Updated: Mar 15, 2018
Two Very Different Services
Bike sizing and fitting are often thrown around as interchangeable terms when it comes to bike shops' services. A little digging and a few questions, however, reveal these two services couldn't be more different, and here's why it's very important riders (current and future!) know the difference.
So What is the Difference?
Sizing is the free service that most shops provide when riders demo (or try out) a bike, and when a new bike is purchased. Each shop has its own approach, but it generally consists of three main characteristics: 1) it adjusts the saddle height, 2) it checks the rider can safely reach their gears and brakes, and 3) it's free! Basically, it's the minor tweaks to make sure you're safe when you roll out the door.
Fitting is an appointment-only service because the rider and fitter will spend up to three hours of uninterrupted time together customizing the bike to the rider. Using high-end technology (explained below), fitting generally encompasses a full physical assessment of the rider's structure, including feet, legs, arms and flexibility, and finely tunes each part of the bike to create the best comfort, handling and positioning for that rider. For example, a 6'0" rider with long legs and flat feet that can't touch his toes and rides 10 miles a week is set up very differently than another 6'0" rider with a long torso and high arches that does yoga and rides over 100 miles a week. In other words, it makes no assumptions! By meticulously capturing your dimensions, it fits the bike to you.
Because of these differences, Sizing should NEVER be referred to as fitting, and likewise, Fitting technology is not generally used in a sizing.
What Should You Expect at the Okoboji Expedition Company?
Our sizing process at the OEC uses a technology called the Retul Match system. Pictured below, this match tower uses the information you enter about your riding habits and bone segment lengths captured in real time to estimate your bike frame size and starting saddle height. This process allows us to be more accurate than shops that rely on "eyeballing it" or assigning a bike based on your height alone.
When you come in for just this service, it typically costs $100, but when you purchase a new bike, we include this at no charge for every bike. Why? Because starting on the right bike for you is so important!
Once you've ridden your bike for a couple of weeks, the next step is to book a Fit. Our fitting process is unmatched in terms of accuracy and reliability because we rely on the Retül Vantage technology system, owned by Specialized. So what does it do? First, let's talk about the technology it uses:
The Vantage 3D Motion Capture Software: The most reliable, stable, and accurate cycling motion capture technology available. It has the ability to capture points in space in real-time, showing biomechanical changes, as well as measuring distances with sub-millimeter accuracy. This means as you're riding, it captures all your dynamic measurements. Talk about adVantage!
Zin: The Zin is a digitizer tool that captures bike measurements quickly with pin-point accuracy. We will literally trace your bike in space and input it into the system. How cool is that?
Müve SL Fit Bike: A stationary bike with complete adjustability to dynamically determine your most comfortable, efficient position. As fitters, it allows us to change saddle, stem, bars, pedals, and crank length to find the ideal position with the turn of a bolt or two. This means any size bike is ready for you to try in a matter of seconds, saving you time and hassle.
Angül: This fit stem (pictured below) provides the quickest adjustable stem because a few quick turns do the trick. No switching out parts or hopping off the bike. It is the absolute best fitting stem on the market.
With these high-end technologies at our fingertips, we then provide you with a full fit. Cleat placement, cervical spine ROM, Z-plane adjustment - terms that usually are just found in a Kinesiology class - are carefully covered as we get you the perfect "fit"!
And there you have it: the differences between a sizing and a fitting. These terms today can be hard to understand, so use the charts above to understand what your shop offers. And remember, a fit will take at least 2 hours. We know these differences are important for both a cruise down the trail or an early-morning group ride, and now we hope you do, too!