Fit Kit Systems History

A journey through the storied history of an iconic bike fitting brand

Fit Kit Systems History Started in 1979

Fit Kit Systems had its origins in the pioneering bicycle fitting research of William (Bill) Farrell of the New England Cycling Academy, which he founded in 1979. Over the next few years, Bill developed the Rotational Adjustment Device (R.A.D) to address injury problems resulting from misaligned cleats, “The Fit Kit” to assist with selecting an appropriate frame size, and seminars to teach the principles and practices of bike fitting.

RAD (Rotational Adjustment Device) Fit Kit Systems History
Rotational Adjustment Device

Expanding across the country

These developments led to a strong engagement with the cyclists at the US Olympic Training Center and the US National Cycling Team. Having established credentials in the upper echelons of the sport, Bill extended the promotion and use of “The Fit Kit” and “RAD” to bicycle dealers across the country and around the world for use with not only elite level athletes, but recreational and sportive riders.

While this is an overview, there’s much more detail written by William Farrel.

measuring foot length

Fit Kit Systems History: 1995 - 2015

In the mid-1990s, Montana bicycle retail store owner Chris Nurre acquired Fit Kit Systems from Bill. Bringing together his bicycle retail and personal competitive riding experience, a formal education in exercise physiology, kinesiology, and biomechanics, and a flare for design and innovation, Chris advanced the development of the measuring tools, the fitting system, and educational offerings to new levels.  Chris has had a significant influence on many of today’s leading bike fitters and other fitting schools. Below are the direct recollections from Chris.

During the years in my bicycle retail business (80’s and 90’s) I was becoming more and more aware of my customers having problems due to ill-fitting bicycles.  Not gross fit mind you, as I was very capable of getting my customers on the right size bicycle and could get the saddle dialed and could do a pretty good job of getting the right stem on, but when it came to the finer points of saddle fore/aft, bar drop, bar reach and solving fit related problems I was struggling. Bike fitting seemed mysterious and the industry in the early years was not offering many concrete guidelines.

 

I finally stumbled on a copy of Greg Lemond’s book as well as an article in Bicycling Magazine about the New England Cycling Academy and a guy named Bill Farrell. This was what I was looking for. I bought a Fit Kit and attended the NECA. My customers benefited immensely. My reputation as a person who was able to solve long enduring and stubborn bike fit problems grew. I wanted to learn more but…there was no more the industry had to offer in terms of education.

 

Armed with my background in the physical sciences from my college days, a huge curiosity and a God given ability for problem solving and innovation, I started to try different approaches to solving the bike fitting issues that my initial Fit Kit knowledge was not addressing.

inseam measuring device leg length
Chris Nurre, Previous owner of fit kit systems making tools

Chris Nurre building Fit Kit Systems’ tools

Chris Nurre of Fit Kit Systems Teaching a Bike Fitting course

Chris Nurre building Fit Kit Systems’ tools

About this time Bill Farrell informed me that he was selling Fit Kit Systems and thought that I might be a good fit for continuing to grow the company, and would I be interested?  After much deliberation and prayer, my wife and I, with the help of a very good customer, made the decision to take Bill up on his offer.

 

We ran the bicycle shop along with our “new venture” until 2000 when we made the decision to close our retail bicycle business, buy some machine tools and start building the Kits ourselves. This allowed us to have much more flexibility in design innovations and keep the cost of production more manageable.

 

What was still lacking in the industry were specific hands on tools for the bike dealer and fitter to simply, accurately and repeatedly obtain body measurements from the rider and also standardize the process. This period was very fruitful in terms of the invention and innovation of many new tools to accomplish this. The Inseam Device and Torso / Arm Device were invented during this period.

using the Bicycle Fit Kit arm measuring device

Many of the tools developed during this period are still a part of the Fit Kit today. Some of these ideas became the “fodder” from which others in the industry were able to borrow, innovate and develop into useful and effective tools to aid the bike dealer and fitter to better serve the rider.

With the encouragement and support of Richard Schwinn and Mark Muller of Waterford Precision, we also continued to develop the educational part of the business and traveled to teach bike fit workshops around the country.  It was during these years that we developed the Fitting Software as well as an App.  In the early years, we had a DOS version of the fitting numbers Bill had developed programmed into a T-I 83 hand held calculator.  We’d buy the calculators, delete their existing program, and add our program.  This was probably the first use of “computerized” bike fitting!  However the fitters wanted more and with the help of a talented local programmer, the software we called Fit Kit Pro was born (ed: now discontinued and replaced by a web app: Fit Kit Studio).

 

The Fit Kit eventually was sold to dealers in approx. 36 countries and as far as we know some of those Kits are still in use.

 

By 2015, I realized that it was time for me to pass the torch to someone else: someone who had the intense passion for bike fitting that I did and also had the ability to continue to grow the company, John Higgins. John has proven to have both the tenacity and the ability to carry on and has done a remarkable job. Well done, John.

 

I am thankful to have had the privilege of meeting, developing friendships and working with many gifted folks in the bicycle industry. I am also extremely thankful to have had a small part in the legacy that is the Fit Kit and help further the science and art of bicycle fitting.

-Chris Nurre, Billing Montana, 2024

Chris Nurre and Gayle Nurre with John Higgins when he purchased Fit Kit Systems

Chris and Gayle Nurre with John Higgins when he purchased Fit Kit Systems

Fit Kit

Fit Kit Systems History: 2015 to Present

In 2015 Fit Kit Systems was acquired by John Higgins, and relocated to Salt Lake City, Utah. John originally trained with Chris in 2007, and got in years of practice using the Fit Kit to size up prospective customers in the bike department at REI. Sizing led to fitting and John established the fitting services in the store, before leaving to set up an independent bike fit studio, BikeFitr. Today Fit Kit Systems is run in conjunction with the bike fitting studio and remains a small and independent supplier to the bicycle industry. John’s focus is on maintaining the integrity and availability of the Fit Kit System while making new tools, software and education available to bicycle retailers, bike fitters and passionate DIY cyclists. John is proactive in networking with other bike fitters and bike fit educators, and attending conferences on bike fitting to keep informed and updated.