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The Importance of a Bike Fit

cyclist rides stationary trainer

Originally posted Aug 1st, 2018 / Gear Tips
Courtesy of Team Holowesko|Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources 

Team Holowesko/Citadel racer, TJ Eisenhart putting in the miles on the Omnium Over-Drive.

 

The average pro bike racer is in the saddle around 30 hours for a hard training week, about half that for an “easy week.” The Tour de France covers around 3500 km (2200 mi). If we’re talking about mere mortals: logging 10 to 15 hours a week in your cycling training plan would get you the respectable head-nod within your local racing scene.  Seven to 10 hours/week would keep you fit as a fiddle. But whether your weekly rides total three hours or 30, if your bike doesn’t fit you properly, you could be in for a world of pain.

A poor fit might start with something fairly innocuous like saddle sores, mild discomfort, or a weak pedal stroke, but it can quickly progress to knee and back injuries or worst of all … slower speeds and reduced power!  In short: there’s a long, negative list of very bad things that can easily be avoided with the right fit and accessories.

If you google “How to fit yourself on a bike,” you’ll get plenty of advice. Pages and pages of advice via step-by-step tutorials, videos, etc. But we suggest consulting a professional for several very basic, yet key reasons:

 EVERY ATHLETE IS DIFFERENT

One person’s femur length, hip flexion, arm-reach, core muscles, pelvis width, etc. is quite different than another’s. When things are out of whack (which can be hard to diagnose just by just looking down at your bike/body) your body will attempt to compensate and that’s when folks get injured.

A PROPER FIT ENSURES COMFORT

Comfort leads to enjoyment, which leads to more riding, which leads to puppies and butterflies (or puppies and cyclocross) and World peace.

A WELL-FIT BIKE IS A FAST BIKE

That’s right. If you’re not riding with an optimal fit, you’re likely sacrificing speed and power. Why would anyone ever want to do that?

BIKE PERSONALIZATION

A good fit might mean swapping out certain things like handlebars, saddle, stem, pedals, shoes, etc. This is referred to as “bike personalization” in Fit-Land. If you’ve been a cyclist for a while, you might have an arsenal of spare parts and accessories in your garage. But if not, not to worry! A professional bike fitter can make suggestions, swap out accessories, and make these adjustments for you, right at the shop or their studio so you can “try before you buy.”

There are many types of professional bike-fit methods out there. Some shops and studios may have elaborate in-house bike-fit systems, and others just use a traditional trainer in a quiet corner or a side-room of the shop. One trend we’re noticing is that the Feedback Sports Omnium Over-Drive Trainer is becoming a staple of professional fitters all around the world. Fitters have come to the conclusion that the same features of the Omnium that appeal to pro and amatuer cyclists make it the perfect bike-fit tool as well.

  • Simple fork-mount design: This allows for quick and easy set-up. Ask any racer (or rather a pro-racer’s mechanic) and they’ll tell you just how fast and easy they are. No fiddling with your rear cassette, no need for a trainer-wheel vs. a racing or riding wheel, no derailleur adjustments, etc.

  • Compatibility: The Omnium Over-Drive accommodates Road, MTB, CX, TT, BMX and even Folding Bikes as it accepts QR, 12×100, 15×100, 15×110 (Boost) Thru axles.*

  • Lightweight and portable: At under 14 pounds, the Omnium Over-Drive folds up easily and comes with its own tote-bag. If you’re an athlete, this means hassle-free travel to the races. But its compact nature also makes it perfect for small spaces at home. These same features allow a shop or studio to maximize precious space, and even allow the fitter to take it with them if they wish to fit a client in the comfort of their own home or on the road.

  • Internal Progressive Resistance: Just because it’s small and compact doesn’t mean it doesn’t pack a powerful punch. The Omnium Over-Drive’s magnetic resistance is hiding in its two round, aluminum drums. The faster you pedal, the more resistance you’ll feel. But instead of the loud sounds of a wind or fluid trainer, it’s quiet. For athletes, you can hit this trainer with your hardest workouts. If you’re at the races, it’s perfect for warming up or spinning for a cool-down. A fitter will appreciate being able to talk to their client rather than having to yell over the trainer, and she or he will be able to watch your pedal stroke on the spectrum of an easy, relaxed pace, as well as standing up and hammering.

TESTIMONIALS:

“As a professional bike fitter, The Omnium Over-Drive Trainer has been the most versatile and adaptable trainer on the market. With the advancement of through axles, having the ability to use one trainer with different spacing options for all wheel sizes and axle widths has freed me up to focus on fitting. It is an indispensable tool of the trade.”

-George Mullen, Professional Bike Fitter, Peak Cycles, Golden, CO

“Traveling with a team’s worth of equipment is always a challenge. Trying to figure out how to get trainers anywhere used to be one of my least favorite tasks. The Omnium has really been a game changer for us. Light enough to fly with, quiet enough to use in a hotel room, and compact enough to pack out of the way until they are needed. Plus with the massive range of compatibility, you can always lend one out if another team is in need.”

