My bike is a modified road bike – a Focus Culebro 2010 with a pair of clip-on bars to make it useful for non-drafting triathlons. Admittedly I’ve grown increasingly dissatisfied with the decision to purchase a road bike and modify it instead of just buying a pure triathlon bike.
The differences are that the frame of a traditional road bike just doesn’t support the time trial position as well as triathlon bikes do. The impact of that is a less efficient position on the road bike versus what you would have on a triathlon bike.
Over the past few months I’ve repeatedly heard about a bike fitting system from the US by the name of Retül. Not only do they make bike fittings for a bunch of professionals in cycling, MTB, and triathlon – they also apply the same testing protocol to amateurs:
As you start the test, first thing that happens is an interview that helps the fitter understand the goal for the fitting session as well as with the particular sport that the athlete does. Subsequently extensive measurement of the body is carried out. At this point flexibility (or lack thereof) is measured and recorded to identify the possibilities and limitations that the athlete needs to work with.
And now it’s time for the big reason to go get a Retül fit: The dynamic fit session. Sensors are placed on shoulders, elbows, hands, hips, quads, knees, ankles, heels, and feet so that when you start cycling, the fitter will have live dynamic data to work with – not just static numbers recorded in a fixed position.
Finally the entire bike is measured – before any changes are made, and after changes have been made. That makes it possible to revert back to the pre-fit position.
If you’re buying a new bike, the fit is not done on your old bike or on your potential new bike, for that matter. The fitter is likely to have a fit bike – ideally the Retül Müve. The benefit of the Müve is that it can be adjusted during action, so you can immediately feel the difference and increase the chance you pick a bike that’s just right for you! The ability to measure the watts output during the fit session only increases the likelihood that you’ll perform at your very best on your newly acquired bike.
Finally, if you’re buying a new bike, all this data is used with the frame finder to match your specific requirements with all sorts of frames. That ensures that you avoid spending thousands getting a bike that’s just not optimal.
Alternatively, if you’re not buying a new bike, now is the time to start making changes to optimize your position on the bike according to your goals.
In my case we changed quite a bit. We went for a shorter stem to reduce the reach to the aerobars – for the same reason the saddle also came as far forward as possible. Finally we lowered the steer just a bit, also to shorten the reach to the bars and to make position my body lower.
At this point – about a month after the test – 15 cycling hours later – I’m still getting used to my new position on the bike.
Two things are for sure, though:
- I’m making better use of my current bike!
- I will never buy a bike again without doing a dynamic test in advance. Never !