Monday, July 9, 2012

Bike Fitting rev 2.0 -

These days having a high performance carbon fibre bicycle is not enough. You have to ensure you are able to extra every bit of performance. Regardless if you are a recreational rider or a club racer, knowing that you left it all out on the road brings us all satisfaction.

A while back I wrote about my experience with being professionally fitted on my bicycles using the retul technology. Back in 2008 when I first looked into bike fitting there were not many options. You had the bicycle shops who would eye ball you based upon years of experience selling bikes and making taking 1 or 2 courses or reading a book. In Ontario, Canada at the time there was a physiotherapist/trainer out of University of Guelph who was Serrotta certified. In the end I went with an MacLean who runs and is certified on the RETUL system.

4 years is a long time. As a cyclist I have gained a lot more experience from the kilometers ridden and to understanding how my body responds to different conditions.

When Winston Tam proprietor of Friday Fitness ( told me he would be back in town visiting Toronto, Ontario, Canada from Taipei, Taiwan I quickly asked him, "Hey, we going to rip some single track up?" the response was of course yes. But more importantly he had all his Retul and bike fitting gear with him.

So before we set out to rip up single track I arranged with him to do a tune up fit session from the one I did 4 years ago.

4 years ago there wasn't much choice if I wanted professional bleeding edge sport science in terms of bicycle fitting. But as time moves on, more choices are available. What is important when selecting a fitter is not what tools he/she has to measure your body. But rather what education he/she has and what experience they have as a rider or racer to help you achieve your best.

4 years ago I told Winston Tam about my fit session. He was intrigued. I told him he should start his own shop doing exactly this. He has been racing bikes for close to a decade. This is important, because you want someone who understands the conditions you are dealing with. Fortunately after 4 years he finally decided to pursue it.

In Winston Tam fashion he made 110% sure he could offer the best and most comprehensive service possible. He spent a lot of time studying and training to become certified in the following leading edge bio-mechanics and performance systems.

- RETÜL 3D Certified Bike Fitting
- SICI (Serrota) Advanced Certified Bike Fitting
- BIKEFIT Certified Bike Fitting
- F.I.S.T. Certified Bike Fitting

At first Winston and I thought it would take around an hour to be done with my fit. Seeing how I had a previous fit session done with someone else several years ago. The idea was to do the fit session and go hammer our mountain bikes at Durham Forest for the rest of the afternoon. That quickly changed once Winston saw how my body was performing on my bike. I took the same bike as the one I used for the fit session 4 years ago. My Trusty 2006 Cervelo Soloist Team, true to the original fit dimensions.

During the fit session with 4 years ago the saddle height was drastically lowered by Ian. He believed that my saddle at that time was too high and was contributing to a poor hysteresis knee trace (making doughnuts) as it goes up and down. I recalled 4 years ago that he also did not like the fact that my toes were constantly pointing down at the ground rather than level with the ground during the pedal stroke under power. He spent most of the time correcting the knee trace and the knee pointing and said that would be the key to fixing my lower back pain.

What I noticed for the next couple of years I was slowly jacking the seat post back up myself as I felt crammed while riding. Yes my toes were pointing parallel to the ground, but I felt my hip was always closed off and I wasn't able to generate maximum power, and that the range of the pedal stroke that I could put a lot of power down was little. Once Winston saw my fit he confirmed my feelings that the fit was no longer working.

So we started the fit session from scratch. Winston assessed my flexibility after warming up, looked at hip angles, knee traces, power output, smoothness of the cadence, just like what was done during my 1st fit session 4 years ago. 

We played with moving the saddle up, up some more and then really high up, moved the saddle forward, verified that the pivot angles for my legs were within ideal range and then played with the shoes.

After all the adjustments I asked, "what about all the concerns the previous fitter had, such as toe pointing?"

Winston replied, "You do not have excessive toe pointing and there has been no research stating any negative effect on toe pointing. According to F.I.S.T. methodology unless there is excessive toe pointing the rider should be left alone."

What Winston brings to the table is not just relying on technology but rather he successfully blends the experience he has as a racer, and all the knowledge from the being RETÜL 3D Certified, SICI Advanced Certified, BIKEFIT Certified and F.I.S.T. Certified to get you into the ideal position.

This is what is important.

In the end the entire bicycle changed:
- cleats moved back
- raised saddle 5cm up
- moved saddle forward
- installed ITS varus wedge
- complete assessment and changes at the front end

It's too bad I don't have enough steerer tube length left. Else I would put more spacers on instead of having the stem angle up, however being comfortable and relaxed is the goal to be able to generate power and ride long distances.



Looking at the two pictures you can see the hip is more open, with a more relaxed shoulder.

The higher saddle position also didn't affect my knee trace either.

With close to 1000 kms on the new fit, I can confirm the fit has worked wonders to improving average speed with less soreness in my shoulder and lower back. All of which means faster riding and more blue sign victories on the road bike.

[updated July 11, 2012 for formatting/grammar/spelling].


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