Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Why A Good Bike Fit Matters

I admit it, I've been putting off getting my bike fit. Yes, I know I bought my lovely pink bike a year ago. But I got it to a "good enough" fit by tweaking it here and there and I thought I was just fine. Except that sometimes after a hard ride my left knee would hurt a bit.

My left knee, by the way, is my "good knee", not the one I injured last year. The fact that it was hurting was maybe not such a good sign. But it was rare, and mild, and.... well, I just kept putting it off. But then hubby got a terrific bike fit from our local bike store, Collin's Cycle Shop and it made a big difference for him and so I finally found the time to fit it in.

Wow. So glad I did. For one thing Jay, my fit technician, could show me on the video exactly why my left knee was hurting. It wasn't tracking straight (the right one was). He got that fixed, and in the meantime adjusted my saddle, stem, cleats on my shoes, aerobar angle and position, and many other things. All along the way he measured me, my flexibility, the bike, my positioning, and explained what he was doing and why. It took a good 2 hours or more, and when I came out I felt much better on the bike.

So this last week I've been taking the new fit for a spin. Let's just say I loved my "Pinkalicious" bike before, but now it's like I got married to it. After a couple of shake-out rides, I set out with some friends on Tuesday to the local time trial course. I only did a 20 minute TT, about half of the 15 mile course, but I managed to average over 21 mph (without my aero helmet, wheels, or anything) and felt great. I felt like I was able to deliver more power to the pedals with less effort than ever before.

So, bottom line: Bike Fit Matters. It matters for comfort, speed, injury prevention, biomechanics, and just pure enjoyment of your ride. It's not cheap - a good bike fit usually costs $200 - $350. But considering how much we bike nuts usually invest in other doodads for our two-wheeled loves, it's an investment well worth making.


hb said...

Hi, I'm a lurker, working up to my first sprint triathlon (ran my first mile this week!) I don't have a bike (or a bike to borrow) so I've been doing a ton of bike research as of late, and was wondering if you had any suggestions on which direction to go? I kind of want to buy something I can use even if I do the first triathlon and never do another one, so I was thinking a hybrid. Good idea, bad idea? My local bike shop has a Raleigh Route 3.0 that is in my price range, but I don't really know all the ins and outs of doing bike research and what else the bike will need once I get it. Its a big investment for me (I'm a grad student, basically everything is a big investment for me), and I don't want to make a horrible mistake!

Robin said...

That's great - congrats on getting into the sport. I started in triathlon as a starving college student, so I know exactly what you're talking about. The hybrid bikes will be good for commuting around town, but you will expend a lot of extra energy in a triathlon because you will be upright and they are created for comfort, not speed. I would consider buying a used road bike in that price range instead, unless you are primarily looking for a commuter bike. The reasoning: a road bike can be used for commuting, road riding, triathlons, and bicycle touring. My first road bike was a steel-framed Peugot with very few bells and whistles, but I did all of the above on it. It saw many miles! I would talk to your local bike store about what you're looking for and see if they have some suggestions.