Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bike fit by Ari at Bespoke Cycles (Review)

This post will not be interesting to anyone not interested in biking :-)

I've been road biking for about 2 years, and since the beginning - I've had a lot of neck/shoulder pain, and right knee pain on longer rides. After trying multiple things, reading about optimal bike fit (and since I'm considering purchasing a new custom built frame), I finally decided to get a bike fit by someone more knowledgeable.

Ari at Bespoke Cycle was recommended by a few sources (and they also do custom Seven frames, a builder I'm considering), so I made an appt with them. The fit first started out by Ari and I just talking about my history, and things I'm concerned about, and also what I want from a bike in general.

First off, Ari spent a long time looking at my feet and doing cleat adjustments. Apparently I have somewhat of a hammer toe on my right foot. He also mentioned that my toes need a bit of stretching, as they have a tendency to curl up. Also, it turns out I have quite high arches, and that the insoles (superfeet green) I were using weren't even high enough to support them. He moved my cleats back quite a bit, to help relieve the pressure points on the balls of my feet.

After that, Ari had me stand up and tested my flexibility. He immediately pointed out that my leg length was not equal when standing still. Apparently my left leg has a tendency to collapse and become shorter and my right leg needs to hyper extend to compensate for this. This can apparently be the cause of my right knee pain!!! I have some options in front of me: shimming my shoes, seeing a sports doctor to get to the bottom of this, and trying better insoles. The good news is I have some hope in figuring this out once and for all. I've had right knee pain for the last few years, and have given up running because of it. I've had *two* other doctors look at this and have gotten an MRI, and they never mentioned this leg length discrepancy. Hopefully this means, if I can get this all figured out, that running will be in the cards again.

Now it's finally for time on the bike! The fitting uses this Retul fitting system and also a power measurement system that I can't remember the name of. I learned a few interesting things from this part.
- my saddle fore/aft was completely off, this moved ~1.5cm (forward)!!!
- my legs aren't working 50/50 efficiency when it comes to my pedal stroke (my "shorter" leg is actually working more)
- I hyper extend my ankles too much, and this actually leads to a loss of power as I'm trying to extend my ankles and then have to pull my heel back up
- my positioning isn't the best, I'm tilting my hips backwards too much and slouching way too much
- my frame is somewhere between 0.9 inches - 1.9 inches too big for me (and probably the main cause for my upper body pain)
- stiff aluminium frames aren't for me
- I need to stop scooting back on the saddle to get more extension in my legs, as this also screws with power output
- I need to do more stability exercises, and my VMO (inner knee) muscle is still quite weak
- I should do more core work :)

All in all, this was WAY worth the money spent. Ari spent about 3 hours with me, and also explained a bit of the options we could do if I decided to get a custom frame. I was really impressed by the fact that he seemed to take into account that one of my main concerned was *comfort* (as I've heard sometimes a lot of fit folks focus on maximum power and not comfort). I went for a ride yesterday in this new position, overall it'll take some getting used to. We'll see after a few rides how this all pans all!

1 comment:

Piaw Na said...

I think you need better doctors. I don't see how a podiatrist would have missed a height difference. Mine didn't!