What is a Bike Fit, and Do I Need One?

The common question on all cyclists’ lips. A bike fit, or Clinical Cycling Analysis, could take your love of cycling from a 5 to a 10. Your set up should be as individual as you are if you want to get the most of out cycling and avoid picking up any injuries along the way.

This is certainly a common question in our clinics — ranging from a first timer who was fitted’ in the shop when they bought their bike, to the experienced rider who had one a while ago’. 

If you are uncomfortable on your bike, suffering niggles or currently have an injury exacerbated by cycling the answer is… yes!

Proper bike position is critical to provide comfort, improve performance and reduce overuse injuries. With riders in the saddle for hours at a time injuries are thought at to affect up to 85% of people. 

With first timers, the fit in the shop is good enough to get them out on the road but many complain of pain on longer rides. 

As riders gain experience their fitness improves and body adapts meaning their fit on the bike needs to be adjusted accordingly as they go faster and for longer. 

During a bike fit we make adjustments at the 3 main points of contact; the pedal, seat and handlebars. The most common injuries/​pain points are: the knee, lower back, perineum, hands and feet.

Here are two quick fixes for common on-the-bike niggles.

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Knee Pain

This is the most common complaint accounting for up to 65% of injuries. 

Typical causes are increased knee flexion at the top of the pedal stroke. This leads hitching of the hip and increased rider lateral movement. An easy way to assess this is to measure the angle of knee extension when the leg is at its straightest point.

In the picture below, the knee angle is 144 degrees or 180144.7 = 35.3 degrees. This is within acceptable limits although recent research recommends a straighter knee angle of 25 – 30 degrees as optimal.

For this example if I experienced knee pain, then raising it to increase knee extension angle by 5 – 10 degrees could certainly make a difference.

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Hand Pain #

In the picture above, the upright body position may ease any niggling lower back pain but it’s poor for aerodynamics and speed. 

You can see the elbows are locked to provide support and so are not soft and relaxed. This position can put extra strain on the hands and wrists, leading to pressure on the ulnar nerve and numbness into the fourth and fifth fingers.

Bringing the seat forward would allow the cyclist to bend their elbows to take the weight through the triceps and reduce hand pressure. Furthermore tilting the angle of the bars upwards would allow them to flex their wrists more easily and reduce pressure.

To see what is included in a Clinical Bike Fit Analysis, watch our helpful video below.

During your Clinical Cycling Analysis there are many aspects assessed and adjusted, where necessary, and it’s certainly not just about angles; we take in to consideration the rider’s balance, control and how they feel on the bike.

Are you experiencing discomfort or pain as a result of your bike and would like to speak to a specialist bike fitter, click the button below to find out how we can help.

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How to Choose The Right Bike

Picking a new bike can feel a bit overwhelming — there’s so many, how do you choose the right one? We offer expert insight into what to look for when choosing a bike and how and why a bike fitting can help you find the bike that you will not only enjoy, but love to ride.

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Knee Pain in Cycling

Knee pain is common in cyclists and is often the reason for missed training days if left untreated. Find out how the pros avoid these common injuries with tips from our experts, plus get advice on how to manage these types of injuries when they crop up!

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Is the Bike to Blame for My Lower Back Pain?

Prolonged periods of sitting have been linked with musculoskeletal dysfunction, especially low back pain. Both sitting and cycling demand this position, so what can be done to prevent it?

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Is Your Road Bike Causing Upper Limb Pain?

In this blog we highlight the usual suspects of neck, shoulder, elbow and wrist pain in cyclists. Discover the common signs to look for and expert-recommended changes you can make to resolve them.