The Body Geometry fit is a complete system that's scientifically tested to improve power, endurance, and comfort. Its key difference over other fit services in the market is that it takes into consideration the individual characteristics of each athlete. It starts off with an interview discussing the athlete's concerns, goals, past injuries, etc., and proceeds to a detailed physical assessment determining flexibility and dimensions of the body, which is critical to the customization of the athlete's bike position and equipment. Ride analysis, the actual fitting process, and a follow-up with the fitter, complete the 5-steps of the Body Geometry fit.
Here's a little Q&A with VJ Varada, fit instructor at SBCU (Specialized Bicycle Components University), to answer all your questions about the fit process and why you should definitely get one. He also did my fit recently, and I'll be sharing my experience below.
VJ: Our bodies, whether in state of training or adopting a sedentary lifestyle, are always adapting. We are all unique – biomechanically as humans we aren’t made for riding. The bike fit maximizes the efficiency in the marriage of bike and rider. The goal is to have the bike adapt to our unique body structure, not vice versa.
M: More experienced/competitive riders are often hesitant to go for new bike fits. How can a new bike fit work for them?
VJ: High level athletes have a stronger capacity mentally, and at times they turn away from changing their positions simply because they are well synced with their power output on the bike. However, a lot of high level athletes that we work with today have started to see the light in fits, as fits continue to maximize their efficiency when their bodies go through a lot more throughout their sporting career.
M: What are the advantages of Body Geometry Fit over other fit services in the market?
VJ: Our methodology takes into account a rider’s bodily structure. Our step-by-step process is structured, analytical, and serves as a checklist for the key contact points. Also, we take into account the frontal view (where little or no methodologies adopt) of maximizing the pedal stroke efficiency.
And with Retul tools, our fit specialists become more efficient, and provide a higher level of accuracy. This technology helps us to see live data capture while the rider is pedaling. And visually for the rider, it creates an interaction as they learn about their potential on the bike.
VJ: Always look out for a shop that allows you to measure your sit bone widths, because everyone is unique and different. Women generally fall on the right side of the bell curve (from narrow to wide), due to child bearing purposes.
Also, if the shop allows for testing of the recommended saddle(s), that’s another huge win. Because some of us just don’t have the ability to buy tons of saddles to swap out every other day.
You should also invest in a good pair of bib shorts.
M: What are the most common mistakes/issues you see newbies have with their set-up?
VJ: NOT HAVING A BIKE FIT is always no.1 on that list. We have seen triathletes tend to sit more forwards and low - the thought process there is the ability to get more aero and increased power output, which isn’t always the case.
When you are too low, feeding can be an issue, as gravity helps us to push our food and liquids down the esophagus.
Another common issue with being too low is a closed-up hip angle. This affects the run leg of triathletes, as they are placing their gluteus muscle group closer to its limit.
Sitting too forward throws off bike handling as you are loading weight forwards of the bottom bracket. It also creates tension during in the shoulders and neck when riders look up the road (yes, you do need to see where you are going!).
Having a really cool carbon aero cockpit which provides little to no adjustment abilities.
M: What are the most common complaints/issues that athletes raise?
VJ: Lower back pain is probably one of the most common things we hear during the interview process, second to saddle sores. There’s an array of reasons that leads to back pain but the common two include:
1. Poor pelvic rotation due to inappropriate saddle shape/widths causing riders to compress the lower region (lumbar) of their spine.
2. An inappropriate saddle to handlebar (or aero pad) drop – be it too high or too low.
M: How does a bike fit help address these issues?
VJ: During the fit process, the first contact point we look to optimize is the interaction of the rider and his choice of saddle. This accounts for placing the rider in a neutral sitting position, allowing them to rotate their pelvis without having increased pressure in the soft tissue region.
As the fit process moves along, bar or aero pad drop relate closely to a rider’s flexibility in his/her hamstrings, cervical range of motion, core weakness and ego (yes... everyone wants to emulate the pros, and this accounts for a lot of inappropriate front end setup).
We assess different cues from the rider whilst pedaling though a range of stem lengths, angles and bar widths. The goal is to find an optimal reach and drop in the different hand positions for the given cockpits used.
- Sit down and put your shoes on and tighten as you would normally (with or without socks as you would wear them in a race or for training)
- With feet on the ground, feel for the ball of your foot (1st metatarsal) on the inside/medial side of the shoe. Mark the center of the ball with a pen over some tape.
- Many cyclists place the center of the cleat in line with the ball of the foot, but VJ and BG fit system recommend placing the center of the cleat 5mm behind this point.
- Most cleats will have a marker on the side where the center of the pedal axle will be. Place your cleat on the shoe to align the cleat marker with the 5mm line. This will be a good neutral starting point.
- The bike fit will help you finetune adjustments on the cleat, especially for athletes who need to make considerations for being bow-legged, have uneven pedal stroke, natural rotation of foot on one side, etc.
VJ's tips on choosing cleat/pedal system:
VJ: Most cleat and pedal systems today have an easy exit system. Choice ends up being about what looks great and manageable for cost. One crucial point to be aware of is the cleat itself. Always ensure it allows for a range of float. Some cleats have either no float at all or provide you with too much float (float is the ability for your shoe to rotate over the center of the pedal). The structure of our knee is not a symmetrical joint, therefore requiring float at the pedal. This allows the knee to move in its natural range.
For athletes in the Philippines, you may inquire at Specialized Pasong Tamo at +63 2553 4919. We currently have 3 trained and certified fit specialists – namely Andy Leuterio, Ige Lopez and Raoul Floresca.