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A fitting way to profit £175 to tell customers which £3,500 will fit them best: is bike fit science or the bike trade’s homeopathy? To find out, Carlton Reid attends the first European Cycle Fit School... IT’S STANDARD practice for a customer to straddle a bike, maybe take it for a little test ride and then, when mind made up, plonk down the cash. Okay, good, money in the till. But where’s the cash for a prepurchase cycle fit? In the US, cycle fit is a growing part of a bike shop’s repertoire. There are many methodologies available. It’s hard to ask for £175 for the ‘eye’, no matter how expert. Clients now expect to be measured, scanned, and videoed. Wielding an allen key to raise or lower a saddle, or adjust a stem, is one way to approximate a bike fit, but it’s not making you money. And bike fit experts say it’s not good for your customer either. Two years ago I had a professional bike fit. It alleviated some nagging back pain when I rode, and it was (sort of) fun to watch my pedalling motion on video playback and to hear, for the first time, buzz bike fit phrases such as "the body’s


kinetic chain of responses." I was also fitted with some shims for my cycling shoes, which made my pedalling less painful on one side. This fit was done by Phil Cavell of London’s Cycle Fit, opened in 2002.

2008, there are now other SICItrained bike fitters out there, and listed on the SICI website. This will boost the level of recognition of cycle fitting in the UK. Future classes are planned and Cavell wants more bike

“Passionate cyclists go to obsessive lengths in the chase for optimum performance and know how important a properly-fitted bike is to the competitive experience.” Cavell and business partner Julian Wall use the fitting methodology developed by the Serotta International Cycling Institute of New York state. SICI is an offshoot of custom bike builder Serotta. UK customers who want a SICI bike fit have, until now, had to visit CycleFit’s Covent Garden shop. However, thanks to the staging of the first European Bike Fit School in December

shops to take part. The December school took place over three days of intensive study. Sessions covered included functional anatomy, flexibility, cycling biomechanics, cycling injuries and niggles, cleat-position, foot-structure, frame geometry and fit, tri and time trial position and theories of aerodynamics, as well as fit business fundamentals. Pro cycle trainer Adrian

Bike Pain: A Study A BICYCLE isn’t an instrument of torture, but sit on it for a long time in a less than optimum position and pain will result. Typical complaints are bum soreness, tingling toes, hand numbness, lower back pain, and hamstring discomfort. Knee pain is often alleviated by moving the saddle fore or aft. Neck discomfort can be resolved by moving up the handlebars, or even fitting different sports glasses or removing a helmet visor. Lower-back pain can be lessened by lowering the saddle, or cycling with the spine in a ‘neutral position’, in other words not slumped. Saddle soreness is alleviated by getting out of the thing frequently when riding. But bike fitting isn’t just about pain, it’s also about

performance. Use of power meters in the bike fit lab can show how a change in position can alter performance. However, cynics point out this could be due to muscles being used in a different way, hence some initial improvement. Once muscles are conditioned into the new position, the power output goes back to the norm. Nevertheless, serious cyclists are becoming happier and happier to spend money on bike fits. IBDs who invest time, effort, money and training on becoming a local specialist could carve out quite a profitable niche. The bike fit session costs money, and the technician may be able to direct the customer to buy shims and bike parts sold by the shop.


Profile for Intent Media (now Newbay Media Europe)

BikeBiz Issue 37, February 2009  

For everyone in the bike business. Bicycle and cycling retail news

BikeBiz Issue 37, February 2009  

For everyone in the bike business. Bicycle and cycling retail news