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Active Expert: Gale Bernhardt

1 Post tagged with the sram tag

Bike Fit

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Apr 8, 2008

I have at least as many excuses as you do for not getting into my favorite bike shop for a bike fit. I can't speak for you; but, all of my excuses are lousy ones if I'm honest.


My first bike fit was to get my custom TT frame built by legendary frame builder Lennard Zinn. That was in 1992.


My second bike fit was somewhere around 2000-2002 when fit guru Andy Pruitt fit my road bike and tweaked Lennard's fit on my TT frame. Actually, it wasn't Lennard's fit that needed tweaking, it was my fit that needed tweaking due to changes in my strength, fitness and flexibility.


The third fit was by Kevin Hansen of Peloton Cycles, fresh off of a course that certified him in the fit techniques of Pruitt. That fit was on a new mountain bike in 2005.


Happy to tweak my own fit and transfer measurements from bike to bike, I slowly crept out of fit. For the last two to three years, I've had trouble with my right fingers falling asleep on any ride over an hour. I just put up with it, because it didn't prevent me from riding.


There is the problem.


Why in the world would I wait until an issue became debilitating until I did something about it? Probably for the same reasons you do too: too busy right now, will do it next week/month/year?, it's not that bad, it doesn't bother me all the time, etc.


When Roy Gatesman of Peloton Cycles offered to do a complete Body Geometry Fit on the new bike for me, I said, "Yes, let's do it. You can probably fine tune the current fit, which works fine." (Achem! - "Fine"? Really?)


I am the first to admit that doing my own bike fit is like trying to give myself swimming stroke technique tips. I honestly don't have a clue what I looked like and what's going on with various moving parts when in motion.


Here's what Roy suggested that I change, and I agreed with his diagnosis:


  • - Shorter stem by 10 mm.

  • - Narrower handlebars than what came on the bike. (Back to what my current bike is equipped with, at 40.) Also, the new bar had a 20 mm shorter reach. (The distance from the centerline of the handlebar to the brake hoods was shorter so my hand didn't have to travel as far forward to reach the brake hoods.)

  • - SRAM Red has a built-in adjustment to bring the brake lever closer to the bar for my small hands. Much, much easier to reach the brakes.

  • - Removed the washer from between the pedals and the cranks and moved the cleats on my pedals to the outsides of my shoes. All of this brought my knees and ankles inline with my hips (measured with a nifty laser), which fall on the narrow side for a woman. This is a good fit biomechanically and reduces injury chances along with increasing my ability to generate power.

  • - Adjusted the seat fore and aft to get my knee correctly aligned over the crank arm. (Did I mention that off and on right knee pain I get on occasion? Oh, I guess it slipped my mind.)

  • - Removed a shim that was under my left shoe to get my knee to track in a straight line, rather than traveling side to side.

  • - Put my seat height back to what I thought was, rather than what it actually measured. (Travels with the bike and time lowered my seat. Ooops.)


There are probably other items slipping my mind, but this is the majority of issues. I took the bike for a long, hilly ride that had gusty winds (the worst aggravator for my sleeping fingers and occasionally cranky knee) last Sunday.


Guess what? No problems at all.


Roy Gatesman can be seen below making adjustments on the bike. Trent Schilousky, who helped with the shim troubleshooting, seemed to disappear when the camera came out. Todd Kornfield, who often cares for my bikes, is in the background contemplating, "Gale, now tell me again why you waited so long to get a proper bike fit?"


No good excuse.




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