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Old 01-03-13, 11:14 AM   #1
TiHabanero
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Bike Fitting, What Method?

A group of guys I know have been getting professional fittings done at one of the LBS. I have yet to do it since there is no discomfort after 40 years of riding. What I am wondering is what method of fitting has been used by forum members and what are the body position changes that were made?

Example, my buddy Steve, a mountain biker, was fitted and the only thing that significantly changed was his cleat position and saddle height went up 1 cm. The fitter used the Specialized BG Fit method on a Serotta fit cycle.

I used to do fittings using Fit Kit back in the 80's and 90's, but have not used any of the newer methods.

How about you all and would you recommend it?
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Old 01-03-13, 12:18 PM   #2
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IMO, a fitting has to be dynamic, and the rider needs to keep in mind that fit evolves with fitness. You can't expect to get a fitting and just be done with it, unless your riding and your level of fitness never change. Having a dynamic fit (Retul, Dartfish, etc.) ensures that the angles are measured as you are actually pedaling the bike. You need to be warmed up, and applying some power, for the measurements to be valid. Then, your riding goals need to be taken into account. You and I could be identical physically, but if you are a more casual rider, your fit will likely be much different than the fit I want for racing. I recently had a fit done at our racing-oriented shop, using multiple high speed cameras, and Dartfish analysis software. It was determined that my knees were coming in, that I lacked stability on the saddle, and that I was just a bit too low. Changes were to put higher arch supports in my shoes, move my saddle a touch back (mostly to gain height, as my seat cap was at its max), go to a wider and firmer saddle that added stability and moved my knees apart, and narrow my handlebars by 4cm. I believe the fit has made me more aero, while likely increasing my power output.

I'll be going back in a few weeks for followup, once I've adapted to the changes.
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Old 01-03-13, 12:28 PM   #3
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I believe that John_V had a Retul Fitting last year, he said it was money well spent and that he would do it again. Perhaps he will see this thread and give you his experience with them. My LBS did an "old school fitting", by eye and hand, not a complaint on my part, it worked well. by watching me after some measurements and having me sit on a the bike as things were changed or adjusted. They adjusted the seat height, fore/aft placement and the stem height for me. These were all I needed at that time. My ride is pain free as my bike is now set up and very comfortable on long hauls or quick rides.

If any of our LBS ever starts a Retul Fitting operation I am going to have one done, I am checking the Atlanta, Ga area, where our daughter lives, for a shop with this service. I'll be up there to deliver her bicycle to her in the middle of the month. Others here have posted about using a fitting and I feel sure that they and John will post here.

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Old 01-03-13, 01:29 PM   #4
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Many years of riding a bike and I know when it does not fit and more to the point- I know how to set it up for me. The only part I may have to change after the initial fitting is the saddle position.

However to set a bike up for other riders and I can set it up using the same criteria that I would use but it will not always be right for them. Every "Body" is different and as I know from my fitting of a bike to me--The slightest part being set up wrong can cause problems.
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Old 01-03-13, 02:34 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by AzTallRider View Post
IMO, a fitting has to be dynamic, and the rider needs to keep in mind that fit evolves with fitness. You can't expect to get a fitting and just be done with it, unless your riding and your level of fitness never change. Having a dynamic fit (Retul, Dartfish, etc.) ensures that the angles are measured as you are actually pedaling the bike. You need to be warmed up, and applying some power, for the measurements to be valid. Then, your riding goals need to be taken into account. You and I could be identical physically, but if you are a more casual rider, your fit will likely be much different than the fit I want for racing. I recently had a fit done at our racing-oriented shop, using multiple high speed cameras, and Dartfish analysis software. It was determined that my knees were coming in, that I lacked stability on the saddle, and that I was just a bit too low. Changes were to put higher arch supports in my shoes, move my saddle a touch back (mostly to gain height, as my seat cap was at its max), go to a wider and firmer saddle that added stability and moved my knees apart, and narrow my handlebars by 4cm. I believe the fit has made me more aero, while likely increasing my power output.

