Tracking your fit is important... but maybe not down to the mm.
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The world of bike fitting is constantly changing and has many voices sometimes pulling the conversation in different directions. Though there is an increasing amount of great information available about fitting your bike, there are still some bike fit myths that seem to persist amongst many cyclists. We’re here to set the record straight on a few of the most common myths we hear floating around.
#1 – A Straight Leg is Best
The myth that your saddle height should be set such that your leg (knee) should be (nearly) straight at the bottom of your pedal stroke is likely the most damaging myth for a cyclist’s riding position. So much so that we dedicated an entire article to this myth alone and the challenges it causes. The excessive saddle heights that result from this myth are likely the #1 cause of issues for most riders and results in all manner of foot, knee, hip, low back, and saddle related issues.
A common misconception is that there is one “ideal” position for a rider and bike fitting is just chasing down that position. This is of course not true, if only at the most basic level many riders ride multiple types of bikes and have varied positions on each. A more helpful way to think about bike fit is that each rider, based on their physical attributes and riding goals has a range of positions (or what we call a fit window) within which the most appropriate position for that time in their riding life can be found.
#3 – One fit is enough
The idea that one bike fit is sufficient for the entirety of a rider’s cycling life is also a common belief. As every rider’s body and riding goals change over time, they are best served by a riding position that changes with them. For most riders, a bike fit that happened 5 years ago is unlikely to reflect the current state of their body or riding goals. Our bodies often change significantly over a single riding season, let alone a multi year period. Checking in on your position any time you experience noticeable differences in fitness, mobility, body composition or comfort is key to maintaining a great relationship with your bike.
#4 – Hip rocking = high saddle
On the other side of the saddle height coin, an increasing recognition that excessive saddle height causes problems has resulted in riders looking for signs that their saddle is too high. Hip rocking has perhaps shown up at the top of this list for quick things to look for. While hip rocking can often be an indicator of excessive saddle height (and should be watched for), the more challenging truth is that it can be caused by a range of issues, including core instability, improper saddle width and excessive reach. Perhaps most challenging is that what constitutes hip rocking is very vague. We are not static beings when riding a bike and as such some level of hip movement with pedaling is completely natural.
Check out our Free Bike Fit Check to find out if you’re curious about finding the right saddle height.
#5 – Chasing millimeters matters
The size of changes that matter when adjusting your position is one of great debate. All too commonly riders are looking for mm accuracy to find that perfect position. This goes back to the myth that there is a perfect position and dialing it in to mm precision is paramount to the “right” fit. The truth is that every mm doesn’t usually matter. Firstly, no one sits on the bike in the same spot with mm precision every time they get on, or even throughout a ride. Secondly, if a rider’s position is so sensitive that a couple mm adjustment will cause issues, that position is likely far too close to the boundary of their fit window to be resilient and is likely to cause issues in the long term.
However, what is true is that some riders (especially those with many km in a position) can perceive a change of only a few mm. The more time a rider spends in a single position increases their body’s adaptation to that position; this contributes to more readily noticing when any change is made. What is important to remember is that a position that feels different (especially at first) isn’t necessarily better or worse.
Justin is a lifelong cyclist that has spent the past 15 years in the bike industry across a variety of roles. His diverse work in sales, procurement, fitting, instructing, and planning cycling infrastructure is all driven by a desire to help more people experience the wonder of cycling. He brings this breadth of experience to building MyVeloFit into a company and service that not only provides bike fits, but one that enables more people to get the most out of cycling.