Jan 2016

Cleat Wedges

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Many people who cycle would benefit greatly from the use of an angled cleat wedge or two.

What is a cleat wedge? A cleat wedge is a small angles spacer that sits between your cleat and shoe, these can be angled to the inside or outside of your foot depending on the amount of natural forefoot tilt you have in the foot.

How do I know if I need a cleat wedge or if I need more than one?
I use a forefoot measuring device to accurately pinpoint the exact number of wedges a client may need but if you are at home and wondering if you may need wedges then here are a few things you can check.

• The first thing is do you ever suffer from any knee pain?
• Secondly do you have bad knee alignment,ie kick out or in when you pedal?
• Thirdly do you feel pressure on the outside of your foot when you cycle?

It may also be worth checking underneath the front part of your pedal where the cleat clicks in as this area will have noticeable wear on it and if you have forefoot tilt will likely be wearing much more on one side than the other.

The process of diagnosis for cleat wedging is actually very simple

Depending on how much forefoot tilt you actually have we may need to stack up more than one wedge

We can use external or internal wedges to get the required result

Saddle Fore/Aft


The fore and aft measurement on a saddle is a very crucial measurement and was first measured in the early days by the famous plumb bob - fortunately these days are now behind us or at least should be, many bike shops still use the plumb bob to measure your knee over the pedal axle.

The knee over pedal axle is a standard way of setting up a bike however it is not a very accurate one, i will explain why

- A plumb bob can only measure a static knee and not a moving one - this can severely alter your measurement. in simple terms , this measurement is crucial for the pedaling power and efficiency so why would you measure it when you are not pedaling.

- A plumb bob only takes a single measurement - a vertical line from your knee down to the pedal, seems straightforward but bike fitting is a game of mm's and not inches and to be honest this reading is pointless if you are not 95%+ balanced on your bike.

- This method has no scientific value behind it and is used in the same way for every single rider (a persons riding position is as diverse as a fingerprint)

A much more modern,accurate and efficient way is to measure this in a dynamic or moving fashion - (the results of this method speak for themselves)

The benefits or this dynamic method are as follows

- better overall balance on the bike

- less pressure on hamstrings and glutes (the old plumb bob way seems to have riders sat towards the rear of the bike once the person is actually riding)

- More comfortable riding position and less chance of moving over the saddle and not being able to find that comfortable spot - this more often than not is due the to the rider pushing themselves back as they pedal after being set to far back behind the pedal axle.

- less pressure on hands and core muscles

- Most importantly a more consistent riding position over the duration of a long ride - your position needs to be as good on the road os it is during the bike fit.

If you have any questions or would like to contact me on this subject please feel free to email me at

Back Pain

Back pain when cycling can be caused by a number of things.
The most common are.

Excessive reach to the handlebars
Too large of a drop from saddle/bars.
Saddle too high
Leg length discrepancy
Excessive reach to the handlebars.

Excessive reach to the handlebars stretches the body outside of its natural comfort zone and puts a huge amount of stress on the lower back and shoulders.

Drop from saddle/bars too great.

This puts a lot of pressure on the lower back and shoulders and causes the back to arch creating bad riding posture. It can also put to much weight on the hands creating numbness after a while in the saddle. It is important to remember that just because you are low at the front it doesn't necessarily mean that you are aerodynamic. If your body is not naturally flexible or you suffer from bad posture especially in your lower back then you could be creating a wind trap or parachute effect on your body. Remember the rule adjust the bike to the body and not the body to the bike. Everybody is an individual and no body is exactly the same, if you have two people who are 5.10" in height that doesn't necessarily mean that they will ride with the same position or even ride the same sized bike. There are many factors to consider.

Longer total leg length = Higher Saddle height
Longer Femur length = More Saddle set back
More back flexibility = bigger drop to the bars
Shorter torso = Shorter reach (shorter stem length)

Back issues from injury etc can cause a huge difference in position with the saddle to bar drop being almost 0 in some cases with the aim putting as little pressure on the back as possible and making a long ride an enjoyable experience and not a painful one.

Saddle too high.

This causes the hips to have a side to side movement and puts excess stress on the lower back and around the pelvis.

Leg length discrepancy

If you have a leg length discrepancy (one leg shorter than the other) then this can cause certain problems with the lower back if one of your legs stretches at the bottom of the pedal stroke due to it being shorter then this can have a similar effect to having your saddle too high.

Leg Length Issues

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Many people have a slight difference in leg length, most of the time by less than a couple of mm. Many people walk around without to many problems, the problem starts when you jump on to your road/TT bike. Your legs are one of the most effective levers out there but in order to work together they need to be perfectly synced to one another otherwise you end up with uneven power distribution (i.e. one leg doing all the work and the other leg getting a free ride)
Potential problems resulting from a leg length discrepancy

- Shorter leg stretching to pedal causing saddle to chafe on one side

- Back pain caused by one side of the pelvis tilting more than the other.

- Loss of power and speed caused by uneven pedal stoke.

