Login required to started new threads

Login required to post replies

FIST principles and my Bikesport MI fitting
Quote | Reply
After considerable consideration and inquiry, I decided to make the drive to Bikesport Michigan for a bike fitting session. Coming from central Illinois, this was no Sunday drive, but I figured getting it done right the first time would make it worth it.

I brought with me both my road bike on which I do about 60-65% of my training and my Tri bike. I had talked to Tom when I scheduled the fit, but was fit by Mike who is also FIST certified. My primary goals on both bikes was to find a position that would be least likely to cause lower leg and joint pain. Secondary to this was to try and improve power and aerodynamics on the tri bike.

Mike set me up on the trainer on the road bike first. He took a few angle measurements and determined that my seat height was quite a bit lower than it should have been. He also made minor adjustments to my seat and cleats.

On to the tri bike. After taking all the standard measurements: inseam, torso length, shoulder width, etc., Mike had me ride the tri bike. He makes a few angle measurements and stands back to watch me ride. After watching for awhile he says, "I wouldn't change anything." This was surprising. I was hoping to get some positioning insight and tweak my fit to eek out a little more power and comfort (although those two generally don't go together). In the end, the only thing we did to my tri bike was bump the seat up 2-3 millimeters.

It was sort of disheartening to not make any changes to my position after the long drive and cost, but it was also an affirmation that I had done everything right in getting myself fitted to the bike. Another friend brought his bike to Bikesport and the only adjustment made was to one of his cleats. Is this because Bikesport fitters are not doing their jobs? No, not at all, I think it is because both my friend and I had spent a lot of time poring over Dan's fitting articles. We therefore shared a common basis of knowledge with the fitters at Bikesport.

I think that's the point I'm trying to make here. Good bike fitting is an art, but it is not an exclusive art. From my experiences, I would assume that all, or most, of the technical foundation taught at the FIST clinic is already available on these pages. The art then comes through experience. Another benefit of fitting yourself is greater control over the subjective element. Only you know how a particular adjustment feels. I personally tried to set myself up within FIST parameter and then adjust from there by feel.

I think there is a little bit of mystique surrounding bike fitters. Triathletes (such as myself) are willing to make long pilgrimmages to seek the wisdom of fit gurus such as Dan, John Cobb, Tom Demmerly, etc. When the pilgrimage is complete we realize that the knowledge was with us all along. Of course, a second opinion is always worthwhile. So big-time kudos to Dan for his bike fit articles and his work towards some consensus in the art of bike fit.

sweet

USAT Certified Coach
Endurance Company
http://www.goalisthejourney.com
Last edited by: Sweet: Aug 19, 03 13:31
Quote Reply
Re: FIST principles and my Bikesport MI fitting [Sweet] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
[snip]

good post. i met with a group of about 100 triathlon retailers a couple of weeks ago, and told them they could all save $595 by just clicking the correct button on the slowtwitch front page, and commencing to read.

end-users can likewise save whatever money it is their local FIST fitter charges by pushing the same button.

however, we also tell you on slowtwitch how to miter your carbon steer column and install your $400 fork. that notwithstanding -- as with fitting -- many people choose to have their qualified, experienced professional perform that task.

Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
Quote Reply
Re: FIST principles and my Bikesport MI fitting [Sweet] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
This is a good post. I would have liked to fit you personally (this is Tom) since I enjoy doing the fittings and Mike has had his plate very full with fittings lately. He and I are both FIST certified. I hope people feel the services are valuable, and I think they really are. It is unusual for us to not make any changes. I haven't been doing fittings (or anything for that matter) for about the last 6 weeks due to some heavy personal issues I've had to deal with. That is also why I haven't been on this forum. I'm glad you made the trip but I wish we had been able to leave you with the impression that we accomplished more. I believe in fit and fitting, and I don;t think it is an "art", I think it is a skilled trade. The more people you fit, the better your capabilities are. IMHO.

Tom Demerly
The Tri Shop.com
Quote Reply
Re: FIST principles and my Bikesport MI fitting [Tom Demerly] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
Tom - it is great to have you back - we (I) have all missed your valuable input into the forum. Hopefully things are comming together for you.

http://www.endurancesports.ca
Coaching and Training Camps

Quote Reply
Re: FIST principles and my Bikesport MI fitting [Zulu] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
Thanks for the kind words. The forum is always a source of information, support, lively debate and friendship. I've missed that. 2003 was a terrible year. Everything went to absolute hell. I'm looking forward to a great 2004.