I'll be going back in a few weeks for followup, once I've adapted to the changes.
This makes what you are doing read like setting you up to match the bike rather than the reverse. ??


With everything you are doing it also appears like you are a racer/serious competitor and therefore what you would do is far from what most people would do, or need. At your level the slightest detail is important. Maybe at the average rider level where seconds count it isn't nearly as important and whatever is comfort is THE criteria?
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Old 01-03-13, 07:10 PM   #6
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Changes were to put higher arch supports in my shoes

I'll be going back in a few weeks for followup, once I've adapted to the changes.
What is it about the arch supports that the fitter wanted you to benefit from? Do you have slightly low arches? Some pronation?
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Old 01-03-13, 07:41 PM   #7
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Trial and error. Use KOPS to get close and tweek away from there.
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Old 01-03-13, 07:54 PM   #8
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Is it the Retul System that gives you a report and a DVD to take with you so you can use the base line data in the future? This would be handy for any changes due to improved fitness and positional changes to me. I took out several millimeters of stem spacers a few months after I got the bike because I could easily move lower in the drops and for that fact any position o the bars. Fortunately things worked for me with just the spacers being removed, no seat height or fore/aft adjustment was necessary to stay comfortable in my riding positions.

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Old 01-04-13, 07:06 AM   #9
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I have to go with AzTrailRider here. When I got my first road bike, the shop set it for me and said, "other than a few tweaks, you're good to go." That was great, but never owning a road bike and not knowing what to tweak, if I needed to, was an issue for me. After a few rides, my body was telling me, "this is not right." Since the initial fitting was done at no charge, I decided to start asking around and was told to get a professional fit. After researching the various types of fitting systems, for several weeks, I decided to go and talk to a Retul fitter and see if he could help me. I don't race and don't intend to. For me, comfort for long distance riding was the primary reason for going with the Retul fit. After talking with him for about 20 minutes, I decided to go ahead and do the fitting.

I'm not that familiar with the Dartfish system as there are no shops in Tampa that offer it. The Retul system is a real-time fitting system and measures position, angles, pressure points and movement while pedaling. Everything down to foot angle and cleat position is measured by the system and tracked on the computer. You are hooked up with eight electrodes from the toes to your hands and each side is measured separately. The system uses a laser wand that works similar to a Total Station that is used by CSI techs to get an image of a crime scene. The wand is passed over your bike and measures everything down to the mm., using it as the initial settings. The first fitting usually takes about an hour and changes are made to the bike to match the computer recommendations. You ride for a few weeks and come back for a second session (part of the initial cost) and more changes are made, if needed. Depending on the fitter, you can come back for two more sessions, after the initial session, without being charged. I went back for three and he didn't charge me. Like Az, I also had shims put in my shoes because the angle of my feet on the pedals was not correct. Placing shims in my shoes and adjusting the cleats accordingly, kept my knees from going outward on the upstroke. After the final session, the bike was scanned again and the measurements kept in the computer.

I know that a lot of riders like to tweak their bikes to get the fit that they want, but if you don't know what to tweak and how to teak it, it just means more time in the saddle riding in discomfort or pain while trying to get your bike set up correctly. The first session I had pretty much set the bike to where it needed to be. The rest of the sessions was just optimizing the fit for more efficiency and power. I now go in every six months to have the fitting checked to make sure that nothing has changed that much and to correct anything that has. The fitting check runs between $15.00 and $30.00, depending on how long it takes to make any needed changes.

