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Steve Hogg Bike Fitting Team

Old shop front in SydneyEmail: info@stevehoggbikefitting.com

Please email us to setup an appointment and include your mobile phone number so Steve can call you to discuss your needs.

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Canberra – Pushys Plus, Collie St Fyshwick

Brisbane – Cam’s Cycle Coaching, 391 Montague St West End

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Note: Often, more specific answers to your questions can be found in the Comments below or in the eBooks section and FAQ page.

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COMFORT + EFFICIENCY = PERFORMANCE

We’ve been getting a lot of emails lately saying “The info on the site is great but do you have anything that is a comprehensive overview of what you are on about”, or words to that effect. I had been referring people asking for this sort of info to Basic Premise but feedback suggests that something more general and overarching is necessary. So here it is. This is an updated transcript of a presentation given to a group of cyclists in 2007. An earlier edit of this has appeared on Cyclingnews.com as “The Anatomy of Position” hence the name of the post.

The pics below need an explanation. The one on the left is of Cameron Hughes who has the roundest pedal stroke we’ve ever tested. The pic is when Cam won the Grafton, the toughest one day race in Oz.  The gent in the World’s jersey is Gianni Bugno. GB had the smoothest pedalling technique of any rider I have seen, but not met in the flesh. If you spend as much time watching people pedal as I do, both of these riders were a pleasure to watch.

 

h.Cameron Hughes

Bright Speech transcript ( Prior to Alpine Classic)

 

THE ANATOMY OF POSITION

Steve Hogg copyright 2007

I am going to ask you to make a leap in your thinking about bike fitting. If you are conditioned to reading the commonly available information, you may need to go over this several times to grasp the concepts.

All modern thinking about how to fit a human to a bike is reductionist in approach. Take a complex system of interactions like a human being, quantify it somehow and fit it to a bike. Because it’s a complex system, break down that complexity into bite size pieces by examining aspects of its interaction with the bike in a narrow sense. The approach might be strictly biomechanical, perhaps measurement based, statistical norm based or whatever. It may have a proprietary name; Body Geometry, Trek Precision and Retul spring to mind, though there are others. That is how the world thinks of a bike fit process. It’s a succession of steps of narrow focus but without any overarching idea of holistic intent; which is what I mean by a reductionist approach. The formula driven methods this type of approach engenders are prevalent throughout the cycling world and don’t work optimally for large numbers of people in any way that can be shown or explained. I spend a large part of my working life getting results for the people that the above style of thinking has failed.

The two major forces working against a cyclist are gravity and wind drag. That should be self evident and beyond argument. Our pattern of muscular enlistment changes as we change our relationship to gravity, and wind resistance increases as the square of the increase in speed. It follows that how we relate our bodies to gravity and how we equip ourselves to overcome wind drag are the keys to optimal performance. Another necessity is comfort. I would define comfort as the harmonious interaction of the muscular and cardiovascular system while propelling the bike with the minimum effort required to maintain a position on the bike. Conversely, I would define lack of comfort as muscles being enlisted for purposes they weren’t designed for and / or for periods that they can’t cope with. Remember: Comfort + Efficiency = Performance.

Brain activity

Observation 1:” 90% of brain activity is tied up in relating the body to gravity” (quote: Roger Sperry – 1981 Nobel Prize Winner for brain research). To talk more about the implications of this with regard to bike position we need to know:

Posturally or phasically

Fact 2: Our external musculature works in one of two ways, posturally or phasically. If beset by a challenge, the brain will ALWAYS prioritise the muscles acting posturally as they are the ones that allow us to resist gravity, maintain an erect position and play a major part in breathing. In contrast muscles acting phasically are the muscles that generate power to propel bicycle and rider. Yet the brain gives them a lower priority because there is greater evolutionary value in being able to breathe than there is in being able to move. The postural / phasic split is a generalisation but an accurate one. Some postural muscles like the hamstrings and gastrocnemius act phasically on a bike because they are relieved of the need to help maintain an erect posture as they do when standing.

