Tim and Zoltan of Sid's invited us to drop by for a visit, check out the newly reorganized shop and brand new bike fit area. Here's some of Zoltan's thoughts on fit, as well as a photo tour of the shop.
@##=#<1,L>@##=#Full disclosure first. Smilie is my coach and he did my bike fit. Since he moved to California, my teammate and friend Mike Sherry has taken over his bike fit business. I have largely drunk the WobbleNaught (the bike fit system Smilie and Mike use) kool-aid. But there's more than one way to skin a cat, and I was certainly interested in hearing what Zoltan had to say, as well as check out his setup.
As much as I didn't want to use the word, (partly because I just looked it up for the first time), Zoltan's approach to bike fit can best be described as 'holistic'. Despite having an enormous array of measuring tools, fit for him comes down to his eye and experience. While the WobbleNaught system is about precise skeletal measurements and a definitive fit, Zoltan will adjust his fits by eye, over time, as well as ride with his clients to see them in action.
But first, let's check out the tools, since I like gear. Zoltan defines fit with four parameters: saddle height from bottom bracket, saddle setback from the BB plumb line, bar reach from the BB plumb line, and bar height from the front axle. To define these numbers, he has four major measuring devices at his disposal. Two measure the body. The first takes the traditional inseam measurement with a crossbar on a vertical riser, as well as the lower leg length. If you've ever had to jam a stick up your crotch while centering a bubble level, you know how nice this thing is. The other takes your height and arm length. Unlike the Fit Kit system, these devices measure you quickly and accurately, without having to measure and re-measure to double check. (I was once measured three times in a row with a Fit Kit, with three different sets of numbers.)
@##=#<3,r>@##=#Tool #3 is a bike stand that grips the front axle with the rear wheel resting on a pair of rollers. It has a granite base to ensure flatness, and vertical rules establish the BB plumb line in space. It's a quick and elegant way to establish saddle setback and bar reach – no need for plumb bobs. The rule can also be used to position the knee relative to the pedal spindle. And no, Zoltan doesn't stick to KOPS (knee over pedal spindle) as a hard and fast rule.
Tool #4 is a virtual bike builder, similar to a Serotta size cycle. This is particularly helpful for custom bike orders, or for extra large or small riders who are less likely to see a bike in their size in the showroom. If a customer were to order a custom frame from, say, Independent Fabrications, Zoltan can create the bike virtually from IF's geometry recommendations and let the customer ride it before signing off. Similarly, if you're between frame sizes, he can recreate each frame size and you can hammer away at them. Unlike the Serotta, the setup is extremely stable, and can withstand a full out of the saddle sprint.
Now back to the holistic part. All that measuring and fitting only gives Zoltan a starting point. He will adjust your fit based on a multitude of factors. For example, he doesn't believe in an exact seat height derived from a formula. Instead, he'll examine your pedaling style and raise or lower as necessary. Likewise, the front end is set to optimize comfort or speed, depending on your riding style. While the trend with many shop fitters is to put you in an upright and 'comfortable' position, Zoltan is a racer through and through, and has no problem putting you in a low, aerodynamic, and powerful position.
On cannot ride on water and mightiness alone, and as I age, I find that I have to pay more attention to my nutritional needs, lest I become an empty husk of veiny gristle.
The fall is here and winter will soon be upon us.