Bike fitting is not an exact science... I'm comfortable on my bike... they are too expensive... it's a load of rubbish... the bike shop did my fit....
These are all reasons that I've heard from people about whey they have not had a professional bike fit. I'm firmly in the camp that if you are even remotely serious about your riding, you are crazy if you don't get a bike fit.
WORDS MIKE BOUDRIE IMAGES JARROD MCSHANE
I've always had my bike professionally fitted. For a couple of hundred dollars, I've enjoyed increased performance, comfort and kept my body feeling good. It's also good to know that I am getting the absolute most I can manage out of the bikes that I have bought over the years.
In the name of science I took myself off for two bike fits in the same week to see what happened. The first was the Chris Steffanoni in Melbourne. Chris is a Clinical Sports Therapist and handy rider that has been entrusted by riders of all levels and came very highly recommended by many. The second was a fit from the guys at Baum in Geelong. Baum need no introduction, and just about every bike that leaves their factory has been custom built for the rider.
So, did I get the exact same fit from both fits? Well no. Was it close? Yes. Very close. Both went for the same stem length, same height on the stem, same handlebar width. The difference came in the seat post height and saddle angle. Baum went 3mm higher and rotated the saddle forward a couple of degrees. They also made a micro adjustment to one of my cleats, I'm talking by less than a millimetre on one shoe. Baum also recommended a slightly longer crank length, where as Chris suggested holding off until I was replacing my group set to save some money.
Yes, the fits gave slightly different results, but the most important outcome is that I am now riding more comfortably and efficiently than before the fit. While I have had quite a few bike fits, it has been around five years since my last one, and in that time I've had three new road bikes and gone through a pile of shoes and cleats. I'm also five years older. It has made me realise that a fit for every new bike, plus a check in every 12 to 18 months is a big plus in getting the most out of your body and bike.
Post fit my body was not one hundred percent happy, there was some soreness and tightness from muscle groups that were not getting fully used pre fit. 8 weeks on and my fit is feeling great, both of the guys that completed my bike fit also gave me some stretches and strength exercises that I'm starting to see benefits from.
The fit process gives some great insight. Getting the chance to see how you look when pedalling away will instantly tell you if your set up is right, unfortunately you don't get to see it on a daily basis. From here you'll see that slight imbalance, or heal drop. You'll get a pedalling analysis and coaching on how to get the most out of each revolution. You'll find a cadence that works best for you and get to try multiple positions. When back on the bike I was certainly left thinking thinking thinking about getting it all right.
Any good fitter should be using video analysis together with one of the various computer programs that helps dial in fit. I think these programs are really great, but your fitter will use their experience to make changes to the fit that the program churns out to get you in exactly the right spot. Both of the fitters I used had professional medical qualifications in an discipline of human movement, and strong knowledge of the muscles and bones that hold us all together. I'd go with someone like this everyday of the week.
I think that some bike shops are doing good work in fitting, but before you get fitted in the shop ask the question about how it's done, who does it, what are their qualifications and how long do they take. For an initial fit, you'll need around two to three hours. From my fit with Chris I was provided with a full report, a list of exercises and stretches (that I was shown before I finished) and a detailed picture of my bike with all measurements and angles noted. Perfect.
With many people spending multiples of thousands on their bikes, plus thousands more on kit, shoes, holiday's etc, a bike fit will be just about the best bang for your buck you can get in ensuring you get the most from your bike, keep your body as injury free as possible and enjoy your riding... plus it's a pretty cool experience.
Thanks to Chris and the Ryan for spending hours with me and enduring photos during the fit. Both fits were paid for in full by me...