Monday, August 6, 2018

BIKE FITS GONE WRONG

This article is in response to numerous questions I have received about this posting found in a bike fitting chat group.

This posting is shown to the right and the photo is of a male cyclists’ right foot.

If you read this post, there are 3 things stated, (a) the client complains of outside arch pain, (b) client’s right forefoot is 29° Varus, (c) the fitter is going to fix this with a heel wedge. Before we go any further, we need to define VALGUS and VARUS ... in this case forefoot VALGUS and forefoot VARUS. The 2 images below are courtesy of bikefit.com and perfectly describe forefoot VALGUS and forefoot VARUS.

BEWARE OF THE FITTER WHO... Here’s my take on this.

Number of Red Flags : 

ONE: If you haven’t noticed, in the photo, the bike fitter states “VARUS of 29 degrees.” Actually, this forefoot is VALGUS, NOT VARUS. Either this fitter (a) never attended a bike fitting class, (b) didn’t listen in the class he attended, (c) doesn’t understand the difference between Valgus and Varus or (d) the instructor never taught this. In any way you look at it, this is a fitter to stay away from.

TWO: He then states, “I need to break out the heel wedges.” If you will notice, there is very little VALGUS heel tilt, so why try to fix something that isn’t “broken?” In reality, he should be looking at the forefoot, since potentially fixing this will automatically straighten out the heel.

THREE: This fitter should also be aware that a 29° VALGUS forefoot is an extreme case and he shouldn’t try to fix (treat) this himself. How he would try and fix this is to place a large number of wedges between the cleat and shoe which will greatly impact the alignment and tracking of the knee - forcing the knee outwards. 

FOUR: What I and any other competent fitter would do is (a) know that this is an extreme condition that would more than likely cause the cyclist more harm if we would try and fix this, (b) recommend to this cyclist to go and see a physical therapist who is medically certified to recommend and perform a corrective course of action and (c) discuss with the cyclist that this will be a 2-part fit – first part to complete physical therapy, and, once medically cleared, come back to get the rest of the bike fit. Of course, I would have a discussion with the physical therapist to discuss the bike fit and see if there are any limitations that I need to be aware of. I would never try and treat someone with an extreme condition. The sad thing is that this bike fitter probably thinks he is doing the right thing. In reality, he will be hurting this cyclist much more than helping them. Again, this is a great example of “buyer beware.” This is also a great example of why it is so important for you to ask questions, and if something doesn’t sound right, run away.


QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR (POTENTIAL) FITTER
1)      What is your background?
2)      What are your qualifications/certifications?
3)      How long have you been bike fitting?
4)      Any references, testimonials?
5)      Do you ride, do you train?
6)      Have you built any bikes? How many? Do you use a torque wrench?
7)      Do you fit for local teams or groups?
8)      What is your fitting philosophy? What is your bike fitting process?
9)      Which bike fit system will I be fit on?
10)  What is your pricing?
11)  If I don’t like the fit/how it feels, do you have a warranty or another plan of action?
12)  What other services do you offer?
13)  What are other potential “add-ons?”
14)  Which brands do you like, which brands do you carry?
15)  Have you published or written any [bike fitting] papers or articles in any related publications?
16)  Will the bike fit be documented?
17)  How experienced are you at correctly fitting cleats?
18)  How will you correct my knees from going out at the top to tracking straight up and down?
19)  What are your thoughts on wedges?
20)  What are your thoughts on shims?
21)  Are they knowledgeable with respect to insoles, arch supports, shoes, cleats, etc.?
22)  Do they measure your power output at each step of the fit process?
23)  Do they hold a detailed client interview with you?
24)  Do they hold a pre-fit mini-physical evaluation?
25)  After the bike fit, will you document the bike’s new dimensions? Will I get to keep this information?
26)  What is VALGUS? What is VARUS

Thursday, June 21, 2018

I’m going on vacation soon, renting a bike when I get there. Any tips?

Vacation time. When traveling with your bicycle, or, when renting a bike via bike shop or tour group, give it a quick "once-over".

BEFORE: If you have had a recent bike fit, have the fitter write down the measurements of your bike.

Else, write down some critical numbers such as:

    • size of frame 
    • crank arm length 
    • stem length 
    • Stack & Reach to the handlebars as well as to the saddle 
    • or distance in cm from center of the handlebars to the tip of the saddle · 
    • distance in cm from center of bottom bracket to top of saddle (measure in line with the seat tube as a reference)  
    • AND, its OK to bring specific items with you such as your own saddle, GoPro and mounts, etc.


