Bike Fit Methodology, with Dr. Andy Pruitt, Colby Pearce, and Todd Carver

Three great minds of bike fit share their bike fitting methods, the role of technology, and other practical considerations.

Todd Carver conducts bike fit
Todd Carver conducts a bike fit on a Bora-Hansgrohe professional rider. Photo: Courtesy Retül

In the beginning, a bike fit would include a guy at a bike shop with a plumb line and a theory. Now, bike fit is a full-fledged science with video cameras, 3D models, and a greater understanding of human anatomy and physiology as it pertains to cycling.

Once again, we’re joined by three of the great minds in bike fit.

Dr. Andy Pruitt is the director of sports medicine here at Fast Talk, and one of the pioneers of the study of cycling biomechanics.

Our next guest has appeared on Fast Talk many times before, and he also continues to host his own podcast, “Cycling in Alignment.” Of course, I speak of Colby Pearce.

Finally, continuing his Fast Talk debut is Todd Carver, co-founder of Retül and the head of human performance at Specialized, which now owns the Retül fit technology.

In part 2 of our bike fit discussion with Pruitt, Carver, and Pearce, we explore:

  • the practical implications of bike fit
  • the debate over aerodynamics versus power
  • our experts’ feelings about technology versus experience and intuition
  • and many other subjects, generally in the realm of “bike fit methodology.”

References

  • Beer, J. (n.d.). Cycling Equipment: The effect of aerodynamic and drag on cycling performance. Retrieved April 22, 2016, from http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/cyclingequipmenttheeffectofaerodynamicsanddragoncyclingperformance40874#
  • García-López, J, Ogueta-Alday, A., Larrazabal, J., & Rodríguez-Marroyo, J. (2013). The Use of Velodrome Tests to Evaluate Aerodynamic Drag in Professional Cyclists. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 35(05), 451–455. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0033-1355352
  • García-López, Juan, Rodríguez-Marroyo, J. A., Juneau, C.-E., Peleteiro, J., Martínez, A. C., & Villa, J. G. (2008). Reference values and improvement of aerodynamic drag in professional cyclists. Journal of Sports Sciences, 26(3), 277–286. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1080/02640410701501697
  • Heil, D. P. (2005). Body size as a determinant of the 1-h cycling record at sea level and altitude. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 93(5–6), 547–554. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-004-1256-5
  • Jeukendrup, A. E., & Martin, J. (2001). Improving Cycling Performance. Sports Medicine, 31(7), 559–569. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200131070-00009
  • Martin, J. C., Milliken, D. L., Cobb, J. E., McFadden, K. L., & Coggan, A. R. (1998). Validation of a Mathematical Model for Road Cycling Power. Journal of Applied Biomechanics, 14(3), 276–291. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1123/jab.14.3.276
  • Rose, T. (2016, January 16). When U.S. air force discovered the flaw of averages. The Toronto Star. Retrieved from https://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2016/01/16/when-us-air-force-discovered-the-flaw-of-averages.html

Episode Transcript

Chris Case 00:12
Hey everyone, welcome to another episode of Fast Talk your source for the science of endurance performance. This is part two of our discussion on-bike fit. And to remind everybody, Episode 187 the first part, was much more about bike fit philosophy, about technology, a bit about changing perceptions and some misconceptions of what bike fit used to be as compared to what it is now informed by data-informed by a greater understanding of human anatomy and physiology honestly. Trevor, we heard from Todd, Colby, and Dr. Andy Pruitt in that episode, and they each gave philosophy, if you will, to set the stage. Maybe we should listen to those right now to get a sense of the three philosophies of these great minds in bike fit.

Trevor Connor 01:07
Yeah, I think that’s a great point. There are differences in their philosophy. But certainly, in that first episode, we saw their minor difference. There’s a lot they share. And I think even when we hear just the summary of their approach, you’re going to hear a lot of commonalities. Well, you’re also gonna hear some of the distinctness of each of these experts. And I agree with you, I think this is going to help inform the discussion you’re about to hear in this episode.

Dr. Stephen Seiler 01:39
Hi, I’m Dr. Stephen Seiler. I gotta tell you, it’s a thrill for me to have the opportunity to go in and see a whole collection of my lectures and webinars all in one place, free of charge for the members of Fast Talk and the broader sports science world. And not only me, but other sports scientists have collected their work and Fast Talk Laboratories is presenting it for all of you to use and learn from every day.

Each Expert’s Bike Fit Philosophy

Trevor Connor 02:19
Let’s start with Dr. Pruitt who has a pretty quick short summary that I kind of liked.

Dr. Andy Pruitt 02:27
My one-liner, -I think it’s well known in the industry- I think the bike needs to look like the rider. But you got to give that a little deeper thought. And I think that if I think about my first early bike fits, they were done in the athletic training room at the University of Colorado. So my mindset at the time was solving injury problems, right? So if I watched a football game, and I saw a guy get hit, I knew that ligament he tore before he hit the ground, and I was on my way to him. So that’s really how I studied sport. So when sore knees, etc. started to show up in my training room. I attacked that sore knee in the same way I tried to watch them ride and figure out how they got hit. What caused that need to hurt? Was it the bike’s fault or was it their fault? So to make the bike look like the person you really have to think about the central nervous system really coordinates this whole thing. It’s the cardiorespiratory system and the neuromuscular systems that are coordinated, right? So bike that really is a place where your respiratory system can work efficiently. And your neuromuscular system can work without compromise. And compromise usually leads to either mal performance or injury. So that’s how the bike ends up looking like the rider.

Chris Case 03:51
Alright, and here’s Coley Pierce. And if you’ve ever listened to him on our program, or on his own podcasts, Cycling and Alignment, he takes a much more holistic approach to everything. And that is reflected in his description of his bike philosophy. Let’s hear that now.

Colby Pearce 04:10
For me, bike fit is about balancing a couple of different tensions, we’ll say. On the one side of the spectrum, we have the physiology of the rider how they present to you at that moment. Do they have an injury history? Do they have postural tendencies? do they have habits on the bike? How is their posture on the bike? How is their posture off the bike? What are their muscle tension relationships? What is their mobility? What is the strength? Have they been training in other modalities? What is their sports history? Do they come from Greco Roman wrestling or American football- pretty unusual- Most of the time cyclists didn’t go down that pathway first or tried it very early and discovered they weren’t in that channel and up in cycling instead. So you have to consider all that and then on the other side of the equation, we have what are the demands of their event? Are they training for GranFondo?Are they just trying to be more fit? Are they training to win the Colorado State time trial championships? All very different demands. So you have to kind of put those two in a pile and a lot of times they can be sort of opposed to each other, diametrically opposed. So you have to evaluate where’s the rider now? And where are they trying to go? And then the bike is kind of in the middle. And so we have to blend those things together and come up with an outcome.

Trevor Connor 05:26
Finally, here’s Todd Carver, who really focused in on the actual rider himself, though, I think both Colby and Dr. Pruitt would agree with everything he’s saying.

Todd Carver 05:39
I think in a nutshell, it’s less about me and more about the rider. So I think the most important part of the fit is the interview, figuring out why someone’s in there. Because I think all too often you can get caught in your own world of how you want someone to ride a bike, how you ride a bike, what your preconceived notions are of what’s good, what’s bad. But the riders coming in your door, have totally different goals, they want to solve usually one or two problems. So really doing a good interview, sticking to the goals that the rider has in the session, and addressing those. And if there’s something beyond that to improve, let’s make an attempt. But on the other hand, don’t force my thoughts on how I want to ride on other riders. Just try to help them.

