I originally wrote this in August 2018 – but it never got published. So I have updated it a little, and here is is for your delectation and delight.
The correct number of bikes is n+1, so if your bike doesn’t fit you – well, go and buy a new one- it will make you
faster. No need to try and make the current one more comfortable. You then don’t have anyTHING to show for spending your hard earned cash – just some nebulous thing called “comfort”. Which you could have got with a lovely new carbon fibre frame….
It’s kind of uncool to say you’ve been for a bikefit. It sort of implies that you either don’t have the knowledge to make yourself comfortable on a bike -that you- as an organic machine – are not capable of being comfortable on a metal one. As we know…. buying a sexy new bike is WAY preferable and cooler. After all, everyone has something to drool over then.
To be totally honest, it took me a while to convince myself to go for a bikefit. The cost alone is something in the region of a fairly decent set of wheels, however, the slow burn of being uncomfortable on a bike, and wanting to buy a bit of a snazzy one in a couple of years time for a big birthday made me think it is probably better to get fitted sooner rather than later. Imagine dropping a couple of grand on a bike for it to be uncomfortable. That would be pretty rubbish.
That being said, the only people I knew that had had a bike fit were either a) sponsored athletes or b) journalists who hadn’t had to pay for the pleasure out of their own pocket. I’m fairly skeptical of both sets of people…. If you get something that someone else has paid for, of COURSE you’re going to rave about it.
Pay for it out of your own pocket and things are a bit different.
I decided to go for a bike fit with Phil Burt – he is the man responsible for the previous bike fits of team Sky, British Cycling etc, and is now working for himself. Considering that I had saved some cash up for a new bike, I used some of that in order to pay for it. I hoped that money spent on bikefit=money spent on frame= money just as well spent.
During the 2 hour fit we went through aims of what I hoped the fit would do, medical history, pertinent physical history a short physical check of current flexibility etc, and then onto the bike with a load of LEDs velcroed to me for the Retul system to measure what was going on.
At some point, the saddle pressure monitor came out and we had a look at how I was sitting on the saddle as I powered up on the turbo.
Some interesting data came out of the dots and pressure monitors etc, but it isn’t the data that is the interesting bit (well… it is… but…..) the important bit is the interpretation and what you do with it to make the rider more comfortable. – That comes from experience in the field.
I won’t go into exactly what was up with my position or what was making me uncomfortable and giving me back pain while riding – suffice to say I didn’t and couldn’t work it out myself.
We went through a number of iterations and positional changes through the rest of the time and came up with some answers to the riddle as to why I was getting low back pain after some time in the saddle, especially when riding hard, why my bike felt too long, potentially why I ended up injured last year when I was training for the TDS while running, and potentially how to stop it from happening.
I went out riding for a few weeks, tweaking and changing a few angles, and sending feedback to Phil after various rides. Within a short space of time it became apparent that I was more comfortable on the bike and could ride considerably more while being in significantly less discomfort.
There were only 2 downsides to the whole bikefit. My ischial tuberosities (sit bones) were in a totally different place on the saddle, which means my butt hurt a fair amount when I rode – just while I got used to the new position – and also, found I could cycle a lot harder, and it was my legs that screamed at me instead of my back… and that was just muscles being worked – not a postural thing…. So that just got ignored.
No. I didn’t have a sexy new bike. Yes, I was still bashing around on a 2010 aluminium Allez with stock wheels, but it has a whole new lease of life. The great thing was that I knew that the frame was definitely the right size for me, the position as better – and when I finally came to finally buying a new bike, I’d have all the measurements ready to go on a pdf which I can use to make an informed decision as to what my next frame needs to be like in order to give me the best, most comfortable and most efficient ride.
Update: yes I DO have a sexy new bike – but one that fits. The data from the bikefit got sent to the guys at Fairlight and they advised me on framesize etc. I’m pretty happy, just in case you didn’t realise!