Choosing your bike fitter

The majority of my work as a bike fitter is a result of word to mouth, which is something I am both proud of and incredibly grateful for. In most cases, people know my background as a bike fitter, my process, etc. But in some cases I am surprised when I get asked half way through the bike fit what my bike fitting background is... 

Here are several suggestions for key things to consider before choosing your bike fitter.

 

Personal Recommendation

Ask around to see what other cyclists/triathletes are saying. Of course, not every fitter is right for everyone (the same goes for coaching and any other health care professional), but the same few names will likely keep coming up, which will help you narrow things down a bit more before you can dig a bit deeper.

Happy riders is not the only consideration though!


Taking the time

How long does the fitter claim a bike fit will take? Its normal for fit sessions after the initial one to take less time (unless there were major incidents, like sever crashes or significant change to goals), but if a fitter claims an initial bike fit will take 1-1.5 hours, ask yourself if all factors associated with a bike fit will be taken into account in that time frame.

Make sure the fitter will be patient and take enough time to look at every possible issue. If a fitter agrees to only look at one aspect of your fit having not worked with you before, that should be a red flag - Keep in mind that when you change one aspect of your fit, other aspects will change as a result - its a domino effect! 

At the other end of the spectrum, most bike fits should take 2-2.5 hours, not 3+ hours at the same appointment. While I have had bike fits that take over 3 hours, they were all cases that were quite complex and needed to involve other health care professionals. I find that in complex cases, it is best to split the fit into several parts rather than make the initial appointment longer, as you are likely to get a better long term outcome that way. Which brings us to the next point...


Available network

A good fitter will also have a network of recommended health care professionals like physiotherapists, chiropractors, RMT's, strength & conditioning and sports medicine for their own learning and to recommend to riders as/if needed. These professionals should be open to sharing their findings with the fitter (with consent from the rider, of course) and the fitter should have the knowledge and experience to communicate with health care professionals effectively. 

As mentioned above, I sometimes stop a fitting part way through and refer the rider to a health care professional for further investigation, then book them in to finish the fitting once more information is gathers in collaboration with others. 


Establishing a relationship 

I have seen many fitters work in the field for a few years, then move on to other things. This is not a good thing for riders who are looking to establishing a relationship with a professional... Trust between a rider and a professional is essential and leads to better results, in both the short and long term. Ask other riders if they come back to work with their fitter when they get a new bike, other new equipment, for a yearly follow to make sure everything is good, etc and if they trust their fitters recommendations and advice. 

Of course, trusting your fitter should not mean you follow advice blindly, as the process should be a collaboration between the fitter and the rider. Feeling comfortable enough to have an open and productive dialog with your fitter is important. 


Versatility

Does everyone leaving the fitters studio look like they have been positioned the same? Can your fitter only do one type of bike fit? A good fitter should have experience with all cycling disciplines and ability levels - road (recreational & competitive), TT, track, MTB, triathlon (short course, draft legal, long course). 


Education & experience

Does the fitter have post secondary education in a relevant field (ie. sport science)? What bike fitting education do they have? How do they further their education on a regular basis? 

Education isn't limited to the fitters own education. Can the fitter educate the rider during the fitting process? A good fitter should explain what they are doing and why during the fitting process, including what to expect after the fitting. Ideally, the fitter will also have the ability to look at posture and technique and understand how those affect the position. 

When it comes to experience, look at more than the amount of years doing bike fits - look at volume of fits too. Some fitters might have been doing bike fits for ~15 years, but their weekly average is only 2-3 bike fits... While someone with ~10 years experience does an average of 8-9 bike fits a week. Practice makes perfect!


Tools and take away

While having all the gadgets is fun, they need to be in the right hands. Knowing how to use the tools you have is important and knowing not to rely solely on gadgets is just as important! I have seen a rider who said a fitter used pressure mapping to tell him he is leaning to one side. When I asked what was done to correct that on the bike, I was surprised to hear that nothing was done because the fitter did not know how to fix the underlying issue. Ask the fitter not only what tools they use, but also how they incorporate them into their practice. 

