Bike fittin’ at Bike Doctor Waldorf

25 04 2012

Brian Sjoberg had been hearing all the teammates RAVE about going into to see the master fitter, Chris Richardson, at Bike Doctor Waldorf and getting dialed into their ideal positions on the bike. He decided to see what all the hype was about last week and visited the shop. Brian had purchased a factory Cannondale Super Six about mid-season last year and did what he normally did when he got a new bike. Measure the old length of the saddle height from the top of the saddle to the middle of the bottom bracket and do some quick mental math if the crank arm lengths were different and wah la, jump on the bike and start racing/training.

So Brian stopped into Bike Doctor Waldorf, kitted up, threw his bike on the trainer and let the measuring commence. Chris measured inseam, femur and arm length along with shoulder width. He then measured his current bike settings. From all these values and a few more (top tube, crank length, pedal type and bike geometry), he cracked open a magical fit book and jotted down a range of values for Brian’s stats (skeletal and bike) on his worksheet. The way Chris explains fitting, it is clearly both art and science. No one system can give you an exact setting for every person. Each person will have different preferences.

Chris has educated himself on many different fit systems. To hear him spout the science and philosophy, one could easily classify Chris as Ph.d. fit smart. Chris’ thorough understanding of physiology adapted to on the bike performance has culminated in a unique style which encompasses bits and pieces from well known fitting sources. In his bike fit toolbag is F.I.S.T., fit kit 123, Wobble Naught and Michael Sylvester’s serotta fit systems. He refers to this hybrid system as foundational fitting.

Sobe before bike fit.

Chris then put a few neon stickers on specific measurement points on the leg. Brian said it made him feel like he was going to be making the next toy story animation but with cycling. Brian began pedaling while Chris video taped. Once sufficient data was collected, he used some software tools with snapshots of the video captured to measure angles and identify other issues with Brian’s position. He found that his angles were off by a bit (as evidenced in the before and after shots). His back had a nice roll. The major thing that Chris noticed was the amount of heal drop Brian was using to compensate for a low seat height.

Chris then made some adjustments by raising the saddle height and increasing his stem size (didn’t know bike shops could do that). Brian climbed back on his adjusted bike, Chris videotaped some more footage and was then able to make new measurements and show Brian the improvements. Lastly Chris also noticed some wear on the crank arms and wondered why those were there. He watched Brian peddle from the front and noted that his heals stayed aligned throughout his entire pedal stroke. Brian had left his speedplay cleats float wide open and Chris told him that he was wasting power because it wasn’t necessary for his natural pedal stroke. He tightened a few more bolts and Brian gained a few more watts.

Sobe after bike fit.

Have you been fitted lately? It is certainly worth the visit. With every purchase of a bike at the shop, certain levels of fit are provided at no cost. Bike Doctor can also help you out if you already own a bike and want to get dialed in.

Check out the available fit services from TT to Triathlon to Tricycles – Fit services

Also available is the Speed Studio at the Bike Doctor Arnold.

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