Now Bikes Fit Session
I went over to Now Bikes and Fitness the other day to see what their Fit Session is all about. I didnít really need a ďFitĒ because Bob Sumada had given me one when I ordered my custom Litespeed 2 years ago. Since then Paul Himmelman has also become a Serotta Certified Fit Specialist so I thought Iíd let him run me though again and see if he agreed with my original Fit. I had been messing around with the handlebars so I expected there might be some adjustments. This service is by appointment only and can be done for TT, Road, or Mtn Bike setups. Hereís what I found.
The first step is an interview. They have a special room setup for some privacy. You answer questions about average training mileage. Pains you may have in arms, neck, knees, feet and shoulders while riding. Height and weight. Age and goals for your riding. Then you change into your riding clothes and get to work. Be sure to bring your shoes and shorts as they do effect how you sit on the bike. They have a changing room where you can slip into your riding clothes.
As a starting point itís best to begin with your saddle level. Paul takes out this neat digital level and places it on top of your saddle to get a readout of your current setting. Mine was a bit off but the microadjustment would only allow a setting of +0.7 or -0.8 degrees. There wasnít a notch on the bracket that would give us 0.0. I guess there are better seat brackets that have finer adjustments. We left mine at +0.7 degrees up. Depending on the type of riding you do and any physical problems you have this setting can be changed. But itís a good place to start as the basis for the rest of the fitting session.
Before moving into the on bike measurements you need to warm up a bit such that all joints are warm and flexible. So you get to ride the trainer for 10 minutes or so
You all know how important saddle height is. Improper saddle height is blamed for all sorts of pains in the knees and hips. Itís also important for the most efficient transfer of power to the pedals. Paul has this device that looks like a mini spring loaded crutch. You stand with your feet shoulder width apart and straddle this device. The spring pushes the padded top up to your crotch and your inseam length can be easily read.
There are all sorts of equations that convert inseam to saddle height. I wonít list them here. But with those equations and an on the bike measurement of hip to leg angle the proper seat height can be determined. In the picture below the measured angle is supposed to be between 25 and 35 degrees. Mine was 30%
The standard starting point for saddle fore/aft positioning is to have a plumb line from the boney protrusion just below your kneecap to the pedal axel. Once that is set than individual preferences can let you move that plumb line point forward or backward. Part of the interview will help determine if you want to make any changes in this area
Saddle/bar drop and reach
The angles shown in the picture below are again a good starting point. Then your flexibility and goals in cycling can help determine if you want to drop the bars lower. Modern fit science seems to be trending towards a more upright position when on the hoods. This give you better breathing and power. Then if you want to get aero you get down on the drops.
Your flexibility will be checked on the table. With the use of a few angles and visual queues it can be determined what your best stem heights and bar reaches are.
A lot of us can probably stand to work on our ride position. Look at the two pictures below. The left picture was what I looked like when Paul told me to relax and pedal. The shoulders up around the ears syndrome is pretty common in a lot of riders. The right hand picture is more what you should strive for. Relaxed low shoulders, flat back and bent arms. A few queues you can use to find this position is to rotate your arms in so your elbows point down. Take you lower back and tuck it in almost like it's being pulled towards your handlebars. This is the "Power Position" and is what we all should try to mimic. Easier said than done however.
Look to spend a good hour to an hour and a half at this fit session. Come prepared to analyze your goals and review your strong and weak points. If you're buying a new bike don't get hung up a frame size. Every manufacturer measures differently. Fit is what's important. Paul will put you on the frame size that fits your body for the bike you have chosen.