A few months ago I bought a new bike (a really cool Specialized Tricross Sport). I was so happy with it that I went right out and rode hundreds of kilometres … and then suddenly found that I could not walk without pain. Naturally, I ignored the pain and continued cycling.
In fact, I reasoned that walking hurt more than cycling, so I should try to avoid walking, and actually cycle MORE.
But then it got to the point where I was having almost paralyzing pain in my knees while cycling, and I had to admit it was time to get help.
So I bit the bullet (hard) – I got a professional bike fitting done by Zenya Kasubuchi, a sports physiotherapist down at the Allan McGavin Sports Medicine Centre at the Plaza of Nations in downtown Vancouver. It was a hard bullet to bite because it was NOT CHEAP.
However, the professional bike fitting was worth every cent.
I got an in-depth assessment of my body, and the diagnosis that I had caused the problem by riding long distances on a bike that was not fitted to my body. The analogy Zenya used was running a train just slightly off the track for long distances – the constant friction had caused irritation, and stubborn ignoring of the irritation had led to quite serious inflammation.
After the assessment, Zenya measured and aligned every important part of my bike.
This included getting the saddle height right, and the distance between the saddle and the handlebars. It also meant lining up the saddle with the crank, so that the angle of my knees while pedaling was correct. And he showed me the right angle to have my knees at (apparently cycling like a duck is not recommended).
Also he pointed out that my trusty old Five Tens had got too floppy, and recommended that I get cycling shoes with really non-bendable soles.
Zenya fixed what he could right on the spot, and sent me away with a prescription for my local bike shop. The prescription included getting a shorter stem, and changing the angle of said stem. It took the bike shop a while, but when I picked it up, it was like magic. I’ve never had a bike feel that good!
Also, Zenya pointed out that once my bike was perfect, I could make sure that my other bikes matched this one as closely as possible. This is really useful for people with several bikes, as these fittings are expensive, so you want to have as few as possible.
That said, I know that I will never again buy a bike and NOT get a professional fitting.
The cost of NOT having a professional bike fitting was really high:
- months of knee pain
- the depression caused by not being able to ride at all eventually
- about a dozen physiotherapy sessions
- hours of stretching exercises, and
- constant icing for about two months.
Wow! Compared to all that, a professional bike fitting is really good value for money.
I highly recommend that you get yourself a professional bike fitting the next time you get a new bike. Your knees will thank you!