Source Endurance coach and Source Endurance Training Center of the Rockies owner, Zack Allison, recently completed his F.I.S.T. Bike Fitting Certification in Valyermo, California. This rigorous 5 day course covered every aspect of bike fitting including cleats, shims, fit philosophies, as well as different disciplines of cycling from triathlon to road to MTB.
Why is Fitting Important?
Bike fitting is for everyone. A quality bike fit is important to be comfortable on the bike, complete the rides and events you want to do, obtain peak efficiency of speed and power output, as well as injury prevention.
Every body is different and therefore every bike fit should be different. You can easily have 20W of drag in your fit from something as simple as a bad knee or hip angle. Depending on your body shape, after a good bike fit you might learn that a shorter crank length or wider cleat stance might make your more comfortable and therefore increase your power output. Triathlon or time-trial fitting is not different except that CdA (frontal area) is emphasized more.
The F.I.S.T. Method
When it came time to choose what type of bike fitting Zack wanted to do, F.I.S.T. was a natural choice: F.I.S.T.
teaches the fundamentals of fitting versus using a specific system from a specific company which puts you in a box as far as what you can as a fitter. Dan Enfield who founded F.I.S.T. also created the XY Fit Bike and the idea of Stack and Reach measurements which has been largely adopted by the bike industry. Zack also appreciated that the course covered a wide range of bikes and types of fits from the more aerodynamic-focused tri fit to the grueling hours required by an endurance cross country fit.
Zack’s Philosophy as a Fitter
The core of a good fit is an understanding of what is going to drive the fit. As a fitter, you must be sure to fit people in the way they want to be fitted while staying within the boundaries of what we know as a consensus as a good fit confirmed with the latest technology through motion capture and analyzing body angles.
Zack has ridden bikes for a long time. When he was a growing kid fits where on his mind: “My dad was convinced I’d be a 56’ but I never quite made it. I have short legs and a long torso so my body abnormalities have made me think a lot more about my fit. I’m constantly thinking about crank length and stem length to accommodate my body proportions.”
Know the Drivers
What is meant by driving the fit? You could really re-phrase it and ask yourself “what are your goals on the bike?” For example, if you race and mostly do crits, where you sit on the saddle will have a steeper angle to the bottom bracket than someone who only does road races. And even within road racing, a pure climber will also sit differently on the saddle. Between athlete goals and what we know comprises a good fit, if you have the right drivers, you’ll come to a different fit depending on the discipline.
The other part of being a fitter is to not only understand someone’s drivers but to be able to objectively explain to someone when they need to change a part of their fit even if it seems that everything is lining up and great. The principles of kinesiology with efficient and inefficient muscle stretch come into play here. No matter how good to the naked eye a fit looks, it’s essential to use confirmers, such as our motion sensor app to objectively measure and confirm. If it’s not confirmed, it’s time to tweak and remeasure.
What can I expect at my basic bike fit?
The initial consultation lays the foundation for the entire fit. We’ll talk about what your goals are and why in order to discover your drivers. Past injuries are also important. Equipment inspection covers everything else- what equipment you have and how you like it and any odd wear and tear that might be a sign that something is off. For example, if your saddle uncomfortable, you can’t sit on it correctly and therefore shouldn’t be fit on it.
From the initial consultation, you’ll hop on your bike on our Computrainer. We’ll first focus on cleats which are your foundation. From there, things will go back and forth a lot as we swap our stems, change saddle height and setback, etc. Expect to do a few efforts. You aren’t being fit properly if you don’t do an effort and see how your body shifts on the bike as you go faster. We’ll continuously check our confirmers through video capture until we arrive at your new fit.
You’ll depart with a form with all your measurements, a motion capture video share of before and after, as well as a plan of what exact parts you need, if any. We are currently working on an account so you would be able to order any parts you might need and borrow ours in the meantime. You’ll also have a 30 day period of free reassessment and adjustments on that bike.
About Zack and SETCR
Zack’s main goal through Source Endurance Training Center of the Rockies is to have a place where any cyclists can have their needs met whether they are first getting into the sport or if they are an experienced professional. SETCR’s services now include: Kickr power trainer classes, gym and plyometrics classes, yoga, bike fitting, testing services, and camps. Source Endurance also offers coaching, nutrition services, clinics and camps. Learn more about SETCR.
Zack Allison’s affinity for cycling started when he was 14 racing on the East Coast and his enjoyment of the sport lead him to pursue his BSEd in Exercise Science from Colorado State University, in Fort Collins, Colorado. He currently races for Elevate Pro Cycling, a UCI continental men’s road team, and owns the Source Endurance Training Center of the Rockies. Growing up in the sport with many great mentors, he loves to pay it forward, using a combination of education and race experience. You can often find him zooming around on Fort Collin’s many gravel roads or on its countless mountain bike trails. Learn more about Zack.