Neurological basis to an optimal bike position

Fact 3: Taken together Fact 1 and Fact 2 mean that there is a neurological basis to an optimal bike position. To be most efficient, we need to sit on a bike in such a way as to enlist the minimum amount of postural musculature. If we achieve that, we can devote the greatest effort, both neurologically and physiologically, to switching on and off the muscles acting phasically that generate power, and the minimum effort to controlling the higher priority postural muscles that allow us to hold a position on a bike relative to gravity. When needlessly enlisted, these postural muscles diminish performance by attracting heart beats, blood flow and oxygen away from the muscles that propel the bike.

Minimum effort maximum gain

Fact 4: The only way this is achievable on a UCI legal bike is to have the seat the minimum distance behind the bottom bracket that allows the rider to cantilever their torso out from their pelvis with no more effort required of the upper body during periods of high intensity than the minimum necessary to steer and control the bike.

Why is this a big deal?

Lungs

Fact 5: There are 20 torso muscles used in respiration. Of those twenty, eighteen have postural implications which mean that they can be used to breathe with, or they can be used to bear weight and to stabilise with. If you want to breathe to fullest capacity, then these muscles need to be able to relax to allow full breathing. This isn’t possible if they carry tension because they are being used to bear weight or to resist pedaling forces. Equally, many riders have poor ability to extend their thoracic spines and sit on their bikes with a pronounced curve in their spine as viewed from the side. If you function like this, you are reducing your effective lung capacity as limited ability to extend the spine means a shorter effective torso length, which in turn equals lack of room for the lungs to expand into.

I have to digress here. Many triathletes and TT riders ride much further forward than what I have described above and support significant weight with their arms and shoulder complex while still performing well. How can this be?

My experience is this. I am happy to believe that a rider can trade off comfort for increased aerodynamic efficiency and possible increased performance even at the cost of reducing effective lung capacity to whatever degree, and still ride as fast or faster in TT and Tri situations. But there is no getting away from the fact that riding like this means a lot of weight is supported by the upper body while concurrently, propulsive power is developed by the lower body. Where do the stresses of this approach meet?

In the lumbar and / or thoracic spine.

Some people can ride quite effectively like this at some structural cost over time. But many can’t and so it is not for everyone. A substantial proportion of forward position riders develop significant muscle and postural imbalances over time. Some feel the effects quickly and shy away. But many don’t feel the effects for years. When a problem has taken 3 – 10 years to arise, there are no 5 minute solutions. Those who can make radical forward position work are best advised to give structural maintenance and improvement the highest priority in their training; otherwise they can butt up against the limits that their structure and bike position imposes on them more quickly than a position based on the principles I am talking about here.

Structural fitness

Fact 6: The major variable in determining how far back the seat needs to be will not be how the rider is proportioned, though that can’t be totally discounted. It will be the level of structural fitness (posture / flexibility / functional stability) of the rider and the techniques that they bring to the task. An optimal bike position is a reflection of the functional abilities of the rider and considers the purpose they want to put their body and bike to for the period they would like to do it.

Cleat position

Fact 7: Cleat position plays a much larger part in the entire picture of rider on bike than is generally realised. Every watt of power you produce is transferred to the bike via your feet on the pedals. This relationship needs to be optimised if the goal is efficient and comfortable performance. The world generally believes that the centre of the ball of the foot; the 1st MTP (metatarsophalangeal) joint should be over the centre of the pedal axle. As a general recommendation this is rubbish and demonstrably so. Grab a broomstick, cricket bat, baseball bat or other long lever. Hold your lever in both hands with elbows comfortably bent. Stand a friend in front of you at a distance that allows you to place the end of your lever a few inches beyond the side of their shoulder. Exert force and try and move your friend sideways. You won’t be very effective.

Now take a small step forward so that about ¼ or 1/5 of the lever extends beyond your friends’ shoulder. Exert force again and you will move your friend with much greater ease. Most of you will realise the analogy here. For those who don’t, the first position is ball of the foot over the pedal axle and the second position is ball of the foot in front of the pedal axle. The key with this is just how far in front. Too much foot over the pedal will give you massive leverage but limit ability to jump hard in a sprint. Not enough foot over the pedal means a lot of effort for limited result in high torque per stroke riding as the calves then have to work too hard while attempting to stabilise foot on pedal.

Any cleat position will allow the rider to produce good power. The question is for how long and at what risk of injury?

