Ready for cycling season? How a Bike Fit Can Help You Ride Injury-Free All Season Long.

A bike fit? What is that? Do I need one? What’s the evidence? And what does a session look like?

These are all the questions you can expect to have quick answers to in this post. Read on for more…

What is it?

A bike fit is an assessment and process carried out by a certified or registered bike fit specialist. You do not need to be a medical professional to do one, but often physiotherapists become bike fit certified to use their assessment and diagnostic skills to provide a comprehensive assessment and bike fit for a patient.

The ultimate purpose of a bike fit is to optimize one’s posture on their bike to address a client’s goals and create an enjoyable and riding experience.

Do I need one? What’s the evidence?

Most individuals who bike consistently may benefit from a bike fit, but one does not need one to enjoy riding a bike. During riding, we are in prolonged positions which put our neck, wrists, low back, knees, and ankle under stress. These stresses can cause uncomfortable symptoms that impact our ability to cycle. For example, One studyfound that out of 3,300 participants in an amateur cycling event, 88% of participants had some form of non-traumatic injury, pain and, or neurological symptoms. The most common problem areas were, the hand/wrist, back, buttock/perinium (where a bike saddle sits) (41%), neck (34%), knee (33%), foot/ankle (24%), and hip (7%). The severity and specifics of these problems varied, but that’s a large proportion of riders who suffered through some issue, during their cycling event.

So, what can be done to avoid these issues?

Interestingly, another study2 found that small changes to saddle height (5%) led to a significant alteration in knee kinematics (how the knee moves) while riding (35%!). In addition, another studyfound that adjusting saddle and handlebar height altered a riders flexibility (hamstrings) and power output, ultimately increasing their cycling performance. While these changes may seem insignificant and do not equate to a direct injury/issue, we see that small changes to how your bike is set up alters how your body moves and performs during cycling. 

So, there is some effect when one alters the parameters of their bike, but where do bike fits “fit in”? (haha)

Bike fits have been shown to improve participant comfort and reduce pain during riding after one4.  In addition, these improvements have been shown to last, for riders even through the course of an entire cycling season 5. More research is needed to analyze the association between bike fitting and injury risk, but there is some good evidence supporting positive change for riders once they undergo a bike fit!

Ultimately, some cyclists deal with similar issues while riding and may assume its normal to be in discomfort or pain, especially when training for an event. This is not the case; biking can and should be pain and injury free, and a bike fit can be a critical step in ensuring this.

What does a session look like?

A bike fit session will be longer than a normal session – 120 minutes is what we usually book fro these.

Step 1:

Come to your session with your bike and specific bike clothing (cleats and shorts).

Step 2:

Have a conversation about any concerns, goals, injury history and go through an assessment for bike specific concerns.

Step 3:

Get on your bike and go through several measurements, and tasks while your physiotherapist assess your riding posture and mechanics. Adjustments will be made in conjunction with how these changes feel and alter your move.

Final step: Pedal away! Go out for some rides and see how the changes feel.

Keep in mind that the bike fitting process isn’t a one and done experience, patients must give themselves some time to get used to their adjustments and sometimes these adjustments need to be modified.

Subsequent bike fits may be needed if the changes are not well tolerated.

So, whether you’re getting a new bike, dealing with an injury, looking for performance improvements, or have sport specific demands (triathlon, road, mountain biking), you may benefit from a bike fit!

Are you ready? Book with our bike fit by emailing the clinic at info@alaia.ca or give us a call at 604-812-4286.

Chris Schreiber, Registered Physiotherapist, Bike Fit Specialist

References

  1. Van der Walt, A., van Rensberg, D. J., Fletcher, L., Grant, C. C., & Van Der Walt, A. J. (2014). Non- traumatic injury profile of amateur cyclists. South African Journal of Sports Medicine26(4), 119-122.
  • Bini, R., Hume, P. A., & Croft, J. L. (2011). Effects of bicycle saddle height on knee injury risk and cycling performance. Sports medicine41, 463-476
  • Holliday, W., & Swart, J. (2021). Performance variables associated with bicycle configuration and flexibility. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport24(3), 312-317.
  •  Priego Quesada, J. I., Kerr, Z. Y., Bertucci, W. M., & Carpes, F. P. (2019). The association of bike fitting with injury, comfort, and pain during cycling: An international retrospective survey. European journal of sport science19(6), 842-849.
  • Scoz, R. D., de Oliveira, P. R., Santos, C. S., Pinto, J. R., Melo-Silva, C. A., de Júdice, A. F. T., … & Amorim, C. F. (2022). Long-Term Effects of a Kinematic Bikefitting Method on Pain, Comfort, and Fatigue: A Prospective Cohort Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health19(19), 12949.