In a bike fit, your contact points with the bike are key. We fit off of body angles, fitter’s eye, comfort, and rider feedback. All of these things trickle down from where the body meets the bike.
The bike fit starts with cleats
We start with your cleats- a good cleat position is essential. We work to avoid riders riding the limits of the float of their cleats. Proper fore-aft cleat position rounds out proper cleat fitting.
Form decides which direction the bike fit goes
Once your cleats are in proper position, we step back and look at how you ride the bike. We look at what your form even before we take any measurements.
A good fitter will step back and instantly get a feel for where they want to go with your fit and they will feel confident in knowing the way they will move you will feel better and make you more powerful.
The biggest wrench in this process is if you have a saddle on your bike you can’t sit on. No fitter, no amount of riding, can make a saddle that is not right for you feel comfortable.
Your saddle is your “power perch”
“You need a different saddle.” This phrase brings relief to the rider and the fitter.
We are not looking for a saddle that feels like a cushy chair when you sit on it. Saddles are a perch, not a place to rest your body weight. You should feel comfortable but that means not direct pressure, no instant numbness, and no direct pain. Much like sitting on a plane for 4-5 hours doesn’t feel great, even your ideal saddle may feel uncomfortable after that long. However, you should always feel supported on your “power perch.”
Why does this matter in a bike fit? Well, we all know what is in the area where the saddle and chamois meet……soft tissue. For women it’s extra important to have the proper saddle to prevent you from sitting on your soft tissue, ideally before you start the fit or find your ideal perch with your fitter.
Male or female, if your saddle hurts you and you are trying to protect your soft tissue, you will roll your hips back to sit on your butt to prevent pain. You may roll your knees out or you might move around every few pedal strokes. As a bike fitter, put a different saddle on the bike if you see these things. You can’t fit a person to their bike by trying to fit them to the wrong saddle first.
Bike fit trials confirm good or bad saddles
In a bike fit, riders go through several trials to pin down the ideal position. Trial 1 might move you back and down, while Trial 2 might move you up and forward. We go back and forth until we get to your ideal position with your fit drivers and goals leading the way. As the saddle gets higher and more forward, you rotate at a degree around the bottom bracket. If your saddle prevents you from rolling your hips at all or if you have to sit on your butt to prevent pain, then this process is impossible and you’ll be unable to find your ideal fit.
Zack Allison’s affinity for cycling started when he was 14 racing on the East Coast and his enjoyment of the sport lead him to pursue his BSEd in Exercise Science from Colorado State University, in Fort Collins, Colorado. He currently races for Elevate Pro Cycling, a UCI continental men’s road team, and owns the Source Endurance Training Center of the Rockies. Growing up in the sport with many great mentors, he loves to pay it forward, using a combination of education and race experience. You can often find him zooming around on Fort Collin’s many gravel roads or on its countless mountain bike trails. Learn more about Zack.