Germany’s Gotz Heine believes that for greatest efficiency, the tarsometatarsal joints (the midfoot) should be over the pedal axle and has any amount of compelling evidence to back this up. For sustained steady effort of high or low intensity, this position, correctly applied will mean greater ability to sustain power over time and / or better ability to recover from severe efforts. Time Trials, Audax riding, and triathlon are ideal for this kind of cleat positioning. With this style of midfoot or arch cleat positioning, the largest muscles; glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps are heavily enlisted. All are close to the torso meaning that vascular flow is less interrupted and the potential problems that arise from transferring power through the foot and ankle are largely eliminated. What is also obvious using torque analysis is that midfoot cleat positioning flattens the riders torque curve for a given power output. In essence the rider is pushing for longer per stroke rather than harder. This is important because a lower torque peak for the same wattage equals lower peak muscular contraction which in turn equals less fatigue and / or quicker recovery because of lower production of fatigue metabolites. All of which means greater ability to sustain a given load. Whether a rider should decide to experiment with midfoot cleat position will be determined by what kind of riding the rider prioritises.

Criteriums, road racing and track events with plentiful changes in speed are best served by forefoot cleat positioning. For steadier paced riding, fast or slow, it is worth investigating midfoot cleat position and making a personal judgement.

Another much overlooked aspect of the feet is the need for canting the foot and for arch support. The foot is 3 interrelated complexes; the rear foot, mid foot and fore foot. All can and do need correction to varying degrees. Lengthy experience convinces me of the following:

  1. Better than 99% of riders need some degree of corrective cant to one or both feet for optimal proprioceptive feedback to occur while pedaling. The best solution is cleat wedges used under the cleat or heel wedges placed under the heel of the shoe insole.
  2. Something like 95% of cyclists need arch support for the same reason. And I don’t mean mass produced arch support insoles of which there are many on the market. Most are so generic that they only offer real arch support to people with low arches. The best off the shelf solution is the G8 2620 range with replaceable, modular options for arch support. There are other quality options in fixed arch heights as well

A bike is a symmetrical but are we?

Fact 8: A bike is a symmetrical apparatus in a positional sense. The handlebars and pedals are equidistant from the centre line and the seat is over the centre line. I have positioned I don’t know how many thousands of riders and I’m still looking for the first symmetrical one. Most people have one side of their pelvis higher than the other, one facile side and one clumsy side. Many have limb length discrepancies and neurological and sensory deficits. What that means is that everybody is functionally asymmetrical to varying degrees and many are measurably asymmetrical as well. When an asymmetrical rider is placed on a symmetrical bike, they will always maladapt. One of the major tasks of positioning is to achieve the greatest level of functional symmetry for the rider consistent with the limits imposed on them by their structure and degree of function.

Back to neurology again

Fact 9: Fact 8 means that we are back to neurology again. The only way to achieve greater symmetry on a bike is to improve the way our brains and bodies function which brings me to a much abused word – fitness. Culturally we are inclined to think of fitness as an efficient cardiovascular system and the development of strong muscles. That isn’t fitness! At best it is an incomplete description and covers only one aspect of fitness. Neurological fitness is the measure of how accurately signals from the brain travel to their destinations around the body and how accurately feedback from the body gets back to the central nervous system. Neurological fitness is fundamental.

The sole (non chemical) determinant of neurological fitness is structural fitness. In other words, adequate posture, flexibility and functional stability. If we have adequate posture, flexibility and functional stability, nerve signals travelling around the body are not impeded by overly tight muscles or misaligned vertebrae. I have never, ever, ever seen a rider whose pain or poor performance was caused by legs that were too strong or lungs that were too efficient. Always, issues are caused by the limitations of the structure we have inherited and / or developed and far too often, neglected. If you want to perform on a bike, be fit in the fullest sense of the word.

If you train 15 hours a week, still do so, but make sure that 3 – 4 hours of that total time is devoted to structural maintenance and improvement.

As well as maintaining and improving your structure, maintain a wholesome diet. When a food has been processed to the point where it isn’t obvious what it came from; you are better off not eating it as other than an occasional treat. If internal organs are under any pressure because of poor nutrition, then general lack of performance and hard to resolve physical issues can result. My experience is that it is not possible to have good core strength in a dynamic situation without a healthy bowel.

