A special guest article from our Bike Fit expert, Ron:
Being comfortable on a bike lets you ride longer and stronger. Spending long periods of time on the bike eventually becomes fatiguing. Some of the more common areas of discomfort are the hands, neck and shoulders, lower back and knees. Nothing will completely remedy fatigue but there are ways to reduce it. Sometimes it’s just a matter of being aware of and changing bad posture or style to reduce discomfort.
Move around! On a bike, you are isolated in a single position. It’s a good idea to change your hand and saddle positions frequently.
Lower back, hands, neck and shoulder fatigue are often caused by mismatches between the length of your reach and the bike’s stem and top tube length and between your shoulder width and the width of your handlebar. Fatigue can also be affected by your flexibility or your ability to hold yourself in the riding position.
An aerodynamic position on the bike is a worthwhile goal, but not every rider is ready for an extremely aerodynamic position. It takes a lot of core and neck strength to hold that position. It is possible to build the core and neck strength to hold your position, but initially, it can reduce your ability to propel the bike. In other words, an extremely aerodynamic position is worthless if it makes pedaling the bike difficult.
Knee pain can occur on the inside, outside, behind, in front, or under the patella. Common causes of knee pain are the positioning and shape of the saddle. Make sure it is not too high, too low, has the proper fore and aft location and is at an angle that supports your comfort level including consideration for pelvic width and forward bend flexibility. Your feet and pedals can also cause knee pain. We look at cleat fore and aft location, angle and the support provided by the shoe, insole or wedges.
I’ve been fitting cyclists for over twenty-five years and have had an opportunity to evaluate and resolve hundreds of issues. Most of the time, these are items that I can readily identify during a fitting process. There are situations that may take some time and miles for the rider to adjust to. With your valuable feedback I can make small changes to dial in the fit. Once set, and after a brief period of acclimation you will be able to comfortably and powerfully propel the bike at your optimum level.