Bike shops across the country offer fitting services starting as low as $50 and reaching as high as $300. The best boast motion capture analysis, saddle mapping, and live tracking. But will this translate to gains off road? Mtbr spoke with two established bike fitters to discuss the potential gains of a professional bike fit for off-road riders.
Adam Myerson is self-taught bicycle fitter who has performed fits for the past 20 years on hundreds of clients, both professional and recreational though his coaching company, Cycle-Smart. Though Myerson comes from a road and cyclocross background, his understanding of what off-road athletes require make him a valuable resource in this discussion.
Todd Schoeni is a 10-year veteran of bicycle fitting and first began his fit education with Specialized and Dr. Andy Pruitt in 2007 with basic and masters fit courses. Triathlon, TT, and MTB-specific fit courses with Specialized followed. Schoeni also has fit training with GURU/F.I.S.T. bike fit and Dan Empfield from Slowtwitch.com. Most recently he attended the Medicine of Bicycle Fit conference at USA Cycling HQ in Colorado Springs.
For part No. 1 of this two part series, Mtbr discussed the basics of fit and why a mountain biker would want to seek out a professional fit.
Mtbr: Why should someone get a mountain bike fit if mountain biking is primarily based on feel?
Adam Myerson: I’d argue all cycling undervalues feel, but it’s also possible to become adapted to something that doesn’t allow you optimum performance, even if it feels good. A good MTB fit should allow you to do a lot of contradictory things: pedal hard when seated, hover over the saddle while pedaling, provide leverage while climbing, and predictable handling in single track and while descending. For that reason, a MTB fit can vary dramatically from rider to rider based on build, terrain, and preferences.
Todd Schoeni: One person’s feel is different from another person’s feel, meaning, one person might set themselves up close to where their bike needs to be, and one person really might set their bike way off. It’s excellent to have an objective eye (third person, bike fitter, etc.) take a look at you, so you are not in jeopardy of injuring yourself due to a dangerous position. For instance, if your saddle is extremely low, it might feel okay to you on the trail. But you may run the risk of hip or knee issues due to overuse of your range of motion in your joints. It might not sound that bad, but cycling is a sport of repetition. Do something 90 times a minute for hours in a wrong position, and you may see an injury.
Mtbr: Are there benefits for getting a trail or enduro bike fit? If so, what performance gains are there?
TS: My first inclination is, yes. Now, I know there is a lot of moving around on an enduro bike and not all the traditional thought of bike fit apply here. But let’s just isolate one thing, the starting point. Although you may move around a lot and not be in one position all the time, your starting point matters. I believe a good, properly setup saddle height and reach will be beneficial for getting all your power down to the pedals and allowing you to feel comfortable on the bike. If you have that efficiency and comfort, you can focus on feeling more confident in your handling and going fast.
AM: Again, what feels good should always get a second set of eyes. And an enduro bike is again a situation where you’re asked to do almost opposite things. Deciding how to balance those things is always good to do in conversation and review with a second person who can observe you on the bike, even if you provide a lot of input.
Check out part 2 of this series that takes a deeper dive into the benefits of bike fit for mountain bikers.