Friday, September 14, 2012

Specialized buys Retul - Big News in the Bike Fit World

As a dedicated and certified bike fitter; I'll say that the changes we have seen in the last decade in the tools and technology available have infinitely improved our ability to really, truly fit someones bicycle to their unique body structure and needs. The news of the last few days stands to drive the industry to take another big step forward - which is great news for cyclists everywhere.

Fresh on the heels of Cannondale Cycling Group's announcement that seems to hint an a purchase of Canada's Guru Bikes; Specialized drops their own (and in my opinion; a characteristically bigger) bomb by announcing their purchase of the Retul fitting system.

Both of these announcements carry some gravity. Cannondale's expected acquisition of Guru - to be announced at the upcoming Interbike Trade Show in Las Vegas later this month - brings an estabilished and respected fitting system under their roof as well as a very good tool in the form of Guru's fit bike. I've used a number of fitting and cycles in my career - albeit lower tech than the two I am writing about here - in the Waterford FitMaster and Serotta SizeCycle (the latter being the defacto industry standard for decades). They're a spectacularly useful tool when wielded properly and a weapon of disaster when in the hands of an untrained user.

The Guru cycle and Retul's new "Muve" tool represent a step in the right direction in terms of accuracy, repeatability; and frankly, idiot-proofing. Specialized in my opinion made the better move as Retul's suite of motion capture and the new fitting bike mesh nicely with Specialized's BG Fit program (of which I became a Certified Master Technician in 2010) by adding a new dimension to their D.A.T.A. video analysis tools and augmenting the whole system with the Muve. This, of course also turns a competitor in the arena of fitting systems into an ally as ReTul was probably Specialized's biggest threat in terms of bike fit authority.

"O.K., Matt, enough editorializing - what does this mean?" Well, much like when carpenter's tools began getting laser sights to help make sharper, straighter, more accurate cuts - better, more precise fitting tools enable a competent fit technician to create a position that is closer to ideal for a rider. Similarly - a laser fitted to a circular saw does not make anyone an expert carpenter and fitting tools with the latest and greatest in technological advancement do not make someone a master bike fitter.

Your bike fitter needs to have years of experience; having seen hundreds if not thousands of bodies with numerous capabilities and ailments on bicycles in order to serve your unique needs best. So; seek out these new tools - they're great! I am a big fan of  D.A.T.A, ReTul, and Guru's systems. But before you plunk down the coin to get a fitting done; research and interview. Make sure you're comfortable and confident in the person with the tools in their hands. You are entrusting your comfort, performance, and future injury potential in them and all the flashy, shiny, whiz-bang tools in the world won't mean a thing if they mess something up and don't have the depth of experience to fix it.

Bottom line though - there has never been a better time to be serious about getting your bike fitted. You will be sure to find good options around you if you look hard enough. Starting with stores with these tools at their disposal is a great place to begin your search.

Thoughts, questions, or ideas about these systems or fitting in general? Leave a comment...


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