At the weekend, I went to see professional bike fitter Mike Smith at Velomotion Studio in Newport Pagnall. Mike is trained in Retül bike fitting, which uses 3D motion technology to capture dynamic data about a riders position and movements on the bike. It’s an extremely thorough process and Mike has been sought out by many professional athletes for his level of knowledge. But it’s also great fun.
“Meet the future; the future mode of transportation for this weary Western world. Now I’m not gonna make a lot of extravagant claims for this little machine… it’ll change your whole life for the better.”
Bicycle salesman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 1969
That being said, every rider can benefit from Mike’s understanding and the Retül technology can help to improve the experience on the bike for everyone, from commuters to professional cyclists. I was particularly interested in learning if my movement on the bike was contributing the pain in my knees when I run, or whether my patella tendinitis might even be a result of an incorrect bike set up. So, here’s what happened.
Firstly, Mike took digital measurements of my Scott Speedster so that we could compare these with the final fit and see the changes we had made at the end of the session. Having these measurements also means that Mike is now able to advise on what bike might be good to move into in the future, something that I’m hoping might be on the horizon! He then attached infrared markers to eight different points: the wrist, elbow, shoulder, hip, knee, ankle, heel and toe.
I then jumped on the bike and Mike took 15 second data captures at a power effort of about 7/10. Within this time, the Retül technology uses Stroke Intelligence to record real-time data about angles, alignment, movement and workload and also produces a digital map of your knee path. We then sat and had a look at this data, comparing it to where it fell between the typically ‘normal’ ranges you can see below. And to be honest, my data was pretty much that – normal!
My back angle being noticeably close to the top of the range, Mike decided we would drop my handlebars to achieve a more comfortable and slightly more aero position. This was something I only noticed from the official photos that came through after the my triathlons this summer; my race position gestures more towards putting a shopping basket on the front of my bike rather than tri bars! So we lowered my handlebars all the way down to the bottom of the stack, 50mm in total. The data also showed that my saddle wasn’t quite sitting level, something that would potentially be more noticeable to me now my position had changed. So Mike also pulled my saddle nose down by 1.9 degrees to ensure it was level.
The photos below show how my position has changed, most notably through my back angle.
From all the Retül data that Mike collected, he determined that the Scott Speedster was the perfect starting bike for me, which was fantastic. Now that my handlebars at the bottom of this stack, this means that once I am used to this new riding position, in my next bike I can look for something slightly more aggressive, as a smaller stack will allow for a more stealthy position! When the time comes, Mike will be able to use my fit data to point me in the direction of what might be appropriate.
For now, I’m grateful to know my riding position hasn’t been causing any knee problems and has now been improved by Mike and his extensive knowledge. I look forward to the next time!
If you’re interested in seeing Mike for a professional bike fit, contact him here: firstname.lastname@example.org