I am an incredibly lucky cyclist. The owner of our local bike shop is the brother of my grade school gym teacher. Not only does he know bicycles, he’s built them for decades, apprenticed in England under a premier bike builder and even built the bike ridden by the 1984 24 hour World Record breaker. It is a rarity to know someone who is incredibly knowledgeable in the sport you love, let alone to become friends and ride with him as well. I consider myself a blessed cyclist. He has gone beyond the call of duty in cultivating my enthusiasm and in helping me to be the best cyclist I can be. He even cares to make sure that my wife is on-board with costly changes so that our marriage remains harmonious.
It was from the Swartz Creek Assenmacher Cycling Center that I bought my beloved Specialized Venge Comp. When I bought that bike, Matt joked that he took the easy road, handed me the bike and pushed me out the door. I disagreed – I dropped the cash on the counter and ran out the door with the bike. I did my own fitting on the bike, transferring many of the same measurements from my Trek 5200 to that bike. I’ve put well over 1,000 miles on it since I fit myself on the bike two months ago. I haven’t felt even a twinge of fit-related pain in all of those miles.
Last month Matt suggested that we should do a full Body Geometry Fitting on the bike (and, it turns out, me). He offered the multi-hour service as a part of buying the bike. Well yesterday was the big day. The Specialized Body Geometry fitting is so much more than a simple bike fitting – it’s a complete review of injury history, needs and goals as a cyclist followed by a thorough review of all cycling related body movements, flexibility assessment and then a complete review of the body’s natural position as it relates to cycling. Only after all of that is reviewed and discussed did we get into the actual fitting process (though we skipped the goals – he knows exactly what my goals are).
We went through all of the normal checks – knee over the spindle at 90 degrees, level the saddle, etc. Then he got into the serious stuff. He pulled out a laser level to make sure that both legs were in line through the whole pedal stroke and the whole nine yards. Then he checked my position in the cockpit. Finally, he realigned my cleats a bit farther forward (in line with the newest idea of what the perfect location over the pedal is) and that was followed by a complete realignment of the cleats. After that, everything was re-checked and I was done.
So, how did I do with my fit? The only thing non-cleat related that had to be done was to lower my saddle by 2 mm – part of which was required because my cleats were moved forward (it’s like moving the saddle back). The rest was my desire to get my saddle up as high as possible so I could get the most, aerodynamically, out of my bike. The problem with this notion though, was that I ended up sacrificing power at the bottom of my pedal stroke. Sure enough, the combination of moving the cleats up and lowering the saddle just a smidge meant that my leg angle at the bottom of the pedal stroke was a bit more aggressive – in other words, by having the saddle just a millimeter too high, I was having to work too hard to keep up because I was losing power at one of (if not the) worst parts of the pedal stroke.
So, when we were done, and after getting all of my gear back on (it was a cold ride in), I headed home the long way. The difference wasn’t amazing or profound, but keeping spun up was definitely easier. I could definitely feel the change.
I’ve had simple bike fits before, even performed one myself, but had no idea that something as simple fitting could be that thorough. And on that note, I was incredibly happy to learn that A) I’ve been paying enough attention that I really do have a decent idea of what I’m doing with a basic bike fit and B) that everything I am physically points to having a long and happy life as a cycling enthusiast. After the whole process, I am absolutely confident that I am, as much as possible, in the best position, both aerodynamically and comfortably, that I can be on my bike. If available, I highly recommend the Specialized Body Geometry Fit.