In my training articles, I have often preached the importance of a professional bicycle fitting as the most cost effective way of enhancing performance on the bicycle. The cyclist basically has four choices: 1) Self fitting using the generic formulas widely promulgated in books and on the internet, such as “The axle should appear under the handlebars when the rider is on the drops,” 2) The all-too-common bicycle shop fitting where only the seat is adjusted, 3) The static, measured fitting at a bicycle shop using an approach of “one set of measured parameters fits all,” 4) A fitting in a wind tunnel which from a cost/logistics perspective, is not a practical alternative for most riders, and finally, 5) A dynamic fitting that measures the rider in real time, and in real-life, three (3) dimensions—the newest and greatest system and my topic for this article.
I recently had the opportunity to be fitted by this incredibly innovative system that came to market in November of 2007. The Retul system was recently named one of Entrepreneur magazine’s top 100 brilliant companies. Carmichael Training System has three (3) of these and the Garmin professional cycling team actually travels with a Retul fitting system.
I was fitted at Outspokin Bicycles at their beautiful, modern shop in Clearwater, FL., by Park Alsop, a certified Retul fitter and an outstanding competitive triathlete. Park was one of three original fitters who was factory-certified to use the Retul system.
Most fitting systems rely on static measurements attained through widely accepted formulas. We are each an experiment of one, and what works for one person might not necessarily work for another. Often the results attained from a static fitting are about as accurate as determining your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220 – an often suggested method. In other words, often times totally inaccurate. Frequently, static measurements are subject to human error.
Enter Retul, based in Boulder, CO, which developed a system that is the only motion-capture technology (i.e. not video analysis) on the market that allows cyclists to be dynamically fitted through the use of true 3-D angles of their body to analyze the rider’s biomechanics in real-time. The Retul software captures thousands of data points from cycling specific movements using a 3-D spatial model and inputs real-time data into a detailed customer fit report.
Also, most typical fittings do not take into account the goal(s) of the rider. For example, when I have a fitting I have only one goal in mind – to race my bike as fast as possible. Others might have goals of performance, comfort, injury prevention, or just simply optimizing the efficiency of their long rides. It is typically one fitting formula fits all. With Retul, your goals will be discussed, and your certified fitter will do the appropriate fitting to accomplish those goals.
"Enter a race. Train to become faster and stronger. Honor the commitment. Reap the rewards." - me
Aside from dropping your seat 3mm, were there any significant changes in your overall bike setup? I find the dynamic perspective of bike fit interesting, whether its "race fit", "comfort fit", or another riding style. I guess most of us look for something in between that works for a range of activities. I road race and ride centuries. With the occasional omnium I also time trial and ride a crit. As an amateur race only for fun guy I think my present 1 size fits all "activities" is a nice accomodation. As an aside, we used the real time motion analysis on my son's batting swing a few years back. It was pretty cool to see how the numerics independently predicted his real game performance as a line drive to all fields hitter.
Gotta Ride Today
aka Chuck Faulkner
Tazewell, TN 37987