Saturday, May 05, 2012

Retul Bike Fit & Saddle Study

This past Thursday, I was offered an incredible opportunity to get a road bike fit and take part in a Fizik saddle study at the Retül's headquarters in Boulder, CO. Retül technology is a 3D bike fitting system designed for trained bike fitters to capture extremely comprehensive data as it relates to a rider's position on their bike. The system is so sophisticated that it can produce immediate reports with millimeter-accurate digitizing tools which help to provide riders with the most accurate and dynamic fit possible. In my opinion proper bike fit is one of the single most important factors for optimal performance and efficiency, injury prevention, and comfort on the bike, so there was no way I was passing this up!

The first part of the session began with a full body analysis to see if there were any funky nuances going on with my legs, hips, feet, etc. Leg length discrepancies are highly common and can really affect your efficiencies on the bike. As abnormal as I am, luckily, my legs happen to be the same length!

We then moved on to test my flexibility. Fizik recently launched an advertising campaign for their men's saddles called 'Find your inner animal'. After lots of testing, Fizik found that a male rider's flexibility lends itself to a particular saddle shape.

This 'Spine Concept' device measures your flexibility in 3 different levels. If you are not very flexible, you are considered a 'Bull', if you are extremely flexible, you are labeled a 'Snake' and if you're somewhere in the middle, you're categorized as a 'Chameleon'.

I'm no yogi, but I did fall in the 'Snake' category.

The purpose of the study was test out the three new women's Fizik prototype saddles that were designed based on the same flexibility standards as the men's product line.

Before we got started with the saddle study, we needed to make sure that I was properly fit on my new Litespeed Ci2. We went through the full 'Retul fit process' collecting every possible measurement and angle a bike fitter could ever want!

I had been riding in a pretty aggressive position (which is probably why I couldn't get comfortable), so we flipped my stem, moved my saddle slightly forward and straightened my saddle so that it was pointed one degree down instead of a degree up...I swear my level said it was flat when I set it garage must be sloped :)

After getting my bike dialed, we proceeded to do a full spin scan which gives endless data about the workload, torque, etc on each leg during a normal spin cycle. We also added a shim to my right cleat to prevent a little pronation of my right knee.

The final protocol for the saddle test was to determine at which power output I was expending approximately 60% of my max effort. We went through a simulation similar to a lactate threshold test and found the appropriate wattage to use for the study.

The study itself was probably the easiest after all the initial setup. After the prototype saddle was secured in the proper position, I was re-attached to the Retül fitting system to gather the appropriate data then we performed another spin scan. I then did a 6 minute tempo effort at the pre-determined watts and my heart rate was measured and recorded every 30 seconds. We repeated this for each of the three saddles.

I wasn't particularly impressed with the various saddles but then again, I've never been able to use a seat without a cut out. Even if it's constructive criticism, I'm sure Fizik will be happy about it :) I cannot express how extremely thankful for the incredible opportunity and cannot thank Todd Carver enough for the new bike fit. I took the bike out Friday morning for a ride and it was a night and day difference!

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