Chris Case 06:28
Very good.

Chris Case 06:33
So in that first episode, we really talked about how the industry, the bike fit industry, has changed quite radically in the last 30 years. In part two, today, we want to talk about some of those practical implications of bike fit, get into a discussion about things like aerodynamics versus power. How to actually find a good bike fitter, and some of the other practical considerations of bike fit an extremely important tool that I think all three of these great minds in bike fit that would argue everybody needs.

A Medical Vs. A Performance Fit

Chris Case 07:11
Alright, so we were going to go to that medical versus performance fit discussion. Let’s go to it. Now, Andy, let’s start with you. You were about to chime in before I interrupted you.

Dr. Andy Pruitt 07:19
Well in 1985, I started using three-dimensional motion capture to analyze bike fit. And we actually then established a medical office visit procedure using 3D. So yeah, I had people fly in from all over because it was so new. I mean, we can see so many more things that we maybe couldn’t have seen before. So medical fit to me is they have a known problem back pain, knee pain, unilateral saddle sores, whatever that is. And your goal with that bike that is to solve that problem. That is number one. And when Todd and I worked together, my goal in the fit was to solve their knee pain. Todd looked at them from a more global aspect. But if I was working alone, then I had to do both those I had to solve their knee pain and look at them from a global aspect. Most of the time, when you make somebody better medically, or more comfortable, you’ve also improved their performance. You’ve moved towards homeostasis, you have moved toward that balance. So I think they’re hand in hand. I think most fits start out medical. They came to you with a complaint. Whether it’s in a doctor’s office or retail setting, most bike fits start out as a medical fit, because they came with a problem that they want you to solve. And we’re all going to solve it in a slightly different way. But having heard all three philosophies, I think we’re all singing the same song.

Chris Case 07:34
Yeah. Well, I think that, from my perspective, people out there that don’t know too much about the nuances here might hear the word medical and they think it’s quite a large issue we are talking about, like, some kind of injury that they’ve sustained in their life or something like that. But what you’re saying is anything from knee pain to saddle sores is considered in that medical realm.

Dr. Andy Pruitt 09:21
Absolutely.

Chris Case 09:21
Okay.

Dr. Andy Pruitt 09:22
So and then the other piece to remember is, if a physical therapist is doing this fit, there’s many qualified good bike fitters, but just because you’re a physical therapist does not make you a good bike fitter. I want to get that really clear, but there are some really good physical therapists that are also good bike fitters. Many times the therapists at the Sports Medicine Center. I say we’re going to do this fit today because this is the right thing for him today. Does he need glute Meade strengthening? Yes. Give them to the physical therapist. When they leave, they meet the physical therapist and explain this is what we found. We changed your bike today to support this issue. Then they’re going to go get their physical therapy or their injections or whatever the medical treatment of it is. And then you would revisit that bike fit. My glute strength is perfect. Now, do I still need that wedge? I don’t know, let’s take a look right? So the two things can work hand in hand. And I hope that most good fitters out there, wherever they are on the world, have a relationship with a physio or Chiro or orthopedist or somebody that can help support the medical side of things, especially if they’re in a retail setting and don’t have any other support.

Trevor Connor 10:34
So Chris to give you an example. So you know, I have a bad back, I’ve had a bad back for a long time. I used to be in a pretty aggressive position on my bike, but that was a real strain on my back. So as I’ve gotten older Dr. Pruitt has put me in a less aggressive position. I sit a little more upright than a lot of other cyclists. But that’s for longevity, I just can’t sit in that more aggressive position that I used to be able to hold and think I’m gonna be able to do another 10-20 years on the bike.

Chris Case 11:02
Yeah, I know the difference. I was just clarifying, really, I think some people hear the word medical. And they think oh, that’s not for me. But it’s regardless, it’s irrelevant I would I guess you would say.

Todd Carver 11:14
I would also add on a little bit, there’s injured riders that ride bikes, and there’s riders that ride bikes that get injured.

Chris Case 11:24
Mm hmm. Right.

Todd Carver 11:25
And that’s a little different when you have- especially me as non-medical fitter, I’ve learned as much as I can, but at the end of the day, within my scope of practice,- when I get in injured rider in that has some disc fusion somewhere. I really need to be conscious to get a referral, and really get some more help with that. Because that is where that medical advice can be really important for the fit. On the other hand, you get someone in who’s like, I don’t have any problems other than when I ride. And then I get this saddle sore right here. I feel like it’s within nonmedical fitter scope of practice to figure that stuff out.

Chris Case 12:03
Sure

Todd Carver 12:04
It is a good line to draw.

Dr. Andy Pruitt 12:06
If the bike is the problem, you should be able to fix that. If they brought the problem to the bike, then it is different.

Colby Pearce 12:15
During your interview, you have to be discerning and figure out well, what is the origin of the pain? Does it only happen when you ride or do you get it when you walk up downstairs? Or when you go skiing or when you hike?

Dr. Andy Pruitt 12:24
Colby, how do you use your medical community? I mean, I know you have the physical therapist upstairs or are you not at that facility anymore?

Colby Pearce 12:31
Oh, yeah. So I moved to a different office now. So that’s a great question. I mean, you know, as coaches and fitters,- you know, depending on who’s listening and what’s in your wheelhouse,- we all have to have that real clear boundary to know when to refer out, right? And it’s really tempting to go on Google and say oh, spinal fusion, what does this mean Right? And, man, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing to do.

Todd Carver 12:53
We do it.

Colby Pearce 12:54
We all do it, because you want to learn more. Like, I’m always devouring information, you know, every minute that I can pretty much I mean, I’m listening to a podcast while I’m doing dishes pretty frequently, just trying to absorb things from other people. It’s a ball of fun. But I’ll refer out if someone brings me bloodwork, someone comes to me with a problem. I have a mentor that I work with at the Czech Institute that i consult for. Complex cases, like Spondylusthesis. I’m learning about this stuff. But I also consciously knowing your own sort of knowledge horizon, and being very acute of that limit and saying, Okay, this is what I know. And also having an open channel of communication with the client, like, Okay, I know a little bit about this, and this is what I see. But I think we need an expert here. There is one area, I try to refer people out to pretty regularly. There’s this interesting cross-section where you get a rider who comes in, and sometimes they’re new to the sport, cycling age of one or two years, maybe three years. And you can see that they just don’t have that suppleness, they don’t have that sort of sewing machine type pedal stroke. And you can see that when they push down, they’re extending the hip and knee, the hamstrings are still fighting them a little bit, the knees are kind of out, and maybe globally, their function isn’t great. And it’s like, Okay, I’m going to give you some tools. I’ve got a really extensive post-fit document I send people, it’s got advice and resources and pathways on things like core and stretching and mobility and Kate Laughlin videos because there’s a lot of really high-quality free resources out there. Then there’s a bunch of junk so we try to distill, bring order from the chaos of the internet, and kind of give people a little bit of a pathway to start to explore it on themselves. But then, when I have someone who lives in a location where I know I can recommend someone that I’ll do -I’ll say, and this is a pretty common recommendation for me.- I really want you to go hire a physical trainer, you need to work on your off-the-bike a global function. We need you to do someone who does a targeted complete physical assessment and looks at you and says, your lunge is complete crap. And this is essential. Because cycling fundamentally is a static hip hinge and a series of lunges. And if you can’t lunge and you can’t hip hinge, then you’re gonna have trouble riding a bike effectively. So we need to pick that apart. And when I have a referral in that city ill say, I want you to go work with this person. I’ve had amazing success with a couple check practitioners in Fort Collins, for example, that have brought my riders back to a new level of function. And then what’s interesting is,- in one particular case, I’m thinking of well two actually,- I went through about a dozen saddles with these riders. And it was varying degrees of crappiness. Like one was a train wreck, and another was sitting on a fence post and other was sitting on a Phillips head screwdriver. And then we got to the point where it was like, Okay, this is an uncomfortable board with a few knots in it, but it still sucks. And that was after throwing all the resources I could at them. A year later, after working with this physical therapist, slash trainer, increasing mobility, increasing core function and strength, increasing the ability to have more stable feet and ankles. Now suddenly, the saddle is a lot more comfortable. So core function,- this is one way that I think a lot of people maybe aren’t seeing the equation, -but core function and proper mobility can improve the comfort of your saddle. Because if you’re super tight, you can’t move or you’re moving too much. And then you’re just rubbing yourself on the saddle in all the wrong places we can do every shape under the sun, we can use SMP Mimic, fluffy seat cover everything you can think of and it doesn’t matter, it’s all going to suck because your pelvic control is terrible underload.