Tom Demerly
The Tri Shop.com
Quote Reply
Re: FIST principles and my Bikesport MI fitting [Sweet] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
>Good bike fitting is an art

no
it should be a science
a craft
a domain of skilled artisans
but not an art

if it is an art, FIST is a fraud
otherwise it's not
Quote Reply
Re: FIST principles and my Bikesport MI fitting [pyker] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
I agree with you pyker.

Tom Demerly
The Tri Shop.com
Quote Reply
Re: FIST principles and my Bikesport MI fitting [Tom Demerly] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
As long as Tom and Dan are on this thread...I've got a quick question. The basic bike fit article on this site talks about a 90 degree shoulder angle, i.e., from the shoulder down to the forearm. As long as that angle is 90, does the actual elbow angle matter? In other words, should the aero bars be straight, slightly tilted up, slightly down?

This came up when my bars got a little loose a few weeks ago and started to dip down. When I tightened them up I couldn't remember the exact angle that they had orginally been set at when I got fitted at my LBS, Edge Cyclesports. At my original fitting, Hank wrote down the specs on seat height, headset height, etc. but not the angle of the aero bars. I'd say where I have them currently set is roughly parallel to the ground but my wife pulled out a picture from last year's Malibu race and I noticed in profile that the bars looked like they were slightly upward tilting (Syntace bars on a 2002 P2K).

Any advice? On this topic, by the way, does Bianchi know something that none of us know? Ullrich's bars and hand position looked really awkward and uncomfortable to me but obviously he got great results (sorry, that is a tangent).
Quote Reply
Re: FIST principles and my Bikesport MI fitting [Tom Demerly] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
Tom- I think Mike did a superb job on the fit. The trip was probably worth it just for my peace of mind: knowing that my tri position is dialed in. As an update, I just got back from 35 miles on my road bike. None of the changes Mike made were drastic, but damned if I don't feel more comfortable already. Give him the message if you would.

As for the art aspect of bike fit, I think we are on the same page. I said that once you have learned the fundamentals the art comes through experience. You write, "The more people you fit, the better your capabilities are." The human body is too varied to conform to formulas all the time. Art comes into play when the formulas fail, or don't work quite as they should.

USAT Certified Coach
Endurance Company
http://www.goalisthejourney.com
Quote Reply
Re: FIST principles and my Bikesport MI fitting [Sweet] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
The problem with fitting by a distant specialist is this (IMHO)...

Fit is a dynamic process... that provides for comfort and hopefully additional power. Initial fits can usually accomplish comfort. The power plus comfort part takes time. So, to be fitted once and expect to be spot on is just not realistic.

Returning to the fitter over a month or two (depending on biking mileage) should be expected. So, I find bike fitting to be more of a work in process. As we get older and/or our abilities change (for both the good or for the bad), bike fitting will change.

Experience is the that which seperates those that fine the best fit initially and those who don't. And, that experience is not just that of the fitter but also the biker.

Perhaps my original point about using out of town bike fitters means that the biker should expect to return when things don't go right. Therfore, the cost of a good fit is (generally) higher than most expect or are willing to pay.

FWIW Joe Moya
Quote Reply
Re: FIST principles and my Bikesport MI fitting [Sweet] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
Raising the road saddle a bunch and the tri saddle 2-3 mm are both pretty significant changes. Those few mm can be the difference between a super season and an injury. I am sure a crapload of Forum participants (including myself) can bore you silly with stories of aches, pains, and injuries that were caused by handlebar position or seat height 2 or 3 mm out of adjustment.
Quote Reply
Re: FIST principles and my Bikesport MI fitting [Sweet] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
Just had to put in my 2 cent in on bike fit. I am a MD and bike fitter. I have gone through both the regular and advanced Serotta fit course and have tried to continually expand on what is out there regarding "proper" fit. I have worked extensively with Paul Levine, the head of the Serrotta fit course to try to put science back into bike fitting. I would submit that fitting is a dynamic process, and using pre-set formulas can lead to injury and or performance sacrifices. How does a set calculation compensate for leg length discrepancies, or prior injuries and related issues. My process starts with an athletes physical makeup and builds from there. Each fit being tailored to the individual. I wholeheartedly agree that leaving a fit with little of no change can be a great thing, but if you are both using the same set of formulas, maybe you both are just on the same page. Addressing the "art" of bike fit. Tere is an art to it, just as there is in medicine, however just as we are doing for our patients, we shoud all be trying to do for our athletes; put more science into this process.

I do not at all mean to imply that Dan's FIST system doesn't work, I have only heard good things about it, however to me fitting is an attempt to maximize each individuals potential while keeping joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones safe and sound.

