How A Bike Fit Can Address Aches And Pains

Posted in Bike Fitting with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 19, 2012 by hypercatracing

Photos provided by Victor Wang Studios (www.victorwangstudios.com).

No matter the distance you ride, you should be comfortable on your bike. If you experience pain in your neck, back, or knees – or have saddle sores or numbness – your bicycle probably doesn’t fit you properly.

The 3 key areas that an experienced and qualified bike fitter will address during a fitting are feet, seat, and hands – the areas where the rider makes contact with the bike. There are a number of issues that will affect the physical relationship of rider and bike. For example, your body may be asymmetric (one leg or arm slightly longer or shorter than the other), and even the slightest imbalance can lead to pain. While it used to be true that addressing these asymmetries meant a bit of trial and error, the properly outfitted modern fit-studio has the tools (like Retul, 360 degree viewing, wedges, shims, and 2D and 3D video with motion capture), and most importantly, the experience to address the most common issues with more precision providing greater long-term results. Finally, in addition to addressing any pain or discomfort, a bike fitting will also improve your pedaling efficiency and aerodynamics, actually making you faster.

Let’s first talk about proper vs. improper positioning of the feet, seat, and hands, and how this may cause pain or discomfort for the rider.

Feet                                                                                                                            

In general, cleats should be positioned for a neutral foot. The cleat should be under the ball of the foot, and oriented so that your toe and heel point forward and in-line with the frame. The position of your cleat can have a direct effect on knee alignment, and if there is any pain in the knee a fitter should be consulted to have your positions assessed.

Shoes should be snug, but not tight. They should fit like a sock, conforming to the foot shape while able to expand a little without constriction. The arch should match your natural arch and prevent your foot from rolling inward. This fit can be achieved with insoles, inserts, or arch supports.

Pedals should be of a width (stance) that allows the foot to rest directly on top of the pedal and be fully supported.

Saddle                                                                                    

Your bike seat should be level to support your full body weight and allow you to move around on the seat when necessary. Too much upward tilt can result in pressure points. Too much downward tilt can make you slide forward while riding and put extra pressure on your arms, hands, and knees, which can lead to injury. To adjust the seat height, wear your biking shoes and riding shorts and place your heels on the pedals. As you pedal backwards, your knees should fully extend in the down position. If your hips rock side to side the seat is too high. When you move your foot into the proper pedaling position, with the balls of your feet over the pedal, you should have a slight bend in your knees.

You can also adjust the seat forward and backward (fore and aft position). With your feet on the pedals so that the crank arms are parallel with the ground, the neutral position will put your forward knee (patella tendon) directly over the pedal axle (often referred to as KOPS).

Keep in mind that issues like saddle sores can be alleviated through proper positioning, but may also be an issue with the saddle shape, clothing or another issue. These can and should be addressed in a fitting session.

Handlebars

The location of your handlebars can cause multiple issues. Handlebars may be too high, low, close, or far away. If so, you can have pain, strain, soreness, excessive tightness (or all of the above) in the neck, shoulder, back, and hands.

Unlike a saddle, there is no hard and fast “rule” that tells you where to set the handlebars up, as too many variables are employed in the final location. Variables like frame geometry, usages, style of bike, experience of rider, flexibility, components, and so on all play a part in the final handlebar location. The one constant is that the handlebar’s position should be properly set up relative to the saddle, and this must be addressed first no matter which bike we are talking about.

A generic rule of thumb to cover multiple bike styles and handlebar configurations is that a proper reach (distance to the handlebar from the seat) allows you to comfortably use all the positions the handlebars provide, and to comfortably bend your elbows while riding. To properly support your upper body, the handlebars must also be the proper width for your shoulders and placed at an appropriate height. Too high and you will increase lower back issues, too low and neck/shoulder issues will arise. For all bikes, handlebars come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and a good bike fitter will have multiple varieties to test in order to determine your appropriate shape.

Now let’s talk about some common aches and pains that cyclists have, and how these may be addressed by a bike fit or technique.

Knee pain is most commonly associated with saddle position. A saddle that is too high or low, too far forward or back, can cause issues. Improper bike shoe or cleat position can also cause knee pain.

  • A seat that is too high will cause hip rocking and pain in the back of the knee.
  • A seat that is too low or too far forward may cause pain in the front of the knee.
  • Improper foot position on the pedal (or improper cleat alignment) can cause pain on the inside or outside of your knees.

