As spring emerges from hibernation and daylight extends further into the evening, cyclists everywhere store away the winter gear and start enjoying longer rides. New kit gets purchased in preparation for the warmer weather, and bikes go in for a spring cleaning. Preparing your riding kit for the summer is part of the ritual of being a cyclist, but what about preparing yourself?
Surprisingly, many people spend more time focusing on their equipment than how their body interacts with it. Commuters, who arguably spend more time riding their bikes than most weekend warriors, generally suffer the most from equipment that forces their body into a position that limits both comfort and performance. People who relish the social atmosphere of a sportive or club run are often influenced by the positions that they see the pros in when races are televised or in magazine images. What both of these groups have in common is a lack of information about how your body is affected by improper bike fit. This frequently results in pain and other issues that are often overlooked, but easily correctable by the eye of a bike fit expert.
As kids, with seemingly unlimited elasticity, fearlessness, and the ability to bounce off the ground, riding bikes consisted primarily of getting on and going. Things like hamstring flexibility and sit bone width didn’t factor in to our ability to have fun on a bike. Yet, these two things alone play a huge role in how our bodies function when cycling. Hamstring flexibility is one key factor in determining things like the distance between the handlebars and the saddle, and how leaned over you can be when you ride. Pelvic anatomy and its role in saddle comfort can be the difference between feeling great on a saddle, and never wanting to ride your bike again. Evaluating these two things, along with numerous other factors, is where bike fit can dramatically improve the relationship between you and your bike.
Your body will show red flags that indicate that something about your riding position is less than ideal. These include things like neck and shoulder pain, saddle discomfort, low pack pain, soreness in the knees, hot foot, and numbness in the hands and fingers. The presence of any of these is an indication that something about your bike setup doesn’t work for the alignment your body wants when you ride. If you experience any of these things when you ride, then it’s time to talk to a fitter. Ignoring these can lead to injury that will keep you off the bike, and that’s no fun.
The bike fit process itself can vary depending on the method used. It’s easy to be dazzled by things like lasers and gadgets, but a good bike fitter can determine what needs to change without lots of technical geekery. These items should supplement the expertise of a fitter, not do the work for them.
A good fit method will look at each rider subjectively, and evaluate things like the way your feet are shaped, asymmetry between the right and left side of your body, hamstring flexibility, and range of motion in your hips. Your injury history and riding goals also play a role in how you should sit on your bike.
Once these items have been evaluated, they can be used to make adjustments to your riding position to alleviate pain and discomfort, and improve your overall performance and enjoyment for the long term.
Trek retailers around the country who specialise in our Precision Fit method can help answer your fit-related questions and address the common problems that many people experience on a bike. No matter what type of bike you ride, or how often you ride it, you should be able to do so comfortably and with confidence. It doesn’t have to hurt when you ride, and experts can make sure it doesn’t.
For more information on Precision Fit, and to find a Trek retailer near you, visit the retailer locator.
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