The bike that I did the initial Retul fitting on was my Giant Defy. When I wanted to get a carbon fiber bike, I looked at the frame geometry of each bike I was interested in. As it turned out, the bike I wanted had an almost identical frame to the Defy. The bike had to be ordered as they didn't have my size in stock. When the bike was put together, they put it on the Retul system and set it up according to the measurements from the Defy. I went in to pick up the bike, was put on the system to verify the settings and walked out with a perfectly fitted bike. If I had to do this again, I would get the Retul fitting the same day I bought the bike. I have over 8,000 miles of comfortable, pain free riding between both of the road bikes; 5,200 of those miles on the Colnago (it will be a year old on Jan 31st). Sorry for the winded post, but I just can't say enough good for this system.
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Old 01-04-13, 07:18 AM   #10
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Is it the Retul System that gives you a report and a DVD to take with you so you can use the base line data in the future? This would be handy for any changes due to improved fitness and positional changes to me. I took out several millimeters of stem spacers a few months after I got the bike because I could easily move lower in the drops and for that fact any position o the bars. Fortunately things worked for me with just the spacers being removed, no seat height or fore/aft adjustment was necessary to stay comfortable in my riding positions.

Bill
Bill,

I didn't get a DVD but I did get a four page printout of each measurement, left and ride side, that shows all the angles and positions of my body while on the bike and pedaling. If you change Retul fitters, you can put your settings file on a USB drive and take it to the new fitter and he just puts it in the computer and you're all done.
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Old 01-04-13, 07:33 AM   #11
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You and I could be identical physically, but if you are a more casual rider, your fit will likely be much different than the fit I want for racing.
I'd argue that there is no such thing as identical physically. Two people seemingly built the same can differ in flexibility and strength, at least.

But to the OP's question, the key dimensions such as saddle height and fore/aft position, bar reach and height, etc. are easily experimented with. (Is that a legitimate sentence structure?) With a bit of riding one can learn whether either needs adjustment.

I have five solo bikes. They feel different from each other. Two are slightly larger, possibly "too large" for me. I can ride any of them for long distances and as fast as my conditioning will allow. (I race no one but myself.) From my perspective there is no such thing as the exact perfect fit.

Yeah, I know, I'm being a contrarian.
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Old 01-04-13, 07:56 AM   #12
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It was the Retul fitting that finally helped me by identifying a difference in lateral movement on my right leg that was corrected with a few shims under the cleat. The interesting thing about a bicycle is that it is built to perform symmetrically. However, few human bodies are perfectly symmetrical. There are small modifications that can make a difference. And, I agree with AZTallRider that the fitting needs to be dynamic. Otherwise, it is difficult to uncover some of the issues one might have. Additionally, it was discovered that my left shoulder tends to drop slightly more than the right. (This is actually more noticeable when looking at photos of me standing.) My Retul fitter didn’t rely exclusively on the “Retul fitting model”. He also employed his knowledge of working with pro teams for year. The solution for the drooping shoulder was twofold. One, shift the handlebars 3 to 4 mm off center to the left. And, two, add two strips of bar tape on the top of the left side of the bars before wrapping them. While these adjustments sound quite insignificant, I’ve had much less shoulder, knee or hip pain since they were made.

So, I think a fitting system is just a tool. And there are probably many tools that will work…. If they are in the hands of someone who knows how to use them.
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Old 01-04-13, 08:46 AM   #13
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This makes what you are doing read like setting you up to match the bike rather than the reverse. ??


With everything you are doing it also appears like you are a racer/serious competitor and therefore what you would do is far from what most people would do, or need. At your level the slightest detail is important. Maybe at the average rider level where seconds count it isn't nearly as important and whatever is comfort is THE criteria?
Not matching me to the bike at all... it's matching the bike to my ideal riding position, which, for me, is a combination of power output and aerodynamic efficiency. But if you aren't comfortable, you can't perform your best, so the two go hand in hand. There is always adaptation going on. Whether you are racing, or riding for fitness, that's kind of the point. If you are doing neither, then you are sliding downhill in fitness. A lot of the little issues people contend with from a fit perspective disappear as fitness improves. You gain the strength needed to support more efficient, balanced positions. You pedal harder, which takes the weight off your hands, etc. etc.
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Old 01-04-13, 08:48 AM   #14
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I have very long feet (14, or 50 if you prefer) and very high arches. Without the support, my feet suffer and cause minor alignment issues. But most of my alignment issue related to the saddle, and my position on it.
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Old 01-04-13, 09:58 AM   #15
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Trial and error. Use KOPS to get close and tweek away from there.
Nope. At our age, we're too old to screw around with trial and error, and if we screw ourselves up, it takes longer to heal.

