A few weeks ago we sent #TeamRutland ambassador Josh Holman for a bike fit at our Specialized Concept Store in Nottingham. Find out more about Josh >
Bike fitting studios have been popping up everywhere in the past few years as the trend to have your bike custom fit grows. Whether you are considering booking yourself one or would like to learn more about the process then read on. We spoke to Phil Craddock, a Ret�l bike fitting expert, who explained the ins and outs of the bike fitting process.
You can watch our video here>
When I was given the opportunity to have a professional Ret�l bike fit at the Rutland Cycling Specialized Concept Store in Nottingham I was very excited and also intrigued as I had heard so many great things about the process. Ret�l is considered one of the most advanced bicycle fitting systems available today. The system incorporates an extremely precise 'three-dimensional' motion capture technology which gives out live data whilst the rider is pedalling. It also provides a millimetre-specific digitizing tool to give the most accurate dynamic fitting possible.
Thereby it allows the bike fitter to fully customise the fit to the individual. We look at the rider not what they are riding. The Ret�l experience may utilise the latest tech but it is the experience of the Bike Fitter to fully understand the riders needs - every fit is unique. Ret�l gives us the tools to collate the data and it is the skill of the Bike Fitter to interpret and implement this information for the individual.
Finding out more about the rider and their needs
On arrival, the first stage was to go through a detailed personal interview; previous cycling experience, past and present injuries, the type of cycling I take part in and more. Then Phil took a series of measurements, including: height, inner leg, arm reach, feet etc, and inserted the results into the system. After this we did a number of flexibility and mobility exercises as instructed by the Ret�l programme. These were very insightful as it showed the areas where I lacked some mobility which could lead to injury and also affect my bike position.
From a Bike Fitters perspective it is important to fully understand the needs of the rider and to be mindful of any ongoing injury or past history in terms of injury and/or illness the rider may have. Great care is taken to listen to the rider as the bike fit will change with the overall fitness and needs of the rider. Its best to start with an 'end-goal' and work backwards from there to fully establish the requirements of the fit at that time. More than one session may be needed for long term injury problems whereby the rider has to attain a certain level of 'ride fitness' to achieve their goals, whether that is to complete a 100 mile Sportive or just ride in complete comfort. Remember that our bodies will change as we get fitter, so flexibility will improve and the bike may need a few tweaks here and there to accommodate this long term.Book a bike fit here >
Measuring feet and sit bones for comfort
Once all of this had been done, we assessed my feet using thermal heat pads. Looking at my archway and whether I need an insole, which I did and can honestly say I felt the benefits straight away. We also measured my sit bones, again using thermal heat pads, so that we could select a saddle which would be most comfortable for me.
Stability in the foot and saddle are the most important areas a fitter will look at to make a rider comfortable and effectively gain power. We loose so much efficiency and power through poor fitting shoes, wrong pedals or cleats and saddle size and type. Even the angle of your saddle can make a massive difference to your riding comfort. Shoes and Cleats are looked at very closely and any adjustments are made as we begin the fit session.
Time to get on the bike
Finally it was time to apply a number of sensors onto my body from head to toe which would be used to provide the three dimensional motion capture once I was on the bike. As I began pedalling, the live feedback on the screen in front of me was instantaneous. A range of numbers measuring all kinds of angles such as: hip movement, knee bend, knee alignment, back angle, forearm angle and so on. It was very interesting to see all of this data in front of me and it became very obvious where we needed to make adjustments.
One of the huge benefits of the Ret�l bike fit is that you can make millimetre changes whilst the rider is pedalling so we could really dial in my position without the need to get on and off the bike. The only time that I needed to jump off was when we made changes to my cleat position in order to help my knee alignment. Other than this I was able to keep pedalling. The system also has the capability to look at both sides of the rider, thanks to a very innovative platform which can be spun 360 degrees whilst the rider is on the bike, which means that both your left and right hand side of the body can be matched as closely as possible, making this one very accurate bike fit.
The benefit to the rider is that they can not only see the changes made but feel the difference as they ride. Although there is a great deal of data recorded it is the skill of the Bike Fitter to fully diagnose any issues the rider may have and make subtle adjustments to allow the rider to have greater comfort thus eliminating problem areas; more efficient muscle integration thus creating more power, to ride longer and fatigue less quickly. Once the optimal position is found the M�ve Bike can be scanned and all the measurements stored and reported to the rider. The Bike Fitter will then transfer these changes of position to the riders bike at the end of the fit session. Any recommendations for equipment changes will be talked through with the rider for such things like saddle, stem and handle bar options to shoes and pedal options. Each rider is offered a free review of the position after a few months riding to make sure we are still on track to achieving the riders goals as set out beforehand.Book a bike fit here >
Overall I was totally blown away by the entire experience. The attention to detail is next level and I came away having not only the confidence that I had the correct bike fit, but I also learnt so much about myself, my body and how it moves. All of the data that we gathered will be used to fit my new Specialized Tarmac SL6 Expert Disc and knowing that all of the components are in the right place with the right dimensions, I can focus purely on riding which is what every cyclist dreams of.
Ultimately we want the rider to be happy in their choice of bike and equipment but also have the confidence that long term the are on the road to enjoying their cycling for years to come.
Ret�l Bike fittings can be booked here or pop in store at Whitwell, Peterborough, or Specialized Concept Store Nottingham to speak to a member of staff.
I am an amateur triathlete and Team GB Age Grouper in Long Distance Triathlon. I first embarked on my triathlon journey back in July 2016 where I completed my first and only triathlon at the time, Ironman UK. Having totally fallen in love with the sport, I have not looked back since, completing a further two Long Distance triathlons and a number of Olympic Distance triathlons.
During this time I have represented my country at the European Long Distance Championships, taken part in a few crazy cycle rides, the most famous being the 'Cambridge Pork Pie Ride' to Melton Mowbray and back, and also a number of marathons, most recently the iconic London Marathon, all whilst trying to share my passion and inspire as many people as possible along the way.
My goal for this year is quite simple. Strive for progression every single day and enjoy the process! I have recently PB'd at the London Marathon in a time of 2:42:20 and my next race is the Grafman Middle Distance Triathlon on 20th May, followed by Challenge Samorin-Slovakia 70.3 on the 3rd June and then the ITU Fyn World Long Distance Championships in Denmark on the 14th July. I will then need to sit down with my coach and discuss what races I will do in the second half of the year, but for now, I am excited, motivated and looking forward to pushing myself to the limits.
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