While discussing The Bike Fit Experience™ at the shop the other day, we all had a laugh at the idea that therapy might be a more apt analogy to what we do than tailoring. Of course, the name and ethos of Savile Road come from the renowned tailors of Savile Row and we love the image that it invokes. But it’s funny; the more we ruminated over the idea the more sense it began to make.
Tailoring is probably a sufficient comparison for most bike fittings-- take some static measurements from the client, maybe have them strike a few poses to see how the fabric lays and then cut and sew without any further input from them. For what it’s worth, this likely matches many customers’ expectations—show up for measurements and come back later to collect your custom fitted piece. What we try to emphasize at Savile Road is that there is a deeper relationship to be cultivated here. At its best, fitting is about improving your relationship with your equipment and enriching your experience as a cyclist. This means getting to know the rider, asking probing questions, listening, and providing the support and scaffolding needed for them to reach their goals.
Perhaps you’re shopping for a new bike and you can’t match any of the measurements from your current bike to a modern geometry chart. Maybe you have ambitions of racing, or maybe you are definitely not (!) a racer and you just want to be comfortable. You may never quite feel comfortable on your bike, or you may be totally satisfied with your current position except for your numb hands and feet and your sore crotch (if you’re this rider, you should definitely seek cyclo-therapy). Working with an experienced fitter who makes sure that you are being heard helps to address known concerns, identify and uncover those which may be less obvious, and offer solutions that attend to the underlying causes of cycling dysfunction and discomfort.
For many of us, committing to purchase (let alone learn to properly set up and use) cycling equipment is a big decision. As with any big decision it is often unclear which choice will be best for you, and knowing whose input to trust can be just as challenging. An individual’s relationship to their equipment is just that: individual. When you consult with a friend, a coach, an online reviewer or a paid spokesperson for guidance you are also inherently getting their baggage and biases along with it. At best this is like getting your medical advice from Dr. Oz—technically they may know something about the subject at hand, but they certainly don’t have your best interest in mind. At worst this is like asking your twice-divorced friend for relationship advice over a couple of glasses of wine.
At the end of the day, we all want to fully realize the best version of ourselves. That often requires some outside help. If you want to unlearn poor behaviors, get to the root of dysfunction, improve your self-awareness or develop strategies to progress beyond maladaptation in your personal life, you seek help from a therapist. Should you wish to do the same with regard to your cycling, you seek help from a fitter. The process is the same—you talk and we listen. Tell us how you feel and we’ll help you figure out why. So long as you are willing to change (and complete the necessary work to do so) a good fitter will give you all the resources you need to attain the best version of your cycling-self. And that is something everyone deserves.