DrDave Race Docs
Quote Reply
Re: FIST principles and my Bikesport MI fitting [Dr Dave] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
"I would submit that fitting is a dynamic process, and using pre-set formulas can lead to injury and or performance sacrifices."

i have a feeling that you might have some preconceived notions about how a FIST fit works, and that these notions may not be rooted in fact. just to set the record straight, bike-fit-by-formula, or art-versus-science, are not my ideas or quotes, but those of others who've added their views to this subject on this forum.

i certainly don't mind you speaking out against certain questionable ideas or practices, as long as you don't presume they're mine.

Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
Quote Reply
Re: FIST principles and my Bikesport MI fitting [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
Dan your point about saving money by just reading the content available on this site and applying it is a valid one if you learn that way. Some people just do not seem to have the ability to translate technical content into reality. We be shown the practicle steps and then apply them for it to truely sink in. This is something I wish I'd known about myself in college. So, the FIST course might just be the only way for someone to pick up these skills.
Quote Reply
Re: FIST principles and my Bikesport MI fitting [Dr Dave] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
"fitting is an attempt to maximize each individuals potential while keeping joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones safe and sound. "

As a chiropractor, I feel the same way, but at the same time you try to maximize comfort,power and aerodynamics. Quite often there are compromises. I also believe in the concept of biomechanical individuality, so static measurements although good, don't give the full picture. I believe a system of measuring individual flexibility and ranges of motion should be added. I started to develop such a testing routine that could be relevant for bike fitters. One of these days I'll get around to finishing it.

I've set up my own bike, wife's and about a half dozen others. I *think* that the fits are fairly well spot on based upon feed back. I can thank Dan, Tom and others for their excellent fit articles for this.

If I started to charge for fitting services as some sort of private consultant, then I'd definately take the FIST course and get certified beforehand. I've actually been thinking about this as well. Just not sure how much of a market there would be in our area.
Quote Reply
Re: FIST principles and my Bikesport MI fitting [Sweet] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
It has been stated already, but is worth repeating. Fit should be science first, art second. Ideally, you want the eyes of an artist with the logic and knowledge of the scientist behind them.

If your fitter listened to your concerns in regards to discomfort and performance and then addressed them with logical potential solutions that are based in biomechanics, they did their job. During a fitting, you should feel comfortable asking why a change is being made, how it can help you, as well as what other potential solutions there are that could help your individual situation and discomfort. The answer your fitter gives you should always be based in a principle of science/biomechanics - not art. In the end, there is a scientific reason for discomfort, many of which can be influenced by position and some chronic ones that cannot.

While you can fit yourself, you can also cut your own hair or repair your own car... Like barbers and mechanics, there are many different techniques and systems available at a variety of prices. It is up to you to decide what system is the most comprehensive and will address your needs best.

Ian
Quote Reply
Re: FIST principles and my Bikesport MI fitting [cerveloguy] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
I agree with Cerveloguy and Dr. Dave., and I love the term "biomechanical individuality". Because it has been my experience that every athlete comes to me with a unique physical makeup. And the true challenge to a good bike fitter is to discover the individuality of the athlete that you are working with and start with a clean slate without any preconceived notions or formulas of where you think this individual needs to be positioned relative to other athletes in his category.

I would enjoy hearing from you, Cervelogy, in regards to your thoughts on measuring individual flexibility and ranges of motion. These are two areas where we focus on that I find the most critical in terms of efficiency and power transfer. Please feel free to contact me at www.signaturecycles.com and we can discuss your findings.

Paul
Quote Reply
Re: FIST principles and my Bikesport MI fitting [Paul Levine] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
Paul,

What I am trying to do is take some of the things that I might do in a basic chiropractic exam and apply them in a manner that would be helpful to a professional bike fitter. My delima is living in a rural area far from a high end bike shop and not having anyone nearby to work with.

Last winter I posted on this forum a case study of a woman with a metal Harrington rod in her back that I fitted on a tri bike in the office. She's had this since age twelve for scoliosis and runs from her upper thoracic to lower lumbar areas. She has a much shorter torso than normal because of her spinal S shaped curve and no flexibility at all in the area of the Harrington rod. Surprisingly her overall flexibility appears normal as her lumbar pelvic area compensates for example when she bends over to touch her toes. She purchased a P2K from a well known tri shop and went for a pro fit. Unfortuntely they didn't understand her situation and the parameters that they would use on "normal" riders just didn't work with her. In her case, everything had to be done differently in order for her to ride comfortably.

