It is not about how to fit a
people consider bicycle fitting to be a mysterious topic, due to the infinitely variable factors that can influence how a person is able to sit on a bicycle. In my mind there are three main
The infinitely variable relationship between the body and the bicycle.
The infinitely complex functional capabilities of the body
The infinitely evolving central nervous system.
three variables eventually cause an outcome of infinity by the power of 3.
Bike Fitting History
quick history on bike fitting
the mid 80’s there were no official bike fitters, that used a specific system to determine the perfect fit for a human being. Back then good old bike shops were operated and owned by experienced
cycling enthusiasts, rather than todays money oriented businessmen. They would sell the correct sized bicycle, based on experience, and make a quick initial adjustment for their customer, then allow
the user to do the fine tuning themselves.
example: An english tailor is able to eye the appropriate sized piece of clothing for you, an experienced shop owner, would look at a 6 foot person, and determine that a good starting point would be
a 57cm sized frame. Then that person would be able to finalise and tweak their position by themselves, or with the help of a fellow cyclist and coach.
champions back in the day went through the same fine tuning process.
in todays modern society, specialisation has become a trend. Bike shops hire people who know how to use a barcode scanner to sell bikes, but don't even know how to replace an inner tube. I once met a
sport institution rider who would train with a GPS computer, heart rate monitor and power meter, but didn't have a clue on how to oil his chain.
of bicycle frames, often build frames in 4 to 5 sizes, usually with a sloping top tube, to accommodate to the majority of the population while keeping manufacturing costs low, allowing a person to
customise their size further by using various seat posts and stems. Unlike back in the day when a frame builder would have frames that ranged from 48 to 62 cm, providing 15 different stock sizes.
Meaning that today, people will tend to fall between two sizes of frames, rather than finding the perfect one. And to make matters worse, two frames, with the same frame size, may have completely
different geometry. A new 51cm semi sloping top tube frame, is in fact the same as a 54cm horizontal top tube frame. This marketing and inconsistent labeling has caused many headaches with
where variations in frames have decreased, the variation within components has increased to pick up the lost customizability of frames. In the old days seatposts only came in 200mm lengths, with 20mm
setbacks. Modern seatposts now come with 0 - 35mm setback, and up to 400mm in length. Stems used to come in -17 degrees, but now have the capability to come in many different angles and lengths. So
with the modern stem and seatpost, it is possible to fit 99 percent of the population on 4 - 5 sizes. literally all professional riders use stock frames to race this day, with a focus of bicycle
fitting as an aftermarket customisation.
Bike fitting methodology
two main bicycle fitting techniques used in todays industry
Bike fitting systems
design of the first commercial bike fitting system emerged after the mid 80’s. The objective was to create a platform with rigid procedures and protocols. Where a low skilled labourer could
perform the job within an acceptable tolerance for the majority of the population.
earliest bike fitting systems were based on gathering statistical data about the person and their riding positions, then making an estimation on the appropriate frame size, depending upon who that
person was closest to.
advancements in technology, provided more knowledge and greater accuracy about the biomechanical hard points of the human body. Providing a more in depth process of statistical data gathering. Which
means, if you measure a person and all the points on the body, you should technically be able to input this into a software, and through statistical data it would generate your perfect position, and
the bodies relationship between the saddle, handlebar and pedals.
the major drawback to this system is that since it is a calculation based system, it relies on point to point calculation, so if two riders had identical mechanical hard points, height, weight, leg
length, foot size etc but one had a significantly greater fat composition, or was less flexible the outcome would be different. Gathering this point to point data is also extremely difficult, even
with a ct scanner, as the measurements are not underload. And even if you could map all the hard points with 100% accuracy, you would not be able to tell where the tendons are attached to at the
bond, nor do we know the muscles relative strength and nor do we know the riding pattern or technique of that person.