Dr. Andy Pruitt 16:33
If they’re stuck, they’re hypermobility is a visual thing. They’re not hypermobile in their SI joints. You’re seeing them move a lot because they’re stuck

Colby Pearce 16:43
Because they’re so stuck. So the mobility ends up going elsewhere in the chain, right?

Dr. Andy Pruitt 16:47
One thing about spinal curvature. So you’re riding down the road behind, someone and you think they are so crooked on their bike, I can fix that. Well you might be able to, and you might not be able to. Spinal curvature is theirs. If they own it off the bike, then you need to leave that spinal curvature alone, you need some support there. If it’s causing a downstream issue, you support it. I’m about six days shy of an annual visit on my on my lumbar fusion. And I worked so hard early after my fusion on my core that I actually sit better on the bike now, after fusion. My teammates are going, man you’re so square, and you are so fluid, I can’t believe this. You are four months post-fusion, look at you. It’s becasue I worked so hard in those early days, on my core, and my glutes, all the things that were important before diffusion, right? But I’d rather ride my bike.

Todd Carver 17:44
You just keep getting faster Andy, that’s the bottom line.

Dr. Andy Pruitt 17:48
So that physical evaluation, and that interview. And I think spinal curvature is something you got to be really careful about wanting to fix, especially if they brought it to the bike.

How To Tackle A Leg Length Discrepancy?

Colby Pearce 18:00
And I would say I would add to that power leg length discrepancy. If you have an osseous structural leg, and someone comes to you, they’re 22-year-old cyclists they have been riding for five years. And they’ve got however many, whatever, 600 hours a year of bike riding. So however many hours that is, right. And they’re like, Yeah, my back hurts, you know, and I went and got a scattergram. And now we know for sure it’s eight millimeters from our leg length discrepancy. Okay, femur is the hardest one to deal with. All right, so we got some problems because the lever changes in space. So how do you shim it? How do you do this? Do you do that? But we have to remember this person, this man or woman who comes in with this leg length discrepancy, that’s actual bone length not functional. They’ve been walking on the planet Earth for already, you know, 17 years before they started riding a bike. And so the body is already very well compensated for that femur, assuming it didn’t happen in a motorcycle crash or whatever, assuming it was from congenital. And so then we put them on a bike, and now they’ve got back pain. Now you’ve got this equation that goes back to what you were saying, todd, about does the pain come off the bike? Or does it only come on the bike? So you have to be very discerning and decide. And then again, it goes to what you were just saying Andy, be cautious about trying to fix that. Because if you try to add all these shims and wedges and stacks and goofball stuff on the bike, that may offer some relief, but now off the bike, are you going to put a shim under their short heel in all their walking shoes? Sometimes. Is the patient gonna be complying with that? Well, what if they’re sneakerheads and they own 50 pairs of shoes or it’s a woman who wears high heels sometimes. It gets really complicated really quickly because now you have to question whether this intervention is going to happen in their daily life and then sometimes you can fix them on the bike and have their hips little more square. And then you open this can of worms because they’ve got such a strong competition pattern for so many years of dealing with gravity unless you’re an astronaut or scuba diver, gravity is just relentless. It always wins man.

Dr. Andy Pruitt 19:57
The caveat to that though is that the world out there is a lot of uneven ground.

Colby Pearce 20:03
Yeah.

Dr. Andy Pruitt 20:03
So it’s easier to compensate when we fix them to a bike. So I agree with what you’re saying. But, there’s one caveat to that. And that’s that on uneven ground that eight-millimeter leg length, they think has probably been inconsequential, but on a bike, we are suddenly fixed.

Colby Pearce 20:20
Correct, right. Yeah. Agreed. Totally agreed. So then that’s why It can magnify the problem sometimes because now it twists your pelvis into this permanent torsion and this pattern Right?

Dr. Andy Pruitt 20:29
Yeah,

Trevor Connor 20:29
Cool. Yeah. Here’s a conversation I have lost count of as a coach, the number of times I’ve had where one of my athletes goes for a bike fit. And afterward, I ask them how it went, and they went, Oh, there was this thing that really surprised me. Whenever I hear that I instantly interrupt and go, you have a leg length discrepancy. They’re like, how did you know? I’m like I’m waiting for an athlete to tell me they don’t have a leg length discrepancy.

Dr. Andy Pruitt 20:52
But the key is what Colby said is that functional? Did they acquire it through some kind of pelvic asymmetry, or arch flattened? There are so many different ways.

Trevor Connor 21:02
Yeah.

Dr. Andy Pruitt 21:03
But yeah,

Colby Pearce 21:04
or is it structural?

Dr. Andy Pruitt 21:04
Yeah, young, inexperienced bikers love to find it and say Oh, looky there, I got this. Let’s fix it.

Colby Pearce 21:10
Yep, let’s fix it.

Trevor Connor 21:11
And I said, you have to be careful. So when my back is out, it pulls my left hip up. So it will look like I have a big leg length discrepancy when my back is bugging me, if you start shimming that that’s an issue. It’s addressed the back.

Dr. Andy Pruitt 21:25
But technology, correct me if I’m wrong, isn’t a great way to use technology to find these asymmetries and the effect of your shim, if you decide to shim for a leg legnth discrepancy. You can find it in that technology. Did this make a positive change? Or no change at all? Did they just protect that knee extension?

Todd Carver 21:45
Yeah, it’s a great way to measure the immediate response. And then the adapted later to see what change. You can see with your eyes sometimes if it’s big, but it helps to have some markers on the body and record it down to the millimeter too.

Dr. Andy Pruitt 22:00
It’s tough to find those small changes with a goniometer.

Todd Carver 22:03
Yeah.

Should We Trust Our Eyeball Or The Technology?