To be truly fit you need to understand that the way that our body’s function is the external manifestation of the central nervous systems’ internal organisation, filtered through accidents of birth and development. There is no chicken or egg in this, it is a loop. Your body does what your central nervous system tells it to but your central nervous system learns what your body does. If you want to change how your body works, change how your central nervous system  unctions. How do you do that?

By improving how your body works. Stretching, core strength exercises, Yoga, Pilates, functional exercise regimes or any method of structural self improvement is mandatory if you really want to perform to potential on a bike. Recognising this leads to:

The nervous system

Fact 10: Our peripheral nervous system (PNS) sends 3 billion signals per second to the central nervous system (CNS – brain and spine) alerting the central nervous system to the state and position of every part of the body. However, the CNS can only process 2 thousand signals per second of this total. That is 1/1,500,000 th . Proprioception is the name given to our CNS’s awareness of our bodies in space. Given our lack of processing capacity relative to the amount of stimuli the CNS receives from the body, you can see that proprioceptive awareness is a much filtered thing. Every time you stretch or stimulate a muscle, the muscle sends a proprioceptive charge up the spine saying “Remember me?” and the brain obligingly devotes more space to that part of the body.

We all know riders who hunger for the latest lightweight, go fast bits but would be better served by losing the excess ballast that they carry around the middle. There is an analogy between that example and an adequate level of structural fitness. Most riders will make greater improvements in their performance if they work to improve how their bodies function structurally and by so doing, improve the function of their central nervous system, than they ever will by spending money on equipment.

Aerodynamics & ego

Fact 11: Aerodynamics is a powerful marketing tool. I absolutely agree we need to be as aerodynamic as possible to perform well consistent with our proportions, level of structural fitness and the use we will put our bike and body to. However, there is no prize for the most aerodynamic position, only for the first across the line. We need 4 things to perform well on a bike. 3 are mandatory and 1 is optional. The first 3 are:

  • Optimal control of movement
  • Ability to breathe to the highest capacity
  • Leverage on the pedals.

The optional fourth is an aerodynamic position. If you prioritise aerodynamics over the 3 mandatory qualities listed above, you are likely to ride more slowly and be uncomfortable in the process. Set your bike position to reflect your structural realities, not your ego.

Your body is something over 90% of the total wind drag on a bike. As well as spending money on the latest aerodynamic go fast gear, spend time on improving how you function so that you can comfortably assume a more aerodynamic position.

To conclude, think of this. If you want to perform to your potential on a bike you need adequate structural fitness. The better you function off the bike, the better you will function on the bike. ‘Adequate’, by the way means well above average, because the average level of structural fitness in our society is appalling.

There are only two general causes of niggles, injury, pain or lack of performance on a bike. The first reason is problems with your bike position. I or someone like me can address that.

The second is significant shortcomings with your structural fitness. Only you can address that. Some one like me is a high quality band aid. I can’t change you, only the way that you relate to the bike. Many structural issues and problems of symmetry can be worked around adequately with a good bike position using a holistic, structural approach to the task. But the problems can only be solved off the bike.

Understanding this will leave many of you thinking “I need to do something”. There are only 3 motivating factors that effect permanent change in human behaviour. Pain, fear and ambition.

Which button do you want to press?

 

Note: Often, more specific answers to your questions can be found in the Comments below or in the eBooks section and FAQ page.

To learn more about bike fit products offered by Steve, click here.

Do you have a bike fit success story? Please go here to share.

Thank you for reading, return to the Blog page here or please comment below.

Comments are closed for most posts not part of the subscription blog. If you have a question or comment, Prime members can use the Prime Q&A.

This Post Has 24 Comments

  1. Steve, as always I appreciate your ability of using words to describe the beautiful science of pedaling.

    I would also like to thank you for first helping me (years ago) via personal email exchanges and my dedicated following of Cyclingnews Q&A posts. I don’t expect you to remember me. However, I will always remember how you took the time to answer my questions and make recommendations. Thank you.

