Do-It-Yourself Bike Fitting Part I. - Self-diagnostics
Updated: Mar 31, 2020
The sun is out, cycling season is supposed to have started but most of us are locked in our houses due to the on-going pandemic. We need to take care, be responsible and refrain from the urge to be social riders.
This doesn’t mean we do not ride or can’t improve our fitness. Riding on the trainer or alone in the country roads for longer periods of time, give us the perfect opportunity to listen to our bodies. This is a unique chance to get the positioning right and become one with our bike.
We want to offer - in these troubled times - our DIY bike fitting tips to those lone cyclists. Meanwhile, stay safe and we hope to see you on the roads again soon!
Part I. - Self-diagnostics during and after riding:
• Identify which part of your body feels discomfort, gets numb, and is tight or tired. How is your lower back? Do you need to shake your hands to get the blood flowing? Are your quads feeling over-worked compared to your hamstrings? Do your arms feel like you have made a hundred push-ups? If feeling stress on the knees, try to locate it exactly? • Check your contact points on the bike for wear. Is your saddle more worn out on one side? The same question goes for your shorts, pedals and cleats. And is your bar tape like new in the drops but have almost become one with the handlebar on the tops? • Check your movement on the bike. Look down at the seat post while pedalling. Is the clearance to your thighs equal on both sides? What about the distance of your knees to the top tube? Are they equal or is one knee almost touching the frame? How are your hands located on the handle bar? Do you hold on the hoods, or much further back, where the bars curve in towards the stem? • Film yourself on the trainer. Front and back view is as important as the side view. Watch your hips to see if they drop to any one side (most people’s do). If possible, shoot a top view to see if your hips are rotated to any one side. Check front view for knee tracking. But beware: Knee tracking should be measured from the second toe to the tibial tuberosity (the small hump below the knee) and not to the kneecap (see our older Facebook post for details). • Check hip mobility: Ride your bike in the drops, unclip one foot and let it hang; pedal backwards (!) very slowly. How hard is it to get over to the top of the stroke on each side? Does it just get a little harder or does it feel like it is almost locked? • If you use a double-sided power meter then check for imbalance on left and right pedal strokes. Try to understand what stage of the pedalling is creating overall inefficiency.
It is important you ride at your typical/target intensity when going through this checklist (except when checking for hip mobility. It is critical you back pedal very slowly.) A position that is comfortable when going easy is not going to allow you to push hard. And a position that is comfortable when pushing hard may cause numb hands and tight neck when just idling.
Please keep following for Part II.