Trevor Connor 22:04
So this leads us to one of the next questions we want to ask. And this might be a bit of a contentious point. But technology versus eyeball? How much does the technology all the big cameras and all the gear help versus still is just an experience fitter? Who’s given it a good luck?

Dr. Andy Pruitt 22:25
I’m gonna give a medical example. So you’ve got a young physician, just out of school. And he’s got an orthopedic issue in front of him, and he didn’t take an orthopedic residency, right? Or he didn’t do a fellowship. So what’s he gonna do, he’s going to order an MRI, he doesn’t have really good evaluation skills for the knew so he is going to order an MRI, and he’s gonna be reliant on what that MRI says. MRI’s see everything. So whether or not you find the pain generator on that MRI or not, he’s gonna rely on that MRI, the inexperienced bike fitter is going to rely heavily on the technology to do the fit, or to help guide the fit. Myself, Colby, Todd we’re going to use technology to help the rider experience maybe, show them here’s what I see it, and you can see it numerically. So the experience orthopedist doesn’t need the MRI. He knows that guy’s got a torn meniscus, he uses the MRI to educate the patient. Here’s why we need to do X, Y, or Z. This confirms my clinical exam. So you can use technology as an understudy. And you can use technology as the master of all things. So technology has a role for sure. I’ll set the plate for these two.

Todd Carver 23:52
Yeah, I mean, I’ll just add in I do believe the answer is not always in the computer. And you do have to have a good eyeball. There’s no getting around that as a fitter, because a lot of times the answer is not in the computer. However, it does help. And I had a fit last week at the team camp where a rider came in- he from another team, but he’s already on a specialized bike.- So thought he didn’t really need a fit, but it’s like, let’s go in anyway. Got up started pedaling and right away it’s like pulling up his old files. The retool didn’t recognize him, because his ankling pattern was totally different than what we had recorded the four prior years. So I showed him, I’m like, What is going on here? Why are you driving your heels so hard all of a sudden? And then we measured a saddle height and it was 11 millimeters too low. And he was about to get sent home with that bike to go start training. We just caught it real quick with the technology and the retool just didn’t recognize that guy as himself. So it caught it. and this rider, I don’t even think he owns a tape measure so he would have never caught it. Right? Once he got that bike home, he was gonna start training.

Chris Case 25:09
Who knows it could have slipped more and more to overtime, right?

Todd Carver 25:11
So that’s where I think technology helps. That’s a great example. But for me, it just helped- like Andy said- it helps support what I see. And then I can have a dialogue with the rider about it. Sometimes it shows me things I can’t see, because it does record things so quickly and the eyeballs not quite as fast.

Chris Case 25:36
It’s around this time of year that many cyclists and endurance athletes enjoy a brief offseason. Recovery is important to recharge your body and your mind for next season’s preparation. Recovery from individual workouts is critical to so we are pleased to announce the new recovery pathway from Fast Talk Laboratories. Our new recovery pathway explores the best methods to recover from workouts, how to track and analyze recovery and the consequences of not recovering enough. We tap world-leading experts like Dr. Shona Halson, Dr. Stephen Seiler, Sage Rountree, Dr. Andy Pruitt, and many more. About a third of our recovery pathway is free to our free listener membership. Optimize your recovery now, see our recovery pathway at fasttalklabs.com/pathways.

Chris Case 26:33
So, Colby, before you answer this question, what would you say you use for technology in your bike fit process?

Colby Pearce 26:42
My method is similar to what Andy just described, I use technology to help the rider see what I see.

Chris Case 26:47
But you do not use retool?

Colby Pearce 26:48
I don’t use retool. So the difference in my method is basically what I use as an iPad. And I’ve got my trainer set up in a way so that visually, I have cues. So there’s a mirror and it’s got lines in it and everything is parallel. And so I can show the riders these reference lines. So when I filmed them from the posterior view, then I’m referencing the lines. And then it’s the simplest thing I just say, look, I just want to take this video so I can show you what I see. And then we can talk about the potential for change. And then just drop a ruler-straight down the center of the iPad and it’s got the all the marks and then I say see how your head is moving from center to right and center to right, or this knee is tracking,- see how this knee at the bottom, I’ll freeze it. See how this knee at the bottom of the stroke your thighs hitting the top tube on the left, but on the right, it’s six centimeters from the top tube at the bottom of the stroke,- and then now we can see that reflected in your pelvic position. I don’t need the numerical quantification, the angles. To be honest, I don’t care what the numbers are. And maybe that’s naive of me. But in my experience, that’s just where I’m at. What I care about is the pattern I see in the rider. And I’m looking at the fluidity, I’m looking for the souplesse I’m looking for what one of my instructors would call an attractor state. That is when you get the saddle offset in the right place, you get the saddle height in the right place, you get the angle right, the bars right, it’s almost like you can look at the ridder- this is gonna sound really obtuse and pretty contrarian, but you can look at the rider- almost with a soft eyeball focus, and see the fluidity and see balance. Now, there’s a lot of subjective interpretation to that. And I recognize that, one of the best cat three memes ever was bike fitter uses a random number generator to produce saddle height right? I love that one. So some people are probably going how the hell does this guy know what he is talking about? I don’t have an answer for that.

Chris Case 28:41
How many bikes fits have you done?

Colby Pearce 28:42
How many bike fits have I done? Not anywhere near as many as these guys have. But I have been doing it for about 10 years?

Colby Pearce 28:47
So I’m hitting some sort of 10,000-hour rule maybe, but maybe not even because I’ve been splitting- you know, two full time jobs are never enough let’s go for three- lets be a coach, a fitter, and a bike podcaster, and do other things too. So okay, all that aside, what I’m doing is I’m using my- this gets even more esoteric,- but I’ve been in the sport for 35 years, and I’ve looked at a lot of cyclists, I’ve studied a lot of bodies. So it’s as simple as when it looks right. It is it’s almost like a pornography discussion. Like I can’t quite tell you what the definition is, but I know when I see it. There’s a little bit of that involved. Because you see a cyclist who has that fluid motion on the bike. And then when you’re really listening, you’re listening to cues, you’re listening to the sound of the trainer. What does that tell you? It tells you how punchy the stroke is versus how smooth it is and how fluid it is. Smoother is not always better. I also use a Saris MP1 so this is the technology question. So that’s a platform is a wooden platform the trainers fix to it but the platform moves back and forth, and also wiggles side to side. Just by the tiny movements, you can see in that trainer even whether it’s statically cocked to one side or the other. It tells you a lot about weight distribution on the bike, pedal strokes, smoothness and when you ask the rider do some efforts, you see how that changes. How is the trainer moving back and forth? Is it pulsing on every pedal stroke and on every downstroke? You know the riders really lopsided, and there’s a good chance they’re saddles, maybe too high, and maybe they’re quad dominant. And we need to have a discussion about driving through the stroke a little more smoothly without coaching them to pull up at nine o’clock, which I do not do. That’s a no-no, in my book, Italian wives tales number 64, pull up at nine o’clock, clipless pedals are for pulling up. That’s only true out of the saddle and sprinting.

Chris Case 28:47
Yeah,

Chris Case 30:30
So what you’re describing is Colby Pearce’s database that lives inside his head.

Dr. Andy Pruitt 30:36
Well, but he is using technology.

