Road Bike Fitting for Triathlon: 5 Tips from Alter Ego Sports

Road Bike Fitting for Triathlon: 5 Tips from Alter Ego Sports


I’m standing here outside of my favourite
local bike shop in Winnipeg, Alter Ego Sports. We’re gonna meet with James, the head fitter
and Manager, who’s gonna take us through the basics of setting up your road bike for max
power. And because triathletes bodies are a lot different than pure road cyclists, he’s
gonna take us through his five top tips for triathletes to keep in mind as they’re setting
up a road bike. Stick around while we head on in and we’re gonna go through all that. Alright so we’re standing here with James
from Alter Ego, so James what is your official fancy pants fitting title? My fitting title
is a Certified Masters Body Geometry Fit Technician. And start to finish, how long did that take
you to get. The first course I went to do was in 2006, and I’ve been back probably almost
every year after that for more courses, and then the certification was in 2012 and lots
of fits between then. So there’s a lot of info obviously that people
can figure out online about how to set up a bike. But knowing what you do why should
somebody go into a place like Alter Ego to get their bike fit professionally? The biggest
thing is you can’t do it by yourself or what’s put out there on the website. I haven’t been
fitted in about three years, and my other fitters here are gonna help me out this winter,
maybe get me fit better. So you don’t even fit yourself? It’s tough to assess yourself
with ankling patterns, how flexible am I? You know, we’re looking for our natural limitations
and small nuances that can really play effect. And the biggest thing in BG fit is the Z-plane,
so that’s the frontal plane, where your knees are tracking, and that’s effected by your
feet your saddle, where your bars are in space, your range of motion, all sorts of little
subtle things that you can’t measure yourself. Ok, so before we get into your tips for setting
up a bike fit what’s the studio that you’ve got here at Alter Ego. Some of the tools that
we use here at the Body Geometry fit studio that we have is the Retul Move, and the Retul
Vantage. So that’s two tools that we use to help adjust and also analysis of the body.
So we can watch a three dimensional fit happening in real time with points on the body with
sensors. We also have a pressure mapping system for
the saddle so we can actually see where you’re sitting, left right fore aft, how much pressure
are you putting in those nether-regions? The dirty bits? The dirty bits, and all these
things are just tools, you need to know what you’re doing with the tools to give an end
product that’s good. So the Move is the bike and the Vision is the infrared system that’s
set up all around here? Yes. And they speak together to tell you where people are lined
up, what’s tracking where, if your body is functioning properly basically? Yep. And we
look at the numbers and see if we’re within your natural abilities or within norms. So let’s get into giving people some tangible
thoughts about what they should be considering if they’re going into a shop ummm and why
they should be thinking about getting a proper fit. Big picture, what is say your overall
philosophy of why people should be doing a fit in a studio with a professional as opposed
to themselves? The biggest thing is, where does it hurt? You know? If you’ve got discomfort
on the bike let’s address it. What’s causing that discomfort? Is it the saddle? Is it the
reach? Is it the handlebars? Is it your feet? Are your knees hurting? And hurting is not normal is what you said
to me before that you shouldn’t be hurting – that’s correct – and even if you are and
you’ve got issues in your body that are causing that hurt you can compensate for that on the
bike with a proper fit. Most of the time. Sometimes we have to work with physiotherapists
and doctors to work in conjunction to get the end product of a healthy comfortable rider. Another tip is do you ever use the drops on
your handle bars? I didn’t, this is interesting, I never did and apparently that’s wrong. Yeah,
why don’t we just cut them off because if you didn’t use them why do you have them?
You should be able to use it because the brakes are more powerful with one finger down here
than all four up top. So you should be able to, what you said, is ride in the drops for
almost your entire ride? Anytime, all the time, that’s what they’re there for. I couldn’t
do that until a couple weeks ago. That would hurt. Ok so for the second tip road cyclists are
guilt of this but triathletes are I think more guilty of this than anyone. There’s a
big push towards wanting to be as low and as aero as possible. What’s your take on that?
Lower isn’t always better, cause you might be beyond your natural flexibility, once again
if the drops are too low if the front end of the bike is too low you might be pinching
things here or sacrificing or straining things like your hamstring, you know, things like
that. Sometimes in a lot of fits that I’ve done I’ve brought people up, and their upper
body has actually gotten lower and more aerodynamic because they’re not straining for that position,
they’re in a more natural comfortable position. As there some sort of a tradeoff between your
comfort in the aero position and how you actually perform over say ironman and half ironman
distances? Yep. The biggest thing is, depending on your distance spring triathlons we usually
go almost at your limit of hip flexion and hamstring mobility, and triathlon as the longer
it goes into ironman we bring it up so we have a percentage window on the hip flexibility.
