Sydney’s Four Preferred Bike Fitters and Bike Fitting Systems
Bike fit has become a true and tested method to gain cycling performance and develop your physical conditioning. Hence, bike fitting has become essential for professional and amateur athletes alike. Here we look at the local scene to understand the advantages bike fitters provide clients and the fitting methods they employ. We'll provide you suitable fitters to advise on the management or prevention of your pain while increasing your performance.
As a cyclist you're naturally inclined to set personal challenges and accomplish competitive goals. Consequently pushing your physical and mental comfort zones will have you experience irritation and aches or pains.
Cycling Pain and Discomfort
There are two types of discomfort when it comes to sports. The first is the natural progressive pain that involves pushing one's limits. The second is not as constructive, being associated with injury.
Because you've a longterm commitment to cycling it's important to separate the two and ensure you're providing your body the best support to prevent future chronic ailments. This is where bike fit comes in to its own.
We use a questionnaire in the lead up for your bike fit and its interesting how frequent a client neglect to list their pain. Really specific questions need to be asked before a clients recall such things as, "Oh yes, my right foot starts burning after short rides, but I put up with it", or "my hands get numb, but its normal".
Riders often consider pain as a natural partner to cycling, which is a problem in itself. Bike fit is actually better provided to prevent pain, but instead is often requested when chronic issues set in. We'd like to make note from the start, pain is not a requirement for achieving your cycling goals, especially not pain that leads to injury. Nor is bike fit exclusive to riders experiencing pain.
Common symptoms of a less than optimal bikefit can involve the following :
- early set fatigue
- disappointing performance results
- common pain sensations (shoulders, neck, back, hands, knees, feet)
The common issues experienced between riders does not always lead to the same origin. For example we had several riders experiencing tingling in their hands after less than an hour on the bike. The origin for one was caused by the shifters being pulled too far back for a relaxed hand placement. Another had small hands with trouble reaching the brakes. The third placed too much weight on the front due to poor flexibility, little core strength and an unsuitable race frame.
With so many riders experiencing a similar resulting sensation but with varied origins, it's recommended you extend your fit questions beyond the bunch and employ the service of experts.
In the prolific growth of the fitting industry cycling biomechanics is recognised to magnify the intricate relationship held between rider and the bike. What's more, the science highlights that problem areas of pain or injury are often associated directly with an imbalance in this relationship.
Correcting bike fit will either eliminate or manage these pain points, and will likely involve technical installation of suitable components and their proper positioning in direct relation to your physical proportions and flexibility.
When it comes to installing appropriate components, our workshop has seen it all. Clients will arrive with their shifters facing to the ground or pushing to the sky. The saddle can be set back so extreme its enough to literally snap saddle rails or crack seat posts. The stems can be so short and spacers so high they corrupt the handling of the bike and eliminate the deemed safety a frame was designed with.
It is clear, riders using bikes with these setups compromise safety, performance and comfort. A good bike fitter will understand not only the physiological benefits of a bike fit and the cyclist’s functional morphological characteristics, but also the technical advantages of specific brands and models of components and their correct installation.
Bike Fit Systems and Operators
When it comes to contemporary bike fit hardware and software there are fine tuned systems that can accurately advise components as well as bike models. Such a system can read rider's pain, measure their body proportions and examine their physiology to scientifically determine the details of a bike fit. Unfortunately advanced technology such as used by IdMatch, is extremely expensive and therefore difficult for riders to access.
Computerised bike fit aids commonly used in retail spaces remain limited by their generic fitting application. Such systems have a heavy reliance on a fitters expertise who more than often needs to "tweak" the findings to cater to individual biomorphic and riding needs.
In essence, its important that the user or bike fitter have a sound and holistic approach to their chosen system, which can be used as a guide rather than a bike fit bible. To ensure a rider's pain is eliminated rather than enhanced, a bike fitter should consider the individual.
For the rider, identifying the need for a bike fit is a difficult step. Finding a skilled bike fitter can also be a complicated process. Bike fitters have their own method, preferred equipment and style of training. And if your retailer uses any computerised dependant systems manned by inexperienced staff, the result can be wasted money, ongoing or altered pain and a less than satisfactory performance.
