Cycling and triathlon are sports that have introduced me to the greatest community of people I have ever met. For the past four years I have had the pleasure of giving back to beginner cyclists as a ride leader for Canada’s largest female cycling team, Spoke n’ Hot.
Many of these riders are just starting out in the sport of cycling, others have been riding for a few years, but are now jumping onto a road bike for the first time. I am often asked what would be the most important thing you can buy for your bike. My answer is always a professional bike fit.
How does a professional bike fit differ from the seat height adjustment you receive when you buy a bike from a bike shop? The answer is: It is different in every way. In a professional fitting, each touch point on the bike is examined and adjusted specifically to fit with considerations for your flexibility, leg length, shoulder width, sit bone width, foot analysis, previous injuries, and leg lengths. The goal? To make you biomechanically effective, to prevent injuries from a poor bike fit, and make you comfortable on your bike.
I am often asked what would be the most important thing you can buy for your bike. My answer is always a professional bike fit.
I recently purchased a new bike for the gravel racing scene, and the bike shop was too busy to provide me with a fitting that day. I took it home, adjusted the seat height and went for a ride. Over my cycling career I’ve been through six professional bike fits and know how a bike should fit me, so after only 11km I knew this wasn’t going to work out. I booked a fitting for the next day and here’s how it went down:
I met up with Lou at Western Cycle to perform my bike fitting. Western Cycle uses a fit system by Guru Sports called F.I.S.T. This bike fit system is so accurate that it can provide adjustments at all contact points down to 1mm increments.
The Guru F.I.S.T. system provides the bike fitter technician with all of the adjustments that need to be made to the bike.
How does a professional bike fit differ from the seat height adjustment you receive when you buy a bike from a bike shop? The answer is: It is different in every way.
They start by matching the handlebars and seat on your bike with handlebars and seats they use on the Guru fitting bike.
You mount the fitting bike (in your cycling shorts) while they bring up your bike in the Guru fit systems computer. When your bike is selected, the entire Guru fitting bike springs to life with a whir and moves the seat height, bar height, bar reach and seat fore/aft position into place for a factory build of your bike.
Based on your body measurements, flexibility and other measurements the bike fit professional moves the bike into a range that suits your body, and then you start pedaling. He or she then moves the Guru fitting bikes touch points around based on your feedback in 1-5mm increments to find the best cycling position. Meanwhile, cameras record you while you pedal to aid in knee tracking and body position on the bike so you can compare before and after riding positions.
A squishy pad measures your sit bones to make sure your saddle is the correct width.
The seat is adjusted to its optimum height and the handlebars are adjusted.
Lou makes sure the bars are straight after changing the stem length and Burt the bike mechanic goes over the bike one last time.
Now take the bike home and ride! You will notice an immediate difference in your comfort and agility on the bike. Once you’ve made your bike your own, I’m sure you will love cycling even more.