It's all in the fit

Disclaimer – I have not been paid or received kick-backs for this post, all thoughts and opinions are my own. It’s more of the case I am ridiculously interested in human performance and how the body works. Oh and I like writing!

I'm just going to put this out there now - we all have a little love affair going on with our bikes (it's ok, you're allowed to admit it). And depending on your training schedule you can easily spend over 10hrs a week riding your bike, which is a fairly significant investment of your time. 
So, what happens when you just aren't feeling the love anymore? You might be underperforming during your rides or start to get a bit of a niggle. Do you break up with your bike with the old "it's not you, it's me" gaffe? Or like any good relationship, do you work through it - starting with how well you two fit together....

Now, relationship analogies aside, how long since you had your last bike fit? Was it when you first wheeled it out of the store? If it was, keep reading on to find out the latest in bike fit in North Queensland and why it might be time to consider checking it out. Tri-ActiV8 head coach and Mackay Cycles women’s ambassador Nikki Giles and I were invited to check out the newest bike fit system in town – Retul and Body Geometry Fit.

Kyle is taking us through the Body Geometry fitting today. Once her Specialized Amira (Lizzie) is set up on the trainer we can start the first step – the initial assessment. We run through Nikki’s riding goals, past injuries and any concerns she may have while on the bike so Kyle can understand more about her as a cyclist. Nikki brings up a niggle in her hamstring and her up and coming races.

Once Kyle has Nikki’s history, we move onto the 18-step physical assessment used to determine the flexibility and dimensions of the rider’s body. No stone is left unturned – Nikki’s sit bone width, foot posture, knee flexibility, neck range and shoulders are assessed, just to name a few. I’m not going to bore you with the detail of those measurements, but between all the measuring, bending and stretching it was almost a workout even before Nikki jumped on the bike. All of this is recorded into the Zin Tool software for use with the data collected in the ride analysis.

Speaking of ride analysis, welcome to step 3. This is where the cool stuff happens and we first meet Retul Vantage. Vantage has 4 infrared cameras that pick up a group of 16 LEDs, attached to you with a wireless harness. As you begin to pedal it starts collecting information ranging from body alignment – angles of ankles, hips, knees during each revolution - to pedal stroke. The data is then transferred over to the Zin Tool software to be analysed. By having access to this information your fit specialist has access to real time data, making it easy to see any positional changes they make quickly and accurately.

I regularly do running assessments as part of my job as a podiatrist, so I found this bit especially fascinating. Only a certain amount can be seen with the naked eye, so having software that can break your pedal stroke and body position down bit by bit is a great advantage for any fit technician.

Moving on to step 4 – the fitting. Now for Nikki, this is a review bike fit as she has had her Amira for over 1 year now. Her refit included the handlebars being lifted, seat lifted and shifted forwards and some extra forefoot support in her riding shoes (hopefully he hasn’t made her too much faster on the bike so she still only catches me in the run leg of triathlon). If this was your first bike fit there may be more changes depending on your individual needs. Kyle schedules a follow up with Nikki for a review of the changes to make sure she has adapted to her new position and answer any further questions she has.

After watching the whole process unfold, I must admit I was pretty blown away with the technology that is now available when it comes to having a bike fit. Now even though the fit is available at a Specialized retailer, it is not limited to that brand of bike. I feel any rider wanting to take their riding to the next level or even just become more comfortable on your bike so you get to your coffee quicker should definitely make the investment. After all, the relationship with your bike is an important one you want to keep for many years to come.

Cadence and Caffeine