Bike Fit

It is July and it is the peak of the outdoor riding season. I am logging anywhere between 250 and 300 kilometers a week on the bike right now. With the weather having been so warm, I have been getting hot spots on my feet. My right knee has been bothering me. I had to change a saddle out on the machine because the saddle — or the saddle position — was causing me pain and numbness.

I decided that it was time to get fitted on the bike. It has been about four years since I had a thorough fitting and I was about twenty pounds or so heavier than I am today.

I worked with Mark Dwyre over at T.I. Cycle. He follows the Steve Hogg school of bike fitting. Mark is a really good person and he did a terrific job going through the session with me.

The fit took about three hours. The process:

  1. Questionnaire
  2. Current state measurements
  3. Fitting
  4. Training

Questionnaire

This was, without a doubt, my favourite part of the fitting. I sat down on a chair and I answered questions. Style of riding. Number of hours riding per week. Medical history. Riding objectives. Current issues on the bike. No sweat. I mean literally. No sweat. The next few hours were a different story as I pedalled my way through the balance of the session.

Measurements

Mark measured everything. All the key geometric measures on the bike. My inseam. My feet. The following is a summary of the various measurements taken during the fitting session.

Fitting

The fitting itself involved a couple of hours of riding on the bike. We set up a stationary riding position using an indoor resistance trainer. Most of the bike was already in a fairly good position. Mark made a few minor adjustments as we went along. He brought the saddle height down from 74cm to 72cm. He closed the saddle set back position from 6cm to 5.6cm. He extended the tip to bar position by 5mm. The saddle nose down was set to negative 2.5 degrees — pretty much as I had set it myself. Most of the core fit attributes were close and we basically did some fine tuning.

The significant changes took place with my feet. Apparently, I drop my left hip. I drop my left hip a lot.

The following photos show the difference in height with the new shims in place. A total of 9mms of shims were used on the left shoe to help reduce the dropped left hip.

Turns out that even more work needed to be done to the feet. Wedges were used to straighten the alignment of the feet. Sole inserts were also used. G8 Performance offers the Archtech 2600 Pro insole with 4 arch heights and 20 different adjustable positions. We used an 18mm brace to support the arch on the left foot and a 22mm brace to support the arch on the right foot.

Training

Although some of the changes to the bike were relatively minor on an absolute basis, the changes — including the work on the feet – were significant on a relative basis. Mark told me that I needed to ride easy for the next three to four weeks. High cadence and light work. Heart rate needs to stay below 75%. Riding that way is surprisingly challenging. I rode the following day and I worked hard to keep my cadence up and my heart rate down. I was able to keep my cadence largely in the mid-90s. And the heart rate was surprisingly low. For the most part, I was able to stay below 120bpm. Here are the charts from yesterday’s ride.

Mark also told me that I had to spend more time stretching. My muscles are extremely tight and he recommended a daily stretching program of at least 30 minutes.

It will be hard to find that amount of time each day but I will try.

The ride yesterday was terrific. I really noticed the change in position due to the fitting activity. It was like riding a new bike.

6 replies
  1. fahim
    fahim says:

    Wow interesting bike fit. I am thinking of seeing Mark myself.I was wondering if I can ask you a few questions about your fit. What was causing your right knee pain and did the shim and wedges make it go away? Why did Mark recommend you to stretch so much when he just fitted you? How much did your fit cost with all the parts?
    Thanks
    Fahim

    Reply
    • Richard Cleaver
      Richard Cleaver says:

      Hello Fahim,

      Thank you for dropping by the blog.

      I highly recommend Mark for a bike fitting if you live in the Kingston/Thousand Islands area. Mark is a very passionate and thorough person. He can provide you with a quote for a bike fitting.

      This post was from 2012 and I had another bike fitting with Mark since that time — I had purchased a new bike and we decided that it would be best to review the fitting.

      With all of the focus on training and conditioning, I no longer required shims this year. I have been riding without the shims and everything feels great. I still use the wedges inside my shoes.

      I suspect the pain in the right knee was due primarily to a poor bike fit and repetitive strain. That pain is gone. The only pain I experience is the pain of aging and hard physical effort. The former I cannot control, the latter is part of cycling 🙂

      Reply
  2. fahim
    fahim says:

    Thanks for your reply. I live in Chicago so its a good trek to see Mark. I was planning to see him this year but my flexibility and core are kind of weak so Ill work on that and then see him. That is amazing that you were able to go from 9 mm of shims to none. What did you do to do that?
    Thanks
    Fahim

    Reply
    • Richard Cleaver
      Richard Cleaver says:

      Hello Fahim.

      There are some great bike fitters in Chicago: Get A Grip Cycles, Turin Bicycles, Higher Gear and Element Multi Sports. I would want to use someone within reasonable driving distance as a fitting is often a multi-visit process.

      Good luck!

      Reply
  3. Bal
    Bal says:

    I am reading good things about Mark. I have been struggling with leg length difference and right knee discomfort. I have seen 2 best fitters in GTA but don’t see light at the end of the tunnel

    Reply
    • Richard Cleaver
      Richard Cleaver says:

      Mark is a terrific guy and an excellent fitter. My overall fitness improved considerably since this post was made (roughly 5 years ago now). I usually see Mark every year and we redid the fit. I highly recommend Mark. Let me know if you need his contact information (you can reach me through the email on the contact page of this blog).

      Reply

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