too short or too long, etc. He can even tell you if your bike is too big or too small for your height. Turns out that the bike I had at the time was too big for me.
If you look at the poster above, you’ll see an illustration of the most ideal cycling position and the points that should be considered while getting a bike fit. Why is this so important? Because while cycling is considered a low-impact sport, a bike (especially a road bike) can cause you discomfort and impact your performance in negative ways if your fit is off.
If your back is bent too far forward, if you aren’t getting full leg extension, if your arms aren’t slightly bent at the elbow but straight and stiff, all these elements can lead to a performance decrease. Not only that, an improper fit can cause you back pain, knee pain, neck pain, etc.
The point here is that it doesn’t matter if you are an elite athlete, weekend warrior, or casual rider, bike fit, if it isn’t right, can impact your health, performance, and enjoyment. It might even determine if you keep riding or if you give up the sport altogether. That happens more often than you would think, which I think is sad.
Overall, cycling is a beautiful sport and activity that everyone should be able to enjoy without worrying about possible health issues. But I’m not writing this post to instill fear or detract from the pleasure of a bike ride. Believe me, that’s the last thing I’d want to do.
Most of this post is intended for and applies to athletic and long-distance road cyclists. But if you spend any amount of time on a bike, no matter what kind of bike it might be, even a basic fit that a salesperson gives you at a bike shop will enhance your enjoyment.
Are you having any discomfort on your current bike? Have you ever had a professional bike fit done? Where did have it done and how much did it cost? Please like, comment, and share this post. Until next week, keep on riding and enjoy the summer.