Giant full suspension, Surly LHT, something Italian soon!
computerized bike fitting
Started looking at bikes yesterday and the guy i wanted to talk to was deeply involved with fitting a bike for a guy. i guess that he took multiple measurements of the guy, plugged these into a computer, and then had the guy on the bike while some infrared gadget took some measurements of him whilst riding (stationary). Have any of ya'll had any experience with this sort of hyper-involved bike fitting??? All i wanted to do was take a 520 for a test ride. Thanks.
I'm skeptical of this kind of thing. I once went for a golf club fitting from the Ping experts at a Major tournament. I'm 6'1" And they fitted me 2 degrees flat which would be what one would expect for a woman a few points above average height. Were they wrong? No, I had been going through a period when I was swinging criminally flat, and it spit out that reading. Those numbers would have cast my worst golf faults ever, into stone had I bought clubs based on them. I was also a club fitter so I knew what was going on, even if they didn't.
For the person you are paying to be effective, they need to know the fitting process, how one should cycle (or swing a golf club) which is a very complex physical motion and positioning, and how to adjust bikes. And even if they know that, their system will only work if their client is highly athletic, doesn't have physical limitations or injuries. So it would help if they were a sports MD to deal with the rest of us.
Then stack on top of that that there are several different fitting theories, and different fits for different biking purposes, none of which is slanted at touring, though any of which might be appropriate depending on your purpose.
So leaving aside the elite applications of these processes, how likely is one to get an improvement from a computerized fitting, vs. reading up a little, listening to one's body, etc... For me I have no choice but to follow my own instincts becaue I have complex injuries. I think the average person can handle their own fit with a minimal amount of research, some online computer modeling, and some careful listening to one's own body.
Computers get pulled into these kinds of design issues when very complicated/time consuming things need to be done, (like recalculating all the dimensions of a bike frame when a single input is changed), or to systematize results placed in the hands of dummies. The former tools are online, the later is being sold to bike shops.
There would be a couple of advantages of computerized modeling for fit:
One would be a much larger database to compare your particular measurements to compared to a 'fitter's' personal memory database. So anomalies like longer than average thigh or short torso could be compared.
The computer model could look at the various theories with less bias than an individual fitter. That could allow for different uses (race v. tour) to be dialed in.
In general, there are advantages to having someone with a level of expertise help in fitting; easier to catch errors from self measuring, mismatch with equipment, mis-interpreting findings, not noticing other factors, etc.
Granted, if you're just starting out just getting the seat height, angle and setback, stem length, HB height would be enough to get some miles down the road and a base for finer tuning. And if you're aspiring to race, then any fit adjustment that improves power output would be a benefit.
But, there may be a host of other issues causing a sore butt than just saddle angle; having someone looking with a level of criticality and expertise narrows down the choices.