Since the publication of my book (“From Broken Neck to Broken Records, a Master’s Cyclist’s Guide to Winning”) and having written numerous
articles on the subject of cycling for various publications, I receive emails
almost daily asking my advice on equipment selection, training, and bicycle
In regards to bicycle fitting, I have been personally fit
utilizing various systems including the Retul and Guru Dynamic Fitting Systems
– I have written articles
describing my experience and impressions of both of those systems. Many of my (then) teammates were fitted
by world famous fitter and aerodynamicist John Cobb in the wind tunnel at Texas
A&M with incredible results.
Which fitting system is the most effective for the serious
time trial rider or triathlete?
Assuming a VERY experienced fitter, and money being no object,
there is nothing that approaches a wind tunnel fitting.
Having had time to assimilate my impressions of the systems
and having observed the results visually and performance-wise of the various
systems, the bottom line is this:
The most important consideration is the experience/knowledge of the
person doing the fitting. Someone
with little experience performing a fitting in the best wind tunnel in the
world will probably have inferior results to a highly experienced fitter using
a goniometer (a device used to measure hip angle) and a couple of basic
tools. I have personally witnessed
John Cobb perform a fitting on a pro rider with only one tool – his eyes! If you are a serious competitor,
utilize a fitter who has completed ideally hundreds of legitimate fittings –
not the typical simple seat height/handlebar adjustment utilized by the bike
shops when a new bike is sold.
Also, understand that your ideal aerodynamic position might
very well be a position that you will be incapable of assuming either now (if
you are a novice rider) or ever for that matter. Some of us simply do not bend like Dave Zabriske, 7-time
professional national time trial champion. Also, do not believe the myth that one must be uncomfortable
to be in the most efficient position aerodynamically. In my last fitting, which happened to be with the Guru
system, my position was made substantially more aggressive than it had
heretofore been, yet I was more comfortable than when I was less
For you triathletes, understand that through necessity your
fitting will be different than a person who competes in time trials. If I attempted a half Ironman with my
bike, I would be in traction for the next 6 months.
Also, understand that a small tweak can make a major difference. A 1/8th of an inch
adjustment can lessen aerodynamic drag considerably. I have seen world-class pros who have been fit numerous
times over their long cycling careers, come out of the wind tunnel with savings
of up to 40 watts – IOW, they could now go as fast as they could previous to
that fitting utilizing 40 watts less power.
Finally, remember that attire makes a substantial difference
in performance starting with the most important item – the helmet. Also understand that after substantial
testing of riders and helmets in the wind tunnel at Texas A&M, there is no
such thing as the most aerodynamic helmet – it’s the helmet that is most
aerodynamic on you personally. Unfortunately, there is no way to determine that without
utilizing a wind tunnel. There is
also a difference in skin suits. I
personally wear the Assos Cronosuit
– at the time of purchase, it was the fastest in the wind tunnel.
Get properly fit by an expert, dress appropriately and go