One Helluva Bike Fit by Paul Swift - Lucky Me’
On Saturday 17th March, out of the blue (right place, right time situation), I was very kindly given the opportunity by Neil to have a bike fit with the guru in this field - Paul Swift. He was meeting up with Neil at Cycle Right as part of his trip across from the other side of the pond.
Paul is well beyond ‘a very knowledgeable bike fitter’. He has developed many of this own techniques and apps to help perfect this science and art. After the experience you will read below, I have discovered more about who he is – very lucky me.
So I set up the turbo and got kitted up. As I did this Paul grilled me on my bike component choices and set up details - Q rings and 38cm bars - why this?; why that?; what’s the reason behind?. I think this was to get me thinking about my own set up as much as to get himself up to speed with my set up and my ideas about my racing.
Once on the turbo Paul immediately spotted my position put me very far forward on the bike and over the front end which he wanted to re-think. So we moved the saddle all the way back both on its rails and on the seat post itself.
Then we looked at the front end of the bike to see what needed to be changed. Paul liked the narrow bars and understood that I had adopted these because of the feel but also my ‘tight’ riding style – lending itself to long race breakaways and trying to be efficient through a bunch (after all every 10 mm narrow is apparently worth 4watts – sorry, a bit geeky!). My stem is slammed low which I thought he would question but no complaints so all good there - getting low has always been the aim of my game so I had been a little nervous about him trying to persuade me otherwise.
So, all in all at this stage it was about moving me back on the bike…..but then..Paul moved onto my shoes and the cleats.
He immediately noticed that both cleats were in different positions – my school boy error – ouch!. So the cleats came off the shoes and we started from scratch. Paul also examined my feet by getting me to kneel on the sofa with my feet over the end and then using his apps to measure the angle at which my feet rest at when relaxed. This was very insightful to show that the rotations were different between each foot. Paul had also measured my knee alignment while pedalling on the turbo to see that I needed cleat angling shims. Paul placed in 2 angle raisers under each heal and 3 angle raisers under the cleats. Why was he doing this? Supposedly to stop that feel of the shoe base and foot moving apart at the top of the pedal stroke.
After putting these raisers into/onto my shoes I jumped back onto the bike and began pedalling again. It felt a little strange but it was only a matter of seconds before it made total sense. A couple more minor final adjustments and Paul was happy but …..
…..unbeknown to me he was about to move onto my arms.
He wasn’t pleased with my straight arms in the drops. He suggested changing them over for a set with more flare at a later date. Ok, noted.
After the bike fit I headed home and had a turbo session to do. 5 x 360 watts for 5 minutes. This session felt easier than it normally did. – and then the data told me the reality - 5 – 10 watts stronger on the spot. What a gain immediately. Pure gold input.
Paul was really friendly throughout the fit and super talkative about both my level of cycling and the levels which he had gone to and where bike fittings and racing had taken him.
A special mention to Cycle Right - Neil and Azelia - for hooking me up with this amazing opportunity and the advantage it has brought me. All I can say is go and find Paul Swift.
…and get this ….my first race after the Bike Fit ended up with me on the top of the podium with a bottle of champagne being popped!