I had been looking for a good bike fit system for some time now. Growing up I worked in sports coaching and as a massage therapist, so at my core was an understanding of sports and the relation to the human body, that and being passionate about cycling. As a cyclist more than anything I knew exactly what I wanted. A system that was Dynamic, Accurate and could assess the Rider in three-dimensional space.
Most bike fit specialists fit riders in a static position. This is because the traditional tools of the trade – tape measures and plumb bobs – don’t allow accurate measurements while the rider is pedalling. Using motion capture technology, Retül records the rider’s positions in motion, therefore creating the most realistic picture of the rider’s actual pedal strokes and body positions under load simulating what happens when out on the road and trails.
Measurements made by traditional tools have one thing in common. They are subject to human error and therefore can be devastatingly inaccurate. Even slight inaccuracies can drastically change the rider’s feel after a ride. The Retul system is accurate to within less than a millimetre, creating true objective data which I can utilise for a perfect bio-mechanical fit.
Fit data collected in a traditional two-dimensional plane (i.e. video-based systems) is fairly limited because the fitter can only look at one view at a time, and those views stand as independent reference points. In order to make the best fit recommendations, the fitter must realise that the front and side views must be viewed simultaneously in three dimensions in order to see how all the applicable movements of the body are working together. Retul uses a 3D motion sensor to simultaneously gather data on multiple angles of the rider.
As the rider pedals, Retul’s sensor bar gathers real-time, three-dimensional data of the rider’s pedal strokes and movements. The system flashes a 8 led every 2.1 milliseconds – that’s 476 times per second of Hertz. The system takes a full set of body measurements every 34milliseconds, or 29 full sets of body data per second.
What does this all mean?
It means that when I do a Retul bike fit I can quickly and easily measure and make changes to a riders set-up and immediately see the effects that change has on a rider.
Most of us out there in the real world don’t have perfect symmetry, our limbs and joints have had a rough time either from coming off our bikes (yes me more than others!!!) or other injuries. Our flexibility also decreases the older we get.
With the Retul fit and during the fit session I combine functional anatomy testing and simple flexibility tests to look at where each clients body will allow them to be bio-mechanically on the bike. This is another great difference of the Retul system.
I can easily put any person into the same potions as Cadel, Contador or any other well known cyclist. This doesn’t mean that they will automatically feel like they are in the best position or suddenly gain an extra 50watts of power. A lot of the time and the more fits I do it easy to see that the best results for each athlete come somewhere between the normal definitions for each riding disciplines set-up as well as the physical and functional limitations of each client.
A great example of this is Ondrej from Bernard Riders. Ondrej hurt his back several years back and as a result has less movement on one side of his pelvis. Most bike fit systems would measure Ondrej up off the bike and then look at him on the bike in a static position to get the best fit.
With Retul we measured Ondrej on the bike at an easy resistance and then at a more intense work load. We recorded and noted that his position changed on the bike when he is under load and that he shifted to one side on his saddle. After making adjustments to his set-up Ondrej’s best set-up is a position where neither one of his legs / Pedal stroke feels like it produces the most power but a position that he feels comfortable with that allows him to produce power comfortably over a long period of time.
Who is it for?
Perhaps you already own a bike and your position is not optimised, causing you to under perform. A proper bike fit not only will provide you with the most economic means of expending energy, but will also prevent pain that is common in the knee, hip, and lower back, particularly with riders who are trying to adapt their bodies to the bike they already have purchased. A new bike can be both a fun and exciting experience, but riding a bike that is not properly fit can cause frustration, pain or injury, and ultimately causes the rider to put the bike in storage where it starts collecting dust.
I would rather adapt a bike to the body you already have. There is a big difference between being sized for a bike and being fit for a bike. When it comes to the bio-mechanics of fitting a rider to his or her bike, little ‘tweaks’ can be very significant. Whether a rider is on an $800 commuter bike or $8,000 performance race machine, a proper bike fit is an essential.
If you are not comfortable on you’re bike, would like to optimise or reproduce your current set-up on a new or any other bike then a bike fit is an investment worth looking at.