That's why we're listing our preferred Sydney bike fitters. Each use different programs and methods to achieve a similar goal - eliminate pain and injury while improving performance.
So we’re happy to share with you our favoured bike fitters to enhance your ride and better your experience on the bike.
One : Nicole Oh
Clinical Experience : The Body Mechanic
Nicole graduated with a Physiotherapy degree at Sydney Uni back in 1998. Working her way to London Nicole founded Peloton Physiotherapy in London 2012 which specialised in treating cyclists. Being an athlete herself (Triathlon and road racing) Nicole uses both clinical and personal experience to build her focused skill set.
The physiotherapy attention provides the client a holistic approach when it comes to bike fit. Nicole not only treats the immediate fit issues but determines the many possible sources of pain or injury to provide simultaneous treatment.
“I prefer to rely on observational skills and feedback from the client rather than fitting to certain numbers or parameters”. As far as continued training and expanding her fit knowledge, Nicole is privy to daily interaction amongst clinical practitioners and experienced bike fitting colleagues. This interaction is found most beneficial whether it be through formal courses, conferences and seminars, or informally by observing their work or discussing any issues or clients.
The range of clinical practitioners at the Body Mechanic caters to all cyclists, in particular road but also MTB’s, hybrids, TT, touring bikes and the occasional e-Bike.
Chainsmith Considerations :
At Chainsmith we understand how a rider’s life off the bike is as important to identify as the training they perform on the bike. Lifestyle plays a large part in our flexibility and health, and its necessary that the management of potential injury accomodate lifestyle. Thats why we respect the experience Nicole uses to navigate all aspects of bike fit. Nicole's placement of components shows us her ability to fit riders across the board, from riders who regularly race, to those who need more support for less frequent cycling excursions.
Specialized Body Geometry Fit System : VeloFix
Many years ago I attended a seminar held by Specialized that explained the details and successes of a heavily invested bike fit program. Of course, it helps to know Specialised back Professional Teams that go on to win Grand Tours. Yet at the time it was impressive enough of a studio to have me awed at the extensive bells and whistles.
A machine system like this doesn’t come cheap, so you expect retailers take their bike fitting seriously with extensive programs and system upgrades.
Having said this, machines themselves can not be entirely automated. Human training and experience is essential for trusted support in bike fit.
Sydney has a variety of bike fitters using the Geometry Fit System. Of the shops providing this particular service we’d highly rate the experts at Velofix.
Of course, there are purists who consider dependancy on machines unreliable. In the circumstance where inexperienced sales staff solely depend on entering numbers to determine sizes for high end bikes, I agree. Velofix certainly doesn't fall into this category.
The successful results coming from satisfied Velofix customers and testimonials assure us that the Velofix Team are highly trained and certified to use and apply the BodyGeometry System. Have a look at the Velofix website for a video and outline of the process clients undertake.
The Geometry Fit System itself was devised with the assistance of likely the most renowned bike fitter in the industry, Dr Andy Pruitt Ed.D.PA of the Boulder Centre for Sports Medicine. Together with Specialized they’ve applied extensive research based on years of medical trials.
Chainsmith Considerations : You’ll expect to spend a few hours with the friendly staff and you’re required to bring your bike. You'll be looked after by the Velofix team who cater for the full range of athletic pursuits, including the recreational rider to the more competitive athlete. They also provide shop rides which is a great opportunity to ensure your dynamic position on the bike is dialled in correctly.
Three : Tom Petty
Retül System : Pave the Way
I visited Tom years ago when I bought a new Scott road bike. Im a macro adjuster so I make a fitters job hard. It generally takes an hour before I feel uncomfortable so I depend on the experience of a fitter to ensure my body is at an optimal position. When it comes to accuracy and attitude to bike fit, there are fitters who have a natural understanding of the human body and its relation to machines. On then meeting Tom, you could tell he inherently “had it”.
Mechanical skills are a benefit to Tom's clients. This allows a more holistic advice when it comes to available and suitable components and how they should be installed.
