Bike fit question- weight balance on bike

A very useful post thanks. Do you have an equally practical DIY approach to getting cleat position correct?

I have had a bike fit done and the fitter is good, but rarely visits the area. I think my cleat setup is no longer correct with the passage of time with multiple cleat and shoe replacements

All generally sensible advice, but I have never heard a sensible rationale for KOPS. Indeed, to get enough weight ‘back’, an awful lot of people need the saddle further back than this gives.

Experienced riders who aren’t typically in pain and/or don’t have chronic or recurring injuries can absolutely use this method, and tbh will probably end up very close to where a decent fitter would put them. For those with issues - at least those not caused by a position which is not egregiously incorrect - I’d suggest it may not solve them.

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Here’s how my fitter does it (and they fitted some WT riders, so can’t be completely wrong) and IMO this is a good starting point:

  • take the cleats off the shoes
  • put some (bright) adhesive tape to the widest part of your foot (both sides). This is where your big and small toe ankles should be
  • stand in the shoe and have a partner marking the spot where one can feel the respective ankle bone
  • draw a line between the two markings
  • the “vertical” (when you hold your shoe with toes up) middle between the two markings is where the middle of the cleat should be

Then do a few rides to get used to it. One should feel if that position is too far front/rear esp when you apply some power. Then you may adjust a mm or 2 fore/aft depending on the feedback from your feet soles

This is what works for me

cheers
niko

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I’ll give that a go thanks Niko. Do you make any adjustment for the natural rotation of your foot?

Don’t have to as I am using Speedplay. But then the amount of possible toe-out is different left and right.
FWIW just yesterday I tried to get my left foot “straight” (it toes out more than the right) by further limiting heel-in but that caused more knee wobble and a slight pain on the outside of my knee. So will reverse that…
But then yes, rotation/toe-out should be considered IMO

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I agree KNOPS isn’t perfect, but it is a good start, and better than just what was sold to you. Many riders use KNOPS to get the ideal performance orientated position. I’m suggesting it here to get the CoG about right, so the rider weights keeps the butt in the right and stable position, and hence the cockpit.
Certainly fine tuning with small adjustments can improve upon all the adjustments. I think every bike fit methodology to date has been shown to be imperfect, probably because humans aren’t symmetrical :slight_smile:

But trying to solve the rotating bars problem, before getting the cockpit better is pointless.

When I designed my own road frame a key aspect was balancing CoG, to give you 60/40 rear/front balance. Most off the shelf bikes cannot cater for that, as all you have is saddle fore and aft and stem length, the latter affecting the feel of your steering, as well as your upper body comfort.

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You’ve lost me, sorry. Could you clarify?

One of my main objections to KOPS is that it often positions CoG too far forward.

I suspect this is likely to be a case of under-torqued bolts/lack of carbon paste, rather than a bike fit issue.

This sounds interesting. What did you do with the geometry? I actually think we agree, as I also think many off the shelf frames push weight too far forwards.

I have used a Podiatrist for such aspects of fit. Speedplay seem to offer more cleat position options. In an instant they are able to pick up on the intricacies, even if they don’t know pedals themselves. Eg some things are best handled inside the shoe!

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I think of the main equation of CoG is the cockpit, around which everything else can be adjusted, but I can see that can be confusing and perhaps not the best way of describing it.
The leg length and Fore and Aft adjustments move your butt directly in relationship to your 3 points of contact, Cockpit, saddle pedals and bars. So from the body movement position these are good adjustments.
However, they may not be ideal for CoF generally for the whole bike as that is related to the frame geometry, things like seat tube angle, can move your entire cockpit fore and aft, further you can also change the wheelbase, through a number of things, chain stay, top tube, head tube angle, fork rake.
however, many try to fiddle with the cockpit settings, to overcome the lack of overall frame geometry considerations, by setting the saddle back or forward, longer or shorter stem, sacrificing the cockpit setting that should be the basis of CoG.

I think you may be confusing me with @Juicetin

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This is an interesting take on CoG. I always “peg” the CoG to the bottom bracket, as opposed to the cockpit. The cockpit is moveable, at least to a certain extent, regardless of frame geometry (stem length, stem rise, bar reach, bar angle, spacers, etc.). However, the bottom bracket is fixed, and I view it as the “anchor point” of the bike. What I have read and learned from reputable fitters is, if your weight is not distributed properly (for your goals, body type, etc.) over the bottom bracket before adjusting the cockpit, then there will always be compromises in the fit. Adjusting cockpit can’t always compensate for the hips being too far “on top of” or behind the feet for proper balance. I always thought it was more about the hips’ relationship to the feet in space.

Think of trying to balance while bending over to reach something out in front of you (i.e., the cockpit) without being able to hinge your hips behind you as a counter balance while standing with your butt against a wall. You can only lean so far over before you will begin to lose balance and fall forward. If your saddle is too far forward, it’s kind of like doing this exercise with your butt against the wall. The hips are simply too far over the feet, providing no “counter balance.” The only way you won’t “fall over” is to bear too much weight on the handlebars, leading to hand numbness, shoulder/neck tightness, etc.