the person from the ruler, and even more factors are introduced, in real riding conditions, the three contact points of the body are not fixed, they are constantly moving and adjusting, moving fore
and aft in the saddle, using different positions on the handlebar, and feet rotating at various angles in relation to the pedal. ie the ball of the foot to pedal spindle relationship constantly
software also relies on point to point protocol as well, Dartfish is
a program where a user can guess the points on the computer screen, it’s much easier to use, but is still not good enough to determine the outcome. However it serves as a good tool for documentation,
I bought one for this purpose.
lets say with 0.5% manufacturing tolerances, good for 99% of the population, which leaves 98.5% accuracy, which sounds fairly good. The problem with evaluation software though, is that they are
developed for elite riders, the consumer, does not have that kind of fitness level, condition, skill and technique of a professional rider. Once you begin to consider all these factors in the
formula, the accuracy will begin to drop, so unless your cycling fitness and technique is similar to that of a pro rider, you would get much better results simply by going D.I.Y.
my personal experience, I have re-fit a number of customers who have undergone commercial bicycle fittings before, however they complained about their new position. Normally I find the position close
to their requirements, it just needs small adjustments. The problem seems to stem from their skill and technique, which is what I spend most of the time teaching them, providing them the basis for
making the most from their new position.
2. Alternative bike fitters.
are a new breed of ‘alternative’ bike fitters, in a sense they believe that physical/functional asymmetry + mechanical compensation = functional symmetry and neural function optimization. Basically
this means, to fix issues with bike fitting, you compensate the problem by using simple mechanics, which leads to realignment and therefore a good fit. For example, If your left leg is slightly
shorter than your right leg by 5mm, then you place a riser block under your left shoe, allowing symmetry to be restored. They believe that humans inbuilt automatic ability to re-adjust itself is
inferior and that any patterns of self adjustment done by the body, increases the body's tendency to become more asymmetric. They also ignore the most important neural function: Technique
they set people back 50mm behind KOPS, sometimes 30mm in front, sometimes the saddle is 12mm lower than the neutral position, sometimes 25mm. These random results and actions give the client an
impression that the outcome is not predetermined. They use simple mechanical manipulation to optimize the incorrect riding patterns and poor bio mechanics of their client, which usually produces
instant results. Uninitiated consumers swear by it, and they do have success in their own right, since the body is incredibly adaptable. However it is not only physical but psychological.
law of unintended
at work always and everywhere. The simple intervention in a complex system tends to create unanticipated and often undesirable outcomes. Someone wants the intended consequences of an action so much,
that he purposefully chooses to ignore any unintended effects.
That type of willful ignorance is very different from true ignorance.
are inherent deficiencies with this practice. The main being that the judgement is solely based on the fitter’s subjective observations and confirmed by a kinesiology
then the bike fitter can sell anything to anyone.
the fitter will do is suggest or imply most of the following at the same time, “The stock frame won’t fit, ideally you need a custom frame, you need brand X saddle, brand Y pedals. shims and wedges,
some pedal extension spacers, arch supporters, and a different seatpost, bar and stem” The fitting out come is very likely already predetermined.
Smith wrote " “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from regard to their own self interest.”
have re-fit a few customers that have done this alternative bike fitting, and I usually find that I must make substantial position adjustments and remove most, if not all the products, which they
have brought from their previous bike fitting session, to restore their body to a neutral position.
What is a BikePRO fit?
philosophy, is that a quick fix is the order of modern society, other bike fitters will promise instant results. Our bike fitting does not work that way.
fit coherence and optimize the following:
Technique (neurological function)
Musculoskeletal system (biomechanical function)
Bike setup (mechanical function) in relation to gravity
changes the fact that technique and position go hand in hand.
fit consists of 4 elements.
Remove unnecessary equipment and replace incorrect equipment.
Teach you riding technique and skills.