Chris Case 30:39
I didn’t finish. But, I mean, you’re pulling in data from historical knowledge and experience, you’re pulling in data from your understanding of the human body, you’re pulling in data from the sounds and the sights that you’re seeing right in front of you, In that session, you’re pulling in data from the rider themselves, etc. And you take all of that and do something with it just based on experience.

Colby Pearce 31:08
I put it through my human-computer.

Chris Case 31:09
Exactly.

Dr. Andy Pruitt 31:10
But what I love to hear though, is that you’re using technology, you are using different technology. I mean, we had several physical therapists at the center that used to use different iPad technologies to do their bike fits or running gate analysis. So you’re looking at the exact same things that Todd’s looking at with his technology, and the song that the trainer sings, we all listened to it. Absolutely. I think the sweeter that sound, the suppleness is occurring. I like the moving platform, although it would screw with Todd’s technology you know? But that’s just math, Some guy could figure that out.

Colby Pearce 31:55
There are ways to do that. For me, it just makes the cyclist more organic. I mean, we’ve all heard the story about how people get on a trainer and say like, why is my threshold so much lower? Why are intervals so much harder indoors? Well, there’s a lot of reasons for that. But, one of the ones is that the trainer is locked in place. And also I’m sure you guys will agree COVID was feast or famine in terms of professional life for most businesses. And for bike fitting, it was feast because everybody started riding Zwift. And a trainer is a physical challenge magnifier, we’ll call it, like if you had an old niggly knee for the last six years, and it was kind of in and out every spring. In the year of COVID, It went through the roof, and suddenly you were emailing me, Hey, man, I can’t deal with this knee problem. So trainers because they lock everybody in place, they magnify all our bad habits, our poor postural habits. And because you’re not in a group, you never see your shadow. There’s no consideration for aerodynamics or souplesse, or accelerations, it’s a much less stochastic nature to the power production. It encourages people to sit in one place and grind, grind, grind. Then all the little habit asymmetries, all the poor knee tracking patterns, all of that postural habits that’s a upward motion of magnification.

Dr. Andy Pruitt 33:09
Two points here, one as a coach. -I have coached a few people along anyway, I liked the trainer for prescriptive workouts.

Colby Pearce 33:19
Oh, it’s easy to control load very precisely.

Dr. Andy Pruitt 33:22
So it does have a role.

Colby Pearce 33:23
Agreed.

Dr. Andy Pruitt 33:24
But back to technologies, whether it be what you’re using, retool, regardless, for the listeners out there. The three of us are not accessible to the entire world, right? Nor are our offsprings. We all have them, we all have disciples that we’ve trained and have moved on. I think the technology along with the full exam, is really an important piece for that customer out there looking for a bike fit. Back to that guy that went to the three day class, we have produced 1000s of those over the years. The technology that helps bring them to a higher level quicker, because they’ve got the database to rely on. I think that for me, that’s an important piece.

Chris Case 34:15
Could you Todd, could you describe that database for people that don’t know what you’re doing with all that information that retool has gathered over the years.

Todd Carver 34:23
So it starts with accurate technology. And the good thing about it is with motion capture tech, the stuff we use is millimeter accurate. And it’s immediately archived, Colby archives things in his brain because he’s super smart.

Colby Pearce 34:38
We all archive things in our brains

How Does A Database Help A Bike Fitter?

Todd Carver 34:40
But it’s like for the computer to archive it right away is super powerful. And then it’s also analyzable later, so when we now have 20-30,000 fits in the system, we can easily go through and analyze for certain trends, and we start to see things over the years. We started off this podcast with what’s changed since the early days of bike fit? Well, bodies on the bike are different now. And we’re seeing pro riders are riding further forward than they used to knee over spindle right? And you’re starting to see more straight clamp seat posts. And so, that’s the power of the data. And when a fitter has a data system, they have access to that.

Chris Case 35:27
How do you use it as a bike fitter? How does that person that’s only taking the three-day course tap into the power of that?

Todd Carver 35:35
So you start with working with what’s called normative ranges. So if you’re a trail, mountain biker, you ride a stump jumper or some sort of trail bike, we have ranges of what’s normal for each join angle, and each alignment position on the bike. So you start there. But we all know that normative ranges, by definition is just the middle of the bell-shaped curve, what about the ends, right? So that’s whereas you develop more of your skills as a fitter, you start to be able to work outside of the normative ranges, and really personalize something for each rider. So you take what you gather from the assessment, you take what you gather from the interview, and you work within the normative ranges, but then you can actually narrow it down further than that, the more practice that you get. So that’s the process if you start from zero with our technology. You start small and you build.

Dr. Andy Pruitt 36:34
So one of the hits that retool took early on was that your normative values were really based on the pro tour. And they were.

Chris Case 36:44
That’s where you were doing most of your fits.

Todd Carver 36:45
Yeah, that’s where we were.

Dr. Andy Pruitt 36:47
But how has that changed in the last 10 years?

Todd Carver 36:49
Yeah, obviously there’s a lot more other riders in the database now. But I do think that was the right place to start. Because if you’re going to start with normative ranges, for me, it’s better to start with the best riders in the world. Because cycling is like how your bike is set up will define how you move on that bike. If your saddle is super high, you’re going to point your toes, right? If your saddle is super low, you’re going to drive your heels. So can’t really get normative data on cyclists, because it depends on how that bike went out of the shop. That’s how you’ll move, it’s different in running, you can put someone on a treadmill and just watch how they run. There’s no machine under them, there’s no rig. So the normative data in running is different than in cycling. So we chose to start with the best riders in the world and study how they ride and then trickle things down.

Colby Pearce 37:42
I think, Todd, you and I have discussed this before. But as you guys were saying, when the new fitter starts out, they can use these normative data to help them guide decisions. And I think that’s really tempting to want to do. But I don’t think that’s the best methodology for a couple of reasons. One is that we can see clearly that normative data actually doesn’t have a lot of relevance and I’m going to read a quick bit from this paper.- And I’d love to drop it in the show notes if you guys are cool with it- There’s a really cool article on some random website

Chris Case 38:13
Did you write it?

