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Choosing the Perfect Bike: Insights from Kasia Niewiadoma

By Kasia Niewiadoma

As a professional cyclist, selecting the right bike and ensuring it fits perfectly for different races and terrains is crucial for performance and comfort. Today, I’ll share my approach to choosing the best bike, finding the ideal fit, and adjusting to suit specific goals and preferences.

Factors to consider when choosing a bike for different types of races or terrains

As a team, we conduct various tests on our equipment, from bike frames and their stiffness and aerodynamics to wheels, tyres, and gears before important races. This helps us understand the differences in the products our sponsors provide. We look for lightweight frames, aerodynamics, stability when descending (for safety reasons), and bike stiffness.

We analyse the elevation gain for specific races to decide between an aero frame (usually a bit heavier) or a climbing frame. Similarly, wheel choice depends on the amount of climbing, and the gear setup is crucial for more demanding stages. Recently, I’ve been enjoying having a 33-tooth gear in the back. It works great in the early race stages when I want to save energy and in the finals with steep hills coming one after another.

I typically opt for tubeless tyres, which may be slightly heavier but provide peace of mind as they don’t go flat immediately if punctured. This can save a lot of time and energy that would otherwise be spent changing a wheel. Weather is another crucial factor; rain influences tyre pressure, and windy conditions affect the wheel depth we choose. On rough roads, we often opt for wider tyres like 30” for extra comfort and safety.

How to test ride a bike to ensure the perfect fit for your body and riding style

Ensuring a bike fits well is critical but can be highly personal and specific. I always recommend spending significant time on the bike to assess comfort and how it responds to different terrains. It’s about more than just the initial feel but how the bike handles longer rides and various conditions. Look for a bike that feels like an extension of your body, allowing for natural movement without causing strain. Pay attention to the bike’s geometry, as a good fit helps maintain posture and efficiency, reducing the risk of injury.

Balancing bike weight with other features

This year, during the final stages of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, we will face over 7,000 meters of altitude gain. Every gram matters in such climbs, and the winner will have the best watts/kg ratio. During race preparation, we focus on shedding weight while ensuring the bike’s performance and safety. We use the lightest parts available, including frame brands delivering bikes without paint to save grams and lighter pedals, computer units, and gears. This makes a significant difference. During the stage, I will carry just enough water to fuel the climb without any unnecessary extra weight.

Kasia NIewiadoma
Ensuring a bike fits well is critical but can be highly personal and specific.

Lesser-known adjustments and customisations for bike performance and comfort

One adjustment I’ve found incredibly beneficial is changing my saddle more frequently. During training camps, we work meticulously on bike position, adjusting everything millimetre by millimetre to find the optimal setup for muscle activation and power output. As a professional cyclist, I spend around 100 hours a month on the bike, and over time, the saddle loses firmness and collapses, changing how I sit and produce power. Frequent saddle changes help prevent discomfort and issues like saddle sores, which often arise from changes in riding position.

Selecting bike components for your goals and preferences

I pay a lot of attention to the gearing I choose for important races. In the past, I sometimes didn’t focus enough on this and ended up not having enough gears, which forced me to ride at a lower cadence, leading to quick muscle fatigue and cramping. As seen with riders like Pogacar or Vollering, high cadence helps reduce muscle fatigue and shifts the load to the aerobic system. I target races with demanding climbs, so lightweight and speed are essential. I seek firm and stiff equipment, ensuring power is efficiently transferred to the pedals. Safety is always a priority over speed and weight.

The importance of professional bike fitting and tips for cyclists without access

Bike fitting is essential. Cycling is not a natural posture for our bodies, and a correct fit helps avoid unhealthy riding patterns and related injuries like knee pain, saddle sores, and back discomfort. I highly recommend custom insoles for added comfort. If you can’t access a professional bike fitter, many helpful YouTube tutorials exist. The key is not to sit too low and avoid putting too much weight on your arms, keeping your body weight centred with relaxed arms on the handlebars.

Many amateur cyclists often choose the wrong frame size, making it difficult to find the correct position. As a beginner, I also struggled with selecting the right shoes and ensuring my helmet fit securely. Paying attention to these details is crucial for comfort and safety.

Maintenance tips for keeping your bike in optimal condition 

Maintaining a bike is simple but crucial for longevity. Regular cleaning, especially after rainy rides, is essential to prevent dirt and moisture from damaging components. I focus on keeping my chain clean and well-lubricated to ensure a smooth ride. Regularly checking and maintaining tyre condition is also important to avoid puncture disruptions.

Exciting trends in bike design and technology

Designing my gravel World Champion bike allowed me to add personal touches that reflected my interests, which was a unique and motivating experience. As a professional cyclist, my choices are often guided by sponsors, but whenever possible, I appreciate bikes that combine aesthetics with functionality.

These days, I love the convenience of having shifting buttons all over my handlebars, making gear changes easy in any riding position, especially while climbing. Modern bike features are increasingly tailored to women, with smaller, sleeker, and more user-friendly designs like the new SRAM brake levers.

Ultimately — choosing the right bike and ensuring it fits perfectly can significantly enhance your cycling experience. I hope these insights help you find the perfect setup for your goals and preferences, making each ride more enjoyable and fulfilling 🙂