How a correct biomechanical set-up can improve your approach to cycling

The riding style of every cyclist is unique and characteristic.
Those who start pedalling at a young age grow up together with their bikes, so their physical growth is influenced by the sport practised. For this type of athletes it is essential to be as efficient as possible, so they need all the precautions to optimize their athletic gesture to their body measurements, their racing category, the types of races and the training volume.
Contrary those who start cycling in older age or approach the sport in a more relaxed way, often find themselves battling with physical compensation deriving from their previous sporting activity, previous injuries and some general physical limitations that don't allow them to feel good when pedalling.

Whether you ride a bike for pure pleasure or to test yourself many factors can make you comfortable or not when you are riding: is the push on the pedals effective? Do you experience discomfort, tingling or recurring muscle stiffness? Are you able to stay in the saddle for many hours while maintaining the necessary feeling of comfort? Does your bike suitable for the type of routes you ride on?

What are the starting points to look at on a biomechanical visit?
First of all, a fundamental note must be specified: the problems that occur when pedalling are the result of the compensation that our neuro-muscular system implements when off the bike.
Accidents, sprains, fractures and attitudes dictated by the job type are all elements that can affect your posture. Therefore, when you want to optimize your riding position, it must be taken into account that, whatever is your the type of compensation, it must never be corrected only by adjusting your bike set-up. This type of problem must be supported and eventually resolved with stretching or reinforcement exercises off the bike prepared and studied according to your needs.
The first thing to do is to evaluate, also with the help of a professional, what your physical limitations are and then understand if and how they can be improved without correct any natural attitude.

Relying on the idea that buying a more expensive bike you automatically leads to more advantages, you risk to make a serious mistake: you are owning a potentially super-performing bike but not entirely suitable for your needs.
Whether you need to buy a new bike or want to improve your set-up on a bike that you already own, the performance target must be the primary thing to analyze.
A cyclist who used to race on short circuits will need a reactive and quick bike, not necessarily super light but as rigid as possible and with an aerodynamic set-up: a mix that requires a certain physical predisposition, and which can be limiting in the case you also want to ride on other types of routes.
If on the contrary you used to face longer routes, the rigidity take second place and it is necessary that during the ride you can be comfortable on the saddle for all the hours required. It, therefore, becomes more important to have a softer and more comfortable frame that absorbs the vibration of the road as much as possible, allowing you to stay on the bike for long time. In modern cycling the big brands offer a range of models so wide that meet almost any needs, with a constant eye for aesthetic taste.

Let’s continue to analyze the frame technical details.
A particularly low head set, typical in the "racing" bike, even if really good looking risks to drastically compromising the comfort whilst riding, that’s because the muscle-tendon system is not in a comfort zone and there is no appropriate muscle flexibility.
Even the geometry, both sloping or traditional, has a very different impact on the reactivity of the frame, as well as on the aesthetics.
We know that the cyclist has 3 points of contact on the bike: hand (handlebar), ischial tuberosities of the pelvis (saddle) and foot (pedal). Any modification on one of these 3 elements has an impact on the others. So the type of saddle, the withdrawal of the cleats on the shoe, the width of the handlebar and the orientation of the lever are things that must be combined in a different way for everyone.
Therefore, a saddle more suited to your type of pelvis as well as a lever positioned differently on the handlebar or a greater retraction of the cleats compared to the pedal are all elements that can make the difference for those who pedal These things make the difference between having to endure a whole series of annoyances and pains, which make your rides frustrating, or being able to enjoy a satisfying experience onboard your bike.

In conclusion, when you go to a biomechanical it is essential to have a clear budget and understand how to invest it in the right way, with the awareness that it is counterproductive to consider only the economic expense.
So it is important to be aware of what is your starting point on the physical side, improve your gaps and evaluate what you need to be comfortable on your bike.
At the same time, we must be able to give the right importance to all the small components that can make the difference, allowing us to transform a simple bike ride into a stimulating experience through a bicycle set up according to your personal needs, enjoying 100% sensations on the saddle along every meter.

FABIO BARONTI

Sport scientist.

Graduated in sport sciences, actually working at the biomechanics and physical preparation centre CTFlab,trainer of the UCI Continental Cycling Team Friuli.