  1. Give the mechanic your bike measurements either before you arrive or when you arrive. This will help them find the correct-sized frame as well as adjust it to your size before you arrive. 
  2. Place the bike on the ground (most mechanics will adjust everything on a work/repair stand) and open/close each skewer. This will not only center the wheels in their dropouts but also allow you to verify/adjust the skewers to a correct amount of pressure. 
  3. Squeeze and release brake levers. Check to see that brake shoes are not touching the rims when they shouldn't be 
  4. Make sure that the brake calipers are centered so that when you squeeze the levers, the shoes touch the rims at the same time. 
  5. Check the condition of all cables. For safety, double check the brake cable/caliper attachment bolts. 
  6. Take a quick spin around the parking lot checking sizing, shifting and braking. Make any last-minute adjustments now. 


Make sure you have a tool kit, fill up your water bottles and go and enjoy!

Rick Schultz PCG Associate Coach and Bike Fitness Coaching Bike Fitter

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Don't be a pain in the butt: Avoiding saddle sores

The most common comment I hear from people who do begin riding is not that their legs hurt but that their seat/bottom/derriere/buttocks hurts. One of the most important reasons for training is to make sure your seat is prepared for hours in your bike saddle. When you train, you obviously are triaining your legs to go around several thousands times per hour, but you are also training your butt to sit on the small, narrow, hard saddle for several hours at a time as well. Several things can happen when your seat is not trained properly. You may notice soreness under your sit bones after a long ride. This usually goes away fairly quickly. The next thing that may happen is chaffing where your seat and legs rub from pedaling. The worst thing that can happen is development of saddle sores. These can keep you off your bike for several days. Here are some suggestions for avoid being a pain in the rear.

First, you should wear cycling shorts. These are designed to provide padding to your tender nether region. The padding also helps absorb perspiration to avoid chaffing and development of saddle sores. TIP: DO NOT WEAR UNDERWEAR UNDER YOUR CYCLING SHORTS. Cycling shorts are designed be worn directly against the skin. Underwear adds another layer of clothing that can rub and chafe, and even worse, has seams which can irritate your skin. If you don't like wearing tight fitting Lycra shorts, there are different types of riding shorts, including baggy shorts. But they all have an inner lining with a chamois (pronounced 'shammy'). In the olden days, shorts came with real leather chamois, but modern shorts have synthetic ones which provide more padding and are easier to clean and maintain. But they are still called chamois.

Second, ride a lot. Spend a lot of time sitting on your bike saddle. As mentioned above, this isn't just about training your legs, it's training your seat. In many cases, it's more about training your seat. Gradually build up to longer rides. Doing a lot of riding all at once can irritate your tender seat skin. By gradually building up to longer miles, you will gradually toughen your skin. This is a great reason for riding year round by the way. You maintain your toughened seat skin and don't have to retrain it each spring.

Third, to avoid chaffing, there are commercial products available that you can use to apply to your skin where it contacts the chamois of your shorts. There are several brands with rather interesting names such as Chamois Butt'r, Assos Chamois Cream, DZNUTS, Friction Freedom, and Ride EZ Chamois Cream. Wipe a thin layer on your skin in your groin area prior to your ride to help provide a smoother ride.

Fourth, keep your groin area as clean and dry as possible to avoid the dreaded saddle sore. Saddle sores are infections in your skin around your seat area. These are caused by bacteria getting into your skin and not being cleaned promptly or thoroughly. These become infected and are usually right under your sit bones where you put pressure on your saddle. These are extremely uncomfortable and can make it impossible to ride. Saddle sores are so painful they can cause a Tour de France rider to quit the race. Prevention is definitely the best defense. Make sure you wear clean shorts after every ride. Do not wear dirty shorts a second day. Just hand wash in a sink, wring and hang out to dry inside out in the sun if possible. Use a bit of laundry detergent, or if you are traveling and don’t have any, you can use some shampoo. TIP: make sure you rinse thoroughly. If it rains and you haven't rinsed well, your shorts will start foaming. You also need to clean your own skin thoroughly and quickly after each ride. The worst thing you can do is spend the rest of the day in your dirty, wet shorts after you finish your ride. Shower and change as quickly as possible after you finish riding. Bacteria love warmth and moisture, exactly the conditions in your shorts after a ride. When you take a shower be sure to thoroughly clean your groin area. If you can't shower right away here's another great tip that I use. Bring some individually wrapped wipes and wipe your groin area clean when changing into street clothes. I use Preparation H Portable Wipes that come in individual packets. You can find these at your local drug store. If you don't have these wipes, you can also use hand sanitizer such as Purell. I suggest you keep a small bottle of it with your bike gear at all times.

Ride on, with a comfy bottom – Coach David Ertl