Once you have selected your bicycle you will need to get a professional bike fit. This may or may not be the same person who sells you the bike. Your bike shop will do a basic fit when you purchase your bike to ensure you are on the right size frame. A professional bike fit is more in depth looking at your physiology, flexibility, strengths, weaknesses and past injuries. They will look at your frame size in relation to your saddle, cleat, and handle bar positions. This will help to create an optimal position for your to ride, will be more comfortable and will reduce risk of injury.
Many bike shops have bike fit professionals they can either refer you to or that work out of their shops. Visit our Community Partners to see bike shops or bike fit professionals that offer discounts to Red Ribbon Ride participants.
The Importance of a Professional Bike Fit
Riding a bicycle should be fun, comfortable and as easy as walking up stairs. You should not have saddle sores, hand or foot numbness, knee, neck or back pain. If you are having any of these symptoms while on a bike you should get a professional bike fit. Since you will be spending a lot of time in on your saddle it's imperative that you are in the correct position. Most people don't realize that the pain they feel when riding is from a poor bike fit.
Bike fits also create efficiency of your pedal stroke. If your saddle is 1 inch out of place you will create an imbalance in the muscles being used which creates imbalances in other groups. This means some muscle groups will be over working and others will not be working at all. If you are in the perfect fit you will maximize the efficiency of your pedal stroke, go farther, be able to ride for longer and feel great at the end of the day.
Seeing a Bike Fit Professional
Most bike fit professionals will let you know what to wear, when to arrive and how much it will cost. They will want you to wear your cycling gear and cycling shoes so they can make adjustments. You will likely spend 2-3 hours at your bike fit. At your bike fit your bike will be placed on a stationary stand and you will be asked to ride, stop, and dismount over and over. The bike fit professional will take measurements of your body in different positions and then have you pedal again, continuing to make fine tune adjustments until they are satisfied with your fit.
Bike Fits measure the following:
- Saddle height
- Saddle position front to back
- Saddle tilt
- Handle bar / stem height
- Cleat position on your shoe
After your bike fit if you have issues or something changes over time contact your bike fit professional and they may offer to make minor adjustments as a part of your initial visit.
Fitting your helmet properly is critical. Your helmet is designed to protect your head in case of an accident but will only work optimally in the correct position. All helmets are FDA approved and have to meet certain requirements. So you can spend $60 or $300 and your helmet should work the same way in an emergency. The more you spend the more custom, lighter weight and typically the more air flow you will have. But ultimately it will do the same job. You can stay within your budget and be safe. It is highly recommended that you buy a new helmet and from a bike shop as the sales professionals will know how to properly handle your helmet.
Your helmet should be positioned no more than 1 to 2 finger-widths above eyebrows, tighten any loose straps and make adjustments so the helmet stays over the forehead. Your helmet should not move backwards, forwards or side to side. It should be tight but comfortable. You should be able to get two fingers in between the chin strap and your chin. The National Highway Traffic Safety Adminestration has provided this Helmet Fit Guild to help you properly wear your helmet.
Follow these five simple steps to test your helmet fit and make the proper adjustments. This is a great test to do with another rider or Training Ride Leader before you ride.
- With one hand, gently lift the front of the helmet up and back.
- If helmet moves back to uncover the forehead: Tighten front strap to junction. Also adjust padding thickness and/or position, especially in back. Make sure chin strap is snug. If this doesn't work, the helmet may be too big. With one hand, gently lift the back of the helmet up and forward.
- If helmet moves forward to cover the eyes: Tighten back strap. Make sure chin strap is snug. Also, adjust padding thickness and/or position, especially in front. Put a hand on each side of the helmet and rock from side to side. Shake your head "no" as hard as possible.
- If helmet slips from side to side: Check padding on sides and make sure straps are evenly adjusted. Open your mouth (lower jaw) as wide as possible, without moving your head. The top of your helmet should pull down.
- If helmet does not pull down when opening your mouth: Tighten chin strap. Make sure the front and back strap junction is under each ear. Check to see if the front edge of helmet covers your forehead. The front edge of the helmet should not be more than 1 to 2 finger-widths from your eyebrow.
Replace any helmet that has been involved in a crash regardless if the shell is dented or not! It is recommended that you replace your helmet approximately every 2-3 years regardless if it has been involved in an accident. Helmets are made of high impact foam under the shell. Over time this foam will degrade and weaken.