Bike Fit Optimization and Performance Considerations


We've all experienced numb toes, locked up shoulders, pins and needles in the hands, and worst of all that terrible issue of soft tissue numbness related to saddle pressure. Now think about how that impacted your performance in that situation. I'm not only talking about event performance. I'm talking about being able to complete any ride with quality. I've started bike fitting sessions with folks by asking them what they don't like about their current fit. Many times the answer is, "everything is fine, just the normal bike related discomfort." Yes there are normal bike related discomforts, however through a proper optimization of your bike fit many of those can be alleviated or corrected.

We need to look at these discomforts and how they impact our movement or position on the bike. Best case scenario, these discomforts end up just being annoying. Worst case scenario is we end up with an injury because they lead us to position ourselves improperly out of neutral joint positions.

In those worst case scenarios the body responds to discomfort by moving to a spot that feels comfortable for the moment yet takes us out of neutral alignment. Again, it could just end up uncomfortable in another way. Maybe saddle sores start to develop because you're no longer sitting square or even on the saddle or your left knee hurts when it's never had a problem before. After your friend borrowed your bike for the weekend the saddle height ended up 5mm too high.

The body starts to make poor accommodations in position to provide perceived comfort and takes us out of neutral joint position. Considerations for proper fit are:

  • leg extension

  • cleat position

  • saddle setback (fore/aft) and tilt

  • reach to handlebars

  • rotation of controls in relation to neutral wrist position

Each of these categories will be individually specific to your range of motion and flexibility. They are also dynamic and can change over time depending on your fitness level and increases/decreases in your range of motion and flexibility.

There is no magic bullet in regards to bike fit. The optimizations are individualized based on your feedback. An experienced bike fitter will be able to interpret your feedback in relation to what is observed in placing your joints in a neutral position on your bike.