Because if you’re out in an ironman you could be out there for how many hours, five, six,
seven, eight i think, ten? You can’t sit at your limit, then get up and run, now that’s
gonna hurt. So let’s open you up and you’re gonna be more susceptible to run easier and
better out of your transition. So you maybe give up a little bit but in the aerodynamics
but in the long run you gain – faster more powerful – more powerful, more comfortable,
fresher for the run? Correct. Ok so triathletes are obviously adding on
a couple of extra sports with the swimming and the running that pure road cyclists won’t
have. Those additional sports are obviously going to change our body, what are the common
issues that triathletes will have more often than road cyclists will have to you have to
work within. We get a lot of run injuries, so IT bands and things like that. So when
you’re dealing with tight IT bands, things like plantar fascia like really running common
injuries what are some of the ways that you’ve gotta think about dealing with that as you’e
setting up a road bike. Just making sure we’re within natural limits, making sure the Z-plane
is aligned properly, so that’s knee tracking in out, what’s happenings at the foot, making
sure that the foot is aligned properly and having a proper support for the whole foot
for a cycling gait, not a running gait. IN cycling we are forefoot driven and flattening
that arch at 3 o’clock you tend to lose power and stability in the knee and the ankle. So
are you’re pushing down the foot is flattening out. So we do a lot of arch support, stability,
and comfort, it can help stabilize everything in that area. Ok and then for the IT band
it’s largely making sure that your knees aren’t wobbly? Once again, stabilization from the
saddle and the feet. Keeping that whole chain from hip to foot stable. So there are a lot of beginner triathletes
that are trying to set up a road bike as their tri bike strapping on a set of aerobars. What
are the differences between setting up that road bike for triathlon vs just setting it
up purely for road biking? The big difference is saddle position, fore aft, so we go a little
bit further forward to open up the hips, and shorten the distance to the tri bars. So sometimes
we’ll put a shorter stem on there, so we open up the hips and not limit your hamstring flexibility
and compromise your hip flexion. So if you’re saddle’s too far back? It’s gonna close those
hips up. And then if you’ve got to reach, it’s the same sort of thing, it’s close up
the hips? Yep, so straining the hamstrings and compressing and contracting your hip flexion.
If you’re if you’re not set up properly you’re burning out your hamstrings, hopping off the
bike, start running, pain? That’s gonna hurt. Frankenstein walk. Yep. If someone’s looking to get that road bike
that they can also use for triathlon there’s obviously some aero road bikes out there,
are there some specific brands makes that fit a little bit easier as both? Most road
bikes will do both, the biggest thing is making sure that we have a seat post and we can adjust
it, or we replace with a 20mm offset seatpost to a zero offset seatpost. Again to bring
that seat foreward? That’s the biggest thing? That is one of the bigger things. Ok so for the fifth and final tip one thing
that you mentioned to me was that the fit process isn’t just that two three hours that
we spend in the studio that is happens for a fair bit after, so what are you monitoring
as you go forward after the fit happens? Well in a fit we sometimes make some minor changes
or some major changes, and your body takes two to three weeks to adapt to these changes
so we want to make sure you’re comfortable, and if there’s problems we want to get you
back in and address those problems. And is that anything from just minor tweaks that
your body can’t adjust to, or just isn’t taking well to? If there’s major things we can always
adjust them and go back a little bit and go in small increments and just see how it adapts
over time. And your fit changes from now, March, to August. You know we all get fitter
we all get stronger, we might be stretching more, we might be going through physio. Sometimes
I get customers that get fits three to six months at a time, I even ride my stem higher
in the winter than in the middle of the summer. No, I ride in my drops but only in August.
Well August is drop month. Look at your bar tape, if you got white bar tape where is it
dirty, if it’s dirty up top and perfectly clean on the bottom you need a bike fit. I
had very clean drops, untouched. I gave you an extra tip there. That was good
that was six tips, five, five a three quarters maybe? Alright, so thanks James that’s obviously
going to help a lot of the triathletes and even the road cyclists in the crowd. We are
going to be following this up with a pure triathlon bike fit, yep. And that’ll be a
whole other video. So if you don’t want to miss that make sure you hit the subscribe
button over here up top. And if you live in Winnipeg or if you’re visiting the city make
sure you come down and say hi to James at Alter Ego. It’s my favourite bike shop in
the city, these guys know their stuff and I guarantee that if you come in here there
isn’t a single person in the shop that can’t help you out with any bike issue that you
got, you got good people here. If you want to see some of the other triathlon
videos I think there’s one over on that side of James probably, you don’t know it but it’s
over there. I can see it, and then there’s one over here. It’s a good one. So thank you everyone, and you have to say
“Kill your next A-Race” “Kill Your Next A-Race”. That sounded really good, we got to get you
in on every video for that.