Bike fitting apps and software are digital tools that can provide data, data analysis, recommendations, and documentation to assist users in some aspects of bike fitting. There are bike fitting apps and software for different user groups, and for different functions. The intent of this article is to provide an overview of a sample of the products available based on function and purpose, not to review, evaluate, or recommend products.

Firstly, a quick breakdown of the user groups or “target markets” these products are intended for:

  • consumer/enthusiast. i.e. the cyclist
  • professional bike fitters and associates, like coaches
  • researchers and high-performance specialists

I’ll focus primarily on the products for professional bike fitters, with some reference to where products for the other groups tend to fit into the mix.  No software does the fitting for you (and buyer beware of marketing that says it does), but it can assist a fitter in several ways.  The “best” bike fitting apps and software make your task easier and are beneficial for your cycling customer because you can do a better job. The key to selecting the right bike fitting app or software is to understand its functionality and align this with your needs.  As with bicycles, there is no “one size fits all” software, and you may want several apps, programs or software services if you are offering a comprehensive range of fitting services.

Bike Fitting Apps and Software Broad Categories

  1. To select a bike or compare frames
  2. To assist in the fitting process
  3. To document information about a customer, their equipment, and fit position

Some apps and software will primarily focus on one of these functions, while others will incorporate multiple functions. The software may be in the form of an App to run on a mobile device, or software to run on a computer, and this may either be a subscription-based SAAS requiring an internet connection for access, or a downloadable file that runs on your computer’s hard drive, or some combination.

The software may be independent and “stand-alone” or be integral to the operation of either a piece of fitting technology or a proprietary fitting system. Cost can range from free to many thousands of dollars.  Let’s look at some of the options based on their category.

Bike Selection and Comparison

What is known as “frame finder” software is popular with bicycle retailers and bike fitters.  It is primarily used as a sales or research tool to narrow down potential bike choices for a customer.  There are two broad approaches: pre–purchase sizing and pre–purchase fitting.  Pre-purchase sizing produces general bike and fit parameters for bike sales staff to interpret and may or may not be linked to a frame finder database.

Pre-purchase fitting seeks to determine a final “fit position” on a bike simulator (dynamic fit unit or size cycle) and offers a list of suitable bikes that can be adjusted to that position from a bike database.  This may include specifications for stem, seatpost, bars, and saddle, i.e. the fitting components on a bicycle.

For consumers and fitters alike, it is often useful to be able to compare the geometry of several different bikes, and there are a number of frame comparison websites available, including:

If you want to be able to design a bike, the software of choice is Bikecad.

In addition, tools for calculating the impact of changes in stem length and angle on the cyclist’s position, or specifying a cockpit configuration to bridge the gap between a handlebar XY and a Frame reach and stack can be very handy.

Apps and Software to Fit Cyclists

Software to help with bike fitting is used to collect data to assess a range of parameters that may be affecting comfort and performance.  It provides the fitter with additional information or confirmation to make adjustments and recommendations for the cyclist.  This app or software is usually integral to a particular item of hardware technology that you also need to have and know how to use.  There are 2 separate skills involved for the fitter: setting up and using the hardware, and then interpreting the data, and deciding on actions.

Apps and software for bike fitting will generally specialize in one of the following application areas:

  1. Movement Observation and Analysis
  2. Contact Point Pressure Analysis
  3. Aerodynamic Optimization
  4. Physiological Performance Markers

Movement Observation and Analysis

The most common software is for movement analysis, using direct video capture, motion capture, or a combination of both. Video can be viewed either as a direct live feed or recorded and played back.  Typically, the playback is through software with features such as dual screen comparison, slow/fast replay, angle and tracking overlays.
Motion capture adds the ability to perceive changes in joint angle ranges and movement patterns dynamically while the cyclist rides (either on their own bike or a simulator).  This provides information for consideration in making fit adjustments and the ability to document the fit position digitally.

Computer-based products require external hardware in the form of cameras and movement-tracking sensors.

Mobile App products use the device’s built-in camera for recording and are the lowest cost, but may not offer file saving and exporting functions to aid in documentation.

