The Total Women’s Cycling forum is awash with members advising women who are suffering pain and discomfort while cycling to invest their time and money in a bike fit. Although we know the benefits a good bike fit can provide, it can be daunting spending so much money.
We asked Jan Birkmyre, editor of female cycling website BikeEnvy to investigate just how much of an impact a bike fit can have on your whole cycling experience. Jan pinned down experts from The Bike Whisperer, Romero Performance and CycleFit to help us advise you.
Over the coming week, in a three part bike fitting special, Jan and the experts will cover:
1) Who would benefit from a bike fit
2) Female specific issues around bike fitting
3) What to look for when picking a bike fitting specialist and what to expect at the fitting.
1. Who would benefit from a bike fit?
You don’t need to wait to be in pain or training for the Etape to benefit from a professional fitting. Almost anyone who rides a bike is likely to see a benefit.
Scherrit Knoesen, the bike fitting guru who runs The Bike Whisperer, agrees that most people will perform better and be more comfortable following a professional fitting and that as a result they will enjoy their riding more. He told us:
“We often sit, walk and ride sub optimally and poor posture is something we can get away with for some time, or under certain circumstances, but as the hours per week go up, your biomechanical sub optimisations will be more likely to be found out.”
“Bike riding is generally assumed to be a simple action, but it is actually quite scientific and a very complex interaction, especially if you plan on doing it fast, regularly or for long periods of time. A bike fit is not just about getting a speed performance gain and it’s not just for elite cyclists. It can help improve comfort, reduce the risk of injury, increase bike handling ability and increase safety, all of which can be more relevant to those new to cycling, or with limited knowledge.”
So potentially everyone will see a benefit from a bike fitting, but what are the signs that you really need a bike fit?
Clearly if you ride a bike and suffer any discomfort, then it is time to seek help. The Bike Whisperer’s Scherrit stated “pretty obviously any physical pain or issue which stops you enjoying your riding, or which stops you doing what you aspire to do, especially with respect to distance – let’s say if you want to ride 100 miles and pain stops you, for heaven’s sake see a fitter. If you are in pain and slower than you’d like to be, see a fitter AND a coach!”
So it’s not just about dealing with pain or discomfort, it might also be a statement that we are taking ourselves or our cycling more seriously. Without a doubt, if you plan to increase your mileage significantly, it would be wise to get your position checked by an expert before you embark on an ambitious new training plan and potentially find you have picked up an injury or are suffering with unnecessary pain.
Acting before you get into trouble is the advice from Cyclefit, “just as you are advised to consult a qualified medical professional prior to starting any exercise programme, we’d very much recommend that people come and see us before they start riding lots more than they have done and potentially building up compensations or injuries.”
However, even if you are not in pain or have plans to ride long distances, you might still be surprised at just how much you could improve. Rebecca told us;
“There doesn’t need to be any obvious signs to suggest you need a bike fit. Some people feel completely comfortable but might still be in a totally wrong position. Making changes to put them in an ideal position will most likely lead to a performance gain and will help them enjoy it even more.”
Why you should get a bike fit
- Increased riding comfort
- Helps prevent injuries developing
- Improved performance