BG Lexus of Blackburn Team Bike Profile×

Part 2 – Bike Fit and Power Meters
By Ken Ballhause 

Zipp Speed SL 0-Offset   |    Quarq / S-Works Power Meter   |   SMP Dynamic   |    Osymetric   |    Speedplay Zero

What determines the optimal bike fit?

Rider positioning is subject topic, with many different people offering contrasting and often conflicting ideas. What’s more, often these ideas are backed merely subjective measures (eg – sense of glute max activation), or by preconceived notion that a set type of position (eg – further positioning behind the BB) is optimal for everyone, in every discipline of riding. In reality the ideal bike fit is a compromise between optimised joint angles (torque/power), comfort and aerodynamics. Thus, bike fit is dependent on variables that are rider specific, equipment specific, and discipline specific.

My bike fit, and component selection has evolved around a number of factors; the management of 2 musculoskeletal conditions (rider specific factors); the biomechanical considerations associated with the use of Osymetric chain rings (equipment specific); adopting a powerful and aerodynamic position for criterium racing (discipline specific); adopting a powerful position for moderate duration climbing (discipline specific).

Power – Validating Change

I started using a power meter prior to implementing many of the changes that have lead to my existing setup. Initially it was a purchase more out of an interest in seeing how measuring power could be applied for training purposes, but it has proven to be an invaluable tool in monitoring treatment progress, validating changes in bike setup, and of course the ultimate training tool. From a position analysis and injury management perspective - the more subjective outcome measures are left by the wayside the more you can be confidant in where you’re at position wise, and reassured of the efficacy of what you are doing off the bike to keep you functionally (eg, cycling) pain free.   

Most cyclists would be aware of the basic premise that a power meter is the ultimate training tool, aside from Lance they are a hot topic of conversation in the current climate. If used properly, as a training tool they are far more beneficial than anyone can fathom before making the plunge, and as eluded to above, they are far more useful than simply being a training tool.

One of the conditions I’m managing is ITB / vastus lateralis tendinopathy. As asymptomatic as I currently am, just over 6 months ago I could barely ride tempo pace for more than 2 hrs, and would struggle to do so twice a week. In terms of putting some figures on this – 200 watts seated was sustainable for 2 hrs, standing at 250-300 watts up any small incline was about all I could manage without being crippled for the following days. Once I had the numbers figured out, and had determined the course of intervention with a specialist in the field of tendon rehab, it was a process of riding to power - using power data as a means of monitoring load / output, and as an objective outcome measure for the progress of the intervention strategy. In addition, the use of orthotics, alterations in saddle height and offset, altering foot placement and position, were all management strategies that could be objectively measured thanks to the use of power data.

Thanks to careful monitoring over time, rehab intervention, and setup modification I can now comfortably and confidently far exceed these woeful figures. The Quarq power meter is the tool that allowed me to quantify what is relevant, streamline recovery, and validate changes in rider position.