Individual anatomy may also result in knee pain. Cyclists with slight differences in leg length may have knee pain because the seat height is only adjusted for one side. Shoe inserts, wedges, shims or orthotics can address this problem. Another common cause of knee pain is using too high a gear (mashing). Reducing the gear and increasing the cadence will reduce the stress on the knee.

Neck pain is usually the result of riding a bike that is too long, or having handlebars that are too low. Check for signs like high shoulders, straight (not bent) elbows and craning of the neck. Handlebar width also plays a big role. Bars that are too wide will cause pressure in the upper back between the shoulder blades, while bars that are too narrow or extended will cause forward rounding of the shoulders. Tight hamstring and hip flexor muscles may cause neck pain by forcing your spine to round or arch, as well as cause a hyper-extended neck. Improper saddle position can create these problems as well.

Foot pain or numbness is most commonly addressed by proper footwear. Issues such as hot foot, numbness and arch pain can be addressed through cleat positioning, insoles, orthotics, shoe tightness (width or over clamping), and pedal choice. Pedaling technique and gear choice also play a role in foot pressure.

Hand pain or numbness can be alleviated or lessened by wearing padded cycling gloves. Riding with your elbows slightly bent, not straight or locked, is always a key. Bent elbows act as shock absorbers and help absorb the bumps in the road, they also serve to relax the shoulders and neck area. Changing hand positions frequently on the handlebars can also reduce pressure and pain. Finally, check your component positioning. Brake and shift levers should be positioned in comfortable alignment of your wrists, with the proper reach to work the controls.

Understanding that the pain described above is not normal and can be addressed with a proper bike fit is the first step in getting faster on the bike. The old adage of “no pain, no gain” does not apply in the context of bike fit and cycling. Address issues like numbness and pain and you’ll be motivated to ride further – your performances will reflect your hard work!

Philip Casanta (USAC Level II Coach) is the lead bike fitter at Hypercat Racing, based in Ventura, CA. Phil has been helping athletes optimize their bike fits for over 20 years. Phil works extensively with triathlon, time trial, road, mountain and cyclocross athletes. Retul and F.I.S.T certified, Phil’s expertise combines experience with art and science to produce the optimal fit for athletes based on their individual needs, biomechanics and athletic pursuits. Learn more at www.hypercat.com.

This was an article I wrote earlier this year and was originally published on the blogs of Training Peaks and USA Cycling.

Cervelo P5 Fairing = Disqualification

Posted in News, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 15, 2012 by hypercatracing

Well boys and girls it looks like our little discussion has paid off.  USAT officials and Cervelo management have met to discuss the issue chronicled here and thanks to Cervelo being made aware of the issue have stated their case with a positive verdict.  After discussion with Cervelo and a thorough review of the issue, USAT has been able to rule that this device does not fit the “functional definition of a ‘fairing’ and only as a dust/debris cover for the brake calipers.”

Below is the original posting of the rule violation.

 

 

Earlier this year Cervelo launched to much fan fare it’s hotly anticipated P5.  Among the numerous technological advancements are a new Magura brake system.  In the non UCI compliant version Cervelo has chosen to add a snap on cover that shrouds the front brakes and this is where the problem lies.

From a a communique sent out to USAT officials (which is how I found out) USAT officials are now to look at the Cervelo P5 and see if the cover is in place for the front brake.  If it is, they are sighting that rule 5.11 (3) – look below –  applies and the penalty if not removed is disqualification. fortunately for P5 owners the covers simply snap off, but it is still an issue that you cannot use all the bells and whistles when competing in an UCI, ITU, USAT or national championship cycling, triathlon or duathlon event. Hopefully when Cervelo goes into full production they will address the fairing issue, but for now it looks like the P5 will have a prominent feature that is unusable in most events.

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 USAT rule 5.11 (e) reads: Aerodynamic carriers for food, water, and or cycling provisions may be attached to or be an integral part of the aero handlebars if they meet the following guidelines: (including There must be no protective shield, fairing, or other device on any part of the bicycle frame, wheels, handlebars, chain wheel, and accessories) which has the effect of reducing resistance.

Cannondale Slice Hi-Mod DI2 internal upgrade, HBW Custom

Posted in Custom builds with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2012 by hypercatracing

Cannondale DI2 mod by Hypercat Cycling
Cannondale DI2 mod, a photo by Hypercat Cycling on Flickr.

