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Spring Bike Fitting: 4 Principles to Make Sure Your Bike Fits Great with Paulie from GO PHYSIO


With the onset of the spring gravel biking season, we're talking about making sure you have your fit dialed in on your bike. Paulie Glatt from GO PHYSIO joins us to share 4 important areas of bike fit to make sure you have a healthy and comfortable riding season.

To learn more about Paulie or to schedule a professional bike fitting, visit GO PHYSIO.


Words by Paulie Glatt


Spring is here, it seems. Or at least it is sticking its head around the corner and staring at us. Are you ready? As we officially prepare to take the bike off the trainer it’s important to go over a short checklist to make sure that we are setting ourselves up for success. As a Physical Therapist and Bike Fitter I like to address both the body and the bike, so here we go…


Let’s start with the ABCs (air, brakes, and chain):


A - Air: Top off your sealant. Check your tires for any damage and wear.

B - Brakes: Inspect your brake pads and discs.

C - Chain: Check your chain. There are few things worse than having to throw on a new link in the middle of a race or ride.


If necessary, roll into your LBS for an inspection and potential overhaul. It’s worth the cost.


4 Bike Fit Issues That You Can Address This Spring

Digging a bit deeper, let’s look at some wear issues on the bike that might be tattling on your bad habits. My eyes go straight to the 3 contact points: pedals/cleats, saddle, and bars.


Here are some things to look for:


1. Cleats

When we think of the warm embrace of our pedal and cleat we can appreciate and benefit from some float (the ability to move our heel closer to and further from the chain stay while staying clipped in). However, we must also consider the amount of movement around the long-axis of the foot. Visualize the bottom of your foot looking left and right while resting on the pedal. As cleats wear out they gain the ability to rock back and forth which can cause a cascade of issues up the proverbial chain. As you sit reading this, push your arch down towards the floor and watch your knee follow. We’d really like to prevent this from happening while pressing down on a pedal with significant force thousands of times. Additionally, worn cleats become a safety concern because your foot is more likely to jump free from the pedal at inopportune times. If they’re worn, replace them.


2. Saddle

Saddles typically need to be replaced every few years. I just heard you say, “You’ve gotta be kidding me!” I’m not. Saddles can lose their structural integrity after years of use which can increase pressure in the wrong places. It is also important to inspect your saddle for uneven wear and fabric disintegration, both of which are strong hints that your fit is off. Are you leaning more heavily on one side? Are you constantly scooting yourself back on the saddle? A visual inspection of the saddle can give us some good ideas about your bike fit.


3. Bar Tape

One of the first things I look at during a bike fitting is your bar tape. It tells me where you have been spending most of your time. A clear indication of a poor fit is significant wear at the “elbow” transition between the tops and the hoods. This typically means that your hoods are too far away and that you aren’t ready to brake at all times. (Pro tip: Be ready to brake at all times.) If your bar tape is falling apart, replace it. The fact is that your bars are one of the few parts of your bike you get to look at when you’re riding it. Enjoy the view.


4. You

What was your focus this winter? The best answer is, “Riding my bike, or nordic skiing, or (insert endurance exercise here) and working on strength and mobility, especially my weak and tight spots.” No? You don’t know where your weak and tight spots are? Don’t worry. You’re not alone. I recommend treating your body like you [should] treat your teeth.


Folks go to the dentist twice a year in order to avoid losing their teeth. Imagine all of the injuries you might avoid if someone assessed your movement patterns once a year. You’d be less likely to “throw your back out” bending over to pick up your shoes. Find someone in your area who performs a Functional Movement Screen (we do!) or something comparable. Or see a PT to address that lingering pain in your (insert body part here). Taking care of your body off the bike will improve your enjoyment on the bike.


Spring is a great time to step back and evaluate if you and your bike are ready for the coming season. However, give yourself some grace. You might not feel great on those first few rides. Your body, your bike, and the roads need some time to get reacquainted. If things don’t come together after 1-2 weeks of riding then your job is to identify the hurdles and find a way to clear them. Ask for help. There are plenty of us out here ready to help you. Happy riding.


About Paulie Glatt

As a competitive cyclist with a history of low back pain, Paulie has a great understanding of how critical a proper bike fit is to our experience on a bicycle. He rides Road, Gravel, Mountain, Bike Packs, and commutes by bicycle throughout the entire year. His longest race was The Day Across Minnesota, a 240-mile gravel race that he completed in 17 hours.


To learn more about Paulie or to schedule a professional bike fitting, visit GO PHYSIO.


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