Cycling Tips & Tools
When A Bike Fit Is Correct
How to know your bike fit is correct:
You should be WITHOUT discomfort (don't wait to the point of pain before seeking help!)
You should feel like you have about 30-40% of your weight on your hands while you are in your hoods and 60-75% of your weight on the saddle (if you measured weight distribution, it would be approximately 45% hands and 55% saddle)
You should feel like 60-75% of the weight on your saddle is on your ischial tuberosities (sit bones)
Your elbows should be bent about 20-30 degrees, not locked, with your neck relaxed
Your back should be almost flat, not hunched over
Your knees should be going straight, not coming closer or farther away from the top tube or making circles on the way up/down
Your hips aren't rocking more than ½ - 1 inch side to side
Some of the above requirements are affected by the body's flexibility, core stability, and the cyclist's understanding of good cycling mechanics. For a quick guesstimate of starting position, consider the recommendations below.
Height: heel on pedal knee extended at DBC
Fore/aft knee over pedal spindle with 60-70% of weight on ischial tubes
Angle: about horizontal so that you're not sliding forward or rolling backward and your ischial tubes are on the body of the saddle
Rotation of cleat: allowing your feet to point in their current anatomical neutral and knees not forced to twist in an unnatural position
Fore/aft so the ball of your foot is over the pedal spindle – center of pedal
In/out for a straight line upper leg/lower leg and 2nd toe (Q angle)
Reach set up so that it is comfortable on break hoods/shifters with a functional length stem (8-12 cm long with a slight up angle)
Drop depends entirely on flexibility strength and goals generally the top of the hoods 1-2 inches above the saddle for fair flexibility/core stability and 1-2 inches below for excellent flexibility/core stability
All of the above are very generic recommendations which can vary drastically from person to person, depending on your goals, flexibility, strength, core stability, past medical history and many more things.
Medicine of Cycling: Bike Fit
Click HERE to read an article by Revolutions in Fitness's owner, Curtis Cramblett, from the Performance Conditioning Cycling Newsletter. In the article, Curtis shares his insights and experience on the numerous health and performance benefits that a great bike fit can provide.
ALC Rider's stretches
Revolutions in Fitness has helped many cyclists and cycling organizations like ALC (Aids Life Cycle) over the years. This has included providing a selection of helpful stretches for before and after any strenuous activity.
Click HERE for the list of recommended stretches.
Stretching helps to:
Reduce muscle tension, and make the body feel more relaxed
Increase the range of motion
Prevent muscle and joint strains
Reduce muscular soreness
Increase cycling speed/performance by decreasing the muscle tension fighting your pedaling!
Pumping Iron: Rules To Lift By
By: Curtis Cramblett, Physical Therapist, Cycling Coach, Strength and Conditioning Specialist
Ask any mechanic, and they will tell you that the best way to increase your car engine’s gas mileage, increase its acceleration and max speed, while decreasing the time it takes the gas to get to the engine -- is with regular maintenance and tune-ups of your car’s engine and components. Well, your muscles (including your heart) are your body’s engine and components, and strength training is one of its forms of maintenance and growth...
Read the full article HERE!
Revolutionizing Your Bike Fit
As most avid cyclists already know, riding a bicycle represents fun, fitness, companionship with fellow riders. Unfortunately, most cyclists at some point in their lives have learned their bicycles can also be a source of aches, pains and overuse injuries. There is hope, however. Ongoing developments in bike fit technology, greater biomechanical understanding relative to cyclists’ needs and sophisticated bike fitting techniques have resulted in a comprehensive bike fit solution capable of addressing the underlying causes of physical complaints, and returning the affected rider to comfort on the bike.
What Should a Comprehensive Bike Fit Include?
Since the above suggests the prospect of a bike fit as a source of ‘pain relief,’ it is important to note that not all bike fit providers are created equal. Instead, the achy rider would do well to ensure his bike fit solution of choice marries physical therapy/biomechanics evaluation and treatment, and appropriate technology with traditional evaluation and adjustments to the bike itself. Only then is a bike fit solution truly comprehensive and able to:
Accurately evaluate the patient’s physical dysfunction/source of pain on the bike, rather than simply guessing at the problem
Effectively assess translation of on-table evaluation and treatment into on-bike changes in patient biomechanics
Determine a short-term bike position that accommodates the patient’s dysfunction and facilitates healing by reducing stress on injured/recovering tissues
The above commentary on bike fit solutions may further lead the reader to ask what other ‘basics’ a comprehensive bike fit should include. As a minimum, the following bike fit-related contact point dimensions should be checked (and adjusted, if appropriate):
Cleat position – Fore/aft, rotation and medial/lateral
Seat height – Fore/aft, seat angle (NOTE: This dimension is best determined via dynamic measurement using Retül motion capture technology. A goniometer can be substituted if motion capture is not available)
Handlebar position -- Determined by handlebar stem length/angle
Handlebar dimensions -- Width, reach and drop (road bike)/brake lever position
The above dimensions have 'neutral/efficient positions' for the average healthy cyclist; however, they can also be altered to reduce tissue stress when disorders such as PFA, hamstring tendonitis, cervical disc injury, and Achilles tendon injury are present. For any given patient, the bike fitter must know which dimension must be adjusted in light of the patient’s biomechanics. In addition, the fitter must understand which components might need to be replaced or added to the patient’s bike as part of the bike fit process, e.g., addition of forefoot or rear foot shims to patient’s clipless pedal system to address foot tilt, changing out improperly sized handlebars to achieve appropriate width. At Revolutions In Fitness, a long-time provider of physical therapy comprehensive bike fits, such adjustments, along with physical therapy evaluation/treatment and advanced biomechanical tools such as Retül (motion capture) and Spin Scan (pedal mechanics), have often eliminated patient pain with a single bike fitting session!
- Curtis Cramblett