    For the readers – I’ve had several “professional” fits over the years and all that ever happened was that I became more inefficient, injured and confused. With Steve’s help I now ride injury free, efficiently and most importantly; I enjoy the bike more now than ever!

    Stephan Kincaid

    1. G’day Stephen,
      I remember your name but not the details of our
      interactions. And thank you very much for your positive comments and I’m glad that you are happy. Also glad that whatever passed between us worked!
      Sometimes advising via email is like groping in the dark a bit.

      The comment you made that interests me most is that you were worse off after several bike fits than prior to them. I assume none of the fitters actually watched what you were doing on the bike, just fit you to a predetermined ‘box’?
      If so, I hear this a lot and I think it is the product of bike fitting
      becoming big biz in the sense that generally speaking, a system approach rules, though the name of the system can vary.

      I’m a big believer in feedback. The best advice I can offer anyone reading this is if you have had a bike fit and are not happy with the result, tell the fitter. There are a lot of people out there assuming they are doing a good job because no one ever tells them otherwise. They just go elsewhere.
      I’m sure there are fitters out there who are genuine and wish to learn. The customer can aid this process by giving honest feedback.

      Since this has come up and since I also replied to a question on CN this morning about just this topic, here’s a couple of guidelines when looking for a bike fitter.

      1. Avoid those who don’t offer an unqualified money back if not happy guarantee. That sorts out contenders fairly quickly.
      2. Avoid those who advertise their brand of tooling or system with greater emphasis than they advertise their expertise.

      If those two simple rules are applied, you will winnow out 95% and greatly
      increase the likelihood that the candidates that are left can do the job well.

      Thank you Stephen for prompting this. I’ve been wanting to make those points for a while but haven’t got around to it.

  2. i’ve had 5 fits from professional fits and have yet to encounter a money back guarantee. only one guy looked at my flexibility (although it didn’t affect the “angles” he wanted me at).

    none of them looked at my pelvis while riding and only one used cleat wedges.

    steve, and the few who operate like him (there have to be a few?), are diamonds in the rough. no wonder he has a months-long waiting list.

    steve, do you take your clients through any strength/flexibility tests before fitting them? such as a brief functional movement screen or something similar?

    1. G’day Eric,
      Yes, often the ‘off bike’ assessment takes longer than the
      ‘on bike’ part of the fit. By the end of the ‘off bike’ assessment, I can
      predict with a reasonably high level of accuracy how the rider will pedal,
      which side they will twist forward or drop and so on. It is necessary to do
      this to make sense of what I see when the rider is on the bike.

      There are a few with similar views (though probably different methods) out
      there. The ones that I know about are Jerry Gerlich – Austin, Texas; Greg
      Choat – Las Vegas, Nevada; Tim Gresh, Lancaster Pennsylvania and Scherrit
      Knoesen -London, England. Scherrit aside, I haven’t seen the others at work
      but have talked to them enough to think that we share similar ideals.

  3. OK, Ive been following your blog for a few months now and enjoy it very much. Let me just cut to the chase, “position on the bike” has allowed me to go from popping off the back of group rides to hanging out comfortably with the group and smiling. The impact has been profound, and mixed with my background in human performance, I’m absolutely hooked!

    So, I’m looking for an opinion on bike size. I feel comfortable on my current bike 2008 Cannondale six13 56CM, 56cm TT, 73.5 deg ST, FSA 32mm set back seat post, Fizik Arione pushed fairly back on the rails, & 90 mm stem W/ 75mm reach bars. Im trying to shorten my overall reach because I am fairly disfunctional! I have a bulge in L4-5 (left side) and I do not rotate (hips) very well. To make this worse, I have long legs and a short torso (5’9″ W/ 33″ inseam) and huge feet (12). I say worse, thats really not correct, it’s just the way I’m built! So I’m looking at a 2011 Cannondale Synapse 54 CM. This bike has a 54cm TT, and 74 deg ST. I’m not sure if this will work? with a 73.5 deg ST & 32mm set back seat post, I’m probably closer to 72 deg actual. Switching to the Synapse can actually yield a longer reach even though it has a 54cm TT, because of the steaper 74 deg ST? Is this thinking correct? (based on trying to keep the saddle in the same postion from the BB) Should I even be worried about this – according to the post on saddle set back it shouldnt matter at all. . . Right? Although I must say, I experimented with your method and found I had a fairly wide range (fore/aft) that I could balance within? Is this being to critical? I’m concerned because I suffer from achy knees, although I believe this has more to do with cleat allignment than saddle fore/aft. (which I’m working on, but your wedging principals are so propriatary, that I just dont fully comprehend them yet)