Bike fit apps for cycling enthusiasts to work on their own fit position are largely confined to this category.  Such users should be aware that this is just one aspect of bike fitting.

Pro Fitter Software Consumer Apps
·        Kinovea ·        BikeFastFit  (iOS only)
·        Motion Metriq – Cycle Metriq ·        MyVeloFit
·        Retul
·        BioRacer Motion
·        Velogicfit Studio
·        STT

Contact Point Pressure Analysis

The ability to monitor pressure in the shoes, on the saddle, and on the handlebars provides previously unavailable information to help diagnose and correct not only discomfort issues at these direct contact points, but issues along the kinetic chain that may originate at a contact point.  German brand Gebiomized is the primary supplier of this technology to the professional fitter market, and there are a number of other brands catering to the research lab market.

Aerodynamic Optimization

There are three broad approaches to analyzing and improving aerodynamics

  1. Wind tunnel testing
  2. Virtual wind tunnel testing
  3. Dynamic testing using portable sensors

Wind Tunnel Testing is a high-tech, high-cost tool for examining fluid dynamics as it applies to cycling equipment and riding position. Access to the equipment and expertise required for wind tunnel testing largely constrains the availability to well-sponsored high-performance teams and well-paying product manufacturers.  Depending on the purpose and engineers involved, there is going to be some highly specialized software employed to crunch the data and yield intelligent results.

Virtual wind tunnel software generally focuses attention on the front area of the rider, expressed as CdA, and is more budget friendly than paying for time in an actual wind tunnel.  A number of products are available to fitters who cater to aero-focused athletes, including:

Dynamic testing refers to a relatively new suite of portable sensors (and associated software) designed to capture aero relevant information in real world riding conditions.  These technologies are most often deployed on indoor cycling velodromes to reduce other weather-related variables but can be used outside as well.

As with the virtual wind tunnel, consumer-level options are starting to become available, for the keen DIY enthusiast.

Physiological Performance Markers

Hardware and associated software for assessing and improving sports performance fall more into the work arena of coaches and sports physiologists, but bike fitters may be involved in assessing the impact of changes on these markers as well.  Performance markers can include force production, power production  (force is one aspect of power), VO2 max, lactate threshold,  VLamax, heart rate, tidal flow, and so on.

Force

Force pedals are more suited for a research lab and can isolate out more variables than power meters alone.

 Power

Power measurement is now a common consumer-level metric obtained from power meters incorporated into a part of the bicycle drivetrain. Deciding what to do with this information can be a trip down a rabbit hole, but is more commonly used for training than bike fitting. 

  • Garmin Cycling Dynamics (this is part of Garmin Connect software) provides basic power analysis
  • Golden Cheetah is an open-source software product offering detailed analysis for the complete data geek.

Metabolic Markers

Metabolic markers may be assessed using a metabolic cart in a lab situation where blood samples are taken and breathing analysis is performed while the rider is on a stationary bike.  Hardware/ software providers include:

in-field testing has been introduced by Inscyd.

Documentation

Record keeping is a recommended part of the bike fitting process and can be done on paper or digitally.  The level of documentation you keep is dependent upon the services you offer, business requirements, and customer expectations for a fit session report.

Many of the software options mentioned feature the ability to record and store client data, and some offer report generation capability.  Usually, these are specific to the focus of the fitting technology, rather than offering a broader suite of documentation tools for the professional fitter.  However, a number of software products do offer expanded capability that is focused on the needs of a professional fitter

John Higgins
John Higgins

John is an elite level bike fitter who works with non-elite cyclists – although a few have won races! Many don’t race at all, but ride for fun, fitness, or to compete against themselves. John has worked with 18-80 year olds (and younger and older), novices, age groupers, masters racers and all levels of weekend warrior. These include road riders, mountain bikers, triathletes, tandem riders, tourers, commuters, bike packers and gravel riders and racers. All share a love of cycling and just wanted to ride more comfortably, and in many cases faster. John is the owner of Fit Kit Systems, and provides bike fitting services through BikeFitr (bikefitr.com)