As promised I’ll share my experience with my professional bike fit at Cyclologic in Scottsdale Arizona. I have experienced numerous fits from various friends (a.k.a. the “Bro Fit”), bike shops and fit studios. All are so different in their approach, experience, technology, professionalism, and price. Why do you need a bike fit? See my previous blog post.
In my opinion, the best fit you can get is the one where you maximize the years of experience combined with the technology used by your bike fitter. Find a bike fit studio, or bike shop that has years of experience and utilizes the latest technology. Then pay for the most expensive one within your budget. I know that more expensive is not not always better. However, in the bicycle industry there is an unfortunate and pretty reoccurring correlation that the more something costs the better it just may be. Case in point: A mountain bike at Wal-Mart vs. a Mountain Bike at your local bike shop. Most local bike shops don’t even carry any stock bicycles that are in the Wal-Mart price range because it costs too much to compete with Wal-Mart’s corner of that market share and bulk pricing. Meaning, that the cheapest mountain bike in a typical local bike shop is usually already several grades higher in quality and brand than what Wal-Mart can even carry. There lots of other examples as well such as cycling apparel: the freebie cycling jerseys you get when registering for some races are often the most uncomfortable and worst fitting fabrics on the market. They are massed produced usually at a cost of $30-$50 per piece. Then you can buy a high end cycling jersey for $120+ and everyone can feel the difference. Once again, the price is not always the main factor in finding good quality services or products in the bicycle industry, but I submit to you that it should be considered. If priced too low I would wonder how good the quality really is…
Lets move on to my bike fit experience at Cyclologic in Scottsdale Arizona. In preparation for RAW I knew I would need to get fit to my bike with such precision that mentally I would not want to worry about fatigue, pain, numbness and discomfort due to my bike fit alone. Of course, even with a perfect bike fit these can all be problems we face while participating in ultra cycling events. I remember last year in my LOTOJA race (204 mile road race from Logan UT to Jackson WY) I ended up with numb hands for several weeks. I get that sometimes this happens regardless of our bike fit. BUT I also get that with a good bike fit these problems can be significantly reduced, prolonged, and in some cases eliminated. So finding an excellent bike fit was the top of my priority list.
I asked around in the cycling community for recommendations on where to get a good bike fit. I received so many different recommendations it became clear that many of us simply go where our friends have been and call it good. What’s wrong with that? Nothing. For most of us that is just fine. I still know too many cyclists that haven’t been fit at all to their bikes. They are either already riding with more pain, discomfort, etc. than need be or that pain is right around the corner for them! As mentioned before, a bike fit can prevent some serious injury to the knees and lower back especially. The longer you ride your bike without being professionally fit to it the more you risk serious injury. Cycling injuries to the lower back often show up slowly over time. Then one morning you simply can’t get out of bed! This has happened to me and many of my friends and has been directly attributed to poor bike fits, as well as poor stretching, flexibility, and core issues. A topic we will discuss in a separate blog.
So yeah, going where your friend’s have gone is far better than not getting a bike fit at all! The quality of many bike shops are all pretty equal depending of course on their technology, etc. I’m a big fan of supporting our local bike shops. In fact, I have been several times over to a local bike shop here in Gilbert AZ called Two Wheel Jones. They have the Retul bike fit system which utilizes some pretty sweet technology that takes lots of the guess work out of the bike fit. Loved it. I used them to fit me to every road bike, CX bike, and Mountain bike I have ever owned. Basically every bike I ever owned.
When shopping around for a bike fit be sure to run away if there is no technology used. Advancements in the bicycle industry have come so far that if your bike fitter is relying solely on a string and a set of wooden measurement sticks then you are gambling with his/her best guess as to what your body is doing on the bike. Lasers, and other technology has seriously improved the old fashioned methods into a finely tuned science. Don’t cheat yourself out of this great experience, if your bike fitter whips out the old string and weight thingy then run out the door and find a new place.
One common recommendation I seemed to get when asking for referrals for the best bike fit came from an elite group of cyclists. These cyclists take their cycling seriously. Many of them were, are, or will be professional cyclists. They compete on the highest level where every pedal stroke needs to be efficiently maximizing their power output, where every aerodynamic advantage is employed and maximized. These cyclists are the kind of athletes who appear regularly on the podiums of national and international races. Their opinion carries a bit of weight for me, especially as I considered where I ought to find the best fit for RAW. One of these individuals is professional female cyclist racing for Visit Dallas DNA Cycling team, her name is Anna (Sanders) Sparks. She is my cycling coach and happens to live here in Arizona. She made it sound like it was a no-brainer to go to Cyclologic and that all the really good cyclists go there.
