Why you should get a bike fit, by triathlete Claire Williams
We are glad to have Claire as part of team Bikmo. That’s not only because she brings us delicious homemade cake once in a while. Apart from baking, Claire started cycling and triathlon only a few years ago, in 2013 and she has since already put some very successful season behind her, finishing 4th during the ITU World Championship in Lausanne and winning in her age group at the Hertfordshire Triathlon. Being relatively new to cycling and starting right out with racing has meant Claire has made a journey through bike fittings. In this article she provides some pointers on why beginners or pretty much anyone, who likes to spend time in the saddle, would benefit from getting a proper bike fit.
Back in 2013, I attempted my first ever triathlon, on my 3rd hand bike…
I bought it from a friend in the triathlon club. No thought went into it other than it was a road bike. It was white and pink and my goodness when I tested her I thought she was fast! I made a rough estimated guess to my seat height, I couldn’t reach the brakes on both sides but hey, I would be fine. I had cages on my pedals for my trainers, a second-hand helmet and off I went.
Those were the good old days before my addiction to cycling and triathlon grew. I started to spend more time in the saddle and started to look into how I could get quicker! My first thoughts were I had to change my bike. I wanted to change everything to carbon, as this is what I thought at the time, would make it as light as a feather and therefore give me the extra speed and comfort that was going to make me quicker, or so I thought! I gave no consideration to my position on the bike. To being comfortable, efficient or even to simple things like my clothes or my own weight.
In terms of being aero and making gains with equipment etc, it’s an absolute minefield. My bike fitter Phil Murphy (Total Tri Training) says even when you think you have made improvements and tweaks to position, there are still so many areas in which you can make gains. For me, the biggest gain has been through just getting a proper bike fit.
My second bike was a beautiful Liv Envie women’s specific triathlon bike.
I spent all my savings on her, so wanted to make sure I was doing things properly this time. So I booked a bike fitting. At the time I was still fairly new to triathlon but with upcoming longer distance races in the calendar and the addition of tri bars I knew I would be spending more time in the saddle. So, I wanted the bike fit to be more relaxed to allow for this. One thing I felt straight away was more efficient pedalling and much more comfort than my other bike.
I was able to cycle for long periods of time without wanting to stretch or layout on the floor to help with back pain. And, I no longer suffered from pins and needles in my hands! I hadn’t come across power meters at this point but on feel, I knew I was moving quicker, and my times proved this. One thing I do regret is that as I became fitter, lost more weight, became more flexible and got more experienced with using the tri-bars. I didn’t adapt and change the bike. What I should have done, was have another bike fit.
I look back on some of my race pictures and where I thought I was tucked up and aero. I was actually sat up looking like I was eating my dinner! When I did start to eventually look into adjusting my Giant Liv bike, it was clear to see I had no adjustments left with the frame/seat height. I am 5’ 2’ and even with the female-specific tri bikes, there are only limited sizes available. This meant looking for a new bike had its difficulties…
I came across the Trek Speed concept TT bike…
After hours of trawling on the internet, I came across the Trek Speed concept TT bike. It was beautiful and what was more dangerous was that you could customise the bike to your taste. Oh lord help my bank balance! Once again, I sought the advice and expertise of Phil, my bike fitter. He was superb and made changes to every point of contact I had with the bike. Again I could feel the power and efficiency with each pedal stroke was a lot more noticeable.
I was never even aware that so many points of the bike could be changed and adapted. Things like foot position, saddle height, saddle position, reach to the handlebars etc. All things that I had never realised when I bought my first road bike.
So why is a bike fit so important and should you get one?
No matter what type of cyclist you are. Or what your individual goals are, everyone would benefit from a bike fit. Here are some of the main reasons why you should get your bike fitted:
- Increase in comfort while riding, with the goal of eliminating the likes of pain and soreness, commonly in your back, shoulders and knees and pins and needles in your legs and hands.
- Decreasing the risk of injuries, particularly to your back and knees.
- Better performance, power and efficiency.
- Feeling less fatigued.
Our bodies don’t stay the same and with our age, flexibility, strength and current injuries. As our goals change we should allow for this and make the necessary changes to our trusty bikes as well. There are plenty of bike shops and bike fitters that you can get a wide range of fits done. Generally depending on the level and quality of fitting and your bike type. The prices range from £45 to a few hundred pounds.
If you would like to see what’s Claire up to, visit her blog for racing updates, more triathlon related stories and her personal journey, which is more than interesting. Have a look yourself at claireoptimumhealthcoaching.blog