For those who are serious about improving, whether from a performance perspective or to ride efficiently and pain-free, a proper bike fit is the first priority. The body will adapt to any riding position (even a bad one) on a muscular and metabolic level and you want to train in the most efficient position possible so you can get the most out of cycling.
Think of it this way, imagine you want to climb upwards to see how high you can get. So, you find a tree and start climbing. You climb and climb until finally you reach the upper boughs of the tree and look around. The view is great, but you see another tree – a much taller one – and think, wow I could go even higher if climbed that one. But, in order to climb it, you actually have to climb back DOWN before you can start climbing the other one. Rather than training on and adapting to an inefficient position, it’s best to get on the right track from the very beginning.
So, what makes one position better than another? It all comes back to two things – leverage and efficiency. A crank (the arm that the pedals are attached to) is a rotating lever. So, the goal of a good bike fit is to align the rider’s muscles so that they can produce the most leverage. In addition, a good bike fit should be biomechanically efficient. A position that is too high adds wasted movement to each pedal stroke causing a rider to spend more energy than needed. A position that is too low leaves potential power on the table. On a more serious level, an improper bike fit can cause serious injury as even small problems get multiplied across thousands of pedal strokes.
Another thing to consider when getting a bike fit is to approach it from a dynamic perspective. One of the mistakes I see people make is they get a bike fit and leave it at that, assuming they are set up “correctly”. However, the body is a dynamic system of moving parts that are constantly changing and adapting. A good bike fit should develop along with the demands and goals of the rider. At Semper Porro, we do an initial fit and then check the rider’s position twice in the ensuing months, and then once again every year after.
Part of the process of fitting is working around injuries, functional imbalances, and latent deficiencies. Using an evolving model of fitting we can work around problems and correct issues over the course of months. The process goes hand in hand with bodywork and specific exercises to strengthen and balance the body.
It takes time to develop the ideal position on a bike. But, done right, a good bike fit will allow a rider to be powerful, aerodynamic, efficient, and injury free.