This was an extreme case of biomechanical individuality but more common examples of biomechanical individuality for an example could start with the neck. Not all people have the normal lordotic C curve. Some people have a strait "military" c-spine or even a reversed curvature. These people often have less mobility in the neck and may not make the best candidates for riding in an aggressive position. In my office I have equipment that measures the ranges of motion of the c-spine. These would make a good basic screening device for a pro bike fitter.

If a potential customer walks into shop ABC for a pro bike fitting there are a number of things that the professional bike fitter can look at after doing the appropriate static measurements. There are standard tests used in the office to check for leg length differences, pelvic rotation, lumbar flexibility, etc. Then there are tests for isolating individual muscle group flexibility such as hamstrings, quads, etc. I often use these tests in the office as part of my examination, but a number of these tests could be used by pro bike fitters as screening tests to determine who the general flexibility of the customer and to screen for potential problems.

I have to do a lot more thinking about this and get together sometime with an experienced bike fitter to come up with some standardized protocols that could be integrated into a pro bike fit. Sounds like a good winter project.
Quote Reply
Re: FIST principles and my Bikesport MI fitting [Paul Levine] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
Is it me, or is individual flexibility and range of motion highly overrated and fitness highly underrated when it comes to fitting a bicycle?

Take for example the most inflexible rider who couldn't touch his toes if his life depended on it. With a 25 degree or so knee bend like a properly fitted rider would have at the bottom of his pedal stroke, all but the most unfit and inflexible can bring their thighs comfortably to their chest.

But take an unfit rider (one who is incapable of a powerful hip extension with every pedal stroke) and put him in an aggressive riding position with a closed hip angle and upper body centered well in front of the saddle, and he'll be uncomfortable due to excessive weight on the arms and less pedalling force to offset the forward position of the upper body.

Hope that question makes sense...
Quote Reply
Re: FIST principles and my Bikesport MI fitting [JustCurious] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
CG,

"There are standard tests used in the office to check for leg length differences, pelvic rotation, lumbar flexibility, etc. Then there are tests for isolating individual muscle group flexibility such as hamstrings, quads, etc." These are exactly the tests we use to screen our athletes now. Please contact me off line and I would love to discuss your protocol. I am always interested in learning proven scientific testing techniques and incorporating them into my teachings.

JC,

Flexibility and stability both have to be evaluated when working with an athlete. You confirm my point with your examples. Individuals bring many factors to the table when it comes to the proper position for their skeleton size. I just believe most systems ignore soft tissue in determining efficient positioning and attempt to fit athletes by taking body measurements from landmarks on the body that are impossible to measure accurately without an x-ray or MRI.
Quote Reply
Re: FIST principles and my Bikesport MI fitting [cerveloguy] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
Cerveloguy,

Sounds like you are already doing, as a doctor, what we are incorporating into our fitting process. Starting with the static measurements and a persons "biomechanical individuality" then adding to that his/her ROM and flexibility can lead to a great fit. Your client with the scoliosis and rods is definitely an extreme case of a rider with limitations, but many athletes we see have similar limitations albeit on a less severe scale. I am very interested in your mention of c-spine flexibility, and how it affects aggressive positioning. It is obvious that this could be a limiter to an aggressive tri fit, but not something we usually look at. Now I will. If you are interested, we can share more of what we do to test athletes for fitting in the future.

Additionally, in reply to the comment regarding flexibility being over-rated compared to fitness. I think fitness is obviously essential when talking about improving performance, but when discussing fit,flexibility is the overriding focus. As mentioned before, we all have 3 points of contact on the bike; feet, seat, hands(forearms in the aero position). And this is a relatively static position in a tri fit. A fitter must focus on flexibility as it relates to the rider and the position, as this will often be what is limiting a rider from maximum power generation, comfort or stability.

Why does flexibility play such a big role in power? Think about when you are at the gym doing the bench press. Ever seen those huge guys pushing massive amounts of weight? Their ROM(range of motion) is not extreme, they tend to not allow the weight to come all the way down, as this over stretches their muscles and compromises their ability to attain maximal power. Not the best example, I know, but the point is that in a tri position, adressing a riders flexibility not only helps to maintain neutral biomechanics but will put the rider in a position that allows him/her to maximize power generation. It is not incorrect to argue that everyone can flex their leg to 25 degrees and bring it around on a road bike, but what about spinal flexibility, glutes, hamstrings, calfs. The body is a chain, and you have to consider every link when fitting it to a machine like a bicycle.

Dave
Quote Reply