Bike Fit: Do You Really Need One?
Did you know your bike, just like your clothes, should fit your body properly? And by properly, mere millimeters of adjusted seat, stem and handlebars could make a significant difference? We girls at Team Film have been lucky enough to connect with Tania Juillerat, the only female bike fitter around these parts. She and her husband, Jonathan, are co-owners of Bluegrass Bicycle Company in Brownsburg, Ind.
A couple of months ago, Tania invited us to have a meet-up starting from her shop, which is attached to her house, located right outside of Eagle Creek Park. She took us on a lovely 15-mile ride and then we had an informal session covering why someone might be in need of a bike fitting and what could be expected. She shared many tidbits of information, including the important fact that
YOU SHOULD NOT FEEL PAIN WHILE RIDING A BIKE!
Apparently, your toes should not be numb, you should be able to reach several different places on your handlebars without falling off, and your sex life should not be adversely affected simply because you went for a bike ride. She added that women especially tend to suffer through aches and pains, thinking it’s normal and justifiable if you are riding your bike. There might be some exceptions for cyclists riding excessive distances, but in general, a knowledgeable bike-fitter can measure, tweak and adjust your bike to make you as comfortable as possible.
I was lucky enough to win a bike fitting from Tania at our meetup (another reason to come to meetups!). I scheduled the fitting and received a detailed email about what to expect. She generally spends at least three hours with you during an initial fitting. Background information and taking lots of measurements as you hop on and off of the bike take up the bulk of the time. (A side note…their bike studio is very hip and they do their best to ensure your comfort with music, wi-fi, craft beers or soft drinks even while you’re just sitting around. Clearly, they like their customers comfortable!)
One of the differences between Tania and her husband Jonathan and many other bike fitters is that Bluegrass Bicycle Company’s fitting is good for the life of your bike. If you buy new shoes, start having knee pain, grow (or shrink), they will happily readjust your bike for you.
Tania also pointed out that having different goals or being a specific type of rider (e.g., aggressive/competitive vs. leisurely) can affect the way you should be fitted on your bike. I am more of a runner and have tooled around on a mountain bike for years, but finally got a road bike this year to help cross-train. I had noticed that once I was on my bike for more than 30 minutes, the toes on my right foot would go numb. I figured this was normal and tried to ignore it, though usually by 15- 18 miles, I was ready to hop off. There was also a pain in my right knee after I got off of the bike, which I knew wasn’t normal since most people use a bike to stay fit if they are having knee issues. After my fitting, I noticed an immediate difference in the way I felt while riding. She adjusted the handlebars slightly so that I could reach all six positions (did you know there were 6???), and my feet felt tons better! She slightly shifted the cleats on my shoes and adjusted my seat, which helped quite a bit. A month after my fitting, I was able to complete 50 miles in the Rollfast Gran Fondo feeling relatively comfortable the entire time. The knee pain post-ride never came back either. If you would like to get more serious and/or comfortable with your riding, I highly recommend talking to Tania!