Sometimes, riders get so caught up in the mechanical specs of their bikes that they neglect the ergonomic components that take a much more significant toll on their bodies.
Sure, having the latest Di2 or eTap systems installed, saving a few grams with a set of carbon handlebars, or swapping out tires may seem like logical upgrade choices. But if your contact points on the bike are uncomfortable, little else is going to matter.
SQlab, a bike industry purveyor of saddles, grips, handlebars, bar ends, pedals, and more, seeks to give riders the information they need to find the perfect-fitting equipment for ergonomic riding. With its Measure At Home kit, it aims to give riders the keys to their own comfort without having to leave home.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published at BikeRumor. It has been revised for GearJunkie.
Why Measure Before You Buy?
The options on the market for ergonomic bike gear — like saddles, grips, pedals, and shoes — vary as much as the riders who use them.
Some riders gloss over these critical elements until they encounter a noticeable problem, such as injury. Even when that happens, many resort to guesswork, trying tons of products with different widths, shapes, and sizes. This results in overspending until they reach a Goldilocks moment.
SQlab has been working for years to cut out that trial and error. For example, in 2002, the brand claims it was the first manufacturer to design a system that measures a rider’s sit bones, the key contact points with the saddle. This helps dial in the correct saddle width.
While that system used to require folks to travel to a local SQlab retailer, the brand now offers the aforementioned at-home measurement kit. which can help riders measure their contact points with the bike, including the sit bones, hands, and feet.
SQlab ‘Measure At Home’ Kit: Ride in Comfort
Sit Bones in the Saddle
According to SQlab, its kit includes everything a rider needs to measure each contact point.
First, for the sit bone measurement, SQlab uses a piece of corrugated cardboard that riders place on a flat surface and sit on. After that, they can measure the distance between the imprint left by their sit bones to find a complementary saddle width. The last step assigns a value for the individual sitting position. This result matches the rider’s saddle size with one of the brands’ five different widths.
Finding the right saddle is essential for tackling longer rides. The right saddle can increase performance and blood circulation, keeping nerves, fibers, and blood vessels sufficiently supplied, according to the brand. A saddle that doesn’t fit right can lead to a host of issues including back pain, knee pain, and numbness.
According to SQlab, only an optimally sized saddle guarantees that the sit bones can fully be supported. This relieves the sensitive perineal area, which is a common area of complaints in both women and men.
The measuring kit can help with common misconceptions such as a softer saddle fixing comfort issues. SQlab says extremely soft bike saddles are only recommended for rides up to 30 minutes, as they can’t offer support and damping for the sit bones. Instead, the sit bones sink into the soft material, which irritates deeper-lying, sensitive tissue, such as muscle and tendon attachments.
Starting with a good idea of your measurements can help riders avoid nagging issues like these.
Gripping the Handlebars
To measure the hands for the right grip, SQlab gives riders a sheet they can use to measure the distance from the tip of the middle finger to the crook of the thumb. This measurement informs which diameter, length, and shape of grip will best suit a rider.
SQlab grips come in up to four different sizes, all of which vary in length, shape, and diameter. Finding the right fit can make long rides far more comfortable and reduce the risk of injury from being in the wrong position.
Pedaling Toward a Stable Platform
Finally, SQlab includes another sheet that helps riders measure the shape of their foot, leg axis, and foot length. This measurement helps riders identify the best insole to fit the unique profile of their foot.
For a sport considered by most to be “low-impact,” a rider’s feet are subjected to a ton of pressure, shock, and vibration. A reliable, stable platform at the feet tends to translate to increased comfort throughout the rest of the body. The same is true for an unreliable and unstable platform — discomfort.
The Next Steps
The best news about the SQlab system is that it’s free throughout North America and the European Union. Anyone who wants to find a better fit on the bike can go to sq-lab.com to get a measurement kit.
Once riders have their measurements, SQlab offers detailed explanations for each of its products, and the concepts behind them, on its website. To simplify the decision-making process, products can be filtered according to their area of use, and any further questions can be answered by SQlab’s specialist retailers.
This article is sponsored by SQlab. Visit sq-lab.com to learn more about ergonomics and measurements.