Tag Archives: bicycle fit

Common Cycling Injuries and How to Fix Them

We’ve all had it at some time, pain. And I don’t mean the sweet pain of going full gas, I mean the niggling, sometimes agonizing pain of a poor fit or misalignment.

Usually new cyclists are the most vulnerable, as they tend to go looking for a bike and either buy it used, regardless of size, or who buy their bikes from a clueless shop assistant who just wants to make a sale.

I bought my first bike from a very reputable local bike shop. The only adjustment they made was the seat height, but the bars were too narrow, the stem was too long, and due to the slightly awkward reach, my back and shoulders hurt. I just thought that was normal.

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It was a year later that I was fortunate to meet pro mechanic who ran a bike shop who measured and fitted me to a new bike…. and suddenly I was one with the machine and my cycling experience was completely transformed. Cycling became painless and a pleasure.

My go-to guy won’t sell you a bike until after he’s measured you. Then he’ll recommend a make and model based on your measurements and your style of riding. Then he’ll fit you on your new bike on a raised trainer and tweak everything while you ride. He’ll shim your shoes if you need it. The bike will be truly yours, it will fit like a glove.

Never underestimate the power of a good fit. It can optimize your power output, your aerodynamics and your comfort.

If things don’t feel quite right on your bike, I recommend getting fitted by a pro. But sometimes you can tweak just one thing on your bike and eliminate that nagging pain or discomfort. This guide shows you what to look for.

Common Cycling Injuries and How to Fix (and Prevent) Them

Infographic: Cycling Injuries and Bicycle Fit

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How Two Tiny Centimeters Unlocked 500 Miles

Reader Brian F tells a story that dramatically illustrates the potential power or destructiveness of a bike fit, and how little adjustments can have major effects. 1500 miles in to a 2000 mile bike tour he faced defeat due to unbearable pain…

“We had already done about 1500 miles, but I started to develop saddle sores. I spent almost two entire days coasting and standing because I couldn’t bear to pedal while sitting. I was resigned to having to take a bus for the last 500 miles of the trip, which was a completely demoralizing thought. About four in the morning I woke up in my tent and said out loud, “Lower the seat.” A couple of hours later I lowered the seat by about 2 cm. and I was good to go. It was like a miracle.

Don’t you love the way his mind figured it out while he was sleeping?

Speaking of bike fit and saddle sores, I had the hardest time finding a saddle that was comfortable. I used to ride quite a bit, up to 40-50 miles was no problem, but a couple of days a week I’d do 90 miles, and occasionally I’d do 120-150.

It’s those long rides that revealed the weakness in a saddle for me… and frankly scared me a bit as I started experiencing lingering numbness and pain.

Finally I found one that worked, here’s the saddle that saved my butt.

Saddles are a very personal thing, but if you’ve had issues and are not quite satisfied with your saddle, I recommend giving this one a try.

Bicycle Fit: Nailing Your Saddle Height

One of the critical elements in a good bike fit is saddle height, get it wrong and you can put undue strain on your knees and be in for a world of hurt.

When I had just started cycling, maybe 6 months, I somehow talked my wife into doing the MS150.

Crazy bicycle fit with high saddleI signed us up for the extended version which turned out to be 107 miles on day one. Around about 80 miles my knees started to feel fragile, like they were eggshells and cracking. It was almost unbearable, I only got through it with the help of painkillers.

The painkillers worked wonders and we completed the ride, all 187 agonizing miles of it. My wife has never let me forget.

I learned a valuable lesson; it’s so not so much about the bike, or the rider, but the marriage of the two.

When I bought that first bike, some kid in the bike shop had set me up, and sent me to circle the parking lot a couple of times. “Perfect,” I said. I was clueless.

My next bike was built by a veteran mechanic on the pro circuit, and a bike fitting fanatic… what a diffeence. That bike was a part of me. It still is. Fourteen years later I’m still riding it, it’s my trainer bike.

So how do you stop your knees from feeling like they’re about to shatter? Here’s a quick video on how to get that crucial saddle height right.

How to Set Your Saddle Height Just Right

Click the link below to watch the short video with tips on getting your seat height perfect: