Don’t take a bike home without one!
Want to buy a sexy carbon framed, light wheeled “fast bike” DON’T!
Well…don’t buy a $2,000+ bike, without a bike fit…you won’t get the benefit. Bike size, and your body geometry are the base of the pyramid, when it comes to your cycling experience.
Would you pop a 1973 Volkswagen Beetle engine, with a bent crank shaft, into a beautifully engineered body and interior of a new Audi r8 coupe or a Q7 SUV ? No, the engine was built to work with the frame and the other car components. Same deal on your bike, but you’re the engine (and you certainly don’t want to hurt your crank shaft with an improper fit).
Seriously, do you think the bike’s going to ride itself, while you take home the Over the Hump Series’ championship trophy in 2014?
You should be committed to an insane asylum if you’re planning on swinging a leg over the top tube of the S-Works Tarmac or new S-Works Epic World Cup, the most finely tuned machines in Specialized’s line up at $10,500,without a bike fit. You’ve just spent hard earned cash, on a tool with every ounce of engineering your cash can buy. But you’re seeking optimum performance in a bike, but (and it’s a big BUT) if your frame size is wrong, stem is too short, and saddle height is off , you’ll be missing half the performance and your entire December paycheck.
You should have bought a beach cruiser!
So I went in for my own BG Bike Fit at Rock N Road Cyclery back in September. Nicky is one of 50 BG Bike Fit Certified Technicians in the US. She went through the whole process with me, from body mechanics: flexibility, leg symmetry…and I’m not an easy guy to fit, so she needed every bit of BG Technology and her own personal fit experience she had to offer.
I’ve got issues; after my 2004 motorcycle crash, into an oncoming Ford F150 pick up truck on Mulhullond drive, I had my God-given biomechanics altered by a little inertia. 3 out of 4 torn knee ligaments in both knees, broken (and now semi-fused right ankle), broken pelvis, and plenty of other issues challenged my long time athletic interests. After 3 years of rehab, and 10 surgeries, I found myself able to ride a bike; but my right leg was not bowed any longer, due to an orthopedic adjustment to compensate for the ligament damage, and my flexion in both knees was unique, and limited. I had issues walking without a limp (still do), and pedaling wasn’t in the simple cards. I did fight through the flexion, and never was fit until 2011. But that’s when things changed.
2 years ago I had a butt sore. Yeah, not the best opener, but true…I went through 13 (thirteen) different saddles trying to get the “hot spot” on my left cheek to chill out. I was uncomfortable every ride, with nerve damage, and even considered setting my bike on the ceiling hooks for the next month or two, until I could get it gone. At the same time, my left shoulder really started to hurt. I couldn’t hold onto the bars of my road bike for more than 45 minutes, without having a sharp pain near my scapula. At the same time, my wife and I had committed to riding Levi’s Gran Fondo in Santa Rosa, 3 weeks away, and I was too intent on keeping the commitment to give in to the discomfort.
So, a couple of friends and senior bike helmsman sent me to see my first bike fit expert. With one visit, I was rhythmic in my pedal stroke, using 100% of my leg, not just my quads. I was tapping potential power, and my ass and my shoulder stopped hurting…truly, it was like I was healed. If a bike fit and religious experience went hand in hand, I would have been at the bike fit tent meeting from then on out (and I sort of am a fit evangelist, because now that I am being a bit more purposeful about this year’s riding goals and benchmarks, I won’t ride my bike without being fit by a pro). And honestly there are some fit quacks out there.
So besides size of bike, which is HUGE, (make sure you got the right size, or sell it on Craigslist and get another)…what else is there? Um, everything! Every little bone and measurement on your body is different than mine? So why if I’m 5’11 and you’re 5’11 would a 54cm road bike frame, fit me, but be too small for you. Because your legs are longer than mine, and my torso is longer than yours. My joints flex differently, and my flexibility is more limited than yours. Not to mention, arm length, foot size…and how in the world can I know if I’m getting the right fit, without being a pro?
That’s a good question; you can shorten or lengthen your stem, adjust the rise on your stem, or drop yourself. Change handlebar widths, sweeps and drops. Flat bars, ergo bars, reach measurements and more are all just in the bars. The stem allows you to raise or drop your stem with spacers, but where is just right? So you get your hands comfy, and brakes in reach, for your hands, what’s left. Good question…I don’t know! Do you?
The video monitoring of the BG Fit, does more than I could ever do on my own.
The goal is not just to raise your seat, and get your knee to bend at exactly 150 degrees at the lowest pedal stroke. Before my fit I had no idea the longest reach in my extension was not directly at 6 O’clock down. Nor did I know the tilt of my saddle down in front put more pressure on my prostate, the lift on the nose relieving some of my forward sliding , and the lift of the seat post changing the fore and after positioning of my seat, allowing for instant discomfort or discomfort developing over the length of a ride.
I’ve teased and often heard friends joke with Matt Ford, Rock N Road founder, that he can’t ride his bike without the precise millimeter saddle adjustment, and it’s kind of true; there is a bit of science in every ride.
