A tale of two fits

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time and money on bike fits. I’ve traveled for fittings and have had good results, but I’m always searching for that elusive position that allows me to ride for as long as my fitness will allow, and not having to stop because something hurts.

My quest sent me up to Ohio one season and when we were finished, my feelings were really good on the bike. Especially the gravel bike. I felt I could go out for long extended periods without too much issue….until the one day that my left clear came loose. I had not marked the location (mistake) and so I was left trying to put it back and from then on, things didn’t feel great.

So, I went in to see a longtime buddy that was closer to me for a fit.

Both of these are Retul fittings. What has me scratching my head, is how far off each one is.

The initial (Ohio) had me much higher on the saddle and also more reach on the MTB.

I never raced in that position.

The most recent fitting, had me much lower and initially, all things seemed to be going well.
Until….my feet starting really hurting. At first it was at the three hour mark, then it has gotten worse.

I say all this to say, why would both fits be so far apart. The saddle height was about 20mm different.

Curious as to what others have experienced.

Hump

1 Like

I had a retul fit years ago and I think their mistake was to concentrate on the most powerful position rather than aero. And the fitter had his own ideas on comfort too which probably influenced an upright position too. A later eye/dynamic fit put me in a more aero position which I am currently more comfortable in. My body might change that in future.

2 Likes

Have you tried using the cleat from the other shoe to locate the one that shifted? It sounds like the first position was the better one. Some fitters keep the fit coordinates for people, so I would check with the original fitter to see if he can get you back to that setup.

Unfortunately, bike fitting is still very much an art vs a science, despite the development of measurement systems like Retul. Fitters bring their own experiences (or lack thereof) to each session and it often evolves over time.

Can you give us some more details on why you decided on a full fit the second time? It seemed your first fit was working well and you just needed to get the cleat repositioned. That wouldn’t necessarily require a full fittting…was there another issue you wanted addressed?

2 Likes

I’ve been through the same process with a triathlon and road bike. I, too, have driven over three hours for a fitting (2x, with two different fitters) only to discover that I still wasn’t comfortable. Than I was fitted from a guy about 45 minutes from me, much better fit on the triathlon bike. The road bike is still a work in progress, I am still having soreness issues that I believe (I could be wrong) from an improper fitting.

Like you I was shocked when each fitting comes back so differently. Every fit is done with the Retul fitting system, seems to be the only thing fitters use now, maybe because it is easy. Where I believe most fitters go wrong is following what Retul “says” instead of using Retul as a general guidance and go from there.

All of my fittings have transpired the same way. They find an “acceptable” fit per Retul, than am asked to ride for 10 minutes and asked the question, how does it feel? I have a basic idea how my body feels, but not how it will feel after 2-3 hours of riding. It is definitely frustrating, I need to go back and have my fit redone on the road bike. Even though I live in the Dallas / Ft Worth metroplex there isn’t anyone that comes “highly” recommended.

1 Like

No help on fit but for cleat issues try this jig for cleat placement. This one is for SPD-SL but, they have Speed play, Look and SPD: Amazon.com

No different than any profession, fitters come in all levels of ability and related results. Think of the range of results you have with mechanics, then add the variability that comes with introducing a 2nd human into the equation, and you get a complex situation.

Despite some promise in the complex tools like Retul, they can give false hope in the “accuracy and reliability” of the fitting process. I’ve seen & used those tools when at fit school, but we don’t have the client base to justify investing in it. It is more than a bit buggy from time to time for one issue. I also believe it can serve as a complicating factor as much as a solution in some fits.

So much depends on the rider and fitter relationship during the process. There can be communication issues that lead to good and bad results as much as the pure ability of the fitter. It’s not a simple or clear cut process. I still use the “simple” tools and try my best to understand the rider and their desires. But at times, it is super difficult. And as mentioned, trying to get a fit in the condensed timeframe, as well as on a static trainer in most cases, doesn’t always lead to direct and beneficial result when the rider gets outside.

Long winded way to say that the tools are just that, tools. The real key here is the fitter. I would gladly pick a seasoned fitter with a tape measure and level over a Retul fitter if I knew their abilities differed. It may take some trial and error with fitters to find one that really works for you. Make use of the follow up discussion & appointments. And do your best during the fit to communicate your needs as best as possible.

5 Likes

Am I the only one who wishes the retul fit equipment needs updating?
This system is 100hz/fps:

Velologic 30fps

Retul? 18 Hz/fps:

Sure when it first came out that was great. Technology has improved but retul hardware isn’t. When I was in a retul fit I was told to pedal slower so it could capture my position but I feel changing cadence also impacts how my legs move in other ways too. Maybe not by much but maybe enough to impact fit

@HumpDiesel Try a leomo device? In the thinking your fit changes as your body wears out so might tell you more:

Its only $14,000 for hardware, guessing software is a yearly cost:

Yeah, with roughly 25 clients per year in our “cycling desert”… ROI is longer than my lifeline :stuck_out_tongue:

I will stick with my basic tools and hope I do a good enough job for my riders :+1:

3 Likes

I’ve had two “fits” over the years. First was a professional fitter/bike mechanic in NE Ohio in January 2021. It was a great experience. He didn’t use RETUL but was very familiar with the system. His take on it was that it can be a useful tool to get to an 80% solution, but that an experienced fitter is better at taking each riders individual strengths/weaknesses/needs into account to get to the best 100% solution for that rider. After a flexibility/mobility assessment we began talking about goals, riding experiences, any nagging issues and upcoming cycling events. We used my road bike on his wheel-on trainer in conjunction with a system that used multiple cameras/computer software to record me while I went through multiple pedaling drills. The system made it very easy for me to understand the changes he was making to my bike and the reasoning behind it. He quickly assessed I wasn’t optimizing my glutes and that my pedaling was bit off on my left side, most likely due to some past injuries. Saddle/bars/cleats were adjusted until we hit the sweet spot. Took about 3hrs in total; he also provided a print out of all the measurements/changes so I could recreate it on another bike or if I made changes. Very good experience.

2nd fit was with the builder who made my custom steel road/all-road bike March 2021. He performed a similar assessment/interview and made a number of measurements and observed me riding on a trainer with one of his personal bikes, as I didn’t have my bike with me and we are very similar in size. His assessment for the frame buildup was very close to the fitter’s set up, and he used the fitter’s notes to slightly tweak my frame design prior to construction. I’m supremely happy with this bike and feel like I can ride it all day.He also wasn’t a big fan of the RETUL system, as he believed that it tries to assign a “number” to an individual and takes the “art” of fitting and knowing how each individual rides out of the equation.

Word to your mother right here. Preach it brother Chad!

It’s easy to get caught up in our N=1 worlds with this but, man have I been messed from a Retul fit/fitter. Some my own fault as I should have known changing anything more than a cm or two can be a recipe for disaster.

Since then I’ve been going to the same guy for over a decade maybe two now. I forget. I go every couple years now as fit really hasn’t changed. Honestly, I only go when I get a new bike and just need to verify it’s set up to my numbers. Last fit we changed nothing but, the peace of mind is invaluable.

2 Likes

So any recommendations in the Southeast?

Carolinas, Georgia?

Hump

I sure don’t specifically, but here are some resources that may be helpful:

Other than that, making calls to shops and/or checking their websites to see if they offer fitting is a start. Also, if there are any local cycling groups, some will have first experience that may help as well.

Also:
Guru:
Dealer Locator (like retul in that they are a fit methodology)
velologic:
Bike fit near me

2 Likes