Visit the complete set here:  Cannondale DI2 modification
Hypercat Bike Works has been building DI2 specific bikes since Shimano released the group. Master Mechanic Phil is a DI2 certified mechanic and through HBW has been involved with electronic shifting from early Suntour browning systems to Mavic’s Zap and Mektronic groups through the modern era of Shimano DI2, Campy and beyond.

This project was commissioned to take the original externally routed cabling and run all internal.  while many bikes are designed at the factory to have DI2 routed through the frame it is possible to modify most frames to accept the internal wiring with the correct choice of wiring harness.  for this bike the frame is rather large and a large kit was necessary.  Shimano offers many options and with a good amount of pre-planning and measuring the ideal wiring harness can be chosen. Due to the shape of the tubing around the front derailleur and the location of the water bottle mounts it was chosen to use a short battery mount to place on the left chainstay and an external junction box with all other elements routed internal.

For factory spec’d internal frames the Bottom bracket has capacity to route the cables around the main crank spindle.  In this case holes needed to be bored through the main BB shell.   The first hole was the main access hole from the outside of the frame through the BB shell. The second hole was the front derailleur hole mated to another port hole located at the front derailleur.   The final holes bored were the rear derailleur routing through the BB shell and through the right chainstay.  To keep the wires from tangling with the crank spindle I used two products: #1 – removed the FSA adapter sleeve and shimano BB and opted for the BB30 shell and Hawk Racing BB30.24 adapters.  This improves performance and gets the bearings further out.  #2 – added protective sleeve around crank spindle so that no moving parts are in contact with wiring if they should move around.

On the frame grommets were added to exit holes for wiring to maintain water tightness.

Front end controls were routed entirely through handlebars and stem.  Main controller mounted to top of stem and all other excess wiring tucked into available tubing.  No modifications were made to braking system other than routing cabling through stem.Hypercat Racing is a by-appointment Bike Fit studio and custom build boutique located in Ventura California specializing in aero and skinny tire bikes.

Sam Schultz visits Hypercat

Posted in In the Stand with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 19, 2011 by hypercatracing

Sam Schultz the unflappable young Professional with the always smiling, always positive attitude was in the studio recently for Retul 3D fittings on both his 29’er Superfly  mountain bike and Fisher Cronus road.  Sam is a great young talent to work with and it was a treat to be able to spend time with him.

Here is a short photo gallery of his time in the studio.

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Product Highlight: K-Edge Chain Catcher

Posted in New Products with tags , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2011 by hypercatracing

I like simple products that work.  And if you are anything like me you probably also enjoy keeping your chain where it is supposed to be, on the chainrings and not rubbing holes in your frame.  The K-edge chain catcher is practically the embodiment of the simple product that works.  Built in the USA, the chain catcher mounts to either your braze-on or your frame and keeps the chain from falling to the inside of the crankset off the small ring.

“Never worry about dropping your chain again.”

K-Edge Road Chain Catcher used by professionals in the Olympic Games, World Championships, Paris-Roubaix, Giro DíItalia and Tour De France. It’s a common sense design that provides a functional advantage for high performance cyclists. The K-EDGE chain catcher is a precision component that enhances the overall function of your drive train while protecting your valuable frame.

Specifications
Material: 6061 T6 aluminum
Fitment: All braze-on type mounted and clamp style braze-on mounted front derailleurs.
Weight: 10 grams
Anodized colors: Black, Gun-metal, Red, Blue, Gold. also white non-ano.
Hardware: Now includes all mounting hardware for Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo front derailleurs, including a new radius washer with secure mounting interface.

My first views of the K-edge were of the braze-on pictured, but since they have hit the market a whole line of solution oriented chain catchers for a variety of bikes has been added.  Our original interest was, as it almost always is with aero bikes so I was pretty excited. Now I am over the top, with the new designs for triple cranksets, mountain, cross and other crank set-ups, we are able to recommend a solution to nearly everyone.  Even if you don’t have the latest $10,000+ super bike, keeping your chain on the crankset is preferable to dropping it.  And for you newbie riders it can definitely help while your learning to perfect your shifting on uphills.  One of my most recent clients had a rough crash due to a dropped and stuck chain, with the K-edge that would have been avoided.   The K-edge is certainly not the least expensive option, there are other choices out there to keep you from dropping chains, however it is the only one that works with tubes and shapes that are non-traditional and the only one that I am aware that is made here in the USA, and at $39.95 for the braze-on model they are cheap relative to a new paint job or worse a new frame.   And possibly the most important of all they are available in a variety of cool colors.

