What’s the Proper Bicycle Fit for You? BY CALVIN BERUBE Photos by Kristi Pfeiffer
uying a new bicycle has to be the best feeling at any age. It could be your first set of wheels since childhood, adding to your bike collection or even looking to shave time off your ‘personal best’. This excitement, however, can quickly fade to disappointment and discomfort if your new bicycle doesn’t fit you properly. When a cyclist comes into my shop, the first thing I do is ensure they have the right bike for their goals and riding aspirations. I do this through a short prefit interview, while making a few notes. From there, we will usually address the following three principles as we conduct their fitting: 1. Body history 2. Fitting needs 3. Contact points Your body’s history comes before the bike’s geometry. In the pre-fit interview, I begin by asking a few guiding questions such as age, previous injuries and goals for the bike. For example, if you broke your ankle on your growth plate, the likelihood of having a symmetry issue is pretty high. This means your fitting will need to compensate for a slightly shorter leg, rotated hips and asymmetrical palm-contact position on the handle bars. Whether you want to survive your first 100-kilometer fundraiser ride or simply join the kids for a cruise to the ice-cream shop, it all matters. As a former BMX Racer and bike shop owner for 15 years, I know bikes, but it’s you as a cyclist, that I need to assess and fully understand before you even get on your bike. The approach to fitting your bike is based on one of three purposes: comfort, endurance or performance. Once I know what your goals are, I then begin to fit you to your bike based on comfort, endurance or performance. These factors will change the way the bike should fit to you, not the other way around. I have a client who regularly rides from Canmore to Drayton Valley, which is over 340km. Given his goal was endurance, I once had him pedal for four hours in the shop before even getting started on addressing his discomfort issues. Adversely, when fitting World Champion and Olympian Tara Whitten back-in-the-day, she was after elite racing performance gains on a very specific TT bike. Her fitting was all about making minor adjustments for high-speed racing and aerodynamics. Your body’s five contact points with the bike need to be addressed individually in accordance to how they make the bike feel to you. A bike has a symmetrical design while your body does not. A proper fitting bikes is achieved when your hands, feet and pelvis are in that perfect bull’s eye placement. Using the unique architecture of your body, I will usually work in the following order to get each connection point in it’s ideal place.
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