So, you’ve taken the plunge and bought your first mountain bike or you recently decided that an upgrade is needed and your new steed will be arriving shortly. The one thing most cyclist neglect is bike fitment and through the following article we would like to educate our readers on why they should consider getting fitted properly.
WORDS BY FRANS LE ROUX & DEBBIE STOPFORTH
Mountain biking globally is a big deal and the sport attracts newbies from a variety of different backgrounds almost daily. Whether you are a beginner, novice or seasoned pro, one aspect of your riding experience not be overlooked is getting the correct fitment. The most important aspects of fitment include your body’s contact points with the bike. They are your hands, feet and bum.
Your hands, for example, do the steering and variables such as your bike’s stem length, stem angle and handlebar width coming into play when getting fitted. Your saddle type, width, positioning and most importantly height should be precisely tuned to your body’s own unique geometry. A saddle which is set too low could lead to a loss of power or too far back to upper body and arm pain. Your cleat positioning on your shoes will determine which muscles you use and if you will go pain- or injury-free.
Local Capetonian fitment-guru, Debbie Stopforth from Dynamic Bike Fit shares some basic pointers on what to look out for when getting set up.
WHAT TO FOCUS ON WHEN DOING A SETUP: Most importantly is the rider’s position on the bike relative to their own specific body geometry. This includes listening to their history of injuries; how they currently feel on their bike, what their goals are and where they feel their strengths and weaknesses are. Once you have this information, one can start to focus on saddle position and height, cleat positioning, stem length and height as well as the width and position of the handlebar, gears and brakes.
FLEXIBILITY & ABILITY: If a rider is set to their flexibility as well as their ability, then the risk of injury is reduced. If one can create stability, efficiency, power, balance and comfort in a setup then a rider can reach their optimum performance without risking injury. By listening to a rider’s history of sport and previous concerns, a good set up will result in a much more efficient pedal stroke and ultimately much better performance. It is important to discuss the rider’s riding style during their set-up to help achieve the above. It is very important to achieve “functional symmetry” in a setup.
FASTER RECOVERY POST RIDE: Better recovery is only possible and achieved if the rider is setup correctly and the correct muscles are called into play at the right time.
I think the correct bike fitment is very important. If I am going to be in one position for half the day, I would like to be comfortable. Seat height and reach is something I try and sort out first because it directly influences my power transfer. I actually prefer to do my own setup which normally takes me a couple of days.
Bike fitting is the most important part of a bike. A good fitment ensures that your body is as biomechanically efficient as possible so that you can put out the most power without getting injuries. For me the most important is the saddle height and placement as well as cleat positioning. I don’t change my setup, but check it every now and again. I only check my shock pressures and adjust that from time to time.
A correct bike fitment is crucial to avoid any injuries or sitting problems and it influences your performance as well. The saddle is the one thing that needs to be at the right place for sure. I have learnt that the bike fit is not an exact science but a very individual thing which needs to be tailored to your body and needs as a rider.
YOLANDI DU TOIT
The correct bike fit is very important especially if you are going to be spending a lot of time on your bike. If not, you won’t enjoy your riding as much and consequently you will be less likely to stick to it. For me the contact points with your bike is very important – feet, hands and bum. Whenever I get new shoes I tend to move the cleats a few times but normally within a week I’ll find the sweet spot and won’t move it again until the next pair of shoes.
I believe setup is key to avoid injury and increase power and performance. The correct saddle height is most important as this can lead to knee injury and back pain or even hamstring troubles. We check our shock pressures and make sure our saddle level and height has not changed. A tip is to use a level to see the degree of slope on your saddle. I tend to ride my cleats in a more backward position giving me more power when standing on the climbs.
The correct bike setup is a crucial element to bike riding – not only does it play a major role in comfort but also in power production. I’m quite fussy with my setup partially due to old injuries. The sitting area (the saddle) is the most important to me because it’s where the power comes from. I prefer the nose of my saddle pointing down by about four degrees – I find this really helps me get forward when the climbing gets steep.
WHAT IS OUT THERE?
Specialized Body Geometry Fit: Body Geometry Fit is Specialized’s own bike fitment system. They follow a simple five step process which includes an interview, physical assessment, ride analysis, fitting and a follow-up. They are available nationwide, log onto www.specialized.com for more information.
Trek Precision Fit: Precision Fit is more than a programmatic system to adjust components and their position. It is a discussion, evaluation and analysis that leads to unique solutions to the unique challenges and needs of individual cyclists. Precision Fit starts off with an interview, off-bike assessment and on-bike assessment. For more info log onto www.gearchange.com
Dynamic Bike Fit is situated at the Bike Park in Constantia Uitsig. Get in touch by visiting www.dynamicbikefit.co.za
or contact Debbie Stopforth at firstname.lastname@example.org
Daisyway Coaching Systems: Daisyway Coaching Systems is run by the renowned pair of Erica Green and Spook Groenewald. While Erica focusses more on the coaching, Spook is the bike fitment expert. They are situated in Somerset West. For more information visit www.daisyway.co.za
Science2Sport-ErgoFiT: ErgoFiT is a scientifically formulated dynamic bike fitment system developed by Dr Jeroen Swart, a well-known sport physician and exercise physiologist in the field of cycling. They follow a three step programme starting with an individual assessment, measurement application and a digital optimisation process. For more info log onto www.sciencetosport.com