Fit To Be Tried
In any sport, there are egghead designers and engineers dedicated to the ever-changing and delicate science of Kicking Ass. Cycling is no exception – every year, millions of dollars are spent on the development of lighter, faster and more aerodynamic bikes and accessories. In fact I’m guessing the only group who spends as much on science these days is Nasa.
But the two-wheeled spaceships we ride are only one part of the equation. There is a whole other science devoted to studying how our heavy and exceptionally un-aerodynamic bodies work with these highly sophisticated weapons of mass destruction. After all, the thing that slows any bike down the most, regardless of it’s engineering, weight or price tag, is you.
So it doesn’t matter if you have the sweetest bike in the world (which you don’t because I have it now) – if it doesn’t fit you or you are not positioned properly, you are risking injury, discomfort, and significantly compromising your potential to crush your riding buddies in the sprint to the overpass.
Enter the all new Specialized BG Fit, a video fit process now available at our very own Alter Ego. Over the last number of years The Alter Boys have been flying around to top secret test labs in order to get certified for this cutting-edge assessment technology. When I was asked to be a guinea pig with the new Madone, I jumped at the chance. If I was going to spend more on a bike than my first car, I wanted to make sure it was the right bike for me. You wouldn’t buy a pair of shoes before trying them on, (God knows all size 9’s are not created equal) so why would you invest 40 or 50 times that on a bike without making sure it fits?
I came prepared, making sure to bring a proper pair of cycling shorts and top to match the bike (not required, but recommended in order to look pro), as well as my bike shoes and a very special pair of pedals for good luck.
The process begins with a verbal pre-fit assessment, basically an interview to determine your injury history and cycling goals. Thankfully (and incredibly) my list for the latter was far longer than the former. Next up was a physical assessment, a process that involves some amount of poking and prodding to record your unique structure, flexibility and other idiosyncrasies. James was sure to let me know what he was going to do before he did it, and expertly instructed me on where to stand, and what to do as he gently pulled and twisted my limbs this way and that, much to the amusement of the other people in the shop.
Next came the fun part. I finally got to sit on the bike – MY bike – which was set into a stationery trainer. Even on the trainer it felt awesome. Smooth, sexy and shifts like a dream. The fit room has video cameras directly in front of the bike, as well as on the left side. There was a screen in front of me as well so I could see myself (I looked fabulous because of the matching outfit, plus I made sure to shave my legs). James sat at the computer, with a screen in front of him where he could observe, record and measure my position and body angles at every point of the pedal stroke.
Everything looked good, but something was not quite right. The saddle, while super sweet, was just a hair (ok, maybe more) too narrow for my… ahem… sit bones, causing all of my body weight to rest painfully on the tender, uh, soft tissues. This kind of needless pressure on the bits, while uncomfortable for women, can be even more problematic for men, who can be rendered sterile or even impotent due to lack of circulation to the vital man parts. Which is fine, if you don’t like children or sex.
It was very clear that this man saddle was not going to work, and James quickly swapped it out for an equally sexy girl saddle of the appropriate measurement, with a nice cut-out. The saddle is black, as opposed to white, which seems a more sensible (and hopefully slimming) solution. James also moved the saddle forward 5mm.
I hopped back on the bike and we took some new video, which when compared to the earlier one, showed some very interesting differences. Something as seemingly minor as an ill-fitting saddle had caused me to change my body position. My back was rounded, and I had slid to the back of the saddle, therefore compromising my hip angle, knee angle and reach into a far less efficient position. Changing the saddle and it’s position had dramatically improved my position and comfort.
Good Position + Comfort + Sweet New Bike = Overpass Podium
All fitted up and ready to go, I pulled out my credit card to pay for my sweet new bike. James keyed in the numbers and slid the card into the machine, which in turn asked for my PIN.
Uh, my…. PIN?????
It’s a new card. Or rather a card that we’ve had for a while and not really used, other than a recent trip to the States, where I KNOW we were never once asked for a PIN.
I frantically called the hubby at the office on the off-chance he might know the PIN. He didn’t. He suggested trying his numeric birthday. I tell him “that’s ridiculous, it won’t work. A randomly generated PIN would have been given with the card, and it most certainly would not have been your birthday!” I hung up. By this point a smile had spread across James’ face. A mixture, I think, of pity and amusement.
Later at home, the hubby called the bank to find out what the PIN number is.
It is his numeric birthday.
When I went back later to get the bike, the guys at the shop found this tidbit pretty darn funny. But I didn’t mind, because I am now the proud owner of the bike of my dreams, and it fits like a glove.