Recovery Ride Convo – Bike Fit Tips

Recovery rides are a fave part of the training week.  The pace is easy and people are chatty.  Such was the case during yesterday’s recovery ride.  In addition to the usual race recaps, nutritional tips, and tech talk we got on the subject of bike fit.

Bike fitting used to be about feel and the advice of your elder statesmen on your team.  Now, bike fit has become a science, with high tech systems like Retul.  But, we all agreed as we chatted up our own systems for optimization, it all comes down to a few basics: the fundamentals:

1) Start the fitting process at the foot: The ball of your foot should be somewhere very close to being directly over the spindle (while your foot is parallel to the ground and while the pedal is at the 3 or 9 o’clock position). If it’s not directly over, you should have a reasoning for being either behind or forward, but most riders are directly over.  Some trackies like to be behind for more leverage, and some people like to be just in front of the axis for more support.

2) Adjust your saddle height and position so that you maximize your own ergonomics.  Saddle height is tough because there are so many formulas, but forget about formulas for a moment and think this: the higher the saddle the more leverage, the lower the saddle, the better the spin.  Somewhere in the middle is ideal.  For each person, this spot is slightly different.  OK, stating the obvious… but here’s how to get the right height: During a 1 minute interval on a flat to slightly rising road, at about the 45 second spot, ask yourself, “where would I like to be on my bike”?  You can feel pretty good on the bike when you’re just riding around, but when you’re on the rivet, that’s the time when you need to be efficient and the time when you can best assess how you’d like your bike set up.

3) Now, make sure the fore aft of the saddle is on, over, or in front of the spindle. This measurement and reasoning is similar to #1 above.  While seated in on the saddle, place your shoe in the pedal and put your foot in the 3 o’clock position (for right foot).  Drop a plumb line down from your knee cap.  Your knee cap should be right over the axle.  Like #1, you can adjust this 1 cm in front or behind the spindle for the very same reasons.

As far as performance, the above 3 points are pretty key.  The remaining fitting points: stem length, bar height are important for comfort, but have less affect on performance.

We finished out our piano ride at the cafe, where it began.  And on to our next convo: espresso or coffee before a race….

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