- Achilles soreness from over stretching of the tendon.

- Knee pain from uneven saddle height.

- Hip misalignment which can lead to an even larger total discrepancy.

- Severe over developing of quad muscle (This is surprisingly common - I recently only a couple of weeks ago had a case where my client had been riding with a discrepancy of approx. 20mm over the last few years without any correction, over this time he had developed a 7cm size difference between the diameter of each of his quad muscles!!

Diagnosis and treatment

Treatment for this issue is simply spacing of the area between the shoe sole and cleat to make both legs as even as possible, the difficult part is the correct diagnosis as what may seem like a 12mm leg length discrepancy may turn out to be mainly uneven hip alignment which requires a completely different form of treatment in the form of intensive physiotherapy and exercises to try and even out the hips. I use a few different techniques to pinpoint where the problem is so that i can add exactly the correct amount of spacers to greatly maximise your performance (every mm counts)

If you have any question or would like to be checked for this issue please do not hesitate to
contact me to arrange an appointment.

Bike Fit FAQ'S Part 1

Q I get knee pain when running and more recently i have started getting knee pain while cycling! Is this the same issue?

A The most likely cause of your knee pain would be iIliotibial band syndrome (ITB syndrome for short). A tight ITB can cause lots of issues when running such as causing friction and pain to the outside of the knee joint, at the lateral epicondyle - the end of the femur (thigh) bone. The ITB crosses bone and muscle at this point; between these structures is a bursa which should smoothly interact with very little friction. However, when inflamed, the iliotibial band does not interact smoothly, and unfortunately pain is the result. It is very important if you are suffering symptoms of ITB syndrome that you see your physio so that he can give you a program to help fix the problem, Treatment involves lots of stretching, massage and treatment is usually very successful.

Q I get very numb hands when cycling. Is there something i can do to stop this?

A if you are suffering from numbness and tingling in the hands you may need to have your position checked, excessive weight distribution to the front end of the bike puts a lot of pressure on the ulnar nerve which is a nerve that runs the entire length of your arm to the hand, pressure on this nerve will cause tingling and numbness. Correct balance on the bike and good weight distribution between you hands and core muscles are very important. A good padded set of gloves is also a must and remember to keep your arms relaxed when riding as this will help take the road vibration away which can also effect the ulnar nerve.

Q A friend of mine said i need to be able to see my front hub when i am sat on a bike!! is this true?

A This simple way of judging reach was thought of back when bike fitting was in a very primitive form, These days the measurements used for bike set up should be based more on the bodies natural angles and flexibility due to the fact that every person has very different dimensions.

Q I have been told that i have to keep my heels down when i ride but why do i find this difficult no matter how much i try.

A Everybody has different levels of body flexibility especially through the lower leg i.e. calf and the Achilles tendon. The more flexible you are through these areas the more likely you will be able to keep your heels lower when you ride. I would be more focused on keeping your pedal revolutions consistent rather than put too much emphasis on wether your heels are up or down, remember to ride naturally, have your saddle height set with your heel at its most natural point to ensure that your knee is at its optimum angle for comfort and increased power.

Q My Back and shoulders always hurt when i ride my road bike but not my mountain bike! Why is this and does this mean i should stop riding my road bike?

A The set up on your road bike is most likely much lower at the front end than your mountain bike putting excess pressure through your lower back and also straining your traps and shoulders. It is important to remember that the average cyclists drop from saddle to handlebars is between 3cm-7cm depending on their body dimensions and general fitness/flexibility. I would recommend having an experienced bike fitter taking a look at your existing set up and possibly raising your front end to relieve the strain on your back, I am sure this will make a huge difference to your riding enjoyment.

Q I have been told i will fit a 54cm frame, does this mean any frame that size will fit me?

A I wish it was that simple. Unfortunately every bike manufacturer will measure their bikes in a different way, also there are many other factors to consider which are just as important as the general size, these include seat angle (This can alter a top tube length by more than a couple of centimetres in some cases) Head tube length is also an important factor. Somebody with longer leg length and shorter less flexible torso will need a front end that is a lot higher than somebody that has shorter legs and a longer more flexible torso.

Mcdonald's Bike Fits

There are lots of people out there performing bike fits in one form or another, unfortunately a lot of the fits i wouldn't personally call a bike fit, more of a basic adjustment or the cycling equivalent of a Mcdonalds fast food meal.

I have compiled a top 10 of things to look for when looking for a fitter. There are some good knowledgeable fitters out there. Its important also that the fitters are up to date with all the modern tech know how - bikes are changing and so are fitting techniques.

Craig Baldwins top 10 things to look for in a bike fit.

#1 Definitely don't go for the cheapest priced fit, in the service industry time = money so if you have an $80 bikefit you are going to get $80 value for money.

#2 Do your research on the fitter not the shop that your booking in with. Google is a very helpful tool, google your fitters name and check out his credentials. Ask around your cycling buddies and see who helped them.
An experienced master fitter will have a minimum of 300 - 400 fits under his belt. A fitter with this kind of experience will have seen and had the opportunity to fix the majority of bike fit related issues, as with any job you never stop learning so experience is the key. I hate to say it but there are so many gung ho fitters out there that fit everybody the same way using the same methods - not a good practice when you want results. Bike fitting is a science and every human body is different.

#3 Modern dynamic measuring tools i.e not the plump bob or geomeometer. although these methods were the favorite back in the day it is now 2016 and we have software that enables us to check all these measurements digitally and more importantly dynamically (when you are actually riding and not at a stand still)

Why do we need software? Why does an astronomer need a telescope? For more accurate results, the human eye is accurate to roughly 7 degrees - not bad but not good, its actually the equivalent of a football field in bike fit terms. Software allows us to get this tolerance down to i 1-2 degrees.

#4 Video analysis/motion capture - the human eye cannot work within the accuracy range needed to fine tune a fit, at best the human eye can work within 7-8 degrees of an angle and this is the problem. Video software or motion capture enables you to place real time body angles on to the client as they are riding. we have up to 75% more accuracy over your standard "eye ball" bike fit.

#5 Look for a full 360 fit - Side on measurements are what people think of when having a bike fit and i think most people out there have experienced the 15 minute "that looks about right" fit. When performing a bike fit we should look at everything both sides ,front and back. one of the most overlooked areas in a bike fit are the feet. Your feet are the main contact point on the bike and over 86% of the worlds population have some kind of pronation, pronation will effect your alignment which in turn will effect your power and comfort.

#6 Size cycle - The size cycle is a fully adjustable bicycle that allows the fitter to accurately find the riders optimal cycling position. If you have a bike that is a bit small or a bit too big then it will be pretty impossible to know where we need to end up, basically lots of guess work. With the size cycle we can find our desired end result and then adjust the existing bike ask close as we possibly can.

#7 Make sure your fitter actually records and stores your finished bike measurements. The last thing you want after spending hours perfecting your position is to have something move and not know where it needs to go back to. If in doubt just ask at the time of booking, it will save you a lot of frustration

#8 Look for a fitter with a dedicated space or studio away from the main area of the shop. It can be a little awkward trying to have a fit when you are slap bang on display in the middle of a busy sales floor, not ideal and definitely not professional.

#9 When looking for a new bike try to use a fitter that is not brand bias or affiliated with one or two bike brands, get an outside opinion from a good fitter to see if the bike you are looking for will even fit your body, you can then make your purchase full of confidence.

#10 Patience - sometimes certain issues take time to fix so a good fitter will realise this and generally book you in for what is known as a follow up appointment. Follow ups are needed to tweak your position over time due to injury, changes in flexibility etc. Check when booking that this is a service that is offered.

Bicycle Geometry Explained

I think that the question i hear most from my clients is "What frame size will i be"?

The answer should be simple or so you would think, the general answer from your local bicycle retailer will more often than not be "you look around a Medium or you will be a large" Seems pretty straight forward when looking from the outside in.

Lets delve a little deeper and take a closer look at the problems with this over used gung ho approach to selling a MODERN high performance bike.

What is a Medium?

If i asked somebody this question i would most likely get the answer 54cm or 56cm and they would be correct.....but where is the 54 or 56 measured? It pretty standard to measure this from center of bb to top of seat tube or A on the diagram below.
The first thing you will notice is about this diagram is how many measurements and angles are on it and i can honestly tell you that each and every angle and measurement on this frame is far more important than the A (frame size) measurement that is the industry standard.

I believe a bicycle frame has two types of measurements to consider

PRIMARY (A measurement or angle that when changed WILL alter your bicycle position/contact points)


SECONDARY (A measurement or angle that when changed will NOT alter your bicycle position/contact points)

Let me explain. The
A measurement is a SECONDARY measurement and will not alter your position on the bike if changed, if it is 4cm longer it will merely mean that less seatpost is exposed from the frame.

Measurements B,C,D,E are all
PRIMARY measurements meaning that each and every one of them if altered even slightly can drastically change your bicycle position, unfortunately these more important measurements are rarely ever mentioned during a bike purchase.

So how do you choose the correct geometry?

if you know your current geometry and it has been correctly fitted and is comfortable simple google the geometry of that frame and find the closest match from your preferred new bicycle options.

If you are unsure if your geometry is indeed correct for you can easily book in for a pre purchase fit with us. once you have completed your fit we will draw you up your custom geometry, we can then give you some options of matching bikes that we can source that match your budget or if you prefer show you how to read the geometry which means you can spend some time shopping around or surfing the web for the best deals, the choice is yours.

What if all the measurements match but
D is 2 cm longer on the bike i am looking at purchasing? Will this matter?

Quite simply YES it will! As i tell all my clients "in Bike fitting a mm = a Mile", anybody that has cycled for a few years will know exactly what i mean.

Remember to plan before you buy, as this will insure lots of happy pain free riding and enjoyment

Craig Baldwin
Bike Fit Technician - Auckland Bike Fit