I did a little research. I was impressed. Called up and set an appointment for myself and for my wife. I was shocked to find out that my bike fit appointment would be somewhere around 3 hours long. I remember thinking, “what on earth can take that long?” Trusting in all of the elite athletes who have been there and swear by it, I was easily and overly excited about my appointment that I didn’t care if it took 3 hours. In fact, by the time I was done it had actually taken a total of 4 hours. The time flew by so fast that I didn’t even realize that it took so long.
The Cylologic Bike Fit Process:
Right when I walked in the door I knew I was in the right place. There were signed jerseys and pictures all over the wall of professional cyclists. Most notably, the Trek Factory racing team contracts with the founder of Cyclologic Paraic McGlynn for his expertise in fitting their team. So in the fit studio is a sweet wall sized mural of Fabian Cancellara on a track somewhere in Europe with Paraic and his team closely monitoring Fabian’s every move with each passing lap. Such a cool vibe.
Paraic is an Irishman and his accent will instantly lift your spirits. He’ll tell you that the best way to pronounce his name is “Pork.” He has a grand sense of humor and when speaks he speaks with absolute authority in his opinion. He never seems to second guess many issues and his experience is so vast and deep that when he recommends something it is hard to think its a bad idea. Paraic has surrounded himself with a great team of experts all trained by himself. Most notably in my opinion is Barry.
Barry runs the main fit studio in Scottsdale and chances are if you book a fit you will deal mostly with Barry. He is the man. He is also funny, kind, and very knowledgeable. One of my favorite memories of my bike fit experience is watching Barry and Paraic work closely together to problem solve some issues with my bike fit and brain storm together for potential solutions. There is a an admirable humility about Barry. He is also a perfectionist in all the small details. This is exactly what you want! The two of them are quite a team.
My bike fit started with a comprehensive interview. I didn’t even get on my bike for at least 45 minutes. This interview was very comprehensive. I was asked about all sorts of things – none the least were any injuries. As part of the interview process you go through a static and dynamic foot analysis. This helps them identify where power is actually being applied to the pedals in your pedal stroke, shoes, etc. They don’t guess on cleat alignment, what shoes you need, or any special sole inserts; they test for it and then fix it right there in your bike fit. Very cool.
Also a part of this interview process was a general physical assessment. Here the bike fitter undergoes an assessment of a cyclist’s flexibility, asymmetries, strengths and weaknesses providing the necessary information to define what bike position your body can tolerate. The physical assessment is critical in creating a safe, appropriate position for cyclists and triathletes of all levels. It would be impossible to conduct an accurate Cycling Analysis without a good understanding of any potential physical limitations. They had me lay down on the floor and also in a standing position undergo several stretching and flexibility exercises. They were able to identify whether one leg was longer or shorter than the other. Whether or not either leg, shoulder, back, etc. had injuries or flexibility issues preventing me from even attempting certain positions later in the fit. This physical assessment became the back bone of what my personal body needed on my bike. It was entirely custom to me. And not just to me, but to that version of myself then. My flexibility and injuries can take different forms throughout a cycling season and so my bike fit can and should change as well depending on these issues.
A perfect bike fit can also vary depending on the race you are getting fit for. Shorter sprint type races can allow for more aggressive positioning. A longer endurance style of ride will likely change the optimal bike fit position, especially if you add aerobars. All of these variables are considered with a high degree of professionalism and years of experience.
After you complete the interview and physical assessment then you are invited to get on your bike and pedal. They take great care to place your bike on their own bike stand and trainer with lasers and cameras pointed in just about every direction at you so they can capture some baseline data. While you pedal its hard to not look over you shoulder at their wall of giant t.v. screens mounted on the wall which show the various angles and live data capture as it happens. This baseline test basically shows your current bike fit, cycling efficiency, and much more. The video and all other data are captured and used again over the next several hours of your bike fit.
