Bike Fitting Systems
Comparing bike fitting systems is tricky, and there is no one “best bike fitting system”. With the increase in bike fitting research, conferences and symposia, cross collaboration, and information sharing, there is now more in common than there is different between bike fitting systems when it comes to the dictionary definition of “an organized or established procedure”.
System. From the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
– an organized or established procedure;
– an organized set of doctrines, ideas, or principles usually intended to explain the arrangement or working of a systematic whole.
For an excellent summation of what is common and shared between bike fitting systems, read the Medicine of Cycling Consensus Statement. For those who would like the 30,000-foot view consensus of the shared items within a bike fitting:
- An interview with the cyclist
- An on-bike and off-bike objective evaluation
- Modifications to the bike based on the evaluation
- Possible services such as posture training, corrective exercise instruction, pedaling mechanics and/or possibly more.
- Tools and technologies that may be used to assist in assessing the proper fit.
Shared Goals of Bike Fitting Systems
- Helping riders accomplish individual riding goals
- Promote posture that minimizes stress and strain to optimize rider comfort
- Increasing safe bicycle operation through education and proper positioning
- Increase speed, power and efficiency
Marketing and branding by suppliers of bicycles, fit schools, and technology companies seek to emphasize difference and uniqueness to boost business, rather than emphasize commonality and a shared objective.
Notwithstanding, there are differences and when a prospective bike fit client asks a fitter what system they use, this can mean many things, including an inquiry about:
Tools and Technology Used in the Bike Fit Process
- analog, digital, motion capture, video, plumb bob, goniometer, size cycle, own cycle
Philosophy and Methodology
- static, dynamic, rider centric, direct observation, indirect observation, body proportions, joint angles, detailed cycling analysis
- comfort, aerodynamics, power output, foot-pedal interface, competitive advantage
- BG Fit, Guru, Trek Precision, Retul, BikeFit, Fit Kit, SICI, FIST
- Fit schools attended, certificates, experience, clientele
The differences serve to create niche markets and service offerings, and appeal to different cyclists (and fitters).
Some prefer an “old school” hands on, observational and face to face approach and others prefer a “new school” high tech, face to screen approach. However many fitters incorporate elements of both, as the skill of a bike fitter lies not in the tools and technology, but in their ability to use them effectively following a sound process.
If you are a cyclist looking for a fitter who uses a certain “system”, understand why you think that is important and look beyond the marketing cache of a branded system to the skills and experience of the fitter, and the philosophy and practice of their craft.