Colby Pearce 38:14
No, I didn’t. So there’s an article that talks about the title is when the US Air Force discovered the flaw of averages, It was published in 2016. But it references that in the late 1940s the US Air Force had this problem because they kept crashing airplanes not in combat, but in training, they couldn’t figure out what’s going on. So they started digging into the cockpit dimensions to try to figure it out- they looked at all the other problems, they looked at the engineering, the aircraft, and the fuel lines and all that stuff and eliminate it finally came down to the last thing we can think of is that the cockpits aren’t made right for our pilots.- So they decide they’re going to solve the problem. So they measured a whole giant pile of pilots and then gathered the data. So I’ll just read this part, a little bit of context, but you’ll get it. Using the size data he had gathered from 4063 pilots. This guy Daniels calculated the average of the 10 physical dimensions he believed to be most relevant for design of the cockpit, including height, chest circumference, and sleep length. These form the dimensions of the average pilot, which Daniel’s generously defined as someone whose measurements were within the middle 30% of the range of values of said dimension. -So that’s a huge range of error.- So for example, even though the precise average height for the data was five foot nine, he defined the height of the average pilot is ranging from 5’7″ to 5′ 11″. Next, Daniel’s compared each individual pilot one by one to this hypothetical mathematical average pilot. Before he crunches numbers, the consensus among his fellow Air Force researchers was that the vast majority of the pilots would be within range on most dimensions. -I mean, it’s 4000 pilots plus or minus 30% on 10 body dimensions, right?- After all these pilots had already been pre-selected because they appeared to be average size. If you were six foot seven, you would never be recruited to fly in the first place. So there’s already a biased data group, the scientists also expected that a sizable number of pilots would be within average range on all 10 dimensions. But even Daniels who was the doubter of this process was stunned when he tabulated the actual number zero out of 4063 pilots, not a single airman fit within the average range on all 10 dimensions, one pilot might have a longer than average arm length, but a shorter than average leg length, etc, etc. So my point is that I don’t believe orthodox data has that much value, if you’re using it, big caveat if you’re using it to make your decision. If you’re saying, okay, something doesn’t look right about this guy’s knee extension or his whatever dimension you want to pick, his torso angle, And then you reference the data and go, Oh, here’s why. It’s because he’s out of the normative range. To me, that doesn’t mean anything, because that athlete may be well in a way out of that range for a good reason, we have to use a more discerning eye and look from- my method would be to look from a soft focus- and interpret all the data and look holistically and say, what’s going on? Why does this person not look right when I put their saddle up to where their knee extension is within the normal range.

Dr. Andy Pruitt 41:09
But the immature fitter cannot do that. And my goal, so when I started consulting with specialized 20 years ago, one of the goals that I had was to, -I was the busiest bike fitter anywhere. And I could either sit in my studio and see 20 patients a day, two of them bike fit you – I had to find a way to make that accessible to more people globally. And the answer was a combination of technology, and schooling. And yes, there are some immature fitters out there that I wish had never been given a certificate. But the majority of them went out and either failed and didn’t become fitters or have matured, and in those early days, I think the technology really is helpful. Now, your example is of 10 different body measurements.- So I don’t know how many lines of data we have 45 or something, but we actually shrink it down for the amateur fitter to 10. Right? Or something like that, maybe it’s eight. -That’s where the physical evaluation comes in. And we spend more time, as much time if not more, on the physical evaluation than we do learning how to use the technology. So that’s a marriage between those two, to try to find, -let Timmy in the bike shop, not hurt anybody, and do some good early days before he matures right?- So I’m not gonna quit teaching classes, I’m not gonna quit trying to educate that new fitter, or I’m not gonna quit trying to develop more technology.

Todd Carver 42:52
And I would just add on from the pro-data side, -I think it is a myth in the world that retool fits to the average.- But we are not fitting to the average saddle height. And if we did, most of the measurements for people on that bike size would be out. So we’re fitting people to like a saddle height within like a two or three-millimeter range. Right? So it is a personalized approach. We use normative kinematic data to get there. But you’re exactly right Colby. If we put everyone on a medium epic at a 740 saddle height, very few riders would be correct there. But that is not what we do. We have saddle height ranges on medium Epic’s from 720 to 760. And then we use the normative body data to get there because it transgresses between different body sizes when you use angles.

Dr. Andy Pruitt 43:49
Let’s talk about a different technology for a second, Pressure. Handlebar, footbeds saddles,

Colby Pearce 43:55
Pressure maps, and saddles yeah

Dr. Andy Pruitt 43:56
Yeah, I’m a big fan of pressure mapping saddles, what we have learned from it sure drove saddle design. I wouldn’t do a fit without a pressure map. It helps me choose a saddle and it is also great for patient education. A woman may not want to tell me exactly where she hurts, but then she sees it up on the screen. That’s it!

Dr. Andy Pruitt 44:20
So it can be used to show new balance once the fitness progressed. Here’s how your saddle pressures have changed. So I’m a big believer in the handlebar and the footbeds are not quite as distinct as the saddle but I am a big believer. Now should that rule out a fitter if they don’t have saddle pressure mapping? No that should not rule out a fitter if you’re out there looking for a fitter, but it should be one of those things, if they got it and have used it for a while that may be a go-to place that they do have it, but it would not be a reason not to go if they don’t have it.

Colby Pearce 44:20
She can point at it. Don’t name that part but she can now point at it.

Are Aerodynamics Or Power More Important?

Trevor Connor 45:05
So let’s move on to a final question here. And this is one that I know has been debated in bike fits, which is the question of aerodynamics versus power, sacrificing the one for the other. And I have met fitters who believe that basically, you slam the handlebars down as far as you can you get as aero as possible. And that’s going to make you super-fast. I’ve met other people who do fits, who say no, it’s okay to sacrifice a little bit of the aerodynamics, we need to maximize your ability to put out power on the bike. So what is the feeling here? Is this still a relevant question? Or is this getting outdated?

Todd Carver 45:42
There are people that believe that- let’s talk about time trial bikes, for sure.- And they say that if you can hold the same power on your TT bike than you can on your road bike, you’re not aggressive enough, you’re not aero. So there’s probably some truth to that, because we do see metabolic power decrease in most time trial bikes in the optimal aero position, but we balance that with the aero gains. So I think the best way to do a fit is to take both data points into consideration and the watts that you lose metabolically and the watts that you gain aerodynamically and come out with the fastest position.

Chris Case 46:26
That’s a lengthy process?

Todd Carver 46:28
It is. That is a lengthy process.

Colby Pearce 46:30
Well and it assumes that the fitter has aero data, which not a lot of fitters do, and that’s really complicated. Does a rider go to a wind tunnel and then present to a fitter with a bunch of testing data and say, these are the trends.

Todd Carver 46:47
There are some infield devices that are a little tricky. The metabolic in the aero sides are a little tricky when you get out of a velodrome or wind tunnel, or away from a true metabolic cart. But what we found is there’s a relationship between what a rider’s lowest achievable hip angle is and what their flexibility pattern is. So we now actually have things in the retool system that can help a fitter that doesn’t have a wind tunnel or doesn’t have a metabolic cart to do a physical assessment. We figure out how tight someone is and arrive at an optimal hip angle that they can ride that’s going to optimize them.

Colby Pearce 47:23
So for me that question comes down to the part we have to consider is the future, we have to look at our fitter crystal ball and look at adaptation.

Trevor Connor 47:31
Good luck

Colby Pearce 47:32
But because they can mold themselves into a position doesn’t mean that’s fast. You know, so Fabien he’s Gumby, he’s a Gumby. So the previous fitters all said, slam him, yeah, but the guy can’t control himself. He’s that flexible. So we raised him four centimeters in the front. He was almost unbeatable in the world and time trials. And he’s at the tour of Swiss, and I’m watching it live on TV, and I’m watching his hip rock like crazy. And immediately I probably called you or called Todd and said he changed his position. And somebody said, you’re too high in the front end. So they dropped him back to his original position. It was the first time trial he’d lost in two years, because they made him more aero.