    1. G’day Chris,
      Firstly, glad that you’ve got a result from reading the stuff. A major aim of the site is to put empirically tested info that works out there as a counterbalance to the usual stuff that is hit or miss. Your assumptions re the Synapse aren’t correct. If you maintain the same position of the seat relative to b/b centre, you will reduce your reach with the Synapse or need a longer stem or whichever permutation of each you choose.

      I’ll explain. You are right to assume that having your Arione all the way back on the rails on a 32mm offset post turns your nominal seat tube angle of 73.5 degrees to an ‘effective’ seat tube angle of 72.0 degrees. A by product of this is that having the seat back like that also increases your ‘effective’ top tube length by 15mm. So ‘effectively’, you are riding a 72 degree STA, a 575mm TTL with a 90mm stem and 75mm reach bar.

      On the Synapse with 540 TTL and 74 degree STA; if you were to position your seat in the same place relative to b/b centre, you would effectively have a 560mm TTL and a 72 degree STA. That means you have reduced your reach by 15mm, assuming bar choice and height stays the same. That 15mm can be used to have a longer reach bar or longer stem or shorter reach or any permutation of that.

      However, there is a problem. You probably won’t be able to achieve a 72 degree effective STA with an Arione seat on the 32mm offset post with a Synapse with 74 degree nominal STA. Arione’s don’t have a lot of rearward positioning potential and the shape of the seat dictates that the rider can’t sit that far back on them anyway. So you will need a different seat on your 32mm offset post. I would suggest an SMP Composit, Dynamic or Lite 209.
      Those seats win for you in two ways. Firstly, very long rails and rail placement that allows the seats to be pushed way back. Secondly, the shape of the upper positions the rider much further back relative to the length of the upper than an Arione, so you wouldn’t need to have the seat shoved hard back to maintain the same butt position relative to b/b centre.

      I hope this helps.

      1. This does in fact help. The SMP saddle was part of my solution to begin with. One key point I neglected to mention, the Synapse has an oval (foiled) seat tube / seat post. I cannot use my FSA 32mm. The Synapse seat post has a 15 or 20 mm rearward offest, and its what comes with the bike! Can I get my butt far enough back with an SMP mounted to a seat post with 15-20mm offset?

      2. G’day Chris,
        The answer is yes. Probably with a littleroom to spare. I’d better explain why. Firstly, talking about relative offset in seat posts is an inaccurate way to determine the relative ability of a seat post to allow forward or rearward adjustment. Setback is measured from the centre of a line bisecting the seat post shaft where it enters the frame as viewed from the side to the horizontal midpoint of the seat rail clamp. It does not account for the horizontal length of the seat post clamp. I prefer the concept of what I call “standard offset” and describing other posts as “X mm more than standard offset” OR “X mm less than standard offset”.

        I describe “standard offset” as when a line that is parallel to the seat tube angle that is dropped from the front of the seat rail clamp bisects the seat post as viewed from the side. By this measure Campag and now superseded Shimano posts were “standard offset”; Thomson zero offset posts are 22mm less than standard offset and so on. If you look at the Synapse post, the seat rail clamp is quite short horizontally. It appears that it meets my definition of standard offset. In combination with an SMP Dynamic or Lite 209 with their upper shape and proportions and extraordinarily long rails, you will be able to get your seat where you need to.

      3. Update: The saddle recomendation has worked out much better than expected. I went with an SMP composite. It’s extremely hard (stiff) and at first felt as though I chose the wrong saddle. After my first ride, I quickly changed my mind. Very comfortable, and only getting better. My left hip pain (from bulge at L5) is basically just gone. So, thank you very much for your help. On a side note: the saddle is centered on the rails, more than enough room to get me back far enough.

