Getting a Precise and Optimal Bike Fit — 3DBikeFit.com in San Francisco
Today I spent a long day at 3DBikeFit.com with Kevin and Jeff getting a meticulous bike fit. It was such a long and thorough session that I didn’t have time to even shoot any of my own photos of the space (pretty nifty). The space sports an impressive assortment of saddles, shoes, handlebars, stems and similar items for bike fits, along with custom-made rotatable platforms in front the the cameras.
It was a fascinating day, and I learned a lot. I’ll have more to say on my experience, along with on-the-road results over time— I am definitely hoping for a pickup in wattage once I ride some base miles and let my tendons and ligaments adapt to the new position (very important to avoid applying peak fitness against a new riding position too suddenly, since connective tissue needs time to adapt to the increased and different power demands).
Wow! These guys are meticulous and thorough and really picky about getting it just right. Which is the way it ought to be. I am a huge fan of anyone with the passion for doing it well, no matter what “it” is. These guys have that passion, and it resonates with me.
The fit isn’t just the bike, it involves an assessment of past injuries, flexibility and strength too, all of which provide context even before one gets onto the bike. The good news was that I had excellent hip and hamstring flexibility that would not limit the fit adjustments in anyway.
What intrigued me was the synergy of the manifestly deep fitting experience coupled with the hi-tech Retul fitting systems (dots on arms, legs, hips, multiple cameras, dual video before/after side-by-side feeds, etc— very cool stuff).
Well, even a little embarrassing in a sense— seeing one’s own “bad form” is a bit of a jolt— before the adjustments, my back was rounded out, my shoulders hunched, my heels were dropping, and my body was mis-centered on the bike. It was a visual shock to see that my carefully crafted mental image of myself as having great form on the bike... was not so great.
Still, I am a bit of an skeptic and it makes me nervous to change anything on my bike that seems to be “working”. After all, I’ve logged 22,000 miles over the past two years, doesn’t that show that my bike fit is pretty good?
My reservation vanished when after some seat and stem changes, I dropped into a riding position that just felt buttery smooth and powerful— spinning in the new position was a revelation, and that was pretty darn exciting! And it was audibly smoother as well.
I wouldn’t be suprised if the optimal fit picked up 10-20 sustainable watts from being in more efficient pedal position (less fatigue and faster recovery from using bigger muscles for more of the load). Why not 30 watts? It feels possible. That remains to be proven, but the prospect is exciting and even five watts in a long race like the Everest Challenge is a big deal. My competitors at the Everest Challenge should please not go see the guys at 3DBikeFit.com.
Prudence is advised: hard workouts in a new biking position coupled with peak fitness means potential for injury: muscles adjust fairly quickly, but the tendons and ligaments needs time to adjust to the new riding position, which means an absolute minimum of one month of base-mile type riding. For most riders, probably 2+ months, but since I am used to riding every day for nearly two years now, I can probably open the throttle a bit after a few weeks of riding in the new position.
Still, it’s not worth attempting a new personal best in a new riding position; even if it feels good, the potential for straining something is there, since the new position definitely feels more powerful (more upper thigh and gluteus now getting used, these are the most powerful muscles in the body that I was apparently under utilizing in my prior position).
3DBikeFit.com Press release
San Francisco, CA October 24, 2012
3D Bike Fit created the ultimate bike fit experience utilizing its exclusive approach of combining and advancing the best bike fitting systems available in its new state-of-the-art San Francisco fit studio. At its new, permanent location, 3D Bike Fit will more conveniently serve more Bay Area and out-of-town clients thanks to a larger staff and additional high tech, custom designed fitting stations.
“At 3D Bike Fit we are taking the guesswork out of cycling,” said 3D Bike Fit founder, Kevin Bailey. “We’ve progressed the latest bike fitting technology and through our understanding of the human body and biomechanics, we help riders pedal with increased power, efficiency and comfort. Beyond those important ride benefits, we also help each client better understand their body and unique requirements.”
3D Bike Fit techs took the best fitting systems, Retul and Specialized Motion Capture, and enhanced them to create the most advanced bike fit studio in the world. With its exclusive ability to perform both a two-sided Retul capture and a Specialized video capture (from four sides) simultaneously in concert with custom computer and software systems, Bailey and co. collect more rider data in every fit. Clients can also watch, in real time, what the fitters are seeing. When changes are made, the difference can be felt and even seen by the client, making the process and cycling biomechanics easier to understand. Each of the studio’s custom designed fit stations use embedded, integrated cameras and computer systems to collect and analyze rider data.
3D Bike Fit offers several options for beginner and experienced cyclists to improve their cycling experience. 3D Bike Fit staff help every rider select the most appropriate fit and all fits are performed by appointment, ensuring undivided attention for both the fitter and client.
The Pro Fit is 3D’s most extensive and detailed fit that analyzes the most rider data. The entire process requires four to five hours and ensures that the competitive rider leaves in his or her most optimized position. No stone is left unturned in 3D’s Pro Fit thanks to the use of both Retul’s 3D Motion Capture and Specialized’s Video Capture in real time.
When purchasing a new custom bike, the first step should be 3D’s Sizing Pro Fit. Through the four to six hour process, this fit will help the new bike fit perfectly after purchase. Based on the Pro Fit above, but performed on a Retul Muve adjustable stationary bike, the Sizing Pro Fit starts with a clean slate and takes the trial and error out of a new bike.
The Advanced Fit requires three to four hours and thanks to 3D’s improved, dual-sided Retul system, riders 3D fitters take more captures and analyze more data than typically performed, helping riders gain more from this fit.
The 3D Body Geomety Video Analysis Fit uses 3D’s unique, four camera Specialized Video Capture technology. Shown on a 50-inch HD flat screen, the client gains a better understanding of how their body should be positioned on a bike.
The studio’s least expensive fit, the 3D Bike Fit, offers laser knee tracking, orthotic and leg length discrepancy assessments. Intended for cyclists new to the sport, the 3D Bike Fit will ensure that riders enter the sport with a proper fit.
Recognizing that not every bike fits every rider, 3D Bike Fit offers a host of product options to help the bike fit at key rider touch points on the bicycle.
Riders will incur no unnecessary expenses, due to trial and error, on stems, handlebars, pedals, custom orthotics, saddles or seat posts.