Whenever the subject of the “quickest” bike comes up on the forum, the general response is “the bike that fits you best will be the quickest”, and whenever the subject of bike fitting recommendations comes up, the name Ryan Williams gets plenty of mentions. So I thought I should venture out to Penrith and see what all the fuss was about.
Ryan is based in Penrith, west of Sydney. His fit studio is on the premises of the new Atmosphere Fitness Centre but he seems to draw clients from far and wide such is his reputation. Ryan is a Retul certified fitter and uses the Retul system as the basis for his fitting. As anyone who has had a fit, utilising any of the commercial systems will attest, the “hardware” forms the basis of the fit but it is the fitters experience, diagnostic expertise and knowledge of anatomy, bikes and in this case triathlon specific fitting that crystallises this all into a successful fit.
Ryan explains to me that this is all he does, he doesn’t sell bikes or parts or training programs. He fits athletes to bikes and lots of them. Ryan has done approximately 480 bike fits, and he estimates 440 or more of these have been tri fits. That is a lot of bike fits in anyone’s language but more importantly it is a lot of experience and a lot of varied clients, bikes and scenarios which all adds up to Ryan’s wealth of knowledge.
The process takes about 2 and a half hours and consists of a survey to start the ball rolling. Then Ryan takes his Retul magic wand and gives your bike the once over so that the Retul software knows where every part of your bike is situated. Ryan also takes and overviewof your flexibility (I didn’t fair too badly for a non-stretcher) and your core stability (let’s move on shall we).
Then it’s time to hop on and get stickered up so the Retul camera can see you and then you pedal for a while to find your starting point and the baseline for your fit to which hopefully all your improvements are made. You pedal at some prescribed efforts of the trainer, then are spun around on the turntable to get readings for both sides.
The Retul system then takes all this information and transfers it into figures which to the layperson can be a bit confusing, but like a doctor’s handwriting, when read by an expert, makes all the sense in the world. It is at this point that the Retul magic takes a backseat and Ryan’s experience takes over. He translates the data into suggested incremental changes to get the rider in the most advantageous position, bearing in mind that a Tri fit has many interdependencies so moving one part usually means a corresponding change elsewhere.
Thankfully my “bottom end” (saddle height, cleat position, knee tracking etc) were all pretty good so we could concentrate on upper body position and also having a good old chat about his fitting techniques and experiences.
My upper body had been giving me some grief of late, mainly due to swapping bikes, saddles and parts a few times and losing my “spot” and my attempts to rectify it had exacerbated the problem. Ryan also suggested that the previously glossed-over lack of core fitness may also be a contributing factor.
Ryan had me move my tri bars forward and tinkered with my seat placement a bit and got me in a position that in the studio at least was placing much less stress on my shoulders and neck.
Ryan has a long resume of successfully fitted clients from professional Sam Appleton through to Hawaii qualifying age groupers and everyday punters looking for a better cycling experience.
A fit with Ryan generally costs $330.00 for an initial fit but he has offered a Transitions special where he will fit Transitions members for $275.
What you leave with is a detailed report on pre and post fit dimensions, in my case a link to some “suggested” core exercises, and a bike that will hopefully make riding as joyous and an experience as it can be. After your initial consultation and once Ryan has our fit coordinates in his data base and amendments such as equipment changes can be handled in a shorter cheaper appointment.
If you are after a pre-purchase fit, Ryan can also fit you to his Retul Muve bike which gives you accurate and optimal position coordinates that you can take away for your bike shop to fit you to your new bike. Unfortunately Retul are doing away with their Bike finder system, but luckily Ryan’s experience comes to the fore again, with a skill that only another bike nerd would find impressive. Ryan can rattle off the seat height range for a number of bikes which combined with the magic of the interwebs can get you looking at the brands that best suit your fit parameters.
It will take a few decent rides to report back on the final upshot of the fit changes but on my limited rides, so far so good.
For those feeling a bit daunted by the experience, don't be. Ryan is great at explaining things in extreme detail but also in a way that makes sense, gives supporting information and makes you feel involved in the process. All in all it was a fun and informative experience, granted not everyone will find talking about bike fitting and handlebar setup fun but you will undoubtedly find it informative.
While Ryan is based in Penrith to the west of Sydney he has been known to travel for club or group fittings.
All in all a five star experience.
To contact Ryan go to http://3dbikefit.com.au/