In my recent post about learning to peddle properly – I explained how doing this had led away from just technique. It turned out that my style of peddling was not just something I needed to learn but actually it had more to do with how my bike was set up.
I am sure that I am not very different from most commuters and recreational cyclist, I thought my bike was well set up, it certainly felt right and looked about right when I sat on it.
Because of my previous experience as a sprinter though, I am very aware of the importance of good technique and having the right equipment in order to achieve this. I am also a very curious bunny and like to try and investigate things in-depth, this lead me to doing quite a bit of reading about peddling technique and then bike fitting. It turned out that peddling right wasn’t just about thinking and making sure I did it right, it turned out (for me at least) to be 70% about bike fit.
So let’s put these things into perspective. Since making the changes to my technique and bike fit – I would say my average speed has increased between 20% and 30%. What was my top “on the flat” speed is now my cruising speed. I can also travel further and with less aching muscles the following day. Overall it has been a total revelation and I really suggest you give a try. Yes I am aware that some of the improvement will be because of my improved fitness over the month I was doing all this. But in the previous 3 months of riding I felt I had reached a plateau and making any further advances was not happening.
As luck would have it – I found what I think is the most helpful bit of information yet, now. I had already done everything in this video except for the fore / aft positioning of my saddle (though that required very minor changes).
The video below shows what they look at in a company called Bike Dynamics (http://bikedynamics.co.uk/) .
Now obviously you can’t replicate the exact measurements they do – unless you have a very curiously stocked garage. But it tells you what to look for, you can then use our own improvisations to get as close as you can to the right bike fit. Obviously this is not going to be enough for a serious cyclists – but for the enthusiast or recreational cyclist, you can use it to get as close as possible to a reasonable fit and as I have explained above that could make a dramatic improvement to you enjoyment of cycling.
One word of warning though. I did find that as I made the changes it meant using different muscles more or less, to that with which I was accustomed, this meant that initially I was feeling the aches more than with my original bike fit. Bear with it please, if you want, make the changes in a step by step process, this may make it less painful and create a smoother transition. The only danger with this is, for example, you will make half the saddle height adjustment and really enjoy the change after a small amount of time and then just settle with it where it is – keep updating your fit and testing it, you may end up going too far in one direction and need to dial back the changes one step, but make sure you give each alteration time to bed in and become natural.
A good fit will enable your body to be more comfortable and mean you are using the best muscle groups for cycling – these may be weaker currently but they should quite quickly strengthen and the improved speed and comfort will be continual rather than fleeting.
After you have watched the video you may want to read more about this – I am not going to give links because I think what is a good article for one person will not suit another – just Google “bike fit” “saddle height” and things such as this and find your own information.
Anyway, after that long lead in – here is the video:
Best of luck - and if you haven't done this before I really advise you to give it a try.