Colby Pearce 47:32
Because, you know, you got a rider who comes in they’re very fast-twitch, they’re like -I one of the questions I ask in my pre-fit assessment is what’s your own self assessed global flexibility level, one is a brick 10 is Gumby. And I get answers all over the map. Someone comes in and tell you there are three or a two, which I rarely get that much honesty, usually they say a four and they’re like a two.- And you have to say okay, how much stretching have you done in your life and they are like I went through that a few years ago, and nothing happened. Okay, cool. So probably not a big rate of change there. And then you do your assessment, you’re looking at their ability to hinge at the hip and lunge, it’s like, ooh, this person’s got some challenges. Or maybe it’s just their body type. Right? A really boxy individual with a real robust ribcage and a lot of musculature on the thigh, you’re just not going to get a lot of hip flexion out of them, because they’re gonna mechanically run into themselves. Sometimes people have indulged a little too much beer or, its almost turkey season. So, we have those challenges, right? But we have to look at the ability of the rider to adapt to the program. So you know, to go back to what you start off with Chris, what I did when I was a junior is just slam that stem to oblivion, and ride in it. And that kind of worked out for me because I’m very flexible. But also I’ll make the point that we tend to glorify flexibility in endurance sports, and flexibility is on a spectrum, just like everything. A joint that’s to mobile doesn’t have a lot of control. So then when you gain force, when you make the muscles stronger, that’s around that joint and the joint can control the force, then you end up with problems, you end up a stress on the joint. So there’s some of both. But if you want to put someone in a really aggro position or aggressive position, and their goal of their event is to win national time trial championships or go to Moriarty and set a record, or do an hour record or whatever they’re doing. Then you have to really interpret how much change they can adapt to and you put them in that aero position and maybe you test the power and you say, alright, we’re going to send you out the door like this. And you’re going to do this myofascial release, and this foam rolling and this stretching every day. And you’re going to make sure you’re hydrated all the time, because dehydrated tissues are tight and brittle and don’t like to be bendy. And then we’re going to have you training at a sustainable rate that allows progression. And so we’re going to work with your coach on that and make sure you’re not doing super neutron bomb threshold intervals out the blocks. And we’re going to make things progressive. And then we’re going to touch base in six weeks and see how things have adapted and changed and if that rider effects change, then they’re a person who proves that they can adapt to that position. But that’s probably the exception. Most people can make some change there are a few who aren’t really changing. And then just like everything on the spectrum, there are few who can mold themselves into almost any position, right?

Colby Pearce 50:59
That is a great example.

Chris Case 51:00
Quote, unquote more aero.

Colby Pearce 51:01
That is a great example. The other good World Tour example tis Rohan Dennis, you just search Rohan Dennis time trials, search images, you’ll see there are multiple photos where his torso angle is not that aggressive. It just really isn’t. And you can see it from different angles and whatever. But also notice that when his torso angle,- you can see different evolutions of his position. Grant Thomas is another really good example of who’s had massive changes in his position over the years.- But when you look at Rohan, when his torso angle is a little more conservative, you can see that he’s exceptional at keeping his chin height low. And it’s so easy for us to go the low-hanging fruit, the red herring of position and aerodynamics is slamming the bars. But aerodynamics is about fluid dynamics which is really complicated. It’s about how the wind seals itself off your butt. And it’s about how much wind you block from coming in the black hole between on top of your hands below your chin and in between your shoulders. So that’s the frontal area perspective. And then it’s how the wind seals after that. So if you want to be fast on a TT bike, the take-home is have a narrow but its body shaping it’s a three-dimensional shape, it punches that hole in the wind.

Dr. Andy Pruitt 52:08
You gave a great example, being able to drop that chin is way more important than dropping the front end of the bike. Matter of fact, the higher the front of the bike, the easier it is to drop your chin.

Colby Pearce 52:16
So if I want to see a great example of that flick through the pages of your local 20 KTT. Like we have one here in colorado called frostbite, just go through pages. And when people drop the stem aggressively, so they hip hinge very aggressively, and then they pin their elbows together, and then they shrug their shoulders up to their ear, that’s three, then they’re going to go as hard as they can the fourth demand. So when you go hard, the muscle tension increases, and you increase tension on the global facial load. And fascia travels tip to toe the entire way. So what we get are two common relief valves. One is the head periscopes straight up vertically. And so their helmet is now you know, 20 centimeters above the height of their back or 12 centimeters. And then the other one is the heel, they can no longer pedal with a flat heel and their heel pops up. And it’s the two opposite ends of that fascial chain are like relief valves, when you put too much global stress on that chain that goes all the way from the toes to the top of your head.

Colby Pearce 52:17
So the trainer doesn’t sing. Right?

Colby Pearce 53:16
Right.

Dr. Andy Pruitt 53:19
I’m giving you one last story. When I was first hired to go to work with Briana Reese. We arrive at team camp. They’re not experienced that this, at having fitters come in and we arrive at team camp and we drive-in. And every bike is- they were getting ready for a training ride,- and every bike is leaned up against the team bus. Every stim is sitting on top of the head tube, every fork had already been cut off before the fitters arrived. And beyond I had with this, Briana was responsible for all his rider’s positions. So yes, he invited me to come but I knew what he had for breakfast because he was over my shoulder all day, every day.

Colby Pearce 54:01
Make sure you didn’t raise any stems. Which you couldn’t anyway.

Dr. Andy Pruitt 54:04
But, we replaced a lot of forks that camp- were coming back, and we need 10 more. -So he would be right over my shoulder breathing on me. And I said I’m going to raise this guy two centimeters -, Oh, you can’t do that, you can’t do that.- So we basically at that time, it wasn’t three-dimensional, It was big data. It was a video capture, and we could trace the front end. So we actually showed him the way I could actually lower the frontal area by raising the front of the bike. It was so dramatic. He patted me on the back and said Andy I’ll see you tomorrow and left and he never bothered me again. Yeah, so you got to convince right? So using technology wasn’t convincing the rider because he was saying oh my god, I’m so much more comfortable. It was convincing him and we remain friends since that day.

Colby Pearce 54:55
My six-day mechanic Jorge Wolven, who worked for Gramin for many years. He told me a story about how in the old days they used to do team camps, a similar idea. When the bikes were built, they would put all the handlebars at the same height, regardless of the size of the bike doesn’t matter is a 61 or a 48. So that it looked good for the photo.

Chris Case 55:11
Oh of course

Colby Pearce 55:12
So they could line up all the bikes.

Dr. Andy Pruitt 55:14
It’s true they had just taken the photo when I arrived. That’s exactly right.

Todd Carver 55:18
But one more thing on aerodynamics is -and we’re all talking about it, but I think it’ll drive the point home- is the body is a big 3D shape, but you can break it apart into simple shapes. So when you’re on a TT bike, you have an airfoil, which is your torso. Right? It’s it’s a big surface area, but a great shape. So you can play with that a little bit to help improve the pour shapes on your body, which is a sphere, which is your head and cylinders, which is your legs and your arms. So what we’ve learned over the years is by bringing people’s torso up a little bit, it doesn’t change the aerodynamics so much because it’s such a great shape. But they can drop their head and get rid of the sphere. So it’s like when you look at it that way, that’s why when you put people in the tunnel, and you raise them, you don’t even really have to tell them to drop their head. They just do it naturally. And there CDA goes down and their metabolic power goes up.

How Can Someone Get Into Bike Fitting?

Trevor Connor 56:16
Okay, so as we’re looking to close out here, I have two questions that really get into the practical side, you have somebody who wants to get into bike fitting, how do they get trained? What would you recommend?

Dr. Andy Pruitt 56:30
Well there is no universal school, sadly, ritual and this education process really belongs to the sphere of Specialized Bicycle Company. I know Colby was trained in Australia, very intense month-long training, which is not available to everybody.

