This bike fit was a special one, because we also built the bike for Arjun.
For someone like him, who has a lot of experience riding road bikes, and has come to us for previous bike fits, it makes sense to schedule the bike fit as soon as the bike is ready to roll. He has the knowledge needed to make decisions on what feels better while microadjustments on the saddle or pedal are being made.
The problem that we wanted to resolve for Arjun is that he said the arches of his feet pain when he rides. While he was warming up, Pavan, who did the bike fit, noticed that one of his knees was falling in. Through some trial and error (getting the rider to do some squats, checking for where it hurts when they ride – or even when they walk or run), Pavan determined that this was owing to the arches collapsing. The solution in this situation was simple – put in an insole in the riding shoe. This helps give a hard surface at the pedalstroke end and that is useful tactical feedback for the rider. For riders that have been athletic for a long period of time and engage in efforts like Yoga, like Arjun does, this feedback will over time help him raise awareness of the fallen arches and work to raise them. This was the aha moment for him, and he was able to pick up an immediate change in experience.
We also need to keep in mind specific needs of the riders. In Arjun’s case, owing a a wrist he had broken in the past, he needs the hoods to have a slight upward tilt so that he can brace that wrist.
With these, the adjustment to saddle height, position etc., the bike was fit and and looking very fine indeed.
The bike: A Cannondale Synapse 2018. This one is a beauty with a custom paint job. It features the sublime British Racing Green laced with gold.
Reason for a bike fit: Preetam complained of pain at the base of the neck and between shoulder blades. More, he felt that he was not generating sufficient power. (Note, for a rider to be able to make this assessment, they would have ridden sufficient miles on that bike. And so, they know their ability, their output and the bike’s ability)
In Preetam’s case, Pavan noticed that a knee was falling inward. In the outside of the same foot, Preetam was experiencing mild pain. He was seated too far back on the saddle with too much of a reach to the bars. This also explained why he felt a stretch in the neck and shoulder area.
The solution was to insert a foot wedge to correct the knee falling in, which addressed the foot pain.
Step 1: Do an assessment of strength and core and sitbone width for the first 15 minutes. A series of questions are asked to understand
What does the rider want out of their bike?
What are their cycling goals?
What do they perceive their cycling fitness levels to be?
The bike fitter assesses the rider broadly on –
Form on the bike, including pedal stroke efficiency,
Position on the saddle,
The reach & drop of handlebar,
Knee tracking and a few more parameters.
To bring the rider to a position of maximum efficiency that is compatible with comfort and is in line with their cycling goals, the fitter will work on saddle height, saddle set back, saddle angle, choice of saddle and reach & stack (primarily determined by choice of stem, stem angle, handlebar width)
Bike fits typically have that one moment, where the rider experiences a big change in the experience of engaging with that bicycle. Pavan says, in his experience, it is often the saddle height and saddle position.
In Ashwin’s case, this turned out to be true. He tended to sit closer to the nose of the saddle. The saddle was also pushed too far back and was too low.
Ashwin also used one of our offerings – trialing a saddle before buying it. We offer some of our existing saddles for customers to test. They take a saddle they are decided on for a few rides, evaluate if it does for them what they had hoped, and then make an informed purchase.
As you can see in the images above, the saddle was changed, and the position and height were adjusted to suit Ashwin. That brought about a significant change in his riding experience, which showed up in his rides by way of increased speed and consistently bettering his ride times on his usual ride routes.
In addition to fitting the ride to suit the rider, we also find that recommending specific sets of exercises to the rider helps further contribute to injury-free and stronger rides.
To that end, we watch out for discomfort or pain reported when riding marginally outside comfort zone (long rides, for example, or fast ones). We look for the rider’s form on the bike and this leads to further checks on stability, core strength, strength of specific muscle groups. As the image show, recommending some glutes and hams strengthening exercises will help in engaging the glutes into the pedalstroke.
We also spoke about gradually reducing the weight on the hands, and engaging the core more mindfully while on the bike. The rider upped their speed output by an easy 4-5kmph and did his fastest 80k ride after the bike fit.