What does the bike fit service involve?

In brief following the completion of subjective questionnaire an initial physical assessment will be undertaken by the Physiotherapist to gain an understanding of a cyclists body shape, flexibility and whether there are any functional weaknesses or asymmetries relative to cycling. This is followed by an observation of the cyclist pedalling on a static turbo trainer on his/her bicycle.

A variety of measurements of the cyclist and the bicycle will be taken throughout the bike fit to enable appropriate adjustments in order to optimise an individuals position relative to the type and level of riding. We are all different shapes and sizes with varying trunk and limb lengths and ultimately the bike should be manipulated to fit the individual cyclist. Minor adjustments can be significant when you think of the repetitive nature of the pedalling action.

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1. Rider and bike information
Initially we need crucial information about the type of riding you undertake i.e. leisure, triathlon, racing or time trial etc. as well as the bicycle you ride and level of experience or expertise. A history of previous injuries or present injuries whether it is related or unrelated to cycling is also very important as physical compensations may have occurred. The type and brand of shoe wear will be needed i.e. road or mountain bike cleats or just normal shoe wear, as this has relevance to the actual bike fitting process.

 

 2. Physiotherapy assessment
Prior to sitting on your bicycle we will need to assess and observe your standing and sitting postures from all directions to gain an understanding of your body shape. A few simple physical tests will also be observed in weight bearing that will give vital information on joint mobility and control. General joint movements and soft tissue flexibility will also be assessed and this is fundamental in identifying any potential problem areas, in particular if you have any previous or present injuries. We basically need to know how you move and your own limitation and asymmetries.

3. Shoe wear
The next phase is to assess the type of shoes you wear for your cycling and if you use cleats, the positioning of these is paramount. The cleat position is fundamental to the pedalling action as this is the interface between the pedal and the shoe and ultimately to your transmission of power. A cleat can be moved from fore to aft in order to get the pedal spindle between the first ( base of big toe) and fifth metatarsal phalangeal joints (base of little toe). The cleats can also be moved from side to side depending on the individuals stance and pelvis/hip width as well as rotated depending on lower limb biomechanics. An incorrect cleat and ultimately foot position can result in inefficiency and potential injuries further up the leg.

4. Anatomical reference points & bike measurements
Prior to the actual observation various bicycle measurements need to be taken to allow a comparison of pre and post bike fitting changes. The cyclist will also have boney landmarks identified at the wrist, elbow, shoulder, hip, knee, ankles and foot to provide reference points when analysing the recording of the pedalling action and position on the bike.

Man measuring up a bike

5. Cycling observation
The next stage is the observation of the cyclist on a static turbo trainer from all angles using video recording. This data is then analysed through slow motion and freeze framing with constant referencing to the anatomical markers. The cyclist will need to warm up to get a more accurate observation of a natural pedalling action and once this has occurred individual measurements can occur.

6. Anatomical measurements – back end of the bike
Initially the back end of the bicycle is focused on and the hip, knee and ankle angles at different stages of the pedalling action will be measured through the use of both static measuring devices and dynamic analysis. A virtual and static plumb line will be used to assess the position of the knee in relation to the foot and pedal spindle. If adjustments are needed then this can be undertaken with further analysis of the new positions. This process will continue until optimal angles and positions of the lower limbs are achieved through saddle and cleat adjustments. The observation of lower limb mechanics will then be viewed from the front and rear to again assess any asymmetries or excessive pelvis movement on the saddle.

7. Anatomical measurements – front end of the bike
Once the back end of the bike or ‘engine room’ is sorted out the focus will then be at the front end. The amount of reach in relation to the trunk, neck and upper limb angles will be assessed and measured. Handle bar width in relation to shoulder width needs to be considered as well as the stem length and height of the handle bars. Hand positions on the hoods, bars and drops need to be observed, particularly the cyclists preferred position. If possible corrections will be made but in some instances certain components may need to be changed in order to gain an optimal position.

8. Incorrect bike sizes
In some cases bike sizes may be incorrect or additional components are needed to be purchased. If this occurs then appropriate advice will be given and a brief re-assessment may be needed.

9. Once the bike fit is complete
After a bike fit we recommend at least 4 weeks of cycling to get use to a new position and sometimes further corrections are needed if problems occur. A bike fit is an evolving process and unique to an individual depending on many physical and mechanical interactions and variables that can change with time.

Contact

If you would like to contact me about my work, please email: [email protected] or call 07846 686 560