Understanding Bike Fitting Software
Bike fitting software is a digital tool. No software does the fitting for you, but it can assist a fitter in several ways. The “best” fitting software makes your task easier and is beneficial for your customer because you can do a better job. The key to selecting the right bike fitting 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 many want several pieces of software if you are offering a comprehensive range of fitting services.
There are three broad categories of bike fitting software:
- To help sell bicycles
- To assist in the fitting process
- To document information about a customer, their equipment, and fit position
Some software will primarily focus on one of these functions, while some 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 cloud service 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 to many thousands of dollars. Let’s look at some of the options based on their function.
To Sell Bicycles
This is the most widely used type of software by bike retailers, and is often referred to as “frame finder” software. It is primarily used as a sales 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 parameters for bike sales staff to interpret, and may or may not be linked to a bike database.
The Fit Kit app provides general guidelines but is not linked to a frame finder database. Pre-purchase fitting seeks to determine a final “fit position” on a bike simulator, and offer 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 fit components on a bicycle. The Velogicfit and Purely Custom products generate brand and model specific recommendations. Comparison of pre-purchase sizing and pre-purchase fitting
Comparison of pre-purchase sizing and pre-purchase fitting
|Pre-Purchase Sizing||Pre-Purchase Fitting|
|Method||Manual measurement or digital scan of the rider’s body and/or bike.||Customer rides a bike simulator (Size cycle / fit bike) which is adjusted until a suitable fit position is achieved.|
|Inputs||Body measurements, or bike measurements from an existing comfortable bike.||Fit Position Co-ordinates once a fitted position is established.|
General recommendations of suitable bike size and geometry;
May include specific makes and models.
|A list of specific makes and models, possible including a specification for components like stem and bars.|
|Philosophy||Skeletal proportions as a predictor of bike size, modified by riding style and other performance factors.||Riding position and normative body joint angles are factored into the bike recommendations.|
Fit Kit System (Fit Calculator App, Fit Kit Studio)
VelogicFit Right Bike
Velocifit Advanced Bike Finder
Smartfit Q1, Q4,
Purely Custom – Pure Position
Guru Fit System / Guru Bike Discovery
Velogicfit Advanced Bike Finder
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 gives the fitter additional information or confirmation to make adjustments and recommendations for the cyclist. This software is usually integral to a particular item of technology / hardware that you also need to have and know how to use.
Movement Observation and Analysis
The most common software is for movement analysis, which may through 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 though software with features such as dual screen comparison, slow/fast replay, angle and tracking overlays.
Motion capture adds in the ability to see changes in joint angle ranges and movement patterns dynamically while the cyclist rides (either on their own bike or a simulator), and this provides not only the data for making fit adjustments but the ability to document the fit position digitally.
Computer based products required external hardware in the form of cameras or infrared sensors.
Mobile App products use the devices built in camera for recording, and are the lowest cost, but may or may not offer file saving and exporting functions to aid in documentation.
Examples of movement analysis software includes:
|For Mobile Apps, generally for Apple products||
|Bikefit||Velogicfit 3D Motion|
|Coach My Video||Retul|
|Simi Move||Motion Metriq|
The ability to monitor pressure in the shoes, on the saddle and on the handlebars has provided precise and previously unavailable information to help diagnose and correct not only issues at these direct contact points, but issues along the kinetic chain that may originate at a direct bike contact point. Gebiomized is the primary supplier of this technology.
Power Output and Pedaling Mechanics
Computrainer resistance units and their associated software for measuring power output and pedaling efficiency is possibly the most popular options, but power output can also be obtained from any of the stationary trainer manufacturers that supply that option Eg Kurt Kinetic, Cycleops, Wahoo Fitness. There are also force measuring pedals available.
There are three broad approaches to analysing and improving aerodynamics
- Frontal area assessment, for example, Velogicfit 3D Aero
- Wind tunnel
- In field / on bike, for example Notio Connect, and also Leomo Type R and Type S can be used to evaluate positions.
Record keeping is a recommended part of the fitting process and can be done on paper or digitally.
The level of documentation you keep is going to depend on the services you offer, business requirements and customer expectations.
If you are selling bikes and are providing bike recommendations, you may want to keep basic customer contact information, bike and body measurements, a list of recommended bicycles for your customer, and their fit position if that is generated. These features will typically be included in the software for these systems.
For fitting on a bike the customer is or will be riding, it is useful to have additional notes and information that included pre-fit interview information, physical assessment, bike details and current fit position, observations and adjustments made, and the final fit position. Some capability to store this information may be included with cycling analysis software. Motion capture software may digitally determine bike and body fit parameters, and auto enter that information, or it may need to be manually measured and entered in the software.
Fit Kit Systems has available a webapp called Fit Kit Studio.
Fit Kit Studio is primarily documentation software that includes the Fit Kit System sizing system and calculator, but also fields for comprehensive note and measurements. It is for use by bicycle retailers, fitters and frame builders to document and store customer information. Having and using the “Fit Kit” is useful but not required for using Fit Kit Studio.