Myth: Rider Setup / Bike Fit should be done before class.

Common sense says that the best time to help someone with their bike setup would be before class. After all, this new student has just walked in and they have 45 - 60 minutes in the saddle ahead of them.

So pre-class would be the best time, right?

Well... no, it probably isn't. And when you think about it for a few minutes, I'll bet you'll agree.

I got this myth from our local bike fit guru Chris Balser, who's actually known as The Bike Fit Guru.

Professional Bike Fit Myths

4. Saddle Height is not static. To demonstrate, bend forward and try to touch the floor. Do it again. Try repeating the exercise when it is cold, hot, at the end of a hard ride, before an easy ride, etc. It will never be identical because our activities and climate are always changing. Remember this when prescribed the “magic number”.

The point I think Chris is making here is that there are a bunch of external factors that can influence setting a rider's saddle height properly... the most important being the temperature.

Living here in the "Frozen North" we face the issue of "shrinkage" when we're cold - no, not that shrinkage silly 🙂 I'm talking about how your muscles and connective tend to shorten/tighten when they are cold. One of the worst feelings imaginable is how your back tenses up after climbing into a car, when it's been cooling all day in a 10° parking lot. You're forced bolt upright, with your back muscles near spasm and you can't bend forward to save to save your soul. Thank heavens for heated seats!

The opposite occurs when we are warm. We relax. Our muscles loosen and can extent completely. Is this beginning to make sense to you?

It's only after a thorough warm-up can a leg (or legs) comfortably extend. And proper saddle height can only be set with full extension.

So wouldn't it make more sense to check/adjust participants at the end of class? 

When I rode with the top level cycling team here in Minneapolis, it wasn't uncommon for one to the club leaders to ride by and offer; "You need to raise your saddle 2 millimeters". So I would. Except I can remember thinking the next morning when I went off on a training ride; "that can't be right... my seat is too high", as I would feel the pulling in the back of my knee with each revolution. But then it would go away, or I forgot about it. Either way, once I was warm and could fully extend, my saddle height was exactly where it belonged.

Outdoor riding tip in cool/cold weather: If you leave home and don't feel slightly chilled for the first mile or two (or a slight pull in the back of your knee), you're wearing too many clothes - or your saddle's too low... or both. 

But what about a new person to class?

I say get them close, but don't forget about them at the end of class. You could discuss this during your into/warm-up and then remind everyone during the transition/cool-down that you will be available post class to assess everyone's warm position.

I'm guessing you'll get more than a few takers - because I can guarantee that they've never heard this before.




Originally posted 2012-12-19 17:52:42.


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