A proper bike setup is for many the missing part of their cycling. To get the most from your cycling you need to get four things right, namely:
1) The right bike.
2) A good training program.
3) Proper nutrition.
4) Correct bike setup.
Unfortunately many cyclists and bike shops do not get number 4 right.
I begin each setup with an inspection of the bike. There are massive variations between geometries, crank length e.t.c. From there I take a medical history. The parts that hurt that obviously need attention. Consideration is taken regarding foot pain, ankles, calf and achilles issues, knee problems, hip and lower back pain, shoulders and neck pain, pain caused by the saddle and hand numbness.
I move from there to do a general knee check where we look out for illiotibial band tightness, knee cartilage wear, pes anserine conditions etc.
Once that is done we get the cyclist on his/her bike and I get them to spin for a while. During this time we measure and observe what happens to the heel. Some riders ride with a high heel, some more flat, and a few drop the heel as they press down on the pedals. All these factors are what separates us from formularised bike setup. (See last paragraph for a definition of formularised bike setups).
With that done we mark off three joints, the malleolus of the ankle, lateral condyle of the knee and the upper trochanter of the Femur. We then via camera and computer measure these angles and thus begin the adjustments.
Seat height, saddle fore and aft, torso angle, hand position e.t.c. are all taken into consideration. We also clip shoes with cleats into a mould whereby we can properly work on cleat position.
Mountain Bikes – it is critical to get gear and brake control position set properly.
Time Trial Bikes – for people wanting to do half and full Ironman we spend time making sure that the rider is comfortable. It is of no use setting up a time trial bike with only wind resistance in mind. Once your back starts to hurt you will drop off your pace. We also use the vector principles of physics when setting up saddle fore and aft and hence the position of the knee over the pedal.
Click on the link below to read more about the specifics of Time Trial setups.
Road Bikes – I have found that too many road bikes are setup too aggressively when it comes to torso angle. The result is that cyclists seldom get into the drops complaining that they are just too low. We also encourage road cyclists to frequently change hand positions along the handle bars as this reduces the chance of hand numbness.
Hamstring tightness and back pain – A number of cyclists suffer from lower back pain. I would estimate that 90% of them have tight hamstrings. So we appeal to cyclists, stretch your hamstrings out. For people struggling with persistent injuries I am able to help with soft tissue release and myofascial work.
What is a formularised bike setup?
A formularised bike setup relies on different pieces of data such as height and inseam measurement. These are punched into a computer which gives out a set of measurements. With that, the mechanic goes about adjusting the seat e.t.c. The major problem with this is that it is non-specific, takes no note of different injuries and takes for granted that all cyclists ride with that same heel height as the inventor of the program. Some riders drop their heels, some ride with a horizontal heel and some ride with their heel high off the pedal. The difference between these three positions can be as much as 10cm which means that your saddle height could be way out.
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