The Retul Fit Part -2 Part one can be found HERE. When I arrived at Studeo DNA’s fit studio in Carlsbad, Chris was just finishing up with another rider, so I got into my cycling kit and had a seat. The first thing Chris had me do was walk back and forth across the room in bare feet while Chris watched to look for signs of excessive eversion/inversion ( toes out or toes in) as well as excessive pronation or supination ( inward or outward rolling of the heel). The idea here is that someone will walk with a gait that is natural for them and that this foot position may need to be replicated on the bike. This is where cleat shims and similar tool are often utilized. My walking position was generally neutral, so that made this part relatively simple.
The next step was to run me through a few strength and flexibility tests to ascertain how these things may affect my bike fit. I never thought of myself as particularly flexible, nor do I have 6 pack abs, but I was rated as “ high” to “medium” on all flexibility metrics and “high” on the core strength test. Next, Chris verified that my cleats were evenly placed on my shoes, and he put me on the bike on a trainer that was on a level platform. While on the bike, Chris checked the cleat placement to ensure that the balls of my feet where at the center of the pedal axles. Once that was done, he began placing small Velcro dots on anatomical points on my feet, legs, torso, shoulders, arms and hands. This was done on both the right side, as the motion capture measures both sides of your body. The proper placement of these dots is important, as all measurements are taken from the points. Once the dots where properly placed Chris attached the Retul Motion capture sensors to the Velcro dots, and turned on the motion capture camera. He then had me pedal at my own preferred cadence at an easy, moderate and “ a little bit hard” effort level using an electronically controlled trainer that allowed him to control the watts. While I pedaled, the motion capture camera took data samples for 15 seconds at each effort level, and this was repeated for both the left and right sides. It is important to take data samples at these different effort levels, as you may well pedal differently when you are noodling along the coast vs when you are getting on the pedals hard during a race or other hard effort.
When the data capture was done, we looked at many different joint angles, at different points in space, and how they changed while I pedaled. The 3 aperture setup of the Retul system allows the the system to measure your movement in 3 dimensions. So while the camera is on one side, it measure not only up and down, left and right, but backwards and forwards as well. All of these angles are then compared to a set of norms developed by Retul after measuring many, many riders. My angles position, and movements were all well within the norms given by Retul, but we did notice that one my right side that my knee was moving a tiny bit more forward of the pedal spindle than what was expected. In an attempt to remedy this, we moved by saddle up, by just a tiny bit (3.5mm) and forward just a bit (5mm). Then we went through the motion capture process again, and looked at the data. There was very little change in my joint angles or the way my knee moved forward of the pedal spindle, but neither Chris nor I found this to be much of a big deal in the first place, and I had no pain or discomfort, so we decided to leave the bike as it was. We finished up and I got back into my street clothes while Chris used the Retul system to take measurements on my bike, and prepared a report on my bike and my fit.
Retul isn’t really a “fit system”, I would describe it more accurately as a “dynamic position measuring system.” The advantage of the Retul system is that it gives completely objective measurements, and catches things that they naked eye may not see. Once the data are collected, it is up to the fitter to use that information to help him determine your position and what, if anything, should change. Relying on an actual person to use all the information possible is, in my opinion, the best way to go about fitting someone on the bike. Some “fit systems” attempt to measure all of your segment lengths and then plug it into an algorithm to tell the fitter where to put your contact points. But as I’ve said previously, the experience of the fitter, the personal observations, and quite simply the “gut” of the fitter are just as important as anything else. So the Retul system does not fit you too the bike, it gives the fitter information that can be used to help fit you and your bike.
There was no “Eureka!” moment for me. We made very minor changes ( 3.5 mm is almost as minor as it can get) that I may or may not keep. But I went into Studeo DNA with no major issues, and a comfortable bike position that works well for me. Someone that has issues with tightness, pain, discomfort, etc, may make more significant changes to their fit, and could potentially get much more from I bike fit than I did. My only criticism of the whole process is that it is done one a trainer, and you simply don’t pedal the exact same way on a trainer, as you do outdoors. Doing bike fits on a trainer is fairly standard these days though, and the stationary trainer offers a level of measurement and observation that would be very difficult to replicate when you are hammering along on your group ride.
After we finished the whole fit, and made the minor changes to my bike, Chris went about what he called “zinning” my bike. He used the Retul system to measure my to precise location of my wheels, saddle, handlebars, my bike geometry and more. These measurements were all part of the report that he gave when we were done, and proved to be quite valuable. A few days after the appointment at Studeo DNA, a custom Kirklee carbon fiber frame that I had been waiting for arrived on my doorstep. My mechanic was able to use the information, and the precise measurements made by the Retul system to replicate all of my contact points so that they were exactly the same as on my Time. Chris later told me that a some of his customers told him that bike setup report alone was worth the trip to see him. Another bonus is that Chris will see you again within two weeks with no additional charge. That way you get to try out any changes in the real world, and then come back if they aren't working for you. A "free" return visit is an absolutely essential part of a high end bike fit, and I would guard against working any fitter that won't follow up on his work.
If you want to check out Studeo DNA and the Retul system yourself, Chris told me that they are having an open house this Saturday June 25th. You can just drop in and check the place out, or you can bring you bike and gear so that they can put you on the trainer and take some measurements. Getting those measurements will be only $25, and you can apply that to a full bike fit if you wish. There is an Evite HERE. and a Facebook invitation HERE.
Below a some of the documents Studeo DNA provided me after the fit: