Is your bike set-up too aggressive?
We can’t all be Geraint Thomas, so should we have a bike like his, asks Simon Smythe
UCI article 1.2.007 states that: “Bicycles and their accessories shall be of a type that is sold for use by anyone practising cycling as a sport.” One of the aims of this is to ensure that the team with the biggest budget doesn’t gain a competitive advantage by using prototypes or one-off specials that are unaffordable to others. But while it helps level the playing field in pro racing, is it a good idea for the clubman, the weekend warrior, the fourth cat and the sportiviste to ride a bike with geometry designed for Geraint Thomas or Chris Froome? Should we try to bend our bodies into the same extreme positions as the pros when riding replica bikes?
“Amateurs can if they have the time to spend on the bike that the pros do,” says Phil Burt, former head of physiotherapy at British Cycling. “But most of the time amateurs have something else to do like a day job, so I think the biggest mistake people make is to try.”
But how is an amateur to know if the position on their new aero bike is too aggressive? “It’s normally the amount of drop to the front end,” Burt says. “If you’ve got too much weight on the front end handling will become twitchy or too fast. Numb hands is a sign you’ve got too much weight on the front. Penile numbness is a sign that you’re rolling too far forward. That could also be the wrong saddle height but these are the general things. Back of the leg pain, hip pain, neck pain as well. If you’re that slammed at the front it’s like painting the ceiling for a couple of hours.
“But what you’re looking for is lasting pain that goes on for more than 24, 48 hours and if you know it comes from your position, you’ve got to do something about it. [As a physio] I would ask, can we do something about you or can we do something about the bike? The answer is normally a mixture of both. The bike is the quick fix and the person is the longer term project.
“There’s a sweetspot set-up for all cyclists”