“Pay no attention to what I’m doing here,” says Mike Stone, in his best Wizard of Oz voice. “Just look out the window and keep pedaling.”
I keep pedaling, breaking into a sweat but going nowhere, as my bike is mounted on what’s called a trainer in the bike-fitting studio in the back of Princeton Sports in Columbia, Md.
The salespeople at Princeton Sports who sold me the bike also suggested I get it fit. “Go to Mike Stone,” he said, noting he had just come back from some sort of intensive training in California.
“If you walked into a bike shop 10 years ago,” says Stone, “And asked what the best use for $500 was, you would have been told a new wheel set.”
Now it’s all about the fit.
Alan Davis, who, along with his brother, owns Princeton Sports, first sent Mike and other employees to Specialized Bicycle Components University in California in 2008. He said he saw the rise in interest in cycling and triathlon, and he wanted to be the first bike shop in the area to offer detailed fitting services.
Run by the American bike company Specialized, SBCU has been around for about seven years and trains dealers on bike fits using a system called Body Geometry Fit. BG Fit, as it’s known, was developed by Dr. Andy Pruitt, founder of the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine and an expert in orthopedics and cycling mechanics. He created it as a step-by-step process that is “repeatable, and learnable, and delivers consistent results,” says Sean Madsen, who has a degree in biomechanics and manages the program.
The company’s marketing tagline is “be one with your bike.”
Specialized is certainly not alone in offering this sort of fitting, but it led the trend.
“Specialized Body Geometry Fit was the first scientifically based fit program to expose the greater community of cyclists to the benefits of bike fit,” says Aaron Hersh, senior tech editor at Triathlete magazine. “Bike shops across the country have adopted serious fit programs since Specialized helped to popularize the notion that bike fit is key to enjoying cycling.”
Aaron Post, a BG Fit teacher, notes that Pruitt was instrumental in getting some of these other programs launched. Pruitt helped a man named Ben Serotta start the Serotta International Cycling Institute. And Todd Carver, founder and lead fitter of Retul University, started out working with Pruitt.
Matt Smith, global manager of Retul University, the program offered at Race Pace in Columbia, notes that “most major bike brands have adopted some form of fit protocol to make sure that any rider — triathlete, mountain biker or recreational cyclist — is comfortable and happy on their bikes.”