Cyclist’s Quest: Finding the Perfect Fit

In the 1970s, singer Freddy Mercury of Queen screamed a lyric, “Get on your bikes and ride,” which may have had a lot of different meanings to a lot of people. But let’s fast forward to our kinder, gentler and more physically fit era, and assume he really did want all of us to ride a bike— safely, efficiently and comfortably for years and years…

Nowadays, smart biking encouragement can come from genuine experts in the industry—like local bike shop owners Paul Tobio and Jerry Johnson. They took some time recently to offer great advice about fitting systems for bikes and riders. These high-tech and very valuable systems can ensure riders of positive outcomes on the road or the hills because they analyze the rider’s physique, the bike’s dimensions and the optimum settings for all the bike’s features.

Tobio owns two Ryder Bikes stores (Bradenton and University Park) and has been involved in biking for 35 years. Along with four training programs, he has 11 years’ experience performing the “Retul” fitting system for customers. The two-hour analysis and bike adjustment includes a nine-point procedure with the rider’s physical assessment and three-dimensional digital mapping of the bike.

Said Tobio, “A great fit will allow the rider to experience more comfort and better performance on his or her bike, or buy a new bike with full confidence in selecting the right model and size. We take client injury history into account during the pre-fit assessment and use that to tailor the bike to the rider during the fitting.” A follow-up session for tweaking results is usually conducted 30 days after the initial fitting.

Recognizing the importance of health care expertise in this process, Tobio explained that his Retul training was coordinated with medical specialists and he gets advice from area orthopedists, podiatrists and chiropractors. One of Tobio’s customers described the value of a good fitting after he completed a triathlon, stating, “The bike fitting definitely helped with the speed, comfort and endurance in the race. I’m really happy that I got the fitting done with you.”

Along with wife Amy, Jerry Johnson owns and operates Endurance House bike shop in Bradenton. He has been enthusiastically involved with biking for over 30 years and will take part in the Wisconsin Ironman Triathlon this September. At Endurance World, they use the patented “Guru Fit System” to fit bike settings to riders. According to Jerry, “The computer-controlled motorized adjustment of handlebars, saddle, and angle allows instantaneous adjustments to be made while the rider is on the bike, pedaling, under a load. This means that you do not have to get off to make adjustments, allowing the rider the opportunity to accurately judge the difference between positions.”

He added, “We start the bike fitting from scratch to find the best position balancing aerodynamics, comfort, and power. Once we have this position, we can simply press a button and the ‘Guru Fit’ bike moves to the position of the customer’s actual bike. This is often a very telling moment and in many cases, the customer is astonished that they were riding in the other position.”

This system takes 60 to 90 minutes to perform and all the data is saved on the shop computer so follow-up sessions take less time and include accurate prerecorded settings.

Jerry says bike fitting is really essential for serious riders and even hobbyists because they will find more enjoyment, experience comfort according to their unique physical traits, and have the peace of mind that comes from knowing they are on the right bike. One customer thanked him for the “patience and expertise helping me get my bike dialed in.”

With all this science and technology supporting successful bike riders, it’s time we all followed Freddy Mercury’s advice, so, “Get on your bikes and ride,” but be sure to get the right fit!