        Qusetion: How can I apply these changes to the MTB? Would the SMP evolution be an optimal choice? I ride a 29er hardtail with a prologo X10 nago (134mm wide). It’s a comfy sadle, but I have noticed my hip/lower back pain resumes after a couple of days on the MTB. (road training rides) The angles from mtb to road bike are similar, only difference being the saddle to bar drop on the mtb is almost nuetral (0). (probably due to 29er geometry) The road bike is approx 2″. All other measurements are fairly equal, in other words I try to keep the setups the same. I feel that the SMP design allows me to rotate better, and releases my hips a bit. I want to try one on the mtb. Please give me your thoughts here.

      4. G’day Chris,I’m glad that you like the Composit. I ride them on the 3 road bikes that I own and am a fan. There a bit hit and miss with customers though. Most can’t handle the lack of padding and firm shell. I’d be wary of the Evolution (and Stratos) unless you are quite small and lightly built. Say 65kg or under. The Evolution and Stratos are built on the same shell as the Composit but the way that the padding is shaped makes them ‘effectively’ much narrower. If you look at them from above you will see that they have a flat section near the centre cut out and then drop off to the sides very quickly. In effect, the Composit is a markedly wider seat to sit on because it tapers gradually from centre to the side.I have just faced the same issue; what seat to put on my 18 year old hardtail mtb that I’ve resurrected for a 24 hour teams event. I’ve gone with the Lite 209. If my bike was a duallie, I’d probably go with the Dynamic. If it helps as a guide I’m 182cm / 5’11 1/2″ and 75kg / 11 stone 12 lbs / 166 lbs with little excess.

      5. Hello Steve,
        Thank you very much for the insight on the SMP lineup. This really cleared up some confusion, my LBS doesnt know the line nearly as well as you do. Saving some $ to get a Dynamic for the MTB. . .

        Update: I have settled in on the SMP Comp at 2.5 deg nose down or so, and though I can’t see myself, FEEL as though I’m rotating better. (more comfortably) I’ve also lowered overall saddle height a bit, and have had some knee niggles of late. (knee cap accross top ridge and sometimes bottom as well) Not really pain per say, but more of a dull ache. (had this issue off and on for the last 2 yrs or so)
        I ride heel sort of nuetral. In other words, toe down when cruising and heel drops to around nuetral when hammering. If I’ve “popped” I tend to scoot forward to get over the top of the pedals and heels come up/toe points.
        Moving the seat down I feel much more comfy overall. Ultimately, I am making more power for a longer period of time, more comfortably! BUT what can I do about my knees? Any suggestions? I’m of the opnion that this knee situation stems more from my feet than anything else. Cleats were the first thing I set up when reading your blog, and it was a success. I know there is room for improvement though. (since I can’t see myslef ride??) I notice my right foot wiggles at the bottom of the pedal stroke from time to time. Though this has decreased considerably since reading your blog and re-setting my cleats. (I wear custome orthotics 3/4 length)

        Again thank you very much for your help.

      6. hhhmmmm, good question. I wear boots for work, 10+ hours a day. The boots have Sole footbeds, very comfy & no complaints. On my off time I wear Asics 20% of the time with my 3/4 ortho’s and barefoot (flip flops – cork) the rest of the time. So, I guess I use them for walking rarely?

      7. G’day Chris,
        I should have been more specific. Were your 3/4 footbeds
        designed for walking or cycling?
        If walking, it is unlikely that there is enough arch support present and that may be a factor in your knee niggles.

        If they were designed for cycling, it is my experience that most podiatrists don’t really know how to do this which probably still means that you don’t have enough arch support. I would suggest reading the post on Arch Support and getting hold of a pair of Esoles.

        Regards,
        Steve

      8. OK, I will give that a try. BTW, my ortho’s are in fact for walking/etc – not specifically for cycling.

      9. Hello Steve, Box ticked – have a solid week on the new footbeds (esoles) with red option arch support. (The orange actually felt perfect so I went with the red) I noticed a little “feedback” from my right forefoot (toes) on my first long road ride. Nothing major, just wanted your thoughts. I’m going to give them 2 weeks and assess my knees again.

        How long do the esoles last? OR how often should they be replaced?

        Aside from the footbeds, is there really much more I can self diagnose with respect to my feet? Obviously, it’s tough to ride and look at my feet at the same time. Are there specific symptoms I should look for?

        once again, thank you very much. . .

