Fitting is the at the heart of what we do here. The idea for DoE began over a chat about shared experiences with poor bike fits. Too often the fitter sets the rider up in a generic position dictated by a computer based on some arbitrary flexibility “tests” or by the fitters pre-conceived notion of how you should ride.
Our bike fitting objectives are simple — we want to put you in the most powerful, aerodynamic position that your body can comfortably accommodate.
A good bike fit really does give you free speed. About 75% of the aerodynamic drag comes from you and 25% from the bike. Improving your position can produce huge time savings; up to 30 minutes over Ironman distance for example. Compare that to the potential 5-10 minutes you might gain from blowing £2k on some new deep section carbon wheels and it’s obvious that a good fit is the absolute best value performance gain that you can invest in! Rider comfort and feedback is monitored continuously, ensuring that these gains are sustainable over long rides. We also encourage all our clients to come back after racking up some k’s so we can tweak where necessary.
Wherever your body meets the bike, that’s where we get busy. We look at all these contact points and try to improve each one. We tweak and adjust until we find the position that works with your physiology to produce the most power, efficiency and comfort.
The vast majority of good bike riders’ contact points lie within pretty predictable parameters. The skill of the fitter is to find where your individual fit parameters are within these zones. A few millimetres out could limit your ability to delivery power to the pedals or could be the difference between a great ride or 4 hours of torture.
The GURU fit system is the most advanced fitting tool available. It’s fully dynamic and the 6 inbuilt motors allow us to remotely adjust saddle height, saddle fore-aft, bar reach, bar drop, incline and decline without you having to dismount, something no other fit bike is capable of. The dynamic nature of the GURU not only saves huge amounts of time but also allows us to micro adjust without interrupting your pedal stroke allowing the rider to feel these changes and the fitter to instantly spot improvements in pedalling efficiency that might otherwise go unnoticed. It’s a collaborative effort and we encourage rider feedback after every change which couldn’t be achieved if the rider was constantly dismounting while adjustments were made. The avoidance of this stop-start effect empowers the rider and allows the brain to process much smaller positional changes than would otherwise be possible and is key to a GURU fit.
We use a fitting protocol drawn up by Mr Dan Empfield, known as the FIST protocol. For the uninitiated, Dan is a bit of a legend in the bike fitting world. He pioneered the “stack” and “reach” system of frame measurement which has now been adopted by just about everyone. We were lucky enough to be trained by Dan himself in Road and TT fitting at his multi-sport playground over in California. In fact at the Department of Endurance we are proud to say we are the only two FIST certified fitters in London.
Lastly we need to talk saddles…. Quite simply, it is impossible to find your optimal position until we put you on the right saddle. It’s a hugely overlooked and misunderstood area. When you find a saddle that allows you to rotate your hips forward and you learn to sit on it correctly then the rest of the fit falls into place and invariably you find yourself in a longer and lower position.
These contraptions that measure sit bone width are pretty much useless. We don’t sit on our sit bones (ischial tuberosity) when we rotate our hips forward, we sit on our ischiopubic ramus which narrows from rear to front. That means that appropriate seat width is determined by hip rotation not by sit bone width. Those beautiful Italian saddles that all the pro’s ride are not always conducive to a forward tilting pelvic position, not least as most of them have no central cut out at all or only a tiny channel, meaning that tilting the pelvis will put undue pressure on the perineum.
Pressure here can lead to numbness in the genitals which can, in turn, lead to permanent loss of sensation in women and erectile disfunction in men. An unhealthy proportion of bike riders experience some degree of perineum discomfort and numbness in the nether regions (around 25% according to a recent survey) which is totally avoidable by switching to right saddle. The right saddle will invariable be one that encourages forward hip rotation and allows for this by incorporating a generous relief cut out in the centre. Don’t forget that pro teams are paid big bucks to ride these saddles and their prevalence in the peloton doesn’t necessarily make them the right saddle for you. Plus most of these pro’s weigh 65kg and pump out 400w for 90 minutes straight which alleviates saddle pressure compared to us mortals and means they could probably sit on a razor blade.
We have over 50 demo saddles that you can try on the GURU or take away for a day or a whole weekend. Thankfully the chances are we you won’t need to go through that many and we can usually get you dialled in by trying 3/4 models that we think will work for your position. Our favourites are SMP, ISM and COBB and we also have demo saddles form Selle Italia and Fizik.
That’s a brief summary of some of our bike fitting style at DoE. There’s plenty more where that came from; cleat position, bar width, crank length to name a few. Crank length is a particular favourite of ours and without waxing lyrical on the subject for too long let’s just say that conventional crank lengths are not necessarily the right crank lengths for you. Often switching to shorter cranks can have real benefits, particularly in a TT or Triathlon position, due to decreased hip impingement at the top of the pedal stoke. This means a longer, lower, more aerodynamic position is achievable which is hugely beneficial in long distance Triathlon events. Crank length can be adjusted on the GURU and we can demonstrate exactly what we mean during your fit.