Bike Fit 101: A simple guide to understanding your fit.

The Bike Fit is a commonly misunderstood, misrepresented, and under-utilized tool in the cyclist or triathlete’s toolbox.


Here are three questions that I think we can all answer yes to:

Do you want to ride faster?

Do you want to ride with more comfort?

Do you want to ride with fewer injuries?



Well here is the best part, you can do all of those things if you adjust your bike fit.


When most Cyclists/ Triathletes are asked, “When did you have your last bike fit?” they answer “When I got my bike” or “never”

Those answers horrify me. You evolve and change, and so too should your bike fit.

No one get’s in a rental car and just drives with however the mirrors and seat are set up for the previous driver, so why would you just hop on a bike and ride whatever way it is set up currently?


Over the next few blog posts, we are going to break down the most critical aspects of the bike fit and explain exactly why this process is essential for every cyclist and triathlete.


First up let’s try to answer the age-old and mystifying question:


What is a bike fit?

YOUR FIT vs. A Bike Fit

In the P3 Fit studio, we use a Wahoo Kickr bike and the TriRig Alpha One bars as the centerpiece of our fit process. (more on these tools later)

Your bike fit is simply how you and your bike fit together, it is your position on the bike.

How far forward are your hands, how vertical is your torso, how far back are your hips and set, and how much bend in your knees there is. These are individual characteristics associated with how you interface with your bike. There are a million different factors in finding a great position: your goals, cycling history, previous injuries, anatomical differences, etc. Each plays a critical role in determining how your bike should be set up for you to get the most out of every ride, and this is where A BIKE FIT comes in.


A bike fit is the process of evaluating all the factors that may influence YOUR FIT and determining what changes need to be made to optimize your fit to better serve you as an athlete.



When should you get a bike fit?

Ok, the simple answer…. If you are reading this, you should probably get a bike fit.

But seriously YOUR Fit evolves as you evolve and thus you should get a re-adjustment or a full re-fit regularly. For high-level athletes, this is a constant process of adjusting, evaluating, and tweaking their bike fit, for the rest of us it is a good time to get a bike when something changes. When what changes? Here are some good examples of times when you should have a bike fit done:


-You get injured

- When you are coming back from an injury or you are facing a chronic cycling-related injury, you should get a bike fit to address any issues on the bike.

-Your goals change

- Different race distances and events require different positions on the bike; some require a more comfortable upright position, some a faster, more sleek position. Any time you change your racing goals or step up to another distance, you should adjust your bike fit accordingly.


-You are purchasing or purchased a new bike

- If you are buying a new bike, why not buy one you KNOW is going to work for you. Doing a bike fit prior to purchasing a bike will help you narrow your search to bikes that will help you get into the best position possible.


- Your training changes dramatically

- This one goes well with a change in goals, but anytime you have big changes in training volume on the bike you should address your bike fit BEFORE making the changes to prevent injury.


- You have consistent pain or discomfort that negatively impacts training

- That consistent saddle sore, that slight ache in your low back, that burning in your foot, numb hands while riding, these are all fit-related issues and should be addressed through a fit.




Quick Example


Real quick let's look at a visual example of how a small change to a bike setup can have a huge impact on how you feel and perform on the bike. To the right are two photos of yours truly:


In the left, I replicated an average middle of the pack triathlete's position on the bike, one you will see at every race. This position is

FAR from ideal and can cause lots of problems.


In the right, I moved the seat up 1cm and backward 5mm this allowed me to a more come into a much more comfortable, powerful, and aerodynamic position. This is just a quick visual example of how little changes in it your bike setup can impact your comfort and performance quite dramatically. (much more on this later in the series)



YOUR Fit

YOUR Bike Fit is 100% unique to you. Your goals, your training, your equipment and your abilities all play a role in determining what your position on the bike should be at any given time. Minor changes to equipment and fit can have a huge impact on your fit and subsequently your comfort and performance, it is important that we understand that the bike should be an extension of the rider and subsequently we need to make tweaks to how it is set up to let us utilize the equipment and our physicality optimally.


Do you think you need a new bike fit?

No problem. Set up a consultation or fit session today and we can get you dialed into a better fit!



UP NEXT

In the next blog post on Bike Fit we will look at the three critical relationships we must take into account when assessing and evaluating a position for each rider.

  • Power (capacity)

  • Comfort

  • Aerodynamics

We need to understand each of these factors, how they relate to one another, how they relate to performance AND how your bike fit can affect each of them.


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