Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The Saddle and Your Butt

Part 2

In part 1 we looked at up and down, here we will consider the effects of forwards and backwards or 'fore and aft' as is often referred to.

THE WARNING.Firstly, the information here is just that, don't go rushing out to your bike and risk injuring yourself by moving your seat post up or down or both - for the more particular of you, you will end up with a scratched seat post to upset you before you get as far as the risk of injury a maladjusted Saddle Height can bring.

The purpose of the information here is more to raise general awareness rather than be prescriptive, the advice as always is to make sure your bike fits you as best it can.

Now that is out of the way let's move on.

When you look at the connection of your saddle to the seat post there will almost certainly be a bracket that allows some form of adjustment for backwards and forwards, some specialist cycles such as the Cervelo S5 even have two separate attachments for the saddle bracket

Considering the additional engineering required to do this, it would be sensible to assume that there is some benefit to be gained from the saddle position.

In basic terms once you have the correct saddle height, the forwards backwards position of the saddle will help determine the riders position relative to the pedaling mechanism of the bike. Too far forward and there is a risk of injury and too far back and there is a loss of power and efficiency, not to say that this would not result in injury also.

The ideal position in road cycling, more on TT in a minute, is found with the knee roughly over the centre of the pedal spindle axle with the pedals parallel to the ground, if assuming a flat supporting surface.

This Knee over Pedal ideal has been used for decades and does have merit, however, as most methods used to measure this need to be static, the application is limited. After all do you sit still when you ride your bike and do you adopt differing positions depending on your effort level?

For this reason the Retul System used here is dynamic taking measurements with the rider working at different effort levels. In this way the fitter is able to see how the rider moves around on the bike and discuss this with them to create the most suitable fit.

With regards TT positioning, this is somewhat different. As the rider is aiming for a lower, fixed and ideally more aerodynamic position with the torso rotated forward the saddle is also moved forward to help accommodate this, with the knee often being up to 90mm further forward relative to the 'standard' road position. Again this may alter from rider to rider and also at different effort levels.

The best position for the cyclist is often a form of compromise between the bike the rider and the goals of the rider, by completing the pre-fit questionnaire the cyclist is able to provide the fitter with information to help the conversation develop during the fit.

Once the saddle position is reached the front of the bike can then be addressed, looking at stem length, handle bar height and position.

To discuss your needs contact us here or for details regarding a free fit, click here


Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Free Retul Bike Fits

With every deposit taken for either a Legend or Formigli Frame during the Olympic events we will be providing a free Retul Bike Fit

Have a look at the Slide Show for the frame detail

For more details or to book in 

give us a call at Fit Me Up on 01992 507901

All frames are fabricated in the factory in Italy by Craftsmen.

With frame sets starting @ £1,999 (inc. VAT) having your bespoke frame is closer than you may have thought.

An example frame we have here at Fit Me Up

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Custom Build Cycles

Custom Made Frames are on their way!

More details to follow, soon, but we are going to be working with two Italian builders to construct one off frames in Carbon, Aluminium and Titanium.

More to follow at

Fit Me Up
Retul & VO2 Hertford

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The Saddle and Your Butt

THE WARNING.Firstly, the information here is just that, don't go rushing out to your bike and risk injuring yourself by moving your seat post up or down or both - for the more particular of you, you will end up with a scratched seat post to upset you before you get as far as the risk of injury a maladjusted Saddle Height can bring.

The purpose of the information here is more to raise general awareness rather than be prescriptive, the advice as always is to make sure your bike fits you as best it can.

The interface which takes the majority of your contact with your beloved bike is the saddle and it just happens to make that contact with (normally) the most sensitive part of your anatomy to remain in contact with your bike...

So what choices do you have with your saddle?
  • Up and Down
  • Forwards and Backwards
  • Nose higher or Lower (tilt)
Part 1

Up and down
This is often the most simple and therefore commonly altered part of the bike geometry, with everyone knowing an expert who has guided them in to the 'correct' height. 
With what I see in the fitting studio, bikes with saddle heights too low by far out weigh the number of bikes with saddles that are too high.
Not hugely surprising given the need to reach the pedals and the insecure sensation of sitting too high.

So why bother getting it right?
Well perhaps we could consider
  • To reduce the risk of injury 
  • To increase comfort
  • To maximise efficiency

The height of your saddle has a large impact on the ranges of motion that the Hip, Knee and Ankle joints move through during the pedalling cycle and given that this is repeated more than once per second for the average Cyclist for hours on end it is to be expected that this is important to get right. 

Due to the anatomy of the lower limb, the knee is the joint most often presenting with pain and injury, with large muscle groups conveying their power through the patella (knee cap) and down onto the Tibial Tuberosity, combined with the common predominance of Quadricep biased cycling (another time) the knee is often put through some real stress!

What does that mean to the rider and his/her saddle
  • Too Low
    • the knee will be forced to move to far in front of the foot at points in the pedal rotation, leading to additional unwanted stress and risk of injury.
    • the knee may be forced from a simple path of up and down to a potentially torturous motion looking like an orbiting planet as it moves through the pedal cycle including unwanted rotation and sheering stresses.
  • Too High
    • the rider will have to rock excessively from side to side to reach the pedals.
      • the Knee may not suffer too greatly here, but the inner thigh may become sore as it is forced to rub against the side of the saddle.
    • the spine has to rotate as the leg reaches to complete the bottom of each pedal cycle.
      • this can indirectly lead to knee irritation via the iliotibialband becoming tight and leading to the patella shearing.(again something for another time)
So with just minimal examples of issues caused by incorrect saddle height from the plethora out there it would seem the 'Goldilocks' approach of not too high and not too low is the key...

