Archive for “hypercat”

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 (

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.


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.


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.


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

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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Common Bike Fit Issues – Part 1

Posted in Bike Fitting with tags , , , , , , , on May 13, 2010 by hypercatracing

Frequently I get requests to see what a typical bike fit looks like.  On the surface this seems like an easy to produce video with some clever editing.  The problem I keep running into is the phrase “typical”.  Out of the couple hundred athletes I fit each year, none are exactly alike, and as such none are typical.  There are however “typical” or common issues that arise with almost every fit and I have listed those here.

  • Soreness in Neck, shoulders, lower back and hands
  • Feeling of being crunched
  • Feeling of being too low
  • Feeling of reaching
  • Cleat position
  • Knee alignment
  • Saddle position

Out of all these “typical” issues that generally are the reason for someone contacting me in the first place, the number one most common/ typical issue is knee alignment or tracking.  There are a variety of reasons for the knee not tracking correctly all of which lead to an inefficient pedal stroke and loss of power.

here are my top 5 reasons for knee alignment issues

  1. Cleat position (location on shoe)
  2. Varus/ Valgus foot tilt (natural angle of the ball of foot)
  3. Pedal stance (position of the pedal relative to crank arm)
  4. Incorrect pedal
  5. saddle position

4 of the 5 reasons all stem from the shoe/ pedal interface.  In future blog articles I will go in depth for each one of these issues and the ones listed above.  For now I offer up these two short videos that demonstrate a typical client before addressing these common issues and after the initial fitting process.

When watching these videos at the same time, notice the after adjustment (bottom) video leg speed.  This higher cadence is typical of an adjusted and more efficient athlete and was unsolicited.

BikeFit VV1 Cleat: Don’t change your pedal system – change your cleats!

Posted in Bike Fitting with tags , , , , , , on May 5, 2010 by hypercatracing

Recently I had a client come through the fit studio who was a referral from a local doctor.  This referral has been struggling with pain in the ankle and knee for years and was unable to ride more than 10 miles without pain.   When he arrived I noticed that he had mountain bike shoes and pedals, now in the past this would have raised alarms as to the ability to align this rider properly.   However with the recent success I had been having with the new bikeFit VV1 cleat, I was confident we could make this work for how he was planning on riding his bike and was eager to give it a try, and save the new shoes/ pedals lecture for another day.  

As with all fittings we start with an assessment of the rider through a questionaire/ interview process and then a short ride on the bike to see them in a dynamic setting.  The first off the bike measurement we make is for Varus/ Vargus tilt.  This is the starting point to determining how many wedges or other devices will be neccesary to correct the persons alignment.  When a person with some degree of foot tilt engages their pedal the foot must align with the pedal, so the foot rolls into the pedal and misalignment happens at the knee and hip.  We generally use wedges to “take up” the space that is created between the amount of foot tilt and a flat pedal, so when the person steps into the pedal the cleat is oriented straight into the pedal while the foot is supported in its natural position. 

 The Video Below is before we started to work on JW’s left leg.  Notice how the knee travels out and away from the bike during the pedal stroke (look at the white dot at the knee relative to the laser line).  The right leg was similar before the video but has recieved a 1mm spacer in the pedal, a realignment of the cleat and a VV1 angled cleat (note: it was not finished at the time of video, but close).   The VV1 cleat is a mountain bike cleat that has the equivelant of 1 wedge built in and is a new product, to learn more visit reviews.

Too correct JW’s left leg we installed a 2mm spacer between the pedal and crank arm + 1 VV1 cleat + 1 SPD wedge + 1 ITS wedge and realigned the cleats orientation to move the shoe outboard and more centered on the pedal.  Final result is pictured here, notice now how the laser aligns with the white dot at the knee and the reference dot on the shoe.  

After this fitting JW has been able to ride pain free for the first time in years and is working on training for a multi day charity ride next year.  To learn more about Hypercat fitting services or schedule and appointment visit us at Hypercat or give Phil a call at 510-236-5562.

The BikeFit VV1 SPD MTN Cleat – Review

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on May 4, 2010 by hypercatracing

Many cyclists who ride the road these days are doing so with a mountain bike pedal system.  These riders encompass a broad range of cyclists from commuters and casual weekend riders, to newer and less experienced riders, to charity riders, century riders and even some racers, and all seemed initially to “feel” more comfortable with the idea of the mountain pedal.  There are a number of good solid reasons to have chosen this type of system as their pedaling system and there is nothing inherently wrong with choosing a mountain system for road riding, but from a fitting/ biomechanics stand point this has been for many years a “poor” decision.  A decision that generally begins with the discussion of the superiority of road shoes and pedals, power transfer, support, hotspots, and so on… and most important the ability to provide optimum alignment of the lower extremities during pedaling.   I am in this camp of recommending road shoes and pedals for the vast majority of road cyclists but recently the team at bike  showed me their newest product the VV1/ SPD cleat, and my hard line stance has been eroded after some measurable success in the fit studio.

This ingenious little device replaces traditional SPD mountain cleats with a cleat that has a 1 degree tilt built into it.  Previously this was only accomplished with a very small plastic wedge and was a difficult shoe/ cleat/ pedal combination to adjust for proper knee and ankle alignment.  By providing the initial tilt from the cleat you have an easier to adjust platform (when setting up cleats, multiple re-positionings are often neccessary before zeroing in on the perfect spot which wrecks havoc on that little wedge).  A number of times I have had to throw away a wedge or two during a fitting because the wedge was destroyed.  The integrated cleat also provides an elegant solution to a complicated problem of perfect alignment and a more durable engagement system for mountain bike pedal users.  For my on the road riders, this has translated to the ability to maintain their current pedal/ shoe combination and derive a near perfect and less costly alignment solution then replacing the whole system.  The cleat on its own does not always provide the final solution but a much better platform from which to achieve the final solution.  In one month of having these new cleats  in my fit studio I have had 4 clients use this product and save the cost of new shoes and pedals.

It should be stated that these cleats are designed for a mountain bike system to create a more stable and effecient platform in engaging the pedal, and they do this job as well as the road cleats with a traditional wedge.  My only complaint with the VV1 cleats is that they are currently only available for SPD (shimano compatible) pedal systems.  In the future I hope that the bike fit crew can develop a successful cleat for Crank brothers and Time as well.  While not as common as shimano the ability to work on these other popular pedal systems would greatly enhance the experience of those riders using them and make alot of cyclocross riders I know very happy in the Winter.  Whatever your reason for using mountain bike pedals on your bike, this little gem coupled with a proper assessment of your shoe/ pedal interface by a qualified fitter could save you hundeds of dollars in new equipment and deliver a more comfortable, powerful anf effecient stroke to boot. 

If you would like to learn more about these cleats and how they can improve your cycling experience, schedule an appointment or contact Phil directly, please visit, and check out this post from our good friends at bike fit systems