You should have a take away from the fitting session. It can be key points to work on with regards to technique, posture, etc... And what changes were done and why. Having the measurements is important too. The most important thing is that the fitter keeps a record of the fitting session, to refer to down the road as/if needed. 


If you have any questions about me as a bike fitter, feel free to get in touch and ask, or ask in the comments! 

Noa Deutsch
Women and Bikes

There are few things I like more than seeing women getting into cycling, and totally kicking a$$.

I have been involved in cycling on a regular basis in one capacity or another since 1992 and I was usually the only girl in a team of guys. I was always hanging onto the wheels of much bigger, older and stronger guys than myself and I kinda liked being the only girl who could keep up with the boys. Of course, it wasn't just because I was a strong cyclist, it was also due to the fact that there were not many other girls out there riding bikes! 

Over the last 10 years, I have definitely noticed a trend of more and more women getting into cycling/triathlon, and this evening (since it is almost the end of 2016) I decided to not only tally up my yearly bike fits, but also count how many were with male cyclists/triathletes and how many were with women.

The results?! I have done 381 bike fits so far this year, broken into 245 men and 136 women. That's ~35% women... I would love to see the numbers get closer to 50-50 in 2017! 

Throughout the year, I started asking the women coming in to see me for a bike fit a bit more about what they feel they need in order to get more involved in everything two wheels. And now, I ask you too - I would love to get some feedback from women who are either involved in cycling already, or those who would like to get involved:

  1. What are your burning questions about cycling? 
  2. What would you find useful to get started, or to get more serious? 
  3. How do you feel about women specific cycling equipment?
  4. Do you feel comfortable walking into a bike shop when looking for a new bike? How about asking for advice? 
  5. Any relevant experiences you would like to share?

Go ahead, share your experiences and thoughts in the comments, I would love to hear from you! 

Noa

womenNoa Deutschwomen, bike fit
bike Fitting Yearly Plans

I have been bike fitting for ~11 years and have many athletes who have been coming back to see me for years now. They come back for a yearly fit update, when they purchase a new bike, new shoes, saddles, etc. Just this summer, I fitted an athlete whose first fitting with me was 10 years ago! I also work with many athletes who have multiple bikes they want fitted.

As a result, I have been thinking of a way to make this more economical and decided to try a pre-paid yearly plan. 

How this works 

You pay a flat fee in advance and for the following year from the time of purchase, you can book your fitting appointment / consulting time whenever is convenient for you without having to pay at the time of the appointment. The pre-paid plan provides discounts compared with paying for all the included services separately. 

Option #1

This options is great for those who have not been fitted by me before.

  • 1 full bike fit (triathlon, TT, road, cross, track)
  • 2 x 1 hour adjustments that can be used for a half year check up, different bikes, etc
  • Solestar Kontrol insoles
  • 2 x 1 hour consulting time - anything goes. This can be used for equipment selection, new bike purchases, sports nutrition consulting, coaching consulting, race planning and technique coaching. This can be split into 4x 30 min appointments if needed
  • Priority scheduling - More flexibility in scheduling to work with your schedule better, especially at busy times of the year (April-September) 

Investment: Regular price is $1005. Pre-paid price: $825 +gst - $180 savings!

Option #2

This option is for those who have been fitted by Noa previously and have multiple bikes

  • 3 x 1 hour adjustments that can be used for a half year check up, different bikes, etc
  • Solestar Kontrol insoles
  • 2 x 1 hour consulting time - anything goes. This can be used for equipment selection, new bike purchases, sports nutrition consulting, coaching consulting, race planning and technique coaching. This can be split into 4x 30 min appointments if needed
  • Priority scheduling - More flexibility in scheduling to work with your schedule better, especially at busy times of the year (April-September) 

Investment: Regular price is $845. Pre-paid price: $699 +gst - $146 savings!

Note: These pre-paid plans will be available for only 10 people for 2016-2017. To purchase the plan that best suits your needs or for any questions, please get in touch.

Noa Deutsch
Bike Fit Timing

This post first appeared mid Feb 2015 on the PT Performance Training blog. With the launch of this site, dedicated to everything bike fitting, I have decided to re-post it as the first 'knowledge base' entry as it is still a relevant topic. 

