Earlier in the year we announced that we are now able to offer an unrivalled, professional bike fitting service. Rutland Cycling sponsored athlete and guest blogger, Ben Kenneally, is currently training for an Ironman triathlon. As part of his training Ben came along to our Whitwell store for a Bike Fit to ensure he is as efficient and comfortable as possible whilst in the saddle. Read on for Ben's account of his first Bike Fit experience...
For years I've ridden a bike and ‘optimistically’ tinkered with my position. For me, I know what I'm aiming for, that low, aggressive position, hiding my body from the relenting headwind. You know, that holy grail of body positions, the efficient one, with the maximum power output and minimal injury risk. And how do I go about achieving it? I look at photos of pros and then ride slowly past shops with big glass windows and check my reflection – precision personified.
Others of course might have other aims, maybe to increase comfort in order to complete a long sportive ride, or just find the ‘right’ position to solve any niggles or cycling induced pains. Whatever your goal, a proper bike fit could just be the answer!
Cycling up-to the Whitwell store, I was thinking more about my position than is normal. I was trying to feel the bike. Did I feel too stretched out? Are my knees tracking straight up and down? How high is my saddle…? Having done a lot of riding over the last few years, I was reasonably confident I was in the right ball park in my position, and so was confident that the bike fit experience would be a quick confirmation of my position. I mean, I know my body, right?
What I hadn't anticipated was the level of detail and the number of factors that a proper bike fit uses to piece together your unique fit. Whilst Rutland Cycling Bike Fit Expert Phil specifically stated that “it isn't about chasing the final millimetres”, there’s definitely a large degree of precision.
The session started with a quick discussion about what I wanted to achieve, my cycling history and previous injuries. After a quick discussion, my bike was fixed up to a static trainer, and I jumped aboard to have a little spin; allowing Phil to see where we were starting from.
Next up – Feet’n’cleat. The interesting part here was checking the cleat position on my shoes. It is important that the position (back and forth, side to side) and the rotation of the cleat relative to the sole are spot on. This increases power transfer and minimises the risk of injury. Before I knew it, masking tape appeared on my shoes, lines were drawn, and my gait analysed – things were getting scientific! Luckily my existing cleat position was given the thumbs up, my knees will survive!
I’d like to claim that it was the result of hours of diligent tinkering on my part, but, given the range of potential cleat positions, it was a massive fluke.
After a quick inseam measurement, it was time to move on to the flexibility test. “The bed of pain” turned out to be quite comfortable. Lain on the masseuse bed, Phil tested my hamstring and hip flexor flexibility, which are large determinants in the saddle height and trunk (torso) position when on the bike. I was even given a cup of tea. Cushty.
Now armed with the data he needed, it was time for Phil to mix things up. ‘Things’ being:
•Saddle height, pitch and position.
•Stem height, length and angle
•And the handle bar rotation.
With the use of some handy gadgets including lasers, weighted strings, spirit gauges and some knee-angle-measuring devices, my position was iteratively altered for the better.
One particularly interesting aspect for me was the use of the laser to track the lateral movement of my knee during the pedal revolution. A big wobble would indicate bad saddle and/or cleat position, but the small range of motion in my pedal stroke was encouraging. The weighted string (I'm sure there was a more fancy name…) was used to achieve the correct seat set back (from the bottom-bracket) to ensure that my toes didn't extend too far in front of my knee during the down stroke of the pedal rotation, which can lead to injury and pain. Phil explained that this is called KOPS (Knee over Pedal Spindle), which maximises power delivery whilst maintaining pedal stroke efficiency and centre of gravity and rider balance/performance over the bottom bracket.
Whilst collecting the measurements, working through calculations and making alterations to my bike, Phil was immensely helpful in providing detailed explanations into what was happening. His recommendations were clear and he even offered guidance on what to change in the future to complement my increasing flexibility.
All in all the bike fit was a very complete and useful service, offering reassurance and answering many questions. Whilst it may initially appear expensive, at just a fraction of the price of a bike, it can be seen as a sound investment to help you get the most from your equipment!
A bike fit - something every cyclist should consider!
Note: we are delighted to announce that Ben came 14th in his age group in the Ironman Nice triathlon - his first ever triathlon! A fantastic performance - very well done, Ben!