Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

A Bike Fitting at ProFeet with Retul’s System

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As per my previous post on bike fittings, I believe a bike fit if one of the most important steps in buying a new bike. It not only guarantees comfort on the bike during long rides, but also improves performance as the legs are placed in the most optimal angle to transfer power.

There are various different types of bike fits, the most basic are the static variety which merely take your measurements while standing still, and the most comprehensive are the dynamic fits which involve a fit technician evaluating your position relative to an ideal.

ProFeet is a well established store that specialize in ski boot and running shoe fits, typically involving the creation of a custom insole to correct any misalignment in your stride. They recently started doing bike fits and the head technician is Jonny Morrison.

As ProFeet happens to be on my way to where I typically ride, I happened to walk in on the store one day shortly after they set up the cycling fitting station and noticed that Jonny was using the Retul system. Other systems I’ve used before involve the usual rulers and more ‘mechanical’ methods of measuring body angles, but the Retul system uses LEDs mounted on the body and a stand with receivers to track your body’s movement accurately and provide you with a more accurate representation of your pedaling style.

I was curious… how close to my other fits would a fit with ProFeet be? Was the Retul system a gimmick or was it actually capable of giving data that was not only accurate but ‘usably’ accurate?

The whole fit process within ProFeet takes about 2 hours.. mine took a little longer because I was asking questions left and right for the purposes of this article, but generally speaking 2 hours should do. ProFeet’s scheduling isn’t particularly accommodating to late night workers, so you may struggle to find a time in the near future… just keep that in mind when trying to find a booking.

1) The goals – The first part of the fitting is Jonny asking you what you want to do, how you ride, etc.. to some extent you will be fitted depending on what kind of bike you ride… as I ride a regular road bike, he’s unlikely to go for a time-trial position… but during this interview process is when Jonny assesses what you want and what you are experiencing that gives you discomfort. Luckily for me, I did have a minor issue in that when I changed saddles, it affected my saddle height due to the reduced padding.

2) The physical assessment – After the interview, Jonny sent me down with one of his colleagues who is a sports therapist and evaluated me for flexibility issues and any limb-length discrepancies. These come into play when adjusting my bike position as my flexibility and legs will determine the range of possible alternatives. Turns out, like many others, I have some minor length differences between my two legs.. and my flexibility is ‘alright’.

3) The power exerted on the feet – After the assessment, I went back upstairs to meet Jonny who had taken the insoles out of my shoes and placed these odd pads within them. Per his explanation, these pads, typically used to create shoes for people with severe diabetes, would measure the ‘pressure zones’ of my feet. Upon putting them on and pedaling for a bit, it turned out that I used my big toe of my right foot quite a bit. This could possibly mean that I had my cleat position a bit too forward as well as having a leg length discrepancy put too much effort on one leg in the down stroke vs another (due to my fixed saddle height).


4) The foot beds – After step 3 above, Jonny said that due to my output data, he recommended I get some insoles.. now.. don’t get me wrong, I had a the usual feeling of customer paranoia… being that, well you’re in an insole shop, the likelihood is that they will try and sell you an insole is quite high.. but I said.. what the hell.. if I’m going to try and ‘fix’ an issue that I know I have, I might as well jump all the way in and see if the ‘comprehensive’ solution works. If I had all the time in the world, I’d perhaps go ‘variable’ by ‘variable’, but then yours truly would go nuts.

Jonny therefore put me up on a chairs that they use to fit insoles for not only ski boots, but also running shoes, and created some insoles to put in my shoes. Once these were done, we moved on to the next part of the fit. However, it would have been great to see if the new cleat position and the new insoles rectified the issue that was identified in step 3 above.

5) The Retul System baseline on both sides – Now came the magic. During this period, Jonny put sticky dots all along one side of my body and asked me to pedal for a while. During this period, the Retul system basically took measurements on my back angle, leg compression angle, etc. while moving… while pedaling. This is something that is typically done ‘by eye’ with other fitting systems.

6) The Retul System to adjust the leg wobbling – Once both sides were baselined, Jonny started to make adjustments relative to his ideal position for me. He took some time to adjust my setup so that I’d reduce the amount of leg wobble that I experienced. By the time we were done, I could see, via the Retul output that my knee no longer tracked in a circular path, but rather a straighter one.. I also noticed only my left knee tracked straight whereas my right knee in a loop.


The end result has been quite interesting… I was given some measurements that were generally speaking quite close to what my previous bike fits (what I used as my control variable) had yielded with the only difference being the seatpost setback being zero in order to accommodate the new fore/aft position of the saddle. During this process, I wish Jonny had more spare parts so that we could have tried various setbacks rather than just the one I had (and the one he kindly let me try by borrowing his seat post), but we were able to make do. In the end, only time will tell if this is the correct position for me, but I now have a better fit, particularly in the knee and foot area than I had before. It is amazing, however, to see how close non-computer systems came to my fitting (minus the knees and feet). What was different with Profeet’s Retul system  above and beyond others was the knee tracking and foot power adjustments. Call it.. the ‘final details’ in a bike fit.. not all fittings offer this.

RECOMMENDED.

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Comments

2 Responses to “A Bike Fitting at ProFeet with Retul’s System”
  1. James says:

    Hi

    Could you describe the fit process?

    Do they start with the cleats and then go from there?

    If I went and didn’t take the orthotics do you think the benefit of the fit would be lost?

    Did the fit include a detailed examination of muscle imbalances/tight muscles etc… and did you they prescribe any exercises for you to take away to perhaps complement the bike fit?

    Thanks

    James

  2. The fit process involved micro adjustments once we had an idea of where I needed to be.
    As for where they start, I’m not sure it’d be the same for everyone.. I spent more time on my saddle fore/aft.
    If you didn’t bring your orthotics, the measurements would be off.. yes…
    As for muscle imbalances.. they did.. a physio assessed me prior to the fit, but being that they aren’t ‘doctor’s they don’t prescribe anything.

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