'when should I get my bike fit done?' I get asked that by racers of various ability levels, as well as recreational riders quite often, but it's a question that seems to come up more often during the fall and winter. Come spring and summer, my bike fitting schedule gets very tight because most people see that as the perfect time to get a fit done (between May and September, it usually takes 7-14 days to see me for a bike fit). But is it? When is a good time to get a bike fit? 

Well, the obvious answer is now. If you think you might need a bike fit, you probably do... So why wait until you get really uncomfortable or even worse, injured? 

In anticipation for spring / summer

Many triathletes and cyclists, especially at a recreational level, ride much less over the fall and winter compared with the spring and summer. Then when they start increasing their riding time, they get uncomfortable. The bike doesn't feel right. Maybe some niggles start popping up. If their bike was properly fitted to begin with, they will get used to it and everything will feel good after a short adaptation period. Most of us have been in that situation before... I know I have. But if the bike was not fitted properly, those aches and pains might not go away, increasing the risk of injury, which is when a proper bike fit is definitely needed.

Getting a bike fit done in the winter / early spring, in anticipation to the increase in riding time is a better idea - look at it as prevention, rather than reaction. Of course, proper training progression is a key factor in all of this too and many times during a fitting session, I make recommendations in that area as well (the perks of getting fitted by someone who has a lot of coaching experience). 

Winter miles

If you do put in a lot of indoor trainer time and/or winter bike miles in the fall / winter, getting a bike fit done on the bike(s) you use most is important to make sure imbalances do not get created and that you are comfortable, especially on your indoor trainer, as there is less movement in and out of the saddle as there might be on the road - riding is a lot more static indoors and being comfortable is important!

If you spend time at the track or on a cross bike during the winter, having those bikes fitted is important too. 

For beginners

At the beginner level end of the spectrum, many aren't sure how the bike is supposed to feel and need the help of a professional to guide them through the process. This should be done as soon as they start riding for two main reasons:

  1. I find that many people simply stop riding their bike if they are uncomfortable and their bike is left to collect dust. That sucks. Truth be told, I have seen that among higher level athletes too, who have multiple bikes (eg. road bike and triathlon bike among triathletes), and they just spend all their time on one bike instead of both, because one does not feel right. 
  2. I have seen cyclists who get so used to feeling uncomfortable on their bikes, they think its normal! The look of surprise & delight on their face after a few adjustments is priceless (and a big part of why I love my job so much). 

For racers

On the other scale of the spectrum, for those who race at various levels, it is often a good idea to get a bike fit before the race season starts. I have been doing bike fits for ~11 years and get a lot of repeat business, which most people find surprising, but I think it makes a lot of sense to develop a long term relationship with your fitter. After the initial fitting, additional fitting sessions typically mean changed that are less significant, or if they are significant still - I can anticipate how the athlete will respond to the changes and be able to make better progression recommendations. I have done many minor adjustments for some very high level athletes with a goal of optimizing the position during racing season, but these were to gain an extra advantage, not to completely overhaul the position. 

This is a big reason why the initial fitting should be done at a quieter time of the year, with optimizing done as and if needed later on. Get the basics done right early in the season and move forward from there type thing. Doing an initial bike fit earlier in the year also allows us to detect any imbalances you might have and work towards fixing them as needed, often collaborating with other health care professionals (physiotherapists, chiropractors, massage therapists, strength and conditioning, etc). Doing this gradually when training load is often not as high is a good thing instead of waiting until the race season hits. 

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How often?

On a related side note - I recommend getting your bike fit looked at on a yearly basis. Goals change, your body changes and the amount/type of training and racing you are doing changes too. Not to mention more obvious things like equipment changes such as shoes, saddles (this is actually a big aspect that most ignore), pedal systems, crank length, etc. Oh, and when getting a new bike! 

Questions about bike fit timing? Or other bike fit related questions? Ask in the comments or get in touch! I am also in the process of putting together a very comprehensive bike fitting FAQ section, so if there is something you think needs to be included in it, I'm all ears.

 

Noa Deutsch