      10. G’day Chris,
        I’ve had the same pair of Esoles in a pair of shoes I ride
        4 – 6 days a week for 18 months and they are still going strong. Can you be more specific about your right forefoot niggle?

        Where to go from here with your knees?

        If as you assume it is mainly a foot issue, you now have the arch support box ticked. So time to start on Wedging. Have a look at the Foot Correction part 2 – Wedging post and go from there.

      11. Niggle = basically just a quick zap of tingles that shot through the front of the right foot. Almost like a little electric shock, much the same as striking your “funny bone” – hope this helps. (pushing down on the pedals)

        Only on the road bike (Giro Factor 45.5 – carbon soles)
        MTB ride was perfect – no foot issues (Sidi Dominators Mega 45.5 – nylon soles)

      12. G’day Chris,
        does your shoe feel tight across the MTP joint heads (base
        knuckles of the toes?
        The reason that I ask is that there is a nerve plexus between each pair and a tight shoe can compress the joints irritating one or more nerve plexus. Solution – stretch the shoe laterally or get hold of shoes with a wider toe box.

        Have a look at the soles of your feet.Is there are callous or wear spot underneath the MTP joint of the 2nd, 3rd or 4th toe?
        If so, that joint or joints is lower than ideal and again a nerve plexus is being irritated. Solution – fit a metatarsal pad to lift and separate the joints.

        Also conceivably, the sciatic nerve is being irritated somewhere along it’s path. Depending on how you are put together (this varies) it has to pass over, under or through the psoas, gluteals and piriformis. Tightness in any of those three can potentially cause issues anywhere along its length and many people are tight in those 3 muscle groups or combinations of them. How flexible are you in hips and low back?
        Are you less flexible on the affected side than the non affected side?

  4. Gday Steve,

    I ask the question here because it is related to Bright. I am doing the Bright Boot Camp in Feb 2012, and I notice that you are listed as one of the occasional seminar presenters. Are you planning on being there next year?

    1. G’day Paul,
      No I won’t be. I know Dave Heatley who runs the Boot Camp
      and have been setting him up on bikes for probably 10 years. January is nearly booked solid for fittings and I don’t see how I can get away, much as I’d like to. The riding down there is terrific and one of the few places in Australia where you can ride 30km climbs. If you’re going, make sure that you ride up Mt Hotham. Spectacular!

  5. Hello Steve, so I was thinking this might be the case. The Giro shoe has a snug “glove like” fit? I wouldnt consider it tight, but with the esole, it’s a bit more snug than with my 3/4 ortho’s or the Giro “supernatural” footbed. The esole takes up a little more volume, so I think stretching the shoe is the plan! The esoles come with 2 pair of metatarsal pads, one taller than the other. I used the least intrusive because I absolutely hate the way they feel? Maybe I should try the taller, to effectively seperate the joints a bit more?

    I have a 6 mm bulge at L4-5 (left side), it’s what has ultimately brought me to your blog. I would end up writing a book here if I tried to give you my history, so I will give you the short n sweet of it.

    I don’t rotate well
    I am moderately flexible
    I have a 6 mm & 4 mm bulge – left side – L4-5-S1
    I have a “regeneration” routine for my hips and back (currently-no pain)
    I am really comfy with my general position at the moment
    I have a few knee niggles I’m trying to KO
    I think the knee niggles are actually foot corrections issues
    So here I am

    I’m going to give the wedging a shot next. . . thanks

    1. G’day Chris,
      There are two solutions to the lack of space in the toe box
      problem. Stand on the Esoles and mark the front edge of the 1st and 5th MTP joints. Then mark deep between the remaining toes with a pen. Then connect up the dots and cut off the front of the Esole. That will leave you with toe wiggling room. You will need to use some folded over adhesive tape between Esole and shoe with adhesive side facing up and down to keep the truncated Esole from slipping.

      The other is to stretch the shoe as you suggest. Get hold of a ball and ring shoe stretcher, apply it to the tight spots and then stretch while applying moderate heat with a hair dryer or heat gun. If using a heat gun, use a low heat setting. Make sure that you don’t heat any velcro as it can melt.

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