Bike fitting: better performance and more fun through the right fit

Sandra / Veloine
Sandra / Veloine
March 30, 2021

Does that sound familiar to you: You are out and about for a couple of hours, enjoying a beautiful ride, but at some point your hands start falling asleep. Your neck begins to pinch. Your knee is hurting anyway. Not to mention your butt. Wrong bike? Not trained well enough? No, just time to check your position on the bike.

 

Guest article by Uli Plaumann - Cyclist, Bike Fitting Expert and Manager at Radlabor Munich

 

Bike fitting means adapting the bike to the cyclist’s body. It is about way more than the right saddle height, the right stem or the right handlebar. It is about adapting the bike as precisely and individually as possible to one’s physical requirements and body structure. How long are your legs and arms? Your upper body? Which saddle width is ideal? How are you seated on the saddle? All these factors - and a few more - lead to different demands on the bike, which can be met with different settings, modifications and components.

Bike fitting makes sense for everybody. Not only professional cyclists. It is way more than just optimising performance. Everyone who likes to cycle, whether beginner, advanced or ultra should opt for a bike fit. The correct seating position is very often underestimated. Many only start to think about their seat position once the problems already occur, very often the seating position is the last thing people seem to associate with pain while cycling. The back hurts, the neck, the knees and/or the hands fall asleep. Truth is, that you do not have to deal with all this pain to enjoy the most beautiful sport. Pain free is easy.

The more tailored and precise the measurement, the better the result

There are different customization options for every bike, every body and every goal. Fitting experts can use laser measurements and video analysis to find the right settings for every bike and every cyclist. Goals and needs of cyclists are different: while some focus on aerodynamics and performance, others are mainly concerned with ergonomics and riding pain free. There are numerous approaches to how a fitting can be done. Some work with average dimensions, others in turn feel into ones optimal position millimetre by millimetre. Basically, the more precise the measurement, the more tailored the result.

At Radlabor, we start by measuring leg length, lower leg / thigh length, outer leg, hip ridge, arm length, forearm / upper arm length, sternum height, shoulder width and ischial tuberosity width. Next up are the spine and pelvis. Followed by an interview over past and recent complaints and injuries. In a second step, the bike is measured. Only after all the static measurements are done do we proceed to the next step. Riding on the indoor trainer to analyse the measurements under performance. This last step allows us to verify the movement patterns and start adjusting the bike according to ergonomic, and performance-based criteria.

The right position is also a question of goals and physical constitution

Like with cars, we start with the engine. Meaning, we start with the saddle position and height. It is about angles, body segment lengths, certain pedal forces and about load in the joints. Only after all analysis is done we proceed to change the upper body position. What matters is the proportional relationship between seat length and handlebar height: do you want to sit on the bike in a very sporty, stretched and low upper body, or in a more comfortable, shorter and higher, position?

A big difference hereby is the core stability vs aerodynamics. Are you more of an ambitious rider with a low, sporty position or would you prefer to ride comfortably in a more upright position? It is therefore important to clarify personal goals and physical constitution. By asking the right questions and by doing a biomechanical analysis and tests, an experienced bike fitter will find the best individual setting for the contact points between bike and rider.

The result? Improved performance, a lower risk of injury, freedom from symptoms and no pain. In short, more fun cycling.

Do you feel intrigued and want to do a bike fit? Would you simply like to find out more? Then get in touch with the team at www.radlabor.de

 

Photo: Kerstin Leicht