Getting a good bike fit is the most cost-effective means to improve comfort and performance, even though it costs $200-$300. I've been fit by a guy who does only this for a living, and the differences are quite noticeable, even if the changes are measured in millimeters. That was a couple of years ago. There's a relatively local (in Louisiana, less then 100 miles away = "local") shop that just got certified by Retul, and I'll be going there in the next month or so.
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Old 01-04-13, 11:49 AM   #16
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I got fit before and was totally uncomfortable even though the software or test machine recommended the settings. I now do the manual standard eye ball adjustments and tweek until it feels right. This has proved to be the best for me as everyone is different and all the high tech stuff seems to be overkill and doesn't always provide what you need. I now always set up for comfort first and try to include some room for performance too.

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Old 01-04-13, 12:19 PM   #17
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Thanks for the responses so far. I did not know about Retul fittings. They look similar to the LBS and their BG fit thing. If I find someone close to me doing the Retul I will go that route just to be sure I am not missing anything with my own self-fit set up.
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Old 01-04-13, 07:15 PM   #18
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If you haven't done a search for it or looked at their web site, it's Retul Home Page.
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Old 01-04-13, 07:24 PM   #19
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I just checked for locations near me and the nearest one is Richmond(about 60 miles away)--not that convenient.
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Old 01-05-13, 01:16 AM   #20
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That's good stuff, John. One of the LBS does an electronic, dynamic fitting. They use a wand that looks like something from a WII on steroids, but not sure of the system name. It runs 200.00, which seems steep, but I can see how it would be well worth it.
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Old 01-05-13, 09:15 AM   #21
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John,
Thanks for the link to Retul, I used the locator and found a shop nearby in Fairhope, Alabama, I am familiar with. I thought I would be best off going to Atlanta where our daughter lives. I am going to look into the fitting shortly.

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Old 01-05-13, 09:39 AM   #22
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I remain a skeptic but resist any hypocritical criticism until after I've tried one (or more) "professional" fittings. I endlessly tweak and tinker with positions of seat and pedals and handlebars and bike geometry --trying to figure out things. I have had reasonable success getting comfortable while also feeling I could be more aggressive.

But I keep thinking about various fads I've seen in the golf industry on club design (loft, lie, swing weight, grip, shaft flex, much more) and fitting systems that supposedly "proved" their new methods and techniques "scientifically." Most fall out of favor eventually. I might contend that everyone is different in what they want to accomplish and how their body adapts to what they are trying to do. I remain a fan of tinkering with the dynamics yourself and figuring out what works best for you.
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Old 01-05-13, 12:48 PM   #23
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You talking road racer style bikes , right?

In the shop, stock bikes , non posh shop, IE no $10,000 bikes to be seen.. put people on the bike..

Maybe put them on the trainer stand , and talk to them, about how it feels.. .

If you are dropping a couple grand + for a Made to Measure frame,
then It's the builder you will be sorting out the specifics.

as I'm further into my geezerhood, the handlebars bars come up and closer..

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Old 01-05-13, 05:40 PM   #24
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Dbg,

If you check out Retul's web site, it will show some of it's partners. I figure if Carmichael Racing is one of it's partners and uses Retul exclusively, it should be OK for me to think of it as valid and not some fad. In fact, Carmichael Racing had a complete article on their use of the Retul System in Bicycling Magazine, a few months ago. Browse their pages and watch some of the videos. They're very interesting, even if you don't feel you need the service.

I much rather get on a bike set up correctly and ride without having to spend time fiddling around with different settings, for weeks or months, just to get comfortable and not have pain.
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Old 01-05-13, 05:57 PM   #25
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You talking road racer style bikes , right?
Yes! These types of fittings are more for road bikes or mountain bikes used in competition. I also ride a hybrid that I would never consider for a Retul fitting because of the type of riding I use it for.
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