In December 2014, I did a Body Geometry (BG) bike fit at BikeNow in Melbourne which cost $350. Considering this hefty price tag, I thought I should share my experience, and some tips I learnt about good riding posture from the fitter there. The tips would probably be more useful to other cycling newbies like me.
I won’t explain all the science behind BG fit, but you can read all about the BG bike fitting system here.
The pre-fit assessment
My bike fitting session lasted about 2 – 2.5 hours. When I first met the fitter, Christophe, we sat down and he asked me a bunch of questions like what type of cycling I did or planned to do, what kind of aches and pains I already had on and off the bike etc.
The body geometry bit
After all the questions, we moved on to the body analysis of the bike fit. Christophe got me to sit on this pad which was used to measure the distance of my butt cheek bones (I think that’s what they are?). From that distance he used a reference card to find my ideal saddle width and thankfully I already had the correct saddle width.
Then, I did a bunch of other structural assessments to find out my foot structure, forefoot angulation, knee position, ischial tuberosity, level pelvis, lateral spinal alignment, spinal curves, and scapular position. Yeah it probably won’t make sense to most people unless they are med students or something, just know it’s related to all the parts used in cycling!
Next I did a leg length assessment and was pleased to know I have no leg length discrepancy.
After that I did a flexibility assessment that tested my shoulder range of motion, the flexibility of my legs, hips, quadriceps, IT band, ankles, neck, back, and feet. Most were pretty good except that my quads and IT band was ‘mildly tight’. Damnit I forgot to roll that day… (self-myofascial release, check it out brah)
And finally, I did a functional assessment to test the stability/strength of my knees.
The fitting session was good. I felt that Christophe was very receptive to any feedback I gave when he made adjustments on my bike. He started with the saddle and moved to the handle bars. He also adjusted the clips on my cycling shoes. He was very meticulous about everything. At the end of the fit, the major changes I had to do were to change the width of my handlebars, and the stem to a longer one, which interestingly was changed to a shorter one as recommended after my second bike fit in Hobart. I was also emailed a report of my bike fit with all the bike and equipment measurements for future reference.
Tips of cycling technique
The email with my bike fit report also included extra tips and information about how to get use to my new riding position, and develop more power and greater comfort on the bike. I found it really informative and I thought I should share it!
- When pedaling always imagine you have an egg under the forefoot and if you pedal with too much force downward from your lower quad you would you break the imaginary egg. This helps encourage the back/glute pedaling style for more sustained power which is easier on the knees. Think about the locomotive arm stroke pedaling through the top of the stroke.
- Always remember to un-weight the leg with the hamstring, and never pull back on the stroke or simulate scraping mud off the shoe. Un-weighting the leg helps to keep the heels up and knee tracking more even. In this way, the heel will not drop and cause foot inversion which causes more knee loop.
ok this was copy and pasted from the email I got, but is he also saying to never “simulate scraping mud off the shoe”? Because this video below says the opposite. Though I think the main point is to just make sure our leg is un-weighted on the upstroke.
- Always keep a gentle bend to the arms to enhance and encourage the new position to get that last little bit of pelvic rotation needed for more power and comfort, a slightly bent arm has the added benefit of removing some of the weight from the hands by transferring the muscular effort more effectively to the legs.
Here’s a related video that features the fashion in cycling… the sport might be setting the mainstream fashion trend of 2050.
I was initially confused about whether we should have a flat back or bent back when cycling because as I’ve seen some videos of pro cyclists with bent backs, but sometimes I read about keeping a flat back. I asked Christophe about this and he said you should keep my lower back flat, but it’s natural for your upper back to bend or curve. You should think about pushing your butt out and upwards, sort of like when you are doing a squat with good form, butt back and all.
- Stretching is important to help improve pelvic hip rotation, which in time will give you more power and increased comfort on the bike. We suggest that riders who have undergone a full Body Geometry Bike Fit and have a position that is new and unfamiliar to the body stretch frequently – for every 30 minutes you spend out on the bike, stop and perform some stretching, paying attention to the hamstrings, shoulders and back. The importance of stretching, especially when physically coming to terms with a new position, cannot be underestimated – it really is the key to unlocking your bodies full potential!
- Go out slow and build easy, it can take several weeks of riding to adjust to your new fit – going out too hard during your bodies adjustment period could lead to injury.
- A good hand position should be like you’re shaking hands with the bar – a light touch, without too much weight on the hands is important to avoid discomfort. Make sure you don’t roll your wrists, which will lead to an increase in pressure on the Ulnar and Median nerves causing discomfort. Good cycling posture comes from a strong core, the hands are meant to simply control the bike, not as a place to rest!
Other pro tips from none other than Durianrider! If you haven’t noticed, I love watching his videos, and have learnt so much from him!
Conclusion: Was the BG bike fit worth it?
I would say it was for me. But I only started cycling a bit more seriously this year when I got my first cyclocross bike, so I haven’t experienced a lot of other types of bike fit systems that might be much cheaper and is just as good. My first bike fit when I got my bike at my local shop was actually pretty good as I rode around with no pains for about 6 months, and the fit was valued at only $60. However, I wasn’t riding comfortably before this BG bike fit and now I am riding much more comfortably. The next day after the bike fit I embarked on a 190km rail trail ride. There were slight discomforts after riding long distance and I took note of it. After I returned, I had a free post-bike fit check up at the shop again and Christophe made a few minor adjustments according to my feedback. After that I wasn’t in any major discomfort on a 20 km ride with a heavy backpack and a loaded bike. And it’s also good that I got a detailed report from my bike fit with all the fitted measurements for future reference if I ever get another bike or something… but I’m determined to stick with this bike for a really long time! 🙂
Hope this post was somewhat helpful!