Bike Fitting the Most Debated Topic
Bike Fitting in cycling seems to be one of the most debated subjects surrounding our sport for the past several years. While some seem to believe the bike fit should just be about the bike. The truth is it’s not! It’s important to look at the bike and the body as one. The fact that every person is different, from body shape and flexibility to power output and race discipline, makes this equation even more involved. While everyone’s fit will vary, there are a few principals that will benefit athletes of all levels.
Cleat placement is one of the most important parts of bike fitting. If the cleat is not properly aligned then the rest of the bike fit will be incorrect. Every watt of power you produce is transferred to the bike through your feet and on to the pedals. If the position of the cleat is not directly underneath the ball of the foot you can end up developing some serious foot problems. We will cover more about the cleat and power in the next series.
When looking at saddle position there are two factors that need to be addressed the fore and aft position, which refers to the location of the nose of the saddle behind a vertical line drawn to the center of the crank axle. The other factor is the angle of the saddle nose either pointing up, down, or neutral. In respect to the angle of the saddle it should be in neutral position (0 degrees). If your saddle is in a negative angle or tilted downwards your hips will slide forward which can lead to knee pain. Just the opposite having a positive tilt or tilted upwards has shown to cause the cyclist to be inclined and tilt his/her pelvis backwards which results in lumbar pain and can lead to numbness in the groin area.
If you are looking for the biggest bang in your performance then having the right crank arm length will help. A crank arm that is too long will cause a decrease in your cadence and increase tension on your knee joint. Having the right crank arm length will increase your power, pedaling rate, and have an effect on your efficiency. See the chart below for your optimal crank arm length:
#4 Saddle Height:
Saddle height is best determined by the knee angle. The optimal knee angles are 25 to 35 degrees. A saddle too low will over compress the knee and a saddle too high will hyper extend the knee. Look for more information to come in this series about which knee angle is right for you.
#5 Functional Movement Screen:
If you followed all the steps and had your bike fitted correctly you could still have an improper bike fit. In the beginning we discussed that the bike fit is not just about the bike, but the body as well. The Functional Movement Screen is a series of tests that views the body from a joint-by-joint process to find poor movement patterns in your body. There are certain joints that need mobility while others need stability. Putting this and the techniques above together will help you achieve optimal power.
While on your bicycle bring your belly button up and push your butt down. Keeping a neutral back will help open your airways and will not constrict your diaphragm. This technique allows you to utilize your core and improve air flow. Our body is unique and it will focus more on breathing than posture. However, poor posture constricts airflow.