Pearson Physio Blog

Tales of a toe pointer

IMG_4620I’ve never really had a bike fit. Well, that’s not entirely true, I had one on my TT bike at the beginning of 2011 before my Ironman, but never on my road bike, and certainly not in my current race position. I’ve always known my position is a bit strange, something which was reinforced to me when I tried to sell my previous race bike! No one seemed to fit on it.

I’ve known Ronan for a while now, and we have treated some mutual clients. I entirely trust his expertise, opinion and process, so on hearing he had just about opened his new bike fitting studio in Wandsworth, I popped over and jumped at the chance to be a guinea pig.

My current bike position is a result of tweaking and adjusting over the years, never anything dramatic. Phil Burt (former Team Sky and GB Physio) refers to cyclists as macro-absorbers or micro-adjusters. I think it is more of a continuum, and I am definitely moving towards the latter. I don’t really get any pain or discomfort on the bike (besides the obvious lung-bleeding, leg-burning variety). At least nothing that’s not a result of crashing my bike or “training errors” (ie. stupidity).

These are the things I knew already before showing up for my fit:-

  • I have short legs and a long body
  • I have flexible hips
  • I prefer my saddle on the high side
  • I prefer to ride forwards over the bottom bracket
  • I like to ride with my toes and knees slightly pointed in
  • My current bike isn’t low enough at the front end. I should be riding the S-Works Tarmac not Amira, which has a much shorter head tube, but I couldn’t get such a good deal on one of those!

Nicole Oh 5-

The good news is, Ronan was in agreeance with all of the above. Even better news, he didn’t think there was much wrong with riding in such a position, considering that I am primarily a road racer. On viewing the video footage, I was absolutely appalled by the amount of toe pointing going on! I knew I did this in my triathlon days but I thought it was much better these day. Apparently not.

He did want to lower my saddle, and we came to the agreement that 2mm would be good to start. I get a bit twitchy when people start playing with my saddle height. A lower saddle makes me feels more strain through my quads, plus I feel a bit cramped through the trunk. Ronan did also think that it would probably be a good idea to lower the front end, as a higher front end might be feeding my tendency to ride a high saddle. However, there isn’t a lot of wiggle room on my Amira – I could replace my last spacer with a flat cap, and get a 17deg negative rise stem, but I am wondering if this would affect the handling – the handlebar drops would almost be lower than the front wheel! Plus I think it looks dumb, but that’s just me.

He made some adjustments to my cleats, moving my feet closer to the bottom bracket and slightly forward – I didn’t notice much difference, but we left them like that. He also suggested that perhaps riding a 165mm crank (instead on 170mm) might be more ideal for me, to give my knee more room at the top of the pedal stroke. However, this would be a very expensive experiment (especially since I have 3 bikes with high-end groupsets on them) and I don’t have any problems at the moment.

Nicole Oh 6- my fit pretty much complete, Ronan wanted to test out the ramp feature of his fit platform. The platform can tilt up on an incline (of up to 17%) to simulate climbing. With the resistance of the turbo also increased, it definitely felt like I was going uphill! He got me to do periods of in and out of the saddle, I guess to check my form, but probably to check that the platform could take the strain!

Nicole Oh 7-

Overall, it was a good experience, even though there weren’t many changes made to my position. Besides photos and short videos from races, I’ve never really seem what my dynamic position is like on the bike, which was quite interesting. Ronan was excellent, taking time to explain and discuss all his proposed changes (or lack of), whilst understanding things like budget and rider tastes and preferences. People like what they like for whatever reasons. I might go start fiddling with my front end, so a visit to our team mechanic may be on the cards.

FORM bikefit is in Wandsworth, and provides a variety of bike fitting services depending on clients needs, including a comprehensive bike sizing service. Check them out on



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