Bike fitting with Sam Weaver
By Chris Jamieson
Fit, Fitter, Fittest!
This had been long overdue! The set up on my TT bike had been good for last season’s long races but I’d never quite felt right on my Road Bike. Perfectly comfortable for long rides but when it came time to crank up the power something was missing…So when I needed a major rebuild after a crash it was the perfect excuse to finally get a fitting on my Road Bike when I went to pick it up from Sam at Paris Bike Co.
Sam is one of a very short list of people I trust with my bikes. It’s simple. He really knows his stuff and his attention to detail in servicing bikes is impeccable*. So I also lined up to drop off my TT for a pre-race service. While I was happy with my TT fit I was curious for a second opinion so now we were on for a double fitting!
I’m largely a collection of sports injuries so I gave Sam some history ahead of time so he could start to think about where my limitations might be. Then we started at the bottom…my feet! Sam’s approach is that proprioception (how you feel the pedal stroke) is key to achieving the overall fit, so we compared insoles from both sets of shoes I’d brought, Tri & Road, and also tried some G8 soles (the G8’s offer a lot of flexibility in support height & arch positioning). The verdict was the G8’s were better for my road shoes but the insoles I’d already found for my Tri shoes had the stiffness I needed to transfer power to the pedals and maintain good alignment.
Now it was time to start pedalling… First the Road Bike, mounted up on a turbo with mirrors in front and to the side so Sam could clearly see body position and how my joints moved through the pedal stroke. A warm up spin then down onto the drops, next release the bars for the “cantilever test” to see how balanced my current position was (not!) and whether my core could hold me in position (no!)
Time for some adjustments. The saddle was flattened, went back and down a touch. We tried again…Already I could feel my body was better supported so my legs were spinning more easily and the power from my quads was coming into play. A couple of tweaks and it felt like we were closing in. Time to look at the front end. The handlebars had already been swapped out for a pair to match my shoulder width and then the stem was raised slightly. Now my hands felt much lighter on the bars (reducing numbness on those long rides). Time for another go at the cantilever test (much better!) we’d reached our “Starting Point”.
Next the TT. The verdict: My current position was solid and was comfortable for 180k in an Ironman but I should be able to get more aggressive for 70.3 or shorter so we reversed the seat post moving my body forward over the pedals and planned to test lower stack heights on the tri bars to look for the sweet spot between getting aero & keeping comfort.
Out on the Road
Sam’s philosophy is that everybody’s morphology is different and how they feel on the bike is key. So the goal of the first fitting is only to get to the “Starting Point”. The real test comes when the bike heads out on the open road and the rider can feel the changes: What’s improved, what still needs adjusting or what just feels different away from the static set-up of a turbo. It’s then for them to make some tweaks or come back for more fitting time and since over time our morphologies can change and adapt to the new, better position further small changes or another assessment would be perfectly normal so Sam includes follow ups for 12 months in his fitting.
For me…the Road Bike feels a world different and ready for its next big trip to the Pyrenees. For the TT racing Mallorca 70.3 will really find out what difference we’ve made but I’m already excited about the potential!
(*Servicing my TT Sam found a tiny crack in my front wheel hub which could have been catastrophic at any kind of speed. The wheel is now back with the manufacturer for an upgraded hub)