To find out what is 'just right' for you visit our Retul Certified Fitting Studio

To add further complication (fun) to the mix, the actual saddle height will often benefit from being altered to suit the riding discipline, for example

  • Mountain Bike
  • Road Bike, flat riding
  • Road Bike, climbing
  • Time Trial Bike

The Mountain Bike, speaks for itself, as the saddle can serve to hinder some riders. The other three simple examples perhaps less so, but nonetheless there is much information available to suggest that at least some of the data is relevant.

As the rider moves forward or backward on the saddle, the relative distance to the bottom bracket alters and this leads to a difference effective saddle height, but more of this next time.

Any Questions or to discuss a fit for you visit Dean Taylor @ Fit Me Up 

or call us here in Hertford on 01992 507901

Friday, 15 June 2012

Core Stability-Doing the Dull Stuff...

Here goes, I am prizing the lid off a can of worms here...

Having interviewed a client earlier today with a foot problem and tracing the origin back to basic  'core instability' it got me thinking & watching some videos of cyclists to confirm I was not going mad...

This followed a rapid Internet search and there it was (research is so much easier than 20 years ago!)...

Something I have mentioned in passing to cyclists when looking at their 'fit' on the bike or their 'form' during a VO2 test, is lack of stability in the pelvic area.

A great deal of my experience here dates back to being a Basic Grade (I think they call them Staff Physios now) in a Specialist Stroke Rehabilitation Unit. One of the many challenges for the Patient is to engage the postural set of muscles on one side of the body, with reduced awareness and control without creating or increasing unhelpful patterns of movement elsewhere (or so I remember it).

How  does this relate to cycling?

Well, unless a serious recreational athlete or 'age grouper' is injured enough to seek treatment to the back very little stability work is ever done or perhaps worse still work is done but to strengthen the wrong muscles or movement patterns, the most common being to strengthen muscles whose primary function is movement in the erroneous belief this will assist postural control creating patterns of muscular recruitment that hinder rather help.

In general there is a training focus on
  • Leg Strength/Power
  • Aerobic Fitness
  • Bike Position
  • More expensive bike parts...
After all, these are all interesting and some can be measured and give instant feedback regarding results.

While I have no particular issues here, take this example for a moment.
  • When cycling, 5 points of contact are made with the bike.
    • Both hands on the bars.
    • Contact with the Saddle.
    • Both feet on the pedals.
  • The hands form a relatively fixed base of support that we rely upon for balance (this is exacerbated in the TT position due to the arm pads).
  • The pedals form a fixed base of support and serve as the main interface by which rider effort is conveyed to the bike.
  • The contact point with the saddle allows for movement both fore & aft and from side to side.
    • This is the key point, the bit in the middle is most free to movement, and is between to relatively fixed points, one of which has been trained to produce a sustained high power output alternating from side to side causing a torsional moment around the lower back and pelvis.
    • If this area has not been specifically trained to work with these stresses or has some previous injury that has not been properly dealt with, an issue is likely to result.
    • Think in the extreme of two solid objects joined by jelly, with one end needing to be still and doing as little work as possible (arms) the other driving the object forward by twisting - the result is unlikely to be efficient and at worst catastrophic.
  • The issues this can lead to could be (& there are more)
    • Asymmetrical movement on the bike leading to a functional weakness and injury.
    • Pain due to excessive movement.
    • Pain in other areas due to faulty mechanics.
      • My client today was complaining of sub-talar foot pain...
    • Reduced aerobic endurance due to respiratory restriction.
      • Respiratory muscles being recruited for stability needs.
    • Fatigue of postural muscles, leading to injury
      • A bike offers a relatively stable platform for the athlete, if a Triathlete was to pre-fatigue postural stability (core) muscles then run the likelihood of injury is even greater.
Just a few thoughts directed at Cyclists who really do need to 'Consider the Core'.

Where is the downside on this, it will assist with conditioning, is designed to make more effective use of the muscles that are being carried up hills any way so consider seeking the correct advice through the assessment of the qualified health professional and then getting some work done when you know you will not just be causing further issues.

Happy Miles

Saturday, 9 June 2012

June Update

It has been a busy few months since the last blog, both in and out of the office.

We have added some additional and simplified motion capture software to help cyclists understand more about their position in relation to the bike, which has worked very well.

In addition to this we have also reintroduced some old fashioned analogue data collection to our processes to help understanding so the rider can gain more from the experience of the fit.

Over the next few months we will be analysing some specific aspects of the fit and the relatioship to muscluar activation, more next time.

As for being out of the office, personal training has been really aimed solely towards the L2P24 in July, but that has not go in the way of a couple of Sportives, including the excellent Etape Caledonia and some warm weather trips to both Tenerife and to main land Spain (thanks Mark) which made the most of the smooth roads, patient motorists and warm weather...

Until next time

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Ironman Visit

No, not a visit from Robert Downey Jr in his red suit...

Last week we had a visit from Sam Baxter, who wist working full time, managed a top 100 finish in his maiden visit to Ironman Kona 2011. 

Having ridden with but largely behind Sam over the last 2 years, I can say he is one of the nicest guys you will meet and I am sure all who know him will wish him well this year too. 

Exploits from his racing and training can be followed here.

During his visit we performed a Resting Test

We also performed a VO2 Threshold  test YOUTUBE link to test that can be viewed here.

Needless to say Sam performed pretty well on the test, it would be unfair to disclose the exact results, but the time he has devoted to his training has paid good dividend.

To finish off our morning we checked over Sam's TT position using he Retul system

There is also a brief video here

Good Luck Sam!