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  1. #1
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Retul Fitting Report - long

    As part of a holiday/birthday gift I was given a Retul bike fitting session. I just completed the fitting yesterday and wanted to offer up a report on what it was like and the results.

    The fitting itself was pretty straight forward. You bring your own bike and typical riding clothes including shoes. Upon arrival measurements are taken of your bike and the current setup. You are then interviewed concerning your type of riding, goals, weekly mileage, any injuries or pain you experience while riding, etc. All of this information is entered into a data base. Your bike is then placed in a trainer with particular attention paid to making sure it's level. Next LED sensors are placed (using sticky velcro dots) on your: wrist, elbow, shoulder, hip, knee, ankle, heel and base of where the joint where your little toe connects to your foot. The fitter seemed to take particular care in making sure the sensors where placed in the correct places.

    Now you are ready to go and begin pedaling using your typical stroke and cadence. You ride for a few minutes to make sure you've hit your rhythm. At some point the fitter captures 15 seconds of your pedaling and this serves as the data which is analyzed. This is repeated until the fitter is confident that your stroke and position have been accurately captured. This data now forms the baseline for your position (including a dynamic view of how your body actually moves while riding). All of this data is compared to a range of desirable positions/movement for your riding style and goals.

    Next, the trainer resistance is increased in several steps and your position and movements are captured under various load levels. I was surprised at how much my position and movement shifted! The process is done on both your left and right sides.

    The entire process took a bit over two hours and here's what I learned.

    1. My basic set up was pretty on target. That is, I had the seat fore/aft and height position spot on. The handle bar width was also correct.

    2. My right and left legs track completely different. Both legs tend to have and outward cant to them at the top of my stroke. A straighter line is more desirable. The left leg was pretty easy to make big improvements in. A small shim under my cleat made a considerable difference (BTW, all of this is easily seen by looking at the graphics shown on the monitor which capture your original position and movement and compare it side by side with the modified version. I was actually pretty impressed with the visual ease with which I could see what I was doing.) My right side was another story. The cleat needed a thicker layer of shims, the position of the cleat needed to be adjusted, and a different cleat with less float was used to keep my foot from having the heel move toward the crank arm on the down stroke. I was a bit skeptical about this until I started pedaling with the corrections under increasing loads. At the point where I would start to feel some knee, ankle, and hip pain (I mistakenly chalked this up to just getting older), there was no pain or even mild discomfort. Additionally, my power output increased slightly and the motion tracking was better. The right side is still not as good as the left, but much better than it was.

    3. The angle of my back related to a horizontal plane is too steep. Translation: I'm bent forward too far. This was a major surprise! Although it does help explain the pain I get in the upper back/lower neck area when on the bike for more than 3 hours (I'm working too hard to hold my head up). This will also be harder to correct given several variables. I can't really add any more spacers to my fork because I'm at the upper limit now, and I'm using a 90mm stem, which is already pretty short. So, I'm swapping out my current handle bars for a set that has a little less reach (about 2 cm) and drop. This should correct the problem. One thing the fitter noticed right away was that when riding on the hoods (which is where I do most of my riding) my hands were actually back about 2 cm from actually being in contact with the hoods. This was a strong indicator that my reach was too far, creating the too steep bend of my upper torso. The data collected from the censors confirmed this. I asked two question about this portion of the fitting. A) Am I on the wrong size frame? Answer: Not really, I'm one of those people that the next size down would be just a wee bit too small. B) Can the seat fore/aft position be shifted to fix the reach problem? Answer: Not without having a negative impact on your leg angle at the top and bottom of your stroke and shifting the knee too far forward, creating an angle at the top of the stroke sure to do damage to the knee.

    4. My upper body is far from being symmetrical. Sometimes on longer rides (60+ miles) I experience some discomfort in my lower back only on the right side. Well it turns out that my right arm is slightly shorter than my left. Hence shifting the handle bars about 15mm to the right and an even slighter modification to the brifter hood position actually made my reach equal for both arms. The pre and post data confirmed this in that the graphed angles now matched where they did not before. It's funny that such a small change was actually noticeable. For the first time ever when I looked down at the front tire and the handle bar stem they looked like they were correctly aligned. In the past, it's always looked just a tiny bit off and despite lots of adjusting, I've never been able to get it to look straight. Who would have guessed that it was actually my imperfect body creating this visual illusion?

