I had the opportunity to get a bike fit with Zack Allison over at Bike Sports the other day, and I thought I’d walk you through the process. Historically, I haven’t been super picky about my fit so it’s been a few years since my last checkup. As I’ve gotten older and previous injuries have started to flare up, I’ve become more aware of my fit and how it affects how I feel both on and off the bike.  I’ve been working with Shawn Small over at Adapt Sports Therapy on an ankle issue, and having a fit with Zack is kind of an extension of those treatments.

The bicycle fit with Bike Sports starts with a consultation on previous injuries and issues. In my case, it’s some ankle pain and tightness in the right hammy.  There’s really no telling how much time this will take, some people have a laundry list of previous injuries and have things that are constantly bothering them on the bike. I’m generally pretty comfortable on the bike, with the exception of the hamstring tightness. The ankle only bothers me off the bike. Injuries are accounted for differently than issues. After talking about injuries and issues, Zack figures out what the goals of the fit are and what the bike is for, and then we move on to a brief physical analysis. A few air squats later, Zack is taking notes on posture, feet, flexibility, and foot-to-knee alignments. That analysis goes straight into cleat alignment and adjustments. In my case, we looked at where the Speedplay pedal is wearing and some foot positions and found that a varus wedge between the two parts of the Speedplay cleat would optimize the pedal and cleat interface. I have a tendency to supinate (weight rolls onto the outer edges of my feet). Once we worked through the cleat varus valgus alignment Zack checked out the float in the Speedplay cleats to make sure the foot can be neutral and not binding on the float. Moving up from the cleats, checking knee alignment from a Sagittal plane perspective we move to dialing in saddle height and setback from video of knee angles from a frontal plane perspective. Being able to take video of the dynamic motion of the pedal stroke is key. The apps and iPad let Zack not only make angle measurements while the client is pedaling, but he can also show the client what they look like and what we’re going to change in the fit, and why. After a few measurements Zack decided the saddle setback was spot on, a newer saddle might be beneficial, but we can try a slightly higher saddle height to optimize the knee angle for a more efficient pedal stroke. That’s pretty much the only adjustments Zack made. All the other angles look good. Once the fit is dialed in, every touch point on the bike is looked over for comfort and efficiency, Zack fixes up a fit sheet with all the measurements, notes, and any potential solutions to be sought out to complete the fit.

There weren’t drastic changes to my fit; the varus wedge and new pedals will definitely help with the ankle pain, and a new Ergon saddle was necessary for general stability and comfort on the bike.

The Bike Sports fit studio is located in the basement of Brave New Wheel, so heading upstairs for a post-fit beer was a nice option.

I’m not going to tell you whether you need a fit or not, but I can almost guarantee it will improve your cycling experience. If you decide to get one, Zack at Bike Sports is a great option.

Photos by Logan VonBokel of Hot Route Media

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