Chris Case 56:52
That’s by Steve Hogg, that I mentioned at the start of the show.

Dr. Andy Pruitt 56:56
But he’s not available to everybody he does 10 a year. What’s he do?

Colby Pearce 57:00
Oh less than that

Dr. Andy Pruitt 57:01
So his disciples are few but well trained in his philosophy. I still think that our three-day classes are the best in the world for the bell-shaped curve of young fitters. There is the internet. There’s the thing in London, Cycle Fit, which they do have an educational arm. And I think those guys, there are a couple of physical therapists, they do a pretty good job.

Chris Case 57:29
Is a mentor the way to go?

Dr. Andy Pruitt 57:32
You’re not going to get better if you don’t have a mentor. Regardless, you’re not going to get better if you don’t have a mentor.

Todd Carver 57:37
I would say a good benefit of technology is online education is getting a little bit better now. But it doesn’t replace the workshop that I think will really accelerate your fit skills. So there are certain fitters in the world that offer workshops that are a week-long or two weeks long, and you can go in and once you have the technology and you’ve taken an online course you can go in and actually practice with it, with a mentor. So there are a lot of fitters now starting to do that.

Colby Pearce 58:08
If you’re trying to find a fitter there’s the IBFI

Dr. Andy Pruitt 58:12
I was trying to remember what the acronym was the National Bike Fit Institute. My problem with that one is that- so when we started body geometry that thing quickly we said we are gonna be left behind if we don’t get all the independent non-specialized bike fitters in a group- they are more marketing than they are substance and I may be wrong but I was approached as soon as I retired from specialized I was approached by them. Would you come teach for us? And maybe I should have ,I couldn’t because of a non-compete at the time. So yes, that is out there and it is a fitter finding resource.

Colby Pearce 58:52
Yeah, you can look up their accreditation.

Trevor Connor 58:55
So that brings me to my second question, which is I’m sure many of our listeners are now interested in getting a bike fit.

Chris Case 59:02
Or they are totally scared.

Where Can You Find A Good Bike Fitter?

Trevor Connor 59:05
Some of them might be interested in flying out here and getting fit by one of the three of you but for those who don’t want to fly out here. How do they find a good fit or in their area?

Colby Pearce 59:17
Ride your bike to Colorado.

Chris Case 59:18
A bike pack to Colorado to see Todd and or Colby.

Todd Carver 59:23
I think word of mouth is a great way and I agree with Colby ride your bike and get into the crew and start asking around who are the good fitters around. You can also if you’re looking for retool and a retool fit, you can go to retoolfit.com and find a fitter near you. But I would still get a word-of-mouth type referral from people in the community.

Colby Pearce 59:48
Whenever I refer a client out to a PT, a strength and conditioning specialist and I need that person I tell them go to your local gym, ask around, word of mouth and hire the best person you can go straight to the top. The problem with that advices is it’s good for that individual person. Because, you know, you can hire a newbie at $80 an hour and do 10 hours of training or you can hire someone who’s been doing for 20 years, and paying the same amount of money for three hours worth of work. And you’ll get way better results most of the time, because they just have that eye and experience to look at the human body. The problem with that advice is that the $80 dollar hour person never gets any work. But the onus is on them to find a proper mentor and shadow that person who’s making $300 an hour right? But the same rule would apply to bike fitting, ask around, go straight to the top, ideally, and find the most experienced best fitter you can.

60-Second Take-Homes

Chris Case 1:00:35
Todd, you are the new person on the in the studio today. These guys, Andy and Colby. They know what comes next. So I’m going to start with them. But we have one minute take-homes, you get 60 seconds now, to encapsulate the last two hours of this discussion. I’ll start with Colby.

Colby Pearce 1:00:58
Be methodical keep records, don’t get lost, meaning don’t do a buy fit two years ago and then move 19 things and change your cleats and your Saddle and then show up and then wonder why your back hurts. Being a student of the sport. And being on top of your business means organizing your bike fit in a way so that you’re responsible for that data, you should own a tape measure, by the way, you should know your own saddle height by the way. But then also going to visit your bike fit with some regular frequency that makes sense. Maybe that’s annual maybe it’s more if you have a life-changing event and look after it that’s the best way to stay on top of things because like we talked about the human body is constantly evolving. So don’t assume that you’ve got this archetypal perfect fit that is preserved in stone or Alabaster. And that’s it and we never touch anything ever again. That’s not really the way things work.

Chris Case 1:01:45
Andy?

Dr. Andy Pruitt 1:01:46
You know, Colby mentioned early on that COVID has been a boom for bike fitting. And there’s a couple key comments that people will make is that I only ride my bike never more than an hour, which tells you that they’re really uncomfortable and an hour is they’re tolerance. There’s the woman who says I only ride twice a week because she needs to heal between rides. So there’s a lot of bikes hanging in garages that are perfectly usable. But they got hung up because of saddle pain or hand pain. And those are solvable problems. So COVID drugged a lot of those bikes out of the garage to be fit. So if you’re having issues on your bike, if you can only ride once or twice a week, because you need to heal between, if you can only ride an hour because you’re uncomfortable, seek some help. Cycling is a lifelong sport. I’m 71 and going faster than I did 10 years ago. Cycling is a lifelong sport as a commuter- I mean, we didn’t get to talk about E-bikes or community bikes today.- But all of those things have purpose and need to be balanced with it.

Chris Case 1:02:59
Todd?

Todd Carver 1:03:00
I guess in wrapping up, I would say as complicated as we’ve made it sound, there’s some simple things that you can do at home. So if you are one of those new COVID riders, there’s three things I believe in, that tend to work is like learn how to set your cleat, or if you don’t have a cleat, put your foot on the pedal in the right way. So center the pedal spindle on the ball your foot, you can look online, there’s easy ways to do that. Another thing that tends to work is sit up on your saddle and drop both feet straight down and scrape your heel on the bottom of the pedal or on the pedal at the bottom of the pedal stroke, that’s going to get you in the ballpark. The other thing once you get that set is to look at where your grip is. And make it at least level with your saddle. If not up to like five to eight centimeters of drop. Start there. So there’s things you can do at home to get you in the ballpark.

Chris Case 1:03:58
For your one minute for the global conversation, we’ve just had what is your most important take home.

Todd Carver 1:04:03
A good bike fit is a blend of art and science. So if you’re gonna measure something, measure it the proper way. And that’s with technology we all know, if you’re measuring something, you have an observational bias you want it to read a certain number that you think it should be. Technology takes you out of the equation. So if you want to measure something, measure it right, measure with technology. But also appreciate the art of bike fit and don’t close your eyes. You have to actually look at the rider.

Chris Case 1:04:38
Very good. Thanks, guys. It’s been a pleasure.

Chris Case 1:04:43
That was another episode of Fast Talk. Subscribe to Fast Talk wherever you prefer to find your favorite podcast and be sure to leave us a rating and a review. The thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talk are those of the individual. As always, we’d love your feedback join the conversation at forums at fasttalklabs.com to discuss each and every episode and become a member of Fast Talk Laboratories at fasttalklabs.com/join To become a part of our education and coaching community. For Dr. Andy Pruitt, Colby Pearce, Todd Carver, and Trevor Connor, I’m Chris Case. Thanks for listening

Related Episodes