Bike Fit

Bike Fit


So, with my feet sorted, it was on to the next contact point, the saddle. Returning to the figures and data we had recorded earlier from my standing/bending/being tied in knots assessment, James could get to work on finding out my ideal saddle height. He could work this out by measuring my hip at the highest and lowest points on the pedal stroke and making sure I was not bending too far or exceeding my reach and therefor making the most of each stroke. Remember, every ounce of power counts!

Saddle adjustment is of course a major part of any bike fit
Saddle adjustment is, of course, a major part of any bike fit

After jumping on and off the bike a couple of times to allow adjustments to be made, we were soon sorted and then it was onto the final piece of the jigsaw, the front end. The bike had been fitted with a multi adjustable stem, filled with quick release skewers a plenty, to easily adjust the angle, height and length of the stem. This eliminated the need to keep changing the stem, or add and remove spacers depending on my requirements.
Adjustable stem used to determine correct position
Adjustable stem used to determine correct position

I was shown, again on the computer, how lowering or raising my bars would impact on the arc of my back and also my leg/hip bend and extension further down. So whilst I may be tempted to go as low as possible at the front end, it appeared that doing so would severely impact on my lower half and my pedal stroke.
James also showed me how my back changes through each position, both side on and from the front. From the side it was clear my back is far from being flat but has a good curve and, although my head sticks up a bit, with an aero helmet on I have a good smooth, constant flow. From the front, by overlaying footage of different positions we could see how much my frontal area changed. For me personally, by lowering my front end my shoulder height changed marginally whilst my leg position and subsequent restriction of power through the legs would have been quite dramatic. So it was worth being slightly higher at the front (by about a centimetre). I could then ride with the optimum pedal stroke and subsequently produce more power.
The only other adjustment with the bars was to work out the set-up of the extensions and pads. I recommended the years old formula I had been shown as a youngster: sitting up straight, close your eyes and fall forward with your arms out. If your hands landed on the hoods, they were in the right position; if not, you had to adjust them accordingly. The room fell deathly silent for a while before James explained that probably wasn’t a good idea, especially with a good few inches of carbon steerer tube sticking out awaiting my face plant!
Close up of the stem, showing adjustability in vertical and horizontal planes
Close up of the stem, showing adjustability in vertical and horizontal planes

Instead we went with some of his suggestions. He advised on having the pads positioned slightly inside the shoulder line so as not to restrict air flow, with the extensions following that line but also aiming slightly inwards. This is probably where it is more about being comfortable then precise calculations. Remember we are not in a wind tunnel here, so are not making this the most aero position through the wind; it is all about being efficient and comfortable on the bike.
Once we had finished with the bars we went back to the beginning and double checked that none of the changes to the top half had dramatically adjusted the bottom half. So out came the measuring rods and beating stick again…
All was good, and there we are, finished with what should be the most efficient and comfortable position for me on my TT bike.
All the bike fit essentials...
All the bike fit essentials…

So what is my opinion now on having a Bikefit done? Well it’s certainly changed considerably. My initial fears of a computer telling me how I should be sitting on my bike have been replaced by precise and clear definitions on how and why changes should be made, if at all, and how it would benefit me. It was made clear throughout that if anything felt wrong or uncomfortable, then it could easily be put back or played around with until a compromise could be found. There was no right or wrong, nor like it or lump it; I was always made to feel that my comfort was most important.
After the fit, James informed me they would put all the information, measurements, videos and so on together and forward it on to me for future reference. I am also invited back for a follow up session to see how things are going or if any further adjustments need to be made. They suggested bringing my road bike down to give that a once over and see if any tweaks or changes need to be made.
The guys in Pedal Heaven were going to put the finishing touches to my TT bike and then I shall be able to take it out and see how it all comes together on the road, after which I can update you on how it goes… Watch this space!
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