Team PBK.com manager and rider James Smith has a go at getting a professional bike fit. We’ve all seen the adverts and flyers, but is the initial cost really worth it? We hope to find out:
“The advantages of a professional cycle fitting are many, from correcting poor position, increasing power, reducing the risk of injury and simply increasing comfort and safety. Pain, numbness and swelling are usually signs of a poor fit, especially in the feet, neck, lower back, hands and knees. Cycling does not need to hurt!” – rideplymouth.co.uk
Here I was quite happily just jumping on a bike moving the saddle round a bit adjusting my cleats and ten minutes later I was set. Well that was until I saw a flyer for a local Bike Fit in Plymouth, so I went and spoke to Paul. He explained to a somewhat sceptical Mr Smith (me) that a bike fitting is fundamental to any sport involving cycling be that road, MTB, TT or triathlon. A bike fit is supposed to minimize the risk of injury, improve your pedalling efficiency saving you energy and increasing your power transfer and finally minimize power leakage through poor saddle and cleat positioning. In a nutshell “make the most of what you have.”
Sounds amazing hey? Well I booked my appointment and decided to remain sceptical to prove my self right!
As I arrived for my three hour bike fit I was impressed with the set up, a clean and tidy facility with none of the normal clutter seen in a bike shop, airy, spacious and friendly. This was helped with the immediate offer of a cup of coffee from Paul the owner. Paul himself is a qualified bike fitter learning his trade at the Serotta International Cycling Institute in Cincinnati.
So duly impressed with the facility and Pauls’ shiny certificate I began to settle down for a 45 minute question and answer session. Paul already had a lot of my information from the pre fit questionnaire which asks questions such as occupation, weight, even to what you spend your day doing and in my case it is sat at a computer.
So I had now been in the plush surroundings for nearly an hour before Paul finally finished his battery of questions and began my measuring process.
First off – Posture assessment off the bike:
Weight assessment – Paul asked me to stand on with my feet on two separate scales, this led to me finding out that I put 1 stone extra through my left side whilst standing.
My left leg weight was much higher.
My flexibility was above average….to my surprise I was not too bad scoring a 7/10.
Then Paul spent an inordinate amount of time looking at my shoe and cleat positioning.
Finally my bike was positioned on the plinth and the meat of the bike set up took place.
Once Paul had reviewed my current position a number of small yellow sticker dots were positioned over my moving parts such as knees, hips, forefoot and ankles. Now I was starting to be impressed but the really cool bit was yet to come as he turned on his laser and began assessing my pedalling efficiency immediately it was clear that my left knee drifted inwards as I pedalled.
A wedge was fitted beneath my cleats and again my left knee was assessed and if by magic the drift had gone now for my right which proved to be fairly normal.
Now my fore and aft position was assessed with the angle of my back and forearms Paul was able to work out my exact ideal position and to my utter astonishment moved my saddle forwards by some 1.5cms bit by bit before tipping the saddle upwards and then adjusting my saddle height by 5mms. These were massive changes but strangely once on the turbo felt comfortable and not at all odd.
This whole process took three hours and Paul was attentive at all times responding to my suggestions thoughtfully. I am a complete convert to the bike fitting process throughout the last twelve months I have been struggling with back injuries and left leg numbness, after one ride my left leg was responding as it used to and my back pain was not its old excruciating self. I guess though the proof is in the pudding and we will see how the next few races go.
I guess doing the math a professional cycle fitting is a bargain
- A new racing frame £2000 at least.
- Carbon wheels £1100.
- Power meter £800.
Or a cycle fit at £150!