    So, would I recommend this fitting process for others? Well, actual weeks of road mileage will give me a better ability to answer this in terms of long term improvements. For right now, having the pain disappear is a real nice thing, and seeing an actual improvement in my power output is also rewarding. At about $200 the fitting is expensive (at least for someone of my means). Yet, I realized I've probably spent more money on stems, seats, seat posts, and handlebars trying to get comfortable. So, I'm glad I did it and am looking forward to making the final correction with different handle bars. All in all it was an afternoon well spent. Oh, one other advantage is that your data is saved and sent to you in a format that should make it much easier to set up any other bikes to give you the same riding position.
    Last edited by NOS88; 01-08-09 at 07:54 AM.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright

  2. #2
    www.ocrebels.com Rick@OCRR's Avatar
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    Great report NOS88,

    I too would have trouble parting with $200.00 for a fitting, but from reading your report, I just might do it. As you noted, it's interesting how we have our symetrical bikes set up for our less than symetrical bodies! While I've had confidence in my "Do It Myself" fittings, I like the scientific approach you describe.

    One note: My wife's left leg is 3/4" shorter than her right, so she had her cycling shoes built up 3/4", like her walking shoes, and that solved one problem. However, a related measurement, the arm length, was not considered until later.

    Turns out (not too surprising, in retrospect) that her left arm is also shorter (by about 1/2") than her right. Moving the left brake/shift lever up the bars (toward her hand) by 1/2" took away all the pain in her left elbow. I should have thought of that a few years earlier!

    Rick / OCRR

    Edit: Just did a search and my closest fitter for this would be San Diego. Seems funny that in an area as large as Los Angeles, no shop is using this system.
    Last edited by Rick@OCRR; 01-08-09 at 07:59 AM.

  3. #3
    Erect member since 1953 cccorlew's Avatar
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    Thanks for this detailed report. It was interesting and useful. You only left out one piece of info: How much does this cost (as I didn't get the gift of bike fitting this Christmas...)

    And here are you?

    Thanks again. This forum needs a "Save as favorite" so i can reference this post again.
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  4. #4
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    An interesting point made here. The idea of setting up the bike in an asymetric manner is new to me. I had always been careful to center the bars, seat etc.

    I have seen but never acted upon articles in the past that stated that the correct saddle position for any specific rider might not be exactly fore and aft.

    Good post NOS88, this will require a bit more research and thinking.

  5. #5
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cccorlew View Post
    Thanks for this detailed report. It was interesting and useful. You only left out one piece of info: How much does this cost (as I didn't get the gift of bike fitting this Christmas...)

    And here are you?

    Thanks again. This forum needs a "Save as favorite" so i can reference this post again.
    The cost was about $200 in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright

  6. #6
    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    I would like to do that as well. I'll have to put the arm on my son next Christmas.
    I wonder why they would put a shim under both shoes rather than lower the saddle a mm or so.
    I keep thinking that some off my hurts are age related, but I read somewhere, that that is the area to strengthen. Do you have to set all your bikes up, the same fit now?
    George

  7. #7
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    I would like to do that as well. I'll have to put the arm on my son next Christmas.
    I wonder why they would put a shim under both shoes rather than lower the saddle a mm or so.
    I keep thinking that some off my hurts are age related, but I read somewhere, that that is the area to strengthen. Do you have to set all your bikes up, the same fit now?
    The shims used were slanted with the thicker side being toward the crank arm. Hence they were actually changing the alignment of my ankle and knee joints by shifting the tilt of my foot. In terms of setting up my other bikes, I will work to get my road bikes so that my body postion is the same on each. This involves working to get the angles of my back, elbows, knees & ankles (on up and down stroke postions), etc. the same. Once I know what the desired angles are (which I'll get in the printout that will be mailed to me), I can duplicate them.
    Last edited by NOS88; 01-08-09 at 09:57 AM.
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  8. #8
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    Great post.

