As a rider, it’s easy to notice something about your bike that doesn’t quite fit right and makes you uncomfortable… and then ignore it. Exercising through discomfort can actually impair your riding performance and even lead to injury. If you’ve been experiencing pain or discomfort when you ride, it may be time to visit a physiotherapist for a professional bike fit assessment.
Professional bike fitting is a customised service offered by Pollinate Health physiotherapy. If you’re a commuter, weekend warrior, recreational rider or semi-professional, book in for a professional bike fit appointment with our clinic today.
Our goal is to help you sit comfortably and find a proper position, have the right equipment, assist with injury management where needed and receive the right exercise program to balance weaker parts of your body, ride with power and ease and improve your performance.
First, we take a detailed history of your current riding, past injuries and current goals.
We then assess your body and take important measurements such as your flexibility, leg length, saddle width and forearm length.
A detailed analysis of your bike and current setup is taken.
As a final step, we use video analysis to evaluate your body bike interface, which is just a fancy way of saying how your body interacts with your current bike setup.
At the end, you are presented with a report and recommendations.
If you have been experiencing pain or discomfort while riding, or if you are carrying injuries, we recommend that you book in for an extended bike fit consultation (Level 2 bike fit).
Level 2 bike fit involves a physical assessment designed to get to the bottom of any unresolved musculoskeletal issues you’re experiencing.
We will explore the source of your discomfort on and off the bike and recommend adjustments to your riding position, plus an overall rehabilitation program to assist with recovery.
The most common cycling-related discomfort we see is hip pain, knee pain, numb hands or neck and lower back pain.
Our goal is to address niggling pains as we as bring you back to full musculoskeletal health and strength.
Take a read of our four-step process.
During the bike fitting process, we will learn about your cycling history, the primary type of cycling you enjoy and what you hope to achieve in the long run.
The type of bike you are riding is also important to consider, is it a mountain bike, road bike or gravel bike?
All bikes are technically suitable for bike fits, but experience from the bike fitting world says that road cyclists are the most interested in improving their comfort and their power output and efficiency.
A good bike fit physio should also assess your cycling goals.
One person might want to check that they’re set up right for optimal performance. They might compete in road races or be involved in triathlons, so they just want to know that what they’ve got is done correctly to help optimise their cycling performance.
Another person might like to stop feeling discomfort while riding.
The most important thing is that your physio understands your needs and adjusts their assessment to meet these.
Bike fits involve taking your body measurements to see how your body composition fits your bike size and its setup.
These measurements are all critical for fitting cyclists to a bicycle. It’s relatively common for a cyclist to have a bicycle that simply doesn’t fit them correctly, causing pain or discomfort.
For example, some people might have leg length discrepancies. In this instance, we might recommend building up the their cycling shoes or cleats on the side with the leg that is shorter.
Sometimes we might also see that a person’s arm length is quite short and when we measure them on their bike, they are having to extend out too far to reach their handlebars.
Their trunk and arm position are out of balance and we often need to recommend a shorter stem.
Occasionally we need to suggest major changes, but very often making adjustments to one or two things can make all the difference to increasing cyclists’ comfort and optimising power output.
Next, we measure the bicycle you’ve been riding and its current settings, as well as any cycling equipment like your cleats and cycling shoes.
It is very important for riders to understand some key parameters of their bike. These include stem length, top tube length and crank length.
As part of the bike fit service, we take you through all of these measures and give you a written record for future reference.
But as a starting point, good bike fitters should always consider the overall size of your bike. Is it actually the right size?
There’s nothing worse than purchasing a new bike and discovering it’s the wrong fit. By considering a bike fitting service before you head into the bike shop, you might save yourself some heartache down the track.
Below are some of the important measures we take of your bike during a bike fit service.
We use two measures of saddle height:
1. Seat to peddle spindle (measures the top edge of your seat to your peddle axle).
2. Seat to bottom bracket (measures the top edge of your seat to the midpoint of your bottom bracket).
This is the distance between the height of the seat and the height of the bars.
(For riders who are commuters, we like them to have a more symmetrical seat and handlebar height, whereas a racer would tend to want to be what we call more ‘slammed’, with lower handlebars compared to their seat position.)
This is an important measure and should be equal to shoulder width.
This is measured from the tip of the seat to the handlebars and should correlate to forearm length + 4cm.
We use a cleat tool to measure you cleat alignment and assess what position your cleats are currently set at.
We also assess the pedal axle position in relation to the first metatarsal phalangeal joint (MTP), a fancy way of saying you big toe!
Finally, we measure knee over pedal spindle by dropping a plumb line from the bottom part of your knee cap when your pedal is at the 3 o’clock position. This measure is called ‘knee over peddle spindle’ (KOPS).
Using 2D video analysis, Pollinate Health physiotherapists are able to film you to gain crucial data about your posture on the bike and your pedal stroke technique.
With video analysis, we take live footage from the right hand side, the left hand side and from behind. This helps us see how a person is actually cycling in motion.
There are three main contact points that we focus on in the video analysis. The first contact point is the seat, the second is the pedals and the third is the handlebar.
Video anlaysis allows us to gain very precise data points on the following measures:
After undertaking our four-phase assessment, you will receive a formal Pollinate Health physiotherapy Bike Fit report. You will receive a hard copy and we will also email you the report.
In addition to recording your measurements and including screen grabs of your riding assessment at key points, we might also recommend the following:
We often suggest adjustments to your bike set up, especially to the position of your seat or handlebars.
Physio bike fitting often means that you need to adjust your technique.
This might mean improving pelvic stability, developing good knee control, or adopting a toes slightly pointed down position so that they are acting as a rigid lever to improve riding efficiency.
We often recommend some specific cycling strength exercises and a full exercise program to help people become better riders by being stronger in the key muscle groups.
Sometime physio treatment is required, which might include rehabilitating an injury.
We also look at training load as well because heavy training loads are a big risk factor for cycling injuries.
A Pollinate Health Physiotherapy Bike Fit Report summarises our key findings and recommendations as we take you through the video analysis to help you understand where and how the changes should be implemented so that you can reach your cycling goals.
Physiotherapists are trained not only in bike fit but also in cycling injury screening, management and prevention.
Physios are also up-to-date with the latest in cycling science, which they will bring to your bike fit.
By taking an individualised, evidence-based approach, your physio will help you improve your comfort on the bike, manage injuries and also improve cycling performance, if that’s what you are looking to do.
We can also tailor an individualised rehabilitation program to not only improve your cycling performance, but also to keep you cycling for longer.
Finally we can even help you choose the right bike or bike setup, to arm you with the right knowledge to help you make an informed choice when you purchase your new bike.
Principal physiotherapist Jimmy Goulis has been an avid triathlete and rider for a number of years. He has honed his bike fit skills and knowledge by undertaking professional development in the field and has completed his Level 1 and 2 Physio Bikefit Course with Physiosports.
His physiotherapy expertise combined with commitment to professional development and state-of-the-art equipment mean that we offer the highest level of professional bike fits not just in Carlton North, but greater Melbourne.
What should you bring for your bike fitting service? You will need your bike, cycling shoes, bibs and shirt.
Our level one Phsyio Bike Fit assessment is $200 and takes 60 minutes. Our Level 2 Physio Bike Fit Assessment takes 120 minutes and is $350.
Bike fits may be able to be claimed through extras in your private health insurance, but this depends on your type and level of cover. You will need to confirm with your private health insurance provider. Book today by calling or locking in an appointment online.