To learn more about all the options available to you from K-Edge you can visit their website linked under products we sell.  To purchase please visit the Hypercat web store or contact Phil directly if the product you are looking for is not listed.  Due to the large variety of designs and colors K-edge products are  a special order product and take 2-5 days to get in, however we do keep the full color palette of Braze-on models in stock .

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Wilier Cento Uno DI2, HBW Custom

Posted in Custom builds with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2011 by hypercatracing
  

Visit the complete set here:  Wilier DI2 Flickr set

 
Hypercat Bike Works has been building DI2 specific bikes since Shimano released the group. Master Mechanic Phil is a DI2 certified mechanic and through HBW has been involved with electronic shifting from early suntour browning systems to Mavic’s Zap and Mektronic groups through the modern era of Shimano DI2 and beyond.

This offering is a 15.2 lb everyday practical racer. With Lightweight full carbon clincher wheels this Wilier can easily transform from an every day club bike to a weekend racer. built as a stage race bike, carbon abounds on every part of the bike. From wheels, hubs and spokes to bars and stem, seatpost and even the seat rails. Smooth as silk this no-nonsense rig can take anything you can dish out.

Quick specs:
-DI2/ 7900 full group
-Lightweight full carbon clincher wheels
-Schwalbe Ultremo DD tires
-Profile Cobra carbon bars and stem
-Speedplay X/2 Ti pedals
-Selle Italia SLR carbon saddle with Ritchey top cap
-Intergrated carbon seatmast
-Cane Creek carbon headset

Retail $18,500.   This bike will be recieving an SRM 7900 for 2011 for an Additional $4k-. 

Originally uploaded by Hypercat Bike Works

Bike Fit Tools: The Retul Zin Digitizer

Posted in Bike Fitting with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2010 by hypercatracing

Today’s modern bike fit studio is outfitted with an arsenal of tools that would make a university lab jealous.  As bike designs change so must the equipment.  As education becomes more available and the fitter becomes more specialized so must their equipment.  While the simple tried and true tools of the past like tape measures, plumb bobs and angle finders are still in use, the modern fit studio is now equipped with tools like lasers, computers, video and in some cases (such as here at Hypercat) 3D motion capture and handheld digitizers.   

One of my favorite tools in the Hypercat aresenal is the Retul Zin.   The Zin (Retul’s handheld digitizer) provides the ability to measure a rider’s bike at either 13 or 15 points, depending on the bike (road, aero, mountain, etc.).  The Zin can measure fixed points, contours, and curves, providing a complete digital map of the bike that is far more accurate than traditional tape measures.  Even difficult components such as saddles and grips are measured for exact angles and relative positioning. 

How it works:  The fitter connects the Zin Wand Digitizer to the Retul 3D unit.  After digitizing a few reference points, the bike is scanned at 13-15 points around the bicycle.  Wheels, bottom bracket, handlebar, grips, stem, aerobar grips, aerobar pads, saddle.  headset, are all scanned and a rendering of the bicycle is created with references created between several fixed points (bottom bracket center, headtube) of the bike and the alterable points (saddle, handlebars, aerobars, grips).  The final product is a printout of the exact size of your bicycle and the location of everything attached to it. 

Benefits:  A detailed computer scan of your bicycle provides accuracy to less than 1mm of the location of all the major contact areas on your bicycle.  This can come in very handy when traveling and trying to put a bike back together exactly as it was before, or maybe your bike got worked on and something feels “off” afterward.  Maybe you want to change saddles but not positions, or how about needing to rent or borrow a bike, you can take your position with you.  What if you are in the market for a new bike and like the way your old bike fits?  You can use your scanned bike as a template to see what bikes match and/ or set-up the test ride bike so you get a better test experience.   We have had clients who unfortunately had a bike stolen or broken in crashes, having the Zin document as a guide we or the shop mechanic at the store were able to quickly set up the new bike just like the old one.   Team Radioshack, Team Sky and other professional cycling teams, professional Triathletes like Chis Lieto, Team K-Swiss, Craig Alexander and many more all get their bikes Zin’ed and Retul’ed.  Professional cycling team mechanics are now carrying in their equipment van a Retul system so that each bike can be set-up for each rider exactly, everytime.

If you have a position that you like currently, or are getting ready to make some changes, make an appointment to have your bike Zin’ed.  A Zin session takes only 20-30 minutes, is $25- and includes a detailed printout and storage of files.  Make your appointment today at www.hypercat.com and never lose your position again.  Works with any bicycle.