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Retul bike fit with Steve Stanziano at Towpath

May 6, 2013

A few weeks ago I got a Retul bike fit at Towpath Bike Shop, here in Rochester. It was one of the best things I have done in my triathlon career.

Let me preface this with a few things: I have always had good bike fits. By luck I have always been connected with very savvy bike folks who know their way around a time trial bike fit. I have great trust in these guys as well.

The second thing I need to preface this with, is that when I go do something like this, I put myself into the hands of the expert. When I got married and picked out my wedding dress… I asked the bridal consultant to pick it for me. What did she think I looked best in? I got the perfect dress. My wedding cake… I told the bakery the same thing. Best cake ever. Wedding flowers… what did they think? Most beautiful lilies ever. In fact I told my sister and my matron of honor to pick their own dresses and wear what they felt good in. They had never met until the rehearsal and lived in different countries. They showed up in identical dresses, No kidding.

In my opinion…. when you go to an expert… let them be the expert. I am not someone who fiddles with my position…. I will let them know if I am not comfortable, but I let them do what they do best. Fit me to the bike.

Steve Stanziano is the Retul bike fitter at Towpath, and he comes with a ridiculous amount of experience. He’s trained with the best of the best but is one of those bike guys who doesn’t introduce himself as “Hi my name is Steve I have fit _____ and ______ and trained with _____ and _____.” He would tell you if he asked him, but he’s not the kind of bike guy who needs to tell you who he knows and where he’s been. I appreciated that. You can’t imagine some of the stories I have heard.

I am all about old school bike guys, and Steve is an old schooler. Sometimes I test out my bike guys by talking about friction shifting. If they don’t’ know what that means…. I usually walk. There is just something about the old schoolers that resonates with me.

Expect a fitting like this to take 2-3 hours. And expect to ride a good hour …. and expect to ride hard. Don’t do this kind of fitting at the end of a hard workout day. I’d advise doing it during a recovery week when you aren’t executing a hard morning ride, working a full day, then coming to a bike fit after intervals on the track. Be fresh…. you will have to put out some solid effort, and bring some hydration and fuel.

We began with an assessment. Steve starts by having you stand normally and looking at how you stand, your posture. etc. He walks you through various positions to assess your flexibility and range of motion as you are standing, balancing on one foot, bending forward, etc. He then has you lie down on a massage table and brings your legs and hips through more planes of movement to get a thorough assessment.

Retul 1

This is one of the rare instances that I was considered to be on the flexible side! YES!

That process took about a half hour. No one had ever done that sort of assessment on me before. When I have been asked whether I am flexible or not, I normally say no. But in this case I tested higher…. in the cycling world my flexibility is higher. That makes a difference in a bike fit.

Next Steve suited me up with several sensors, from my heel up through my head. He set up my bike on the Cycleops trainer, hooked everything into his fancy computer, and we were off.

retul 2

I warmed up for about 15 minutes, and then Steve took me through a series of efforts, from short to longer, harder efforts. The sensors allowed him to measure several different angles at those different efforts and how those angles changed. Believe it or not as intensity increases we sometimes change our own position on the bike. But he was really comparing angles and ranges with power data. I was out of ideal ranges in several places. This is where we could tweak the position to see whether a new saddle height, a fore / aft change, etc could improve the output. Here is where we get some free speed without any more training. Bonus!

The changes that Steve had to make were not big ones. But they gave me bigger results and much more comfort. I don’t care if you get into a wind tunnel and the position that you are put into is the most “aerodynamic position ever”. If you are not comfortable in that position, then you aren’t going to ride well. You must be comfortable. Sometimes the initial changes aren’t necessarily comfortable. They are different and may take a week or two to get used to.

Some of the final measurements looked like this:

retul 3

The adjustments that needed to be made were very minor. My seat needed to come down and forward, and my aero bars moved back just a touch. My aerobar set up is such that my pads can’t just be moved back independently. They are part of the system. Steve could have tried to talk me into a new set completely, and this is what I appreciate most about guys like Steve…. he began to fish. In my opinion a good bike mechanic will not just be a salesman, but a good mechanic. He found what he needed to make what we need to happen… work. Flawlessly.

My final fit:

retul 4

I have been riding this position for a little less than a month…. and I am happy. I am comfortable and life is good.

I keep getting asked if I think the Retul bike fit is worth the price. The full Retul fit is $300. I think it is worth it. I always fail to understand why people spend $5k on a bike and then don’t invest the extra $300 … or even $150 for a good fit. All of that $5K that was just spent is null and void without a good fit. At Towpath there are some other options for fitting packages, any of which I think are great. Click here for those.

I personally think that one can learn a lot from a guy like Steve. His experience says it all. He has the answer to every single question, the education and expertise to fit just about anything to anyone and make it work and make it work well.

I walked in there with a baseline feeling of trust. I had met Steve before and I am really comfortable with Towpath Bike shop. What these guys are doing over there is pretty significant if you ask me. And I have been around my fair share of bike shops, trust me.

If you are interested in a fit…. better get yourself scheduled. STAT. Steve is pretty full 2-3 weeks in advance. The fitting takes 2-3 hours. Bring fluids and fuel and be prepared to ride. You will get out of this experience what you put into it. But I can guarantee one thing… you’ll get a great fit.

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