The importance of a professional bike fit | VailDaily.com

The importance of a professional bike fit

Rod Connolly

A good bike fit is the single most important cycling-related purchase a rider can make.

A cyclist can be coached by the best coach in the world, or have the fastest set of carbon wheels, or the lightest frame, but without a proper fit the rider will be unable to generate maximal power and be unable to ride to his or her fullest potential.

Not only will the rider negatively affect their performance but will put themselves at risk of developing a repetitive-use injury and creating muscular imbalance. Most new riders who leave the sport of cycling early leave due to pain while riding that could be alleviated from a proper bike fit.

The bicycle is still the most efficient machine ever made in regards to the energy put into the pedaling and the ground speed as the return. It is a wonderful tool for doing a tremendous amount of exercise and covering a lot of terrain. And if it fits the cyclist correctly, this can all be done with low wear and tear on the body and joints.

All humans function with varying degrees of asymmetry, whether it is a functional leg length discrepancy, or a dominant side of the body, or a hip that has less mobility than the other. These are all things we easily adapt to and we walk and move around accommodating these asymmetries without cognizant thought.

But the bicycle is a symmetrical apparatus in a positional sense. When we are pedaling we are confined to one plane of motion, which is different from other endurance sports such as running and swimming. This makes it easier for people to get reasonably proficient at cycling but also can lead to a higher incidence of repetitive use injuries if the bicycle doesn’t fit correctly.

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A good bike fit will take into account skeletal structure, injury history, functional mobility, static flexibility, foot anatomy and the circumstances in which you will ride your bike. A proper fit will optimize neural function, allow you to rest your torso and pelvis comfortably, and promotes all energy from the rider to go directly into driving the pedals. A good fit allows people to pedal fluidly and handle the bike with confidence and feels balanced and stable without creating stress in the shoulders and neck.

There are many fitting systems out there, but the best fits don’t necessarily come from a particular system. They usually come from fitters who use a certain amount of science, a certain amount of experience, have an eye for detail and no conflict of interest in wanting to sell you a certain bike.

Dogma Athletica has two certified fitters on their staff – Jake Wells and myself. Our fitting experience and training has come through Andy Pruitt and the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine and Tiemeyer Custom fitting.

Dogma Athletica can provide fits on road, mountain and triathlon bicycles. We also can provide an exercise prescription that helps reduce imbalances that are observed during the fitting process and will result in a stronger, more balanced cyclist.

Dogma Athletica also provides pre-fit fittings. These are for cyclists interested in purchasing a new bike. The pre-fit procedure will allow us to determine what frame geometries and sizes will fit you best. We will also determine what stem, handlebars, cranks, pedals and shoes will allow the rider to be most comfortable and ride to their fullest potential.

The cyclist then has a bike prescription they can take to their shop to purchase or order the bike that suits them perfectly. Then we bring them back into the fitting studio at Dogma Athletica to do a final fitting on the new bike. This is a great tool for customers to make sure the customer gets the proper frame and size before spending a lot of money on a new bike. When a cyclist gets on a bike that fits them correctly, the sport becomes so much more enjoyable and can be done for a lifetime.

To schedule a bike fit at Dogma Athletica with one of their certified fitters, contact Dogma Athletica front desk at 970-688-4433 or email Dogma Athletica owner and cycling coach Rod Connolly at rod@dogmaathletica.com

Rod Connolly is owner of Dogma Athletica and a USA Cycling Coach and certified master bike fitter.