-Doug Sumi, Chief Mechanic, Holowesko|Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources

Chances are you’ll see more of the Omnium Over-Drive in the near future. Look for it in the overhead of an airplane, on the balcony of a hotel, at pro or local races, and of course…at your local bike shop in the hands of a professional bike fitter. For more information about the Omnium Over-Drive, please click here!

*Additional adapters for Lefties and QRx74mm can be purchased separately if needed. 

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Want to be a better cyclocross racer? Avoid the avoidable, says coach Chris Mayhew.

man lying on ground with bike
With the upcoming United States Cyclocross National Championships , we invited JBV Coaching’s Chris Mayhew to share his thoughts on how to prepare for the big race at hand. Mayhew has actively raced for over 25 years – toeing the line at elite cyclocross, road, MTB and time trial events.  He puts on cycling training camps, cycling skills clinics, and rumor has it, he’s also quite the bike mechanic. In other words, Chris lives and dies for cyclocross and has the experience to know what makes a bike racer successful.  Anyone prepping for that “big race” has trained their body to be ready. Chris’s tips can ensure your bike is ready, too.
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You’ve spent months training and analyzing your data, hours researching the right hashtags and filters for your #crossiscoming posts and then on race day all that hard work comes undone from a preventable mechanical. Bummer.

Ben Bergeron says there are 5 things you can control as a racer: sleep, recovery, nutrition, training and mindset. I would add that for bike racing you can also control the initial state of your equipment. That said, I realize it’s challenging to put in the work as a bike racer and then have to be a bike mechanic too. My experience has proven there are two really easy ways to provide the best return on your time and keep your equipment in for cyclocross season.

First, wash your bike.

Bill Marshall (KCCX) getting the job done in fine fashion.

This can take many forms, and it’s somewhat situational dependent. After a muddy ride or race, the minimum you should do is lean the bike up against something and hit it with a hose to knock the majority of the mud off. This will keep your sidewalls and any metal parts on the bike happy along with the cables, if you still have any of those! Spend two minutes on this.

It doesn’t need to be perfect, it needs to be clean enough to lube a chain and see the details of the drivetrain components. The real action happens with a deeper wash, which should happen once a week. Remove the wheels, install a chain keeper, and put the bike in a repair stand. I prefer dropout-style repair stands for washing and detailed work, but also have the luxury of a standard upright repair stand too. Get a bucket, some brushes and some Dawn soap and go to town. This isn’t about being a black shoe, white sock roadie. Think of this as an active meditation with your bike. Clean all the surfaces, making sure some sort of cleaner (soap for the bike, de-greaser for the chain) gets liberally applied and washed off. As you do this, have a close look at the frame and all the moving, rotating and gliding components. Spin the cranks while you clean them and feel for looseness or crunchiness in the bearings (bottom bracket, pedal and derailleur). Think about any issues you had with the bike when you last rode it – the minute I dismount my bike, I seem to forget any problem I had until the next time I ride.

This whole bike wash process should take around 15-20 minutes from the time you fill the bucket until you put the bike back in storage. The main point in all of this is to engage with every part of the bike and catch things like bent chain links or worn cables before they become a problem on race day. This is a great time to quickly check your brake pads too.

So yes, you get a clean bike out of it, but more importantly it’s a bike inspection and preventative maintenance.

In tandem with the above, and maybe even while you still have it in the stand, check your bolts.

You don’t have to do this every week, but once a month run through the stem, seat-post and saddle bolts at minimum. I’m in love with my Feedback Sports Range for this sort of work. You can loosen and tighten any bolt with it (unlike most torque wrenches) and it comes in a very handy little case that keeps all the bits in one place. All my other torque bits are scattered somewhere across my work bench at this point. I’ve taken to just keeping my Range in my race clothing bag as a race day essential.

As I said earlier, bike maintenance is definitely something you can control – it’s called “preventative maintenance” for a reason, and it’s a great use of your time – I’ve witnessed too many races undone by the avoidable. And as with any task, the right tool makes it easier and faster to do, which means you’re more likely to do it.

Racing bikes is hard work, on and off the field. Don’t let all your hours of training and preparation come undone by one loose bolt. Spend some time owning the state of your equipment. Get it clean enough to notice any small issues before they become a race day nightmare. Run through the bolts periodically to make sure nothing is loose and don’t forget the bolts in your shoes. If you want to make all of the above easier  to perform there are some Feedback Sports items that would be worth putting on your wish-list.

Good luck at your races, and remember: you can often make your own luck.

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Thanks for the words of wisdom, Chris! Follow Chris on IG, Facebook and Twitter for more. You can also catch his articles on Cyclocross Magazine.