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The level at which an individual can meld physiology, biomechanics, ergonomics and art is what makes a bike fit specialist either good or amazing. As you may know from personal experience this can make your riding experience pleasurable or painful. No matter your level of cycling ability, you are an athlete. You push your body, you train yourself to do more and more mileage or you push yourself to ride faster and faster. With this in mind, an athlete is constantly changing and because of that your bike fit changes as well.
This might be hard for some to imagine but that position that was set up for you two years ago, that you have been comfortable to ride, train and race with might not be optimal for you any longer. There are a multitude of things that can change this position the three most common changes that we see are:
Variability in adiposity: Let’s be honest, many of us get on a bike to either lose weight or maintain weight and this is a large factor in fitting. Changes as little as five pounds in adipose tissue can result in a change in position. This little change can make a saddle more or less comfortable, change hand pressure, allow for positional changes of handlebars and smooth the pedal stroke.
Changes in core strength: Core strength does not only refer to that shredded six pack abs. The core strength that this is referring to is the entire region between your chest and pelvis. This is your stabilizing platform on a bike and helps you to generate power, support yourself on the bike and can have a big impact on your comfort as the ride gets longer and muscles begin to fatigue. Changes in core strength can mean saddle position changes to a more powerful position that we were not able to support previously and handlebar changes for improved aerodynamics.
An athlete’s fitness: As we become more fit cardiovascularly and gain bike specific strength we are able to modify our position. This added strength can result in changes in flexibility which can alter position.
The important part is assessing your changes since you last had a bike fit. Have you increased your saddle time by 10-20% a week or more? Has your event specificity changed (i.e. 20 mile rides to century rides)? Has your weight fluctuated by 10lbs or more? Have you done our core workout or another one for several months? Are you having discomfort on the bike?
If you answered yes to 2 or more of the above questions you should seriously consider updating your fitting to optimize your position.