Sorting my own bike fit never stops

I have some new bikes and it is surprising how it has affected my set up. Just over a year ago I felt that I needed to go smaller to go faster. I had been

Whyte 29 Team about to go down
Whyte 29C Team

riding a Whyte 29C medium which is billed as an XC machine but devours the meanest of tracks like a trail bike. However, the super long top tube was perhaps not suited to my physic. I have long legs and a short body which the marketers would have you believe is 100% feminine – that’s me! I did ride the South Downs Way twice without any aches or pains so the Whyte 29C did work but I was after more.


I tested the shorter medium Scott Scale 29er and found it better, maybe I should have stuck with Whyte and ridden a small as the

Scott Scale 900 SL
Scott Scale 900 SL

dimensions of the two (small Whyte and medium Scott) are so close but I got the Scott. I did OK in the Gorrick Series and for you 27.5 advocates I never felt that the 29in wheels slowed me down on the tight and twisty race course.

Previously, I had decided to change the way I climbed on the road. I had always tried too hard; trying to rip the hoods off. The new approach was to sit up, grab the top of the bars, relax, breath deep and get into a climbing rhythm. With the shorter mountain bike I soon found myself doing a similar thing – hands shoulder width apart, forearms floppy and a relaxed grip. I seemed to be going as quick but with noticeably less effort. Result.

Top of the Wiston Bostal
Niner RLT9

I then got a Niner RLT9. After a little investigation and a test I opted for a 53cm and, as the late and great Jenn Hill once said to me, you can never get a cross bike too short. I rode it as it came, short stem and high too, I had no intention of making it anything like my road bikes. I had no idea what I was doing but riding with a group of lifelong cross riders (and racers) they thought that I had got it right.

Next to arrive was a new Wilier Cento Uno SR. This bike is more or less identical to the old one but I had opted for some

Tricolore top tube
Wilier Cento Uno SR

changes, a narrower and shorter reach handlebar. So with my road bike measurements noted down to the last millimetre it should have been an easy set up but the new bike had a shorter head tube and I miss calculated the difference between the old bars and the new shorter ones. By luck Wilier supplied a longer stem than requested which means than the new set up is perfect and has exactly the same reach as the original.

The reason for summarising the fit and changes that I have made to my bikes is to emphasise the importance of a bike fit and that it changes over time, as fitness goes up or down and as usage differs. Just as no two riders are ever the same so too are your bikes. They will be different. They need different set ups and different riding techniques.

I made changes following my bike fit as part of my training for the Apex Performance Bike Fit machine and since then continue to make adjustments to either my position, riding technique or equipment to keep me going well; hence the new bars on the Cento. Some of my changes are to improve comfort ( comfortable doesn’t mean slower) but most are to improve performance. What do you need? Have you even thought about it?

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