Since those years I met Tom he's become a force in Sydneys' Competitive Cycling Community as Head Bike Fitter of Pave the Way. Tom’s completed a list of honorary certifications and accreditations that put my PhD accomplishments to shame. But its not only Tom’s formal education that sets him apart from others. Tom also has extensive experience working with members of UCI Continental Team, Mobius BridgeLane.
As for the Retül system, before you use any machine, you’ll experience a physical assessment. The information records your ride history similar to an initial visit to a physiotherapist. Tom undertakes an assessment to include data on flexibility, physical alignment and strength. This isn’t too unusual for good fitters. However the Retül may provide difference due to its use of 3D motion capture technology. That means it hones in on very precise data such as fine measurements and degrees of movement. We appreciate that its a dynamic bike fit system, taking into account movement from all possible angles.
With very precise results the Retül fit suits professional athletes looking for major or minimal gains.
Chainsmith considerations : We appreciate Tom’s practical applications in bike fit. We’ve grown familiar with his fitting methods through our workshop. Client bike setup provides an intimate story of their ailments, injury and pains if you're willing to look. Occasionally we view a very well balanced build, and its no surprise to learn the rider visited Tom for either a fit, or a preliminary bike purchase consultation.
What we like? Tom will not pretend one bike fitting is enough. Bike fitting is a process; our bodies change over time and its recommended a bike fit should be checked annually.
Four. Matthew Sweeney
TrekPrecision : Park Bikes
Park Bikes has a large repertoire of clients, including world class athletes, provided bike fit and training options. Looking at the caliber of athletic success, Park Bikes fitting services are certainly accomplished with a string of individual and Team victories.
The Trek Precision System starts from the premise that pain is not a normal part of cycling. While that may seem an obvious observation to many riders, in our experience many cyclists expect to experience high levels of suffering from prolonged or intense activity on a road bike.
Suffering from exertion is one thing, pain caused by bad fit is another. So we are in agreement with Trek here.
Particular to the Trek Precision Fit system is its alliance with Pro level athletes and the use of their data. Trek has acquired athletic data for the Precision Fit System and applies it to regular recreational and/or competitive cyclists. As Trek Precision fit announces, “insights of experienced professionals can go a long way to improving anyone’s experience on the bike.”
Maximum power with maximum efficiency is the motto here. The crew at Park Bikes provide fitting services for all level of road rider, from triathletes, recreational to pro teams including members of Michelton-SCOTT Team.
Accredited physiotherapist Matthew Sweeney has a Masters of Musculoskeletal & Sports Physiotherapy in addition to his Masters of Physiotherapy. Matthew runs Pure Performance Physiotherapy and completed multiple Ironman 70.3 plus numerous Ironman events.
Chainsmith Considerations :
The beauty of Matthew’s clinical background means the causative factors affecting pain are taken into account. You’ll have access to both the bike fit and post strength and conditioning that provides you increased stability and mobility. It goes without saying that Matthew offers a thorough bike fitting service and notably uses his experience to the benefit of pro athletes as well as competitive and amateur riders.
Our selection of best bike fitters is based on workshop observations, extensive research, our own bike fitting practice and years worth of discussions with clients.
With the wide variety of professional bike fitting services to chose from in Sydney, the debate as to which single system or fitter offers the very best service is not totally conclusive. There are simply too many variables. One thing we noted as we compiled the list is that no computer can correct your fit on a bad bike choice. Whats more, a system is only as good as the user who interprets and applies it.
It is worth mentioning the importance of avoiding crisis bike fitting by trusting you're advised correctly when you initially buy your bike. You'll want the advise of experienced staff to ensure you're positioned correctly with a suitable bike model and size. You'll be able to ascertain this by judging the sales assessment of your physical attributes and riding goals. If the staff ask too few questions you may be best seeking alternative advice.
In essence, the most crucial feature of a successful fit is that you’re performing to your optimal best while maintaining comfort. Success of your bike fit will depend on the synchronicity experienced between you, your bike fitter and the tools they use to accomplish your goals. Period. If your bike fitter has an excellent understanding of your aspirations and operates with positive client testimonials backing their experience, it is likely a good place for you to invest in your riding health.