    The title of your post called this the "Retul fitting session." Is that the name of a particular method? Are there folks who do it that way in various cities?

    We're blessed w/lots of pro fitters in the Seattle area, but I'm not sure where I would start...

    I've been thinking about this, and it always sounds expensive -- on the other hand, it would certainly save a lot of money in buying the wrong cleats, shoes, stems, etc. over time.

  9. #9
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
    Great post.

    The title of your post called this the "Retul fitting session." Is that the name of a particular method? Are there folks who do it that way in various cities?
    Yes, Retul is a the name of a particular fitting system. Here's the link to their web site: http://www.retul.com/
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by NOS88 View Post
    Yes, Retul is a the name of a particular fitting system. Here's the link to their web site: http://www.retul.com/
    Thanks for clarifying - I'm familiar with one of the fitters listed in my area; he's gotten some good recommendations on local message boards.

  11. #11
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    NOS-thanks for taking the time to put this together. I suspect it makes us all wonder about those little aches we feel on longer rides and wonder if a slight tweak here and there could make a difference.

    Question on #3-am I understanding that the "reach" was maybe a little too far and you've shortened that up a bit? Will the changes have any effects on your "aerodynamic" position-ie, make you more upright? I'm just having a little trouble picturing what the actual issue was-it is one of those days I'm much "slower" than normal...which is pretty slow!!!

  12. #12
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jppe View Post
    Question on #3-am I understanding that the "reach" was maybe a little too far and you've shortened that up a bit? Will the changes have any effects on your "aerodynamic" position-ie, make you more upright? I'm just having a little trouble picturing what the actual issue was-it is one of those days I'm much "slower" than normal...which is pretty slow!!!
    Yes, it will make me a bit more upright. However, I don't fall into the "race" category. Rather, during the initial interview for the fitting, I indicated that I was a "serious recreational" rider. If I had indicated that I was racing and my goals were to improve my racing times, my position would have been fine. Despite this, the fitter felt that the trade off in aerodynamics would be more than compensated for by my increase in watt output from proper pedaling and body mechanics. (The readings from the power meter during the pre and post adjustmenst seemed to confirm this). And, on longer rides I should be less fatigued, which should contribute to better overall performance.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright

  13. #13
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    Great report! This is very much appreciated, because I just talked yesterday to my nearest Retul bike fitter about scheduling a fitting. He assured me that it would be worth the money for a "serious recreational" rider, as I had had some doubts. I will be getting my fitting before the end of the month.

    Thanks, NOS

  14. #14
    Senior Member MNBikeguy's Avatar
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    Fascinating.
    I checked locations and there is one in MN very close to me.
    Seems definitely worth checking out.
    "I thought of that while riding my bike."
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  15. #15
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    $200 seems cheap to me. I would gladly pay that, if it would make my knee and calf problems go away. My problem is I don't even ride clipless -- and the one fitting I went to, the guy didn't really take it very seriously.

  16. #16
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Question:

    What happens for those of us with "differently shaped" bodies?

    Specifically, very short legs combined with long trunks and upper body. Every "fitting" I have read about, and the formulas provided on typical web pages on fitting, and the one computer fitting I had, put me on a bike that compensated for my short legs by making the bike small enough to give me the "proper" stand over height. BUt, ti didn't work for the rest of my body. As a reference, my pants inseam for off-the-rack clothes is 29 inches, and I am about 5'10.5 inches (I used to be about 6'). And, yes, I am fully aware that the 29" is not my bicycle measurement, but I use the figure to give a reference point.

    Finally, the fitter threw out the computer "fitting" and we went with an "eyeball" fitting giving me very little SO height, but more appropriate upper body, arms, etc.

    This was before the era of compact frames.

    That was in 1999. I had a refit about 3 years ago.

    Curious as to your response, if you have any insight.
    Last edited by DnvrFox; 01-09-09 at 07:09 AM.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  17. #17
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox View Post
    Question:

    What happens for those of us with "differently shaped" bodies?....


