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Outdoors: Make sure your bike is the right fit

Time:2018-09-23 23:49Shoes websites Click:

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So you just bought a new bike, perhaps motivated by September sales as Okanagan retailers try to sell the last of their 2018 models.

Of course, you took several bikes for a test ride as is and decided which is the most comfortable for your body size and ability.

For many, that is it: time to go riding while the weather is nice. But there is one more crucial step that can make or break your future years of recreational riding: proper bike fit.

At Fresh Air Concept, 555 Groves Ave. in Kelowna, manager Marty Tymm and his staff use a Retul Body Geometry dynamic fit bike. Its saddle moves up and down, back and forth, and so does its handlebar with numbered scales telling staff how to adjust the saddle and bars on your new bike.

An angle measuring tool shows the angle of lower and upper legs, and a plumb bob shows whether your lower leg is vertical on the pedals in a certain foot position.

Bike sizing only takes 10 to 15 minutes, but many don’t go through a brief fitting procedure, says Tymm.

“You really wind up with four to five very important critical numbers — like your saddle height, measuring off the nose of the saddle to figure out your fore and aft,

saddle tilt from pressure placement on the saddle to bar centre, your reach and bar height. Then you can go into more detail like bar tilt, bar shape. There are lots of different shapes of handlebars; most people don’t think about that.”

For a proper bike fit, you start at the feet and work your way up, he explains. “If you are using cycling shoes, make sure the cleats are aligned properly on the bottoms of your shoes. Once your feet are clipped in the pedals, then you have a reference point to start measuring things from. You work from there up to your waistline. That encompasses the part of the body that you generate power from. We want to make sure that everything is firing right,” he says.

“The knees are one of the more poorly-

designed joints in the body; they easily fail. We want to make sure they aren’t easily

aggravated by the motion of cycling. A

30-degree bend in the knee represents a safe measurement for where your pelvis is and where your foot is. It’s your maximum leg extension.

The three points of contact that a human has on a bike are hands, pelvis and feet, he says.

“Starting at the feet, make sure they are comfortable; make sure your pelvis is comfortable; and then we work on the upper body, measuring reach (to the handlebars) and angles. Some people are super-duper flexible while a lot of us are not. The rider is the dynamic part; bikes are inanimate. Make this thing fit the rider, not the rider fit the bike.”

Saddles have two parallel bars on the bottom so you can slide them back and forth, fore and aft. “It’s a huge benefit to your knees if that is adjusted correctly.”

“Small adjustments make big differences. Sometimes, you get people who have a bike that is so out-of-whack you end up making big, big adjustments. It’s a little bit like ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire.’

“If a rider has pressure problems in one part of the body, it’s important to also look at everything up to that point, such as checking the cycling shoes, and fore and aft of the saddle, “rather than blindly trying just to treat the symptoms,” said Tymm.

“You can start slapping on different saddles and put a gel cover on it, but that’s just an easy band-aid on a problem that’s still there.”

Handlebar adjustment is the last step, when “you examine the rider’s flexibility and reach, how they are fighting leaning that far out,” says Tymm.

“A lot of people raced their bikes or rode their bikes a certain way when they were younger. But then, there’s time and lives and careers. We get busy and spend too much time sitting at a computer typing away. And suddenly you realize your upper back doesn’t move at all any more. And you need to raise the bars up a little bit. Some bikes address that better than others.

“There are adaptors to bring the bars up for a more upright position so it’s far more comfortable and relaxing for your upper back. It’s a smart way to go for most people. The intention is to make it comfortable so you’ll ride your bike.”

Having a physiology background helps. Understanding the skeleton, weightload, important muscle groups and how muscles are supposed to work is definitely a huge benefit, says Tymm. “But you don’t need a special school. I have a little bit of background in that. Most of our staff are quite knowledgeable in that, kinesiology undergrads, that kind of thing. We’re fortunate to have a well-educated group that do this.”

There are easy-to-follow You Tube videos and courses online, but Tymm has taken six different bike fit courses, each with its own system.

“If your focus is still the rider and not so much their ‘system’, they all have good processes. But they all kind of do the same thing at the end of the day: follow the rider; don’t follow the bike.”


Now that the Sheriff is ready to ride his new bike, he joined his mid-week cycling group, and discovered a new bike loop in Lake Country. It’s not that long, it’s flat and it is highly recommended for families with one cautionary note.

We parked our vehicles at Beasley Park on Woodsdale Road in Winfield. Heading north on Highway 97, turn right as if you are going to Turtle Bay Pub but continue down Woodsdale Road to the park.

Caution: the last leg of the cycle loop

involves this narrow curved road with no bike lane right after you turn off the highway.

Mounting your bike, continue east on Woodsdale Road to the Okanagan Rail Trail and head north to Oyama.

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