Buying a road bike? Make sure you get a bike fitting as well
What’s On meets cycling expert in Abu Dhabi to get advice on buying a bike in Abu Dhabi with the help of experts at Adventure HQ Abu Dhabi.
There was a time when buying a new bike just involved handing over the cash, jumping on the saddle and spinning those pedals. But cycling is now one of the fastest growing sports on the planet, and there’s plenty of science used to help the likes of Bradley Wiggins reach optimal performance and win races. And the good news is that science can make you a better rider as well.
Buying a road bike these days isn’t just about deciding what colour frame you want or what materials are used. The size of the bike is much more important, as is the position of the seat and handlebars and what position your body will be in when you’re riding.
If you’re in the market for a new set of wheels, make sure you go to a store that can perform a bike fit for you: they’ll make sure you’ve got the right size bike, and will measure you to make sure your body is in the correct position while riding it to improve performance and, most importantly, reduce the chance of you suffering an injury.
One man who knows a thing or two about bike fittings is Nuno Alexander, Adventure HQ’s Bike Manager. What’s On sat down with Nuno, who rides on average 350km a week, to find out what to look out for when getting a bike fitting.
Make sure you have the right size bike. A comfortable bike makes you more willing to go out and enjoy cycling. You’ll be able to push harder and therefore improve fitness. If it’s too small, for example, you’ll feel too tight and you’ll have to adjust the stem or saddle and that will affect your pedalling.
You can suffer from several injuries if your bike isn’t set up properly. If your seat is too low, you’ll put a lot of pressure on the knees and on the leg muscles. You’ll feel more tension and more pain and you’ll get tired quickly. If it’s too high it can make the hips move which can increase pain in the joints, knees and cause back pain.
You don’t need to spend thousands on a bike fitting. It doesn’t have to be a top-end fitting using computer software – you don’t need to spend Dhs5,000 on one. If a store has experience, they can fit the bike for you, just by checking angles and the position of the bike.
Don’t try to make the handlebars at the same level of the seat or handlebars too high. People think that if they’re more straight on the bike, they’ll be more comfortable, but they won’t – there’ll be more pressure on the seat and there’ll be more weight on the saddle. Tiny vibrations from riding on roads can go through your back and cause aches and injuries. The weight needs to be split between the handlebars and the saddle.
It’s all about distances. The right height of the saddle can prevent knee and back injuries and pain attached to an incomplete movement of the leg. Handlebar and stem (a stem connects the handlebars to the bike frame) distance can prevent low back and neck pain.
People might find discomfort or pain if a set of handlebars are too wide. It can be painful if they’re too open compared to their shoulders, so the width should be the width of the shoulders.
If you want a bike for fitness, just for fun and long rides, go for an endurance bike. Go for one with a higher front head and flexible chain stays in the back. These are things that will help reduce fatigue on the frame and the rider.
Dalma Mall, Musaffah, Abu Dhabi, daily 10am to 10pm. Tel: (02) 5506111. Taxi: Dalma Mall. adventurehq.ae