Long term training with correct technique to develop the correct motor pattern, recondition your body and rebalance your muscles.
we will do, is first teach you how to ride a bike in the correct manner. From there you will begin with a neutral reference point, and learn to develop your own preference or taste. We then use your
feedback and adjust the position according to this. Meaning the outcome is determined by you, not by a 2nd or 3rd parties belief , opinion or certain percential of some historical data.
margin of error will be minimized to a very low level, as nobody knows your body better than yourself. Which means you are able to do the fine tuning yourself later, if you are not 100% assured about
your initial judgement, or if you choose to change your preference later. You are not just part of the process, you run the show!
seems my bike fitting methodology is very old school, but I think it is the only way to achieve the set goals. The greatest challenge is not the fitting itself, it is how to put all the fitting
elements together. But the training part is solely to rely on your dedication and effort. All we can do is to provide a solid platform for you to develop as a better cyclist. It will help to maximize
the return (performance, comfort, general well being) of your investment (money and time that you spent).
don’t sell quick fixes, we provide long term solutions.
What will be done:
Cleat Adjustment ( angular, back / fore & Q-factor
The position of the cleats are very important as it is what locks the foot onto the pedal. We will set the cleats up so that they are suit your specific type
Saddle Adjustments ( height, back / fore
& angular )
Position of the saddle can also be adjusted to suit a specific type of riding. There is more or less a guideline as to what position the saddle should be in
for different types of riding which we will recommend.
Handlebar height / angular, hood position & stem length ( reach )
The handlebar/stem combination is basically the cockpit of the bike. Therefore, we believe that instead of prescribing guidelines, that it must be in a
position that is most comfortable for you. Of course we will make suggestions and recommendations, but this is much a 'trial and error' process until you feel most comfortable. It is a trade off
between comfort & aerodynamic.
Determine Handlebar Width & shape
Again, this is entirely up to you. We'll put different widths & shape on the bike for you to try, until it feels right for you. We will make suggestions
and recommendations, Again, It is a trade off between comfort & aerodynamic.
We have to charge extra to do the handlebar replacement, because it is labour intensive.
Pedaling Technique & Riding Skills
During the fit, we will also explain and demonstrate the correct pedaling technique which best maximizes power output and efficiency. A correct pedaling
style will increase your efficient by as much as 30%. We'll also give advice on your riding skills, which will be specific to how you want to ride. As such, we cater for every type of rider,
from commuters to professional racers.
Andy visited Merckx 1984
Andy leading the late British Road Champion Peter Longbottom (Captain of Chris Boardman, Manchester Wheelers) in
1981. Australia cycling supremo Shayne Bannan was somewhere behind.
by Appointment Only, parts extra .
BikePRO Fit testimonial
I just wanted to say thank you for your BikePRO Fit. I really appreciate the time you took with me when i was over Melbourne, your technique explanation on my
pedaling has helped so much on so many aspects of my riding. I have been trying to focus on having a three year plan to get somewhere with cycling as I know I still have a lot to learn. When I can
get hold of a video camera I will get someone to film some footage and send over to you to get some input on how I could improve if that would be ok.
Thank you very much
( 2012 Australia road championship dual bronze medalist )
We did the Italian Triple training ride this weekend, which was 75 miles and 4700 feet of pretty knarly climbs. The first climb is a long grind up Cohasset Road, which I have done three times before,
and the section in the link below is from the start of the cohasset race up the hills to the store (where we turned around; we normally keep going but this one was a long day so we all turn around
there). Oddly enough during the climb I felt good, but did not feel I was doing all that well, but I concentrated on my pedaling technique and keeping my cadence up and consistent, as well as
concentrating on keeping my heart rate close to the peak I can hit without going into the red zone. Amazingly I just loaded the ride in Strava, and I smashed my prior best time by almost 5 minutes
(33:25 vs 38:12).
I can't believe how well I have been doing since having my bike fit session with you!
Of course I am way off the best time of Tim Olson (basically a Pro) who did it in 20 minutes :)