SHIMANO | Bikefitting.com
Embarking on a big ride this spring? Follow Nas-Raddine’s advice [LINK:https://www.instagram.com/nasraddinetouhami/] and get a check-up.
There are numerous reasons why a bike fit is a good idea; attempting to ride a 320-kilometre ‘Super Classics’ route in one day is as good as any!
Ahead of such an ordeal I paid a visit to my local bikefitting.com studio to make sure my discomfort and chance of injury could be minimised, and my power output and enjoyment could be maximised. More about this mad ride later. First, let’s unpick what it is exactly that bikefitting.com do.
The clue is of course in the name, but there’s a lot more to bike fitting - and bikefitting.com - than you may think. Bikefitting.com provides the tools and training for a variety of bike fitting services. They sell the hardware, and their customer - usually a bike shop or specialist bike fitting company - then provides this service to the end consumer, cyclists like me. It’s not just hardware, such as a sit-bone measuring seat, or a static bike with laser-measured heights, lengths and angles, bikefitting.com also provides software which means these measurements can be converted into ideals, whether that’s a selection of saddles to suit your body, or the parameters in which your body and bike should work optimally.
Through clever algorithms, the software gives advice, but the bike fitter must be able to interpret this and have the knowledge to apply it to each customer on an individual basis. Bikefitting.com deliver training alongside the licence to use their product, and also ongoing dealer education. In short, they deliver an entire bike fitting system.
I found their sophisticated services surprisingly easy to understand and apply to particular types of rides. Whether you’re one of the World’s top racers eking out marginal gains, or a once-in-a-while rider looking to buy your next bike, you can pick and choose which service you want.
Talking of which, back to my Super Classics ride. The premise is to incorporate sections of routes from each of the Belgian, Dutch and French Classics races, starting in my home city of Maastricht on the roads of the Amstel Gold, and finishing in the famed Roubaix velodrome. In between will come some the most famous cobbles of Flanders, bergs of Belgium and farm roads of France. This is not planned to be an exercise in speed, but rather an adventure which celebrates the heartland of the Spring Classics and what’s possible in a day’s ride from home.
With this kind of challenge ahead of me, I want the best fitted bike underneath me. I’m an experienced rider with a good feel of what works for me on my bikes, so I’m not looking for a total overhaul of my position. Instead, I went to bike fitting to fine-tune my set-up and resolve some niggling discomfort and a few doubts.
Niels Boon was my bike fitter, and with introductions made and coffee in hand we got down to business. First on the agenda was an assessment of my flexibility and general body alignment, and a chat through any issues and injuries that I was experiencing. I arrived straight from a visit to the chiropractor. I have been suffering with some hip pain and I was curious to see if it was linked to my cleat position as I suspected.
Interestingly, the first of bikefitting.com’s services that I experienced was the Shoe Cleat Adjustment. Feeling the bones and joints in my foot, and marking the key points on my shoe, Niels could position the cleat a bit more towards the front and use the Shoe Cleat Adjuster to ensure that these measurements could be exactly replicated on all my shoes.
From here we went on to measure my sit bones on the Saddle Selector. Saddles are such a personal choice, but it’s great to be able to narrow down what will work for you anatomically. If I was new to cycling, this is certainly where I would start when it comes to getting comfortable on the bike and getting an effective power output.
Next up was the Complete Fit, which uses the 2D Body Analyser to take eight key body measurements. Based on these metrics and a few questions on my preferences, the unique algorithm in the software gave me a full bike set-up suggestion.
By this time I had spent quite some time in the bike fit studio and I still hadn’t sat on a bike. But with my bike measurements applied to the Bike Adjuster, laser beam precision allowed my current position on my own bike to be replicated and changed. Once on the machine, Niels placed several motion-sensing patches to my body as part of the Dynamic Fit and Pedalling Analysis services. Thanks to the 3D Motion Analysis camera, I could see projected onto the screen in front of me a stickman version of myself. Beside that were all the angles being measured and whether they fell within the parameters suggested by the Dynamic Fit software.
I was pleased to see that my position was pretty good, but that there were a couple of small adjustments that could improve the way I felt on the bike and make a difference in my comfort over 300+ kilometres.
Number one was the option to reduce my reach slightly by having a 10mm shorter stem. This would mean that the full range of positions on the bars, plus sliding further back in the saddle, would all fit within the suggested range. The distances I am riding are pretty long, and I’m not getting any younger, so a slightly less racy position is not a bad idea!
The second adjustment came after the Pedalling Analysis. A power crank in the Position Simulator in combination with the 3D Motion Analysis camera gave an incredibly detailed insight into my pedalling efficiency and discrepancies. We looked at the power output and how my foot and ankle moved through the pedal stroke, and how it compared between left and right legs. We decided to add a spacer under my right cleat to equalise each side, and, with some fine-tuning to the position, it felt much better. I’m hopeful this will help with the hip pain I have been experiencing.
Even with very few changes, the process took about three hours. By bringing together all the individual services, we had truly dialled in my position and ironed out the small problems. It may not seem a lot, but a small problem over a long ride becomes a big problem. For that reason I’m now recommending a bike fitting to everyone who wants to enjoy their rides as much as possible!
I left feeling fully confident in my set-up and ready to tackle the Super Classics ride.
For more on Nas-Raddine’s challenge check out: instagram.com/nasraddinetouhami/
Or to book your own bike fitting contact your nearest bikefitting.com dealer via bikefitting.com/