We recently unveiled our newest arrival: Wilier bikes! In this special edition of our blog post, we are delighted to showcase our (fellow Canadian) partner, MyVeloFit, on the benefits of undertaking a proper bike fitting exercise.
We all love the prospect of buying a new bike or upgrading our current one, but one improvement that is often overlooked is our position on the bike. Many riders give setting their saddle height their best guess and head out riding without a second thought. While you might get lucky with this approach, the human body is an imperfect machine and the extremely repetitive motion while riding a bike can wreak havoc on our bodies if we don't set ourselves up for success. Making sure your bike is both the right size and set up correctly (fit) can either make or break your riding experience.
Your body's relationship with your bike has a profound impact on many aspects of riding. How your weight is distributed between the front and rear of the bike plays a significant role in how the bike handles. Key adjustments that determine your riding position, like saddle height, handlebar height, and reach (amongst others) play a critical role in making sure you don't put your body in a position that is biomechanically dysfunctional, resulting in discomfort or injury. Finding a position on the bike that responds to both your body and riding goals will ensure you get the most out of your bike and focus on the ride ahead.
To help you make sure you're getting the most from your ride, consider the following 3 tips to improve your experience on the bike.
Counter to what you may have been told, cycling shouldn't hurt. Of course there can be pain in your muscles after a long hard ride, but it's not normal—or necessary—to experience pain and discomfort just being on your bike. A well-fitted bike should be pain-free and comfortable. You shouldn't feel the need to constantly readjust your position or adapt to pain that keeps creeping in. The only discomfort you should feel from riding is from exertion and, if you're unlucky, a crash.
Eliminating discomfort in your fit isn't only about enjoyment—it's about performance, too. The body only has so much energy, and it takes work to compensate and adjust for discomfort even if you don't notice. A more comfortable position allows you to ride harder and longer because your mental and physical energy can be focused entirely on moving forward.
If you're experiencing pain or numbness on the bike, it's better to tackle it sooner than later. Don't try to adapt to it—it's both unnecessary and can be harmful long-term. Addressing issues with your position head-on is one of the best ways to improve your riding experience. Many riders are surprised at just how much better their ride can feel with adjustments to their position. You can read more about some of the most common issues cyclists experience in MyVeloFit's Fit Academy.
Getting a bike fit is the process of adjusting your bike to match your body and riding goals. There is often a preconception that only riders who race or train at a high level benefit from getting a bike fit, but this couldn't be further from the truth. While a bike fit can be focused on performance, for many riders, it's primarily focused on increasing comfort and preventing injuries. The general rule of thumb is that any rider spending more than three hours a week riding will notice the benefits of a fit.
While there are a lot of excellent resources online that help explain the individual adjustments and principles involved in setting up your bike, getting the full picture from a professional bike fitter or a virtual fit service, like MyVeloFit, will take the guesswork out of the process. These services also use motion tracking software to produce a more accurate analysis of your movement and position on the bike to ensure any adjustments have their intended effect.
It's also important to remember that a bike fit isn't a one-time event, but rather an ongoing journey over your riding career. As our bodies and riding goals change over time, it's important to keep your fit in mind and make adjustments as necessary.
The next time you're shopping for a new bike, make sure you choose a model that works for your position, not just one with the features you're looking for. It's not often discussed, but not every bike will work for every rider—even in the 'right' size. Depending on your mobility, riding goals, and body proportions, some bikes may be more challenging to adjust to the right position for you. This is even more important with the increasing prevalence of integrated handlebar/stem combos, which have several advantages, but make adjustments after purchase more complicated and costly.
Reading about how the manufacturer describes a model's geometry is a good start. If you know you're not terribly flexible and prefer a slightly more upright position to stay pain free, models marketed with 'race' geometry are likely to be a challenge to adjust appropriately. Similarly, models marketed as more endurance or comfort-focused can be more challenging to set up with a more aggressive position. Comparing the 'stack' and 'reach' measurements of various models and sizes can help to better understand how they differ, but can still be confusing without a baseline. Speaking with knowledgeable sales staff of the brand you're interested in, consulting a bike fitter, or using a virtual fit first sizing tool can help you make the right choice.
While not the sexiest cycling topic, we believe thinking about fit and taking steps to improve your position will pay dividends for all cyclists. Hopefully, these recommendations will help your cycling experience and get you started on the path to a better ride.
To learn more about MyVeloFit, visit www.myvelofit.com/