Now if you move away from the wall and allow your hips to hinge behind you, reaching further in front of you with solid balance is easy. This is because the hips are “further back” behind the feet, providing counter balance. To me, this is simulating moving the saddle back further behind the bottom bracket. I know these are not direct comparisons, but this logic always made sense to me from a balance perspective. Once the hips and feet are properly set relative to each other and the rider is balanced, the cockpit should only then be adjusted to be within a comfortable reach, right?

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This is very close to how it was explained to me.

What I was also told is that the flexibility and core strength ‘requirements’ of bike fitting can be neglected by some fitters. A stronger core and glutes, and more flexible glutes and hamstrings, better allow a rider to hinge, therefore extending their reach without pushing their CoG forward. Additionally, a more powerful rider has a stronger counterbalancing force from the pedals, enabling a position where a less powerful rider would feel unbalanced or have hand discomfort.

This fitter said another problem often comes from riders feeling too much weight in their hands/forward, then shoving their seat back/getting a more offset post to move weight back. The problem is, they then lack the strength and flexibility to deal with the elongated reach, and either a. end up dumping forward anyway [tricep pain can be a giveaway here, apparently], or b. stretch from the lower back, usually causing back pain.

This makes sense to me. In pretty much the same vein, in some cases, I have heard from fitters that riders can tolerate more reach when they’re better balanced, as they are not having to bear unnecessary weight on their hands (this is likely the more flexible riders to which you refer). Others may require that the reach of the bike be adjusted backwards in accordance with the increased setback (the less flexible riders).

I can pretty much understand everything you folks are discussing, but its super hard to see how to apply it to me. I’m not a physio or in any position to knowledgably assess my own flexibility and core strength, and I’ve not been cycling for particularly long. I don’t really have any pain or discomfort, just feeling weird to have the back lose traction on sprints (and sometimes uphill putting power down), and its definitely not ok to have the bars rotate at speed downhill. I have applied friction paste to the bars and so far that seems to be working, but I am guessing I need the help of an experienced set of eyes to get my center of gravity in the right spot and assess my flexibility to locate me on the bike, or set up the bars.
I feel like I’m giving away watts uphill or sprinting because I have to shift back a bit to get COG back and keep traction, it would be nice to be able to carelessly put some power down!
Cleat position explanation was also helpful, thanks. How exact do you need to be with locating your big/little toe joints? I have overlap (when I trackstand my turned wheel rubs my toe, so annoying), is this indicative of my cleat being way too far back?

Honestly, I think this is mostly down to technique rather than fit. The nose of your saddle, as it is swaying during the sprint, should almost be tickling the back of your thighs/glutes.

When I had problems sliding forward, I dropped the saddle down and moved it back on the rails. This essentially kept the distance to the pedals around the same, but moved the body weight ever so slightly back. This improved my balance fore and aft on the bike and gave me a more appropriate reach. It was a life-changer for my fit, so maybe it’s worth a shot for you?

All things considered, as @mcneese.chad has said, it’s best to just pony up and go to a fitter.

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Would not be surprising in the least if this was a technique issue!
Also maybe I am also pulling up with lots of force while sprinting? Is this bad technique?

Its certainly worth a try at moving saddle back and down, I’ll give that a shot today and see how it works out, thanks.

I am all for proper position on the bike and consideration of weight distribution, but out of curiosity, how many of you actually check this via weight differential measurements on scales?

As much as I’ve heard people talk about it, I can’t say many have actually done the work with scales and math to check the actual distribution. And if you have done it, what is the difference (if any) in position between the two main rider placements of hoods vs drops?

I definitely didn’t use scales or anything like that. I did it entirely on feel over the course of 2-3 months. I just tinkered with small adjustments with at least a week between each adjustment for testing. I took notes using TR annotations, which I reference still now whenever something feels “off”.

The problems I was having were too much weight on hands, sliding forward on the saddle and a squirming front wheel while attempting to ride no-handed. Through trial and error, I found that lowering my saddle and scooting it back a few millimeters solved all those issues. This led me to assume my balance on the bike was shifted back slightly with those adjustments (fixing balance too forward on the bike). I then had a fitter at my LBS measure the leg angle and give me a look over while pedaling through the parking lot. Angle was within spec and he didn’t notice anything untoward while I was on the bike.

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Yeah, that is more what I do and have seen from other fitters. I think that is fine and makes total sense.

I was really questioning those that are trying to nail the 60/40 weight split. I was curious how far those that are aiming for that goal, were actually going to see if they hit it or not. Without scale use, there is no way to know the actual distribution. I’ve just never heard of anyone actually going to that effort, so I want to learn from those that have, and see if I should be considering it for my personal and/or fitting needs.

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Sprinting is a technique issue. I can’t see how weight balance when sprinting (presumably out of the saddle) can have anything to do with saddle position. (At least as long it is not massively in the wrong place and in the way). It could have to do with bar/stem/frame length, but most likely you need to learn to shift your weight back a bit.

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