It’s probably important to note at this juncture that Paraic and Barry are just two grown up men who still love to play with and develop their own toys. They love their job so much because they still get to try out and develop new tools, technology, and bike fitting toys every day. The technology in their fit studio is largely proprietary to just them. They developed it themselves for use by them in their fitting process. Almost everything you see including some of the software and hand tools used during your bike fit was all developed by them. In fact, they were joking about one of the tools that Paraic had developed really didn’t work at all so they were looking forward to some time to try out version #2. They also joked about their software changing every couple of months and that it may even crash on us during my bike fit. Proud to report that there wasn’t even a hint of any glitches or problems with their software, tech, or tools during my bike fit. In fact, it was exactly the opposite. Everything was simply amazing and impressive. They are using top of the line sensors, computers, cameras, lasers, software, and tools that they develop because they know what they need for the perfect bike fit. If it doesn’t exist yet then they make it. If whet they make isn’t good enough for their standards then make another version of it until they get perfection. This contributes to the absolute epic and astounding atmosphere of their bike fit studio. You can literally feel how cool it is in there.
OK – back to the bike fit process. After the baseline data capture they start pointing out to you all of your flaws in your prior bike fit, cycling style, efficiency, pedal stroke, positioning, etc. on one or more of the giant t.v. screens. The video play back of yourself pedaling from different angles can be a bit embarrassing or you could just roll with it and learn from it. They are kind and professional in their assessments of your good and bad cycling habits. As far as I was concerned I felt like anything they could recommend was something I would immediately implement and change.
While looking on the giant screens they start pausing and rewinding the video so quickly and flawlessly to get your pedal stroke at a certain point, then start clicking around and drawing lines, measuring angles and lengths all with their software. It was fascinating to watch. Simple and second nature for them, but brand new and amazing to me. Very cool to watch them work and figure out where to start making changes in my fit.
Then the work began. They would start by changing 1-2 things at a time and usually by 1-2 mm at a time. Then have you jump on the bike and capture data again, and again, and again. Each time analyzing the data, angles, measurements, etc. for the optimal setting for me.
One of the coolest things to watch in real time while pedaling during a data capture is the saddle pressure device they have. They place this thin seat cover on your saddle and have you pedal. This seat cover captures the pressure of your butt on your saddle while you pedal. This is important because at different points in your pedal stroke your pressure changes. It also shows if you have poor cycling form and rock to much. It shows if your saddle is uncomfortably forward or rearward and prone to saddle soars, inefficient power loss in your stroke, or simply what saddle is bets for you based on your sitz bones. The live stream of this data looks like a weather map on the news. Its very cool. It absolutely confirms your suspicions of saddle position prior to your fit. And of course during your fit it narrows down issues immediately helping identify what needs to change. I think I loved this part most, even though it was the least technical of what they accomplish for you with their expertise.
Eventually your fine tuning of repeated data capture while pedaling and micro adjustments to your bike results in the best fit for your body to your bike. It may feel very weird the first few rides since your old fit is something you were so used to. For example my saddle was 35mm too high. You can typically feel a 3-5mm difference pretty easily. I was blown away at the difference. I even doubted the new reality of such a lower seat at first feeling like a Smurf on my own bicycle. My advice, trust it. They know what they are doing. Even better, they guarantee you for 30 days. SO get out and ride your bicycle on your new fit and if things are just weird then come back and they will do some adjustments based on the real world feedback you can provide them from a couple of rides.
My bike fit at Cyclologic was amazing. I did go back after 1-2 rides to have some minor adjustments. I will go back for a tune up adjustment about 3-4 weeks prior to RAW as they recommend it in case my flexibility and injury issues have improved. At the end of the day I spent some money on my fit. None of the elite athletes mentioned that to me. I needed a new stem and a new saddle. A bike fit at Cyclologic would be pointless if you found the exact measurements you needed and then ended up telling them to put everything back to your old version because you didn’t want to buy the couple of new parts that fit better. So come prepared for excellence, and come ready to pay for it. Best bike fit for RAW and ultra cycling that I am aware of. These guys are very pro and were very impressive.
p.s. One final comment. Remember that your bike may simply not be the right bike, geometry, or even the right size for you. I would highly recommend seeing a professional bike fitter such as Cyclologic before buying your next expensive bike to make sure that the particular geometry and frame are the right fit for your body. They can provide this service as well as fitting you to the bike you end up purchasing. Travel is no problem. Lots of elite athletes come from all over to Cyclologic to get fit. Come and experience perfection.
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Bike Accident Attorneys, PLC
Call Ben Dodge, the Bicycle Lawyer today at 1.855.663.3922. Reach him by fax at 1.800.958.8902.
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His main Arizona offices are located at:
Mesa Arizona (home base office)
4824 E. Baseline Rd., Suite 124
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Phoenix Arizona office
2415 e. Camelback rd., suite 700
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Tucson Arizona office
One South Church Avenue, 12th Floor
Tucson, Arizona 85701
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