Power Fitting

engineering and biomechanics in cycling
Photograph: Photosport Int/Rex Features

The aim of Power Fitting is to optimize pedaling performance in professional cycling. We understand an optimal seat position as maximizing the influence of biomechanical factors on the physiological performance of the organism. By this we mean the use and recruitment of individual muscle fibers, the beginning and end of their activation and the transfer of leg forces to the pedals. All of this is defined by the points of contact with the bike. We improve force generation by creating the conditions in which power is best transmitted..

As proof of the importance of 'sitting correctly' an example from the former Bavarian time trial champion Wolfgang Fischer. Due to muscular activity and effective levers the low sitting position causes less torque or less total work on the crank with the same ergometer resistance (isokinetic SRM).

Bernard Hinault was also aware of the fact that a 'maximum' seat position goes hand in hand with increased muscle work. I specifically asked him about it. Let's hear what Claude Genzling says about it in Cyclisme sur route - Sports pour tous in:

Bernard Hinault`s bicycles, or, the short history of a position
" It was in 1978 during the Tour de France that I began to systematically measure pro riders` bicycles, to collect the data needed for studies of riding positions. (Here is the design of the bike Bernard Hinault was riding then 1978)
The following year near the end of January Bernard Hinault rode the French national cyclocross championships on his way to race in the Rotterdam six-day. At that time I measured his cyclocross and his track bike, so I could make some comparisons. On that occasion I noticed that the saddle of his road bike, which he had brought along, was pushed all the way back. This meant that Bernard still hadn`t been able to find his definitive position, since his frame geometry wouldn`t allow him to set the saddle further back. I mentioned this to Cyrille Guimard, then his directeur sportif, and he later told me that a new frame was being studied, as a result of ergonometric research and wind tunnel tests done at Renault company.
It took Bernard Hinault many months to get used to his new position, whose remarkable efficiency confirmed the studies completely. But the saddle wasn`t immediately set at the desired height - there were still several millimeters to go. It was with this bike, slanted back much more, that the Breton won the Criterium of the Dauphiné Libéré for the second time, by almost 13 minutes, and the Tour de France, in which he masterfully took seven stages, including the last two."