How to Bikefit – Points of Reference
I myself have also developed in Bikefitting over the years both with how the human body functions. Focusing on the body’s load and structural fitness. I found simple explanations for problems and developed from there and learned to make more people comfortable on their bicycle. With close to 2000 bike fits around the world I am still developing as a Bikefitter. I think though it’s something we can still develop on in the future.
Being Aggressive With Your Bike Fitting Position
First of all, if you want to perform, be comfortable, be aggressive. You need to have a good amount structural fitness in regards to flexibility, movement, strength. The better your body functions and moves off the bike the better your body will function on the bike.
Most outlining issues are caused by 70% of this, rather than a seating position. Too many people are trying to be too aggressive to what their structural fitness can hold.
With cycling, there are mainly two general causes of injury, pain and sometimes performance on the bike. The first problem is the person’s position on the bike, and bike fitters like me can address that issue. You can say we are a temporary fix rather than a complete overhaul.
Too Much Forward Weight Being Applied
Your arms are basically a relaxed prop. The arms should hold only a small amount of weight when pedaling under load. The more load produced, the weight on the hands will naturally shift to the pelvis. During my years bikefitting, the number of people I have dealt with numb hands over the years is in the hundreds.
No matter what your structural fitness is, the arms should hold the least weight of that sitting on the bike. The more weight we add to the front of the bike by having the saddle further forward, the more structural fitness comes into play. The body then needs to adjust and compensate to hold the body in position. Remember the weight has to be borne somewhere. This means the arm, neck and upper back will take the majority of the weight.
What we are aiming for in bikefitting is that we sit further enough back on the saddle to support the sit bones and produce a stable pelvis. We want to bare a small amount of weight on the arms.
The structural fitness a person has will affect their saddle position on a bike. The more structurally sound a person is, typically the further forward they can sit.
In this position, we enlist the glutes/hamstrings and quadriceps. They should work together, rather than overloading one of these specific muscle groups. Not having to use the same muscle group to help stabilize the body under load. Walking downstairs with extremely sore quadriceps is a common occurrence with your average cyclist.
We can agree that we need to be as aerodynamic as possible. Since 90% of the drag comes from your body on a bike. Remember this needs to be consistent with our proportions and structural fitness.
To sum things up. Set your bike position to your flexibility and structural fitness.
Numbness in the Groin.
The bicycle market often tells us we are using the wrong saddle.
Width, design and shape are numerous factors in a choice of bike seats. Most bicycle shops go on to explain that at this measurement we need this size, shape or design. This can be correct to a point. But seeing how many shops directly mention the person needs to change their saddle without actively seeing that person sitting on a bike astounds me.
One of the outlining causes of saddle discomfort can be the saddle set too far forward. This often rotates the pelvis forward and the person repositions the body to compensate for this.
What we are trying to achieve in bikefitting is to load the majority of the weight on the sit bones at the base of the pelvis.
Numerous other factors can be a too long of a reach to the drops, hoods on the handlebars. Enforcing the body to reposition itself further forward, again shifting that bearing weight off the sit bones.
Before you go changing your saddle, make sure around 70% of the weight bearing load is situated on the sit bones and that you can comfortably reach both the drops and hoods with minimal movement.
Changes Under Load
All changes made to your position should be adjusted under load. This is an important factor in Bikefitting. This means your body is naturally going to move into a position that is more efficient. They may move into another position to effectively shorten or raise the saddle height also. Shortening the reach to the handlebars or to compensate for the lack of structural fitness.
Readjust and Always Test Under Pressure
I am a big fan of not forcing a person into a position during bikefitting, rather helping the body become more stable under load. We see less movement of the pelvis, create stability of the body and reduce the majority of the load off arms, neck, and back.
90% of the people I fit are your average cyclist. Being comfortable and efficient under load is the most important thing. Rather than being over aggressive, and forcing the body to sit in a position which the structural load is too high.