    Curious as to your response, if you have any insight.
    Well, you are actually just about the same size as I am. 5'10" with a pants inseam of 30 inches. I'm far from the right person to answer this question, but I'll give you my thoughts.

    The system takes no body measurements in the traditional sense. Rather it is simply interested in relationships as determined primarily by various key angles. I've attached an image scan from my fitting below to try and show this. (Sorry the image is not better).

    Specifically, they are interested in:

    The knee angle at the top and bottom of your stroke.
    How far fore or aft of the ball of your foot the knee is at the 3 o'clock position.
    The angle of your ankle in relationship to your fibula.
    The amount of vertical travel in your hips as you pedal.
    The lateral movement in your knee as you pedal.
    The height of your wrist when in your typical riding position in relation to the height of your hip.
    The distance from your hip to your wrist when in typical riding position.
    The angle of your back in relation to a horizontal plane.
    The angle between your chest and humerus bone in your upper arm (armpit angle).
    The angle of your elbow in relation to your shoulder and wrist.
    The angle of your forearm relative to a horizontal plane.
    The shoulder/foot/hip angle which is created if you draw a line between specific location on the shoulder hip and foot.

    Given all of these measurements, the frame size is important. But the stem length/angle, seat height and fore/aft adjustments/tilt, crank arm length, are equally important. From what I understand if you are considerably misplaced on the wrong sized frame, it will not be possible to get a correct fit via any amount of adjustment to the aforementioned parts. Hence, in my case the ideal size frame for me is a 55cm (center to center measurements across a horizontal top plane), however, I can also ride a 54 or 56 cm with the correct adjustments.
    Attached Images Attached Images
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  18. #18
    Senior Member MNBikeguy's Avatar
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    My cynical side always raises a flag with this type of stuff.
    Present a highly technical "evaluation" to "prove" (with bar charts and graphs) that your equipment is not quite correct for you. Oh, and by the way we will sell you the correct frame, stem, and componentry that is a proper fit...
    From your detailed description, I don't get the impression this is the case. And they assisted in minor adjustments that didn't break the bank. So far, I'm impressed and will pursue this.
    "I thought of that while riding my bike."
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  19. #19
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MNBikeguy View Post
    My cynical side always raises a flag with this type of stuff.
    Present a highly technical "evaluation" to "prove" (with bar charts and graphs) that your equipment is not quite correct for you. Oh, and by the way we will sell you the correct frame, stem, and componentry that is a proper fit...
    From your detailed description, I don't get the impression this is the case. And they assisted in minor adjustments that didn't break the bank. So far, I'm impressed and will pursue this.
    I suspect that the individual fitter/bike shop will approach this differently. However, in my case when it became clear that I need a shorter reach with my handlebars they didn't try to sell me a set. Rather, they suggested I look first in my "parts bin" at home or see if there were bars on one of my other road bikes that could be swapped out.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright

  20. #20
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Thanks for the very complete response, NOS88
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  21. #21
    Senior Member MNBikeguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NOS88 View Post
    I suspect that the individual fitter/bike shop will approach this differently. However, in my case when it became clear that I need a shorter reach with my handlebars they didn't try to sell me a set. Rather, they suggested I look first in my "parts bin" at home or see if there were bars on one of my other road bikes that could be swapped out.
    Exactly.
    That's a shop I'd hang on to.
    "I thought of that while riding my bike."
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  22. #22
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NOS88 View Post
    Yes, it will make me a bit more upright. However, I don't fall into the "race" category. Rather, during the initial interview for the fitting, I indicated that I was a "serious recreational" rider. If I had indicated that I was racing and my goals were to improve my racing times, my position would have been fine. Despite this, the fitter felt that the trade off in aerodynamics would be more than compensated for by my increase in watt output from proper pedaling and body mechanics. (The readings from the power meter during the pre and post adjustmenst seemed to confirm this). And, on longer rides I should be less fatigued, which should contribute to better overall performance.
    Bingo-the increased wattage output was the real info I was chasing. It sounds like these folks had the necessary instrumentation to assist with all the variables.

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