Feature: Benefits of Bike Fitting

Racing cyclist Jake Yarranton with a decade of service in the cycle industry looks at the benefits of the Bike Fit

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Feature: Benefits of Bike Fitting

Jake Yarranton, who cropped up in the results recently, and was seen regularly in 2016 at the British pro races working for Pedal Heaven, has sent us this feature on the Bike fit, something he is keen for cyclists to embrace to make the most of what they get from riding their bike.

Jake worked for Pedal Heaven for nine years (still does) including a short break when he visited the United States. He started as a part time Saturday staff member before going full time and work predominantly in sales.

“My attitude towards work isn’t to just sit back and let things tick over, so I quickly took on more responsibility and started the eCommerce website which was a real test considering I had no eCommerce training” says Jake.

“I volunteered in my spare time to work with the Pedal Heaven race team which gave me an opportunity to watch some of the most exciting UK races all around the country. Whilst getting home at 4:00am and then being back in work at 8:00am was a struggle, it never put me off. On top of all that, I was still able to work with people on there bike fit, something which I love to do.”

The Bike Fit

Jake continues, … It surprises me when I talk to people who are avid cyclists and have been for a long time, just how unaware they are of the benefits of bike fitting.  Many generally didn’t know that such a process existed. One of the main reasons I decided to write this article, is because I want people to know what a bike fit can do to improve their cycling.

I have been a professional bike fit technician for six years and the majority of my training is in Body Geometry Fit, which was created by Dr Andy Pruitt and Specialized. In May of this year, I undertook my Body Geometry Level 3 master’s certification exam at the Specialized HQ in Morgan Hill, CA. I passed the exam and I am now extremely proud to be 1 of 76 people worldwide to hold the qualification.

On top of this, I am a Retul technician, a program which has recently been bought by Specialized.For many amateur riders, a bike fit won’t represent a marginal gain, but potentially it’ll give them the maximum improvement they need.  An off the shelf bike will regularly need changes to make sure that the risk of injury is minimized and comfort is enhanced whilst making sure the setup matches the individuals appropriate cycling goals.

For the novice cyclist who has just been welcomed into the cycling world, the best possible way they can begin the evolution of their progress is through a bike fit.  A bike fit isn’t just about improving performance, although, for some riders this is going to be all they want to achieve.

I always concentrate on three main factors when working with someone during their bike fit. These three factors are; power production, aerodynamics, and comfort.

The element that will be your priority is determined when you and your fitter have a detailed conversation about what you realistically want to achieve. To achieve these three factors effectively, it is not unusual that certain parts are recommended to be changed such as the saddle and stem for example. Power production is hard to predict from a position but if you are exceeding some limitations that are due to your flexibility or if you are over extending in your saddle height or reach, then it is fair to say your power output is going to be hindered.

When looking at the aerodynamics in a bike fit, various obstacles can be in the way, and without some extensive tests, it can be hard to achieve a 100% perfect aerodynamic position in the 2.5-hour session available. However, there can be big advantages made to your performance by making small changes.

It’s not just about forcing a rider into holding an extreme aerodynamic position, similar to that seen when watching some of the professional riders of today on the TV, as that can have a massive impact on the two factors, power production and comfort.

Perfecting a bike fit is a balancing act. Comfort is what every rider will ultimately want to achieve by the end of the bike fit. There may be an exception for a 10-mile Time Trialist who doesn’t necessarily need to worry about sustainability too much in order to succeed. As a cyclist, you should not have to just ‘accept’ that you are wriggling around on the saddle to be comfortable, putting up with numbness, or suffering pain in your back, knee’s and feet.

A bike fit will help these issues and you will increase your enjoyment and performance, whilst avoiding injury and riding many more miles. Now I appreciate this is a lot of information and you are probably asking yourself “do I really need a bike fit as I feel comfortable on my bike”?

There is also every chance that you believe everything on the list is ticked and you have no need for a bike fit, however, there is also a significant chance that whilst you still feel comfortable, this is because you are unaware of what the correct position really feels like. It really is 100% worth your time and money to invest in a visit to a bike fit technician, even if only minor changes are made, this can make a significant improvement to your overall performance.
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Depending on what concerns you have, the adjustments that can be made to your bike during a fit are detailed below:
• Saddle height
• Saddle fore/aft position (movement of seat on the saddle rails)
• Saddle tilt (angle of saddle in relation to the floor)
• Getting a new saddle (your fitter may suggest a completely different saddle to help increase performance and comfort)
• Stem length (for reach adjustments)
• Stem height (“drop” or how high/low your handlebars sit on the steer tube)
• Handlebar width
• Brake and gear lever adjustments
• Shoe, insole and cleat adjustments

You should aim to see your fitter annually. That may seem excessive, but a lot can change in a year. The more that you ride, the more your body will change and adapt.  You may also have suffered injuries and setbacks throughout the year. Most fit technicians will offer you a discount for a second bike fit, so it doesn’t commit you to a full payment every time which helps you keep on top of this process that little bit easier!

I have completed well over 100 bike fits and everyone I’ve worked with has experienced some degree of benefit.  So, if you haven’t done so already, reach out to your Local Bike Shop or local fit technician and get yourself booked in for a professional bike fit!



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