Bike fit is one of the elements of cycling most often overlooked by riders, yet is arguably the most important factor in performance. However, you don't need to be a racer to see the benefits of a good fit. Beyond increased power and efficiency, improved biomechanics will also result in increased comfort and reduced risk of injury. Learn more about how to dial in your fit in the most recent Tech Corner with Thesis co founder Randall Jacobs on this week's episode of The Gravel Ride Podcast.
This is Tech Corner, a mini-series we're doing with The Gravel Ride Podcast, garnered from Randall's 18 years as a mechanic, racer, product developer, and industry insider. Tune in at the beginning of every episode to catch Randall's 60 second tech tips.
Today we’re going to talk about one of the most fundamental yet overlooked aspects of getting the perfect bike: fit. Put simply, a bike that’s fit to your unique body and biomechanics will reduce risk of injury, improve comfort, power, and efficiency, and ultimately make you a faster, happier rider.
Here are the components to focus on:
- First, frame. Everyone starts with frame size, but unfortunately many get it wrong and few go any further.
- Second, crank. Getting the length right will enable a smoother pedal stroke throughout a wider range of cadences. I’m 5’11” and perform best on 170mm cranks. A rider who's 5’2” would typically need 155s to get a similarly dialed fit. Few companies offer cranks this short, so if you’re a smaller rider or have flexibility issues, pay special attention here.
- Third, handlebar. You want the width at the tops to be roughly equal to that of your shoulders, and for gravel I recommend some degree of flare for increased control in the drops.
- Fourth, stem length. This determines where your handlebar can be positioned in space, which in turn affects effective reach, hip angle, mass distribution, handling, and aerodynamics.
Of course, the right parts are just a starting point. To truly become one with your machine, you need to calibrate it to your body. This is why I always recommend working with a professional fitter. Whether you’re dealing with pain or discomfort, or looking for a performance edge, a professional fit as the single best bang-for-buck investment you can make in your cycling.
And with that, back to Craig and this week’s guest.
The Gravel Ride Podcast features conversations with the athletes, product designers, and iconoclasts who are most influential in the growing world of gravel cycling today. You can follow The Gravel Ride Podcast on their website, Facebook, and Instagram. Join us again for the next episode.