When I had my road bikes stolen out of my garage in August I had no idea what they had stolen. Yeah, there was the bike, my saddlebag, tube, inflator, Co2 bottle cages and the grip tape I like on my bars…but there was way more than that. MY FIT WAS GONE…CRAAAAAAP!
I hadn’t taken notes, on my bars or saddle. Measurements were just where I liked (and needed them) for the last two years. My bars were 44cm (Got that from my previous fit technician), but the SDG Saddle I had, is not the same one they’re making now, and the hot spot on my tail, can be sensitive still, if I’m not seated just so on the bike. My crank arms may be the same size on my new Tarmac as the old, but I don’t remember, and I sure hadn’t committed to memory the length of my stem or bar reach.
So I went and picked out my 2013 Tarmac Expert. A great bike at $5,500…I grabbed my choice of bottle cages, saddlebag, a new inflator and took it out the door, ready to ride. But after 2 weeks, I knew I literally would lose my enjoyment and not be able to keep up with the group ride on Tuesdays, if I didn’t get fit. So when I had to get my bikes refit in September, I gave the BG Fit a try.
“Bottom line. Get Fit. I’m not the only one that believes it’s important, or sees the benefit.”
And even if you’re an accomplished cyclist like Blackstar Race Team’s Jon McGee or Specialized factory racer Burry Stander you can get more out of your fitness and bike racing / riding performance with a BG Fit.
A bike fit for 1 bike is $250 and the two bike is $350. They both come with one follow up visit, to make sure a month later, as your fitness changes, and bike slightly adjusts due to use, that you can get refit.
What is different about a BG Bike Fit? There are several measurements that will be taken. Digitally and via measurement tools. There are 5 major components to every BG Fit.
- Pre-fit interview - Every fit, whether it’s for a novice or experienced cyclist starts with a brief interview with our trained technician that addresses your needs, goals and injury history.
- Flexibility assessment - This evaluation provides an accurate picture of your flexibility and other physical attributes, including assessment of foot structure, knee position, spinal curve, shoulder extension, hip flexion and leg length, among others.
- Side view - This is a riding-position assessment using your side view on the bike. The goal is to find the correct neutral position that’s both efficient and comfortable by adjusting the seat, handlebars, stem and cleats.
- Front view - Analysis from a front view to optimize hip, knee and foot alignment for optimum efficiency and balanced power delivery. This includes analysis of the pedal and shoe placement and how squarely you sit on the seat.
- Follow-up - After a week or so, the technician calls to discuss the effectiveness of the adjustments and to answer any other questions or concerns you may have
It’s not even possible to do a decent job on your own. Saddle height, bar position, stem length, crank arm length, the placement of your buns on the saddle (for that matter the width of your sit bones paired with Saddle Width), position of the saddle (tilt, height, fore and aft position). Then you’ve got your pedals, cleats, and proper position there. Which also takes into consideration your specific Body Geometry of the arch of your foot, alleviating hot spots, and maximizing power through your feet. Angle of your foot pad as it extends through your pedal.
And then when all the measurements are said and done, it’s not done. That’s the beginning. Nicky or the other fit technicians will have you pedal, and video tape your front view and side view. My left food needed two wedges, my right none. (because of the orthopedic adjustment). Nicky made adjustments on the fly.
The BG Fit Software, allows the technician to grab exact measurements of your knee, elbow, and back angles. It’s a bit of a science and a bit of an art. More accurately, an art that is using science to validate and support its form.
Another great feature of the BG Fit is that your fit technician can give you a report, that will allow you to view your before and after measurements. Keep this in a safe, in case your seat post slips or a jerk steals your bike! It’s the most valuable bike tool you have. (Click here to see mine)
My results for an amateur self proclaimed cycling enthusiasts are measurable. In September I was doing more mileage, and getting “fit” and being “fit” I was more comfortable on my bike, and could ride longer. The new bikes felt and performed even better than my “old bikes” (after the fit). And though it’s been 3 months of riding consistently, with an updated fit and new bikes, both my mountain bike and road bike pedal power are increasing. My speed on my regular Tuesday Morning World Championship ride is increasing, from earlier trips this year, and my climbing efficiency power and efficiency is growing.
If you look at the number of Strava “cups” I’m grabbing…(admittedly more PR’s than top 10 results, and most of my top 10’s are downhill)…I’m getting stronger…the fit is for sure adding amazing benefits.
I have $12,000 worth of retail bike space hanging in my stable: road and mountain bikes. It’s beyond me why someone would drop several paychecks on bikes, without being willing to invest a fraction of that in making a normal or maladjusted body optimize the use of the carbon wheels, pedaling efficiency, and body position that the engineers intended for my optimum experience.
I will never win a World Cup Race, I may never win an Over the Hump race in my class, unless I pay Replay Timing to fix me up. What I do know is that my own results, strength and comfort riding can improve over last weeks, and months, and years. I race myself. When I do I like having tangible benchmarks, knowing I am stronger and faster today than yesterday.
I’ve always believed there’s a way to get more out of life, than just to sit on my ass. But since I like to sit on my ass and pedal, I have been thrilled with how the BG Fit has added efficiency, comfort and fun for just a $350 investment in my bike fit.
It’s changed the way I ride!
Thanks Nicky! “BG-Fit Queen”