The most important thing to look for in a Bike Fit is the outcome - are you more comfortable and/or faster (whichever your goal was going in)? Given that you can’t know the outcome at the start we thought it could be helpful to offer a few pointers for choosing a fitter and evaluating the Fit you’ve received.
What to look for in choosing a Fitter
It is widely accepted in Bike Fit circles that a Fitter should learn from as many sources as possible. Additionally, the only way to achieve mastery in any field is practice.
That a Fitter has attended courses is a good start. Or if they have a (preferably analytical) degree. Unfortunately, given that most Fit certifications (including ours) are participation based (no pass/fail process), there is no guarantee of quality associated with them. At the least - a certification indicates a commitment to bike fit.
Most Bike Fit knowledge comes on the job - encountering problems and solving them via research or experimentation. So there is value in finding a Fitter than has done a lot of fits, or at the least is part of a mentoring structure. Just as certifications on their own are no guarantee - so too there is risk with experience alone - it can just mean a lot of practice in doing something incorrectly.
Ideally you’ll find a Fitter who has both experience and a commitment to ongoing education - extensive practice and a willingness to learn.
2. Investment in Equipment
One of the hallmarks of taking Bike Fit seriously is a willingness to invest in equipment that aids the process and improves the outcome. As with any industry - the advance of technology has brought new tools and understanding to Bike Fit.
A Fitter who is willing to learn and improve will usually want to embrace any technology that helps them deliver a better service to their clients if their business can bear the cost.
Our 3D Motion system is a tool that helps the Fitter pick up differences imperceptible to the naked eye. Even very experienced fitters appreciate the boost that offers to their decision making process.
Adjustable Fit bikes, insole moulding, Bike finding tools, saddle pressure mapping are other examples of technology that a Fitter can choose to invest in.
Of course, the popular cycling adage ‘all the gear and no idea’ can apply as equally to Bike Fit as any other field. So the investment in equipment needs to be supported by the qualities mentioned in point 1.
Look or ask around for evidence of their standard of work. If you don’t know of anyone who has visited a Fitter, look on social media or their website for images of riders they’ve fitted - do they look relaxed and comfortable of their bikes?
Best is if you can find other riders who can attest something along the lines of “I went in with this problem, the Fitter addressed it and now I can ride longer or faster or in more comfort than before.”
Don’t be afraid to interview the Fitter - either in store or by phone/email if they’re appointment only. Obviously this a chance to ask them if they’ve encountered your issues before, or if they’ve done many of the type of Bike Fit that you require (some Fitters do very little Triathlon or MTB fitting).
Apart from the answers to your direct questions, pay attention to how they answer. A professional will focus on the process they are going to follow to address your individual situation, perhaps describing the tools they’ll use or occasions on which they’ve dealt with a similar situation.
Fitters who quickly start deriding other Fitters, name drop the athletes they’ve worked with and talk more about themselves than you should cause warning bells to ring.
You want to find someone that cultivates a culture of competence rather than a cult of personality.
The Fitter is by far more important than the tools they have or the brand of bikes they sell and it is worth spending a bit of effort on finding someone competent before you shell out for their services (usually over $200). The criteria we’ve listed above will hopefully help you filter your options effectively.
Of course, we recommend Fitters that use our tools (3D Motion for rider analysis and Advanced Bike Finder to generate your bike options) and have attended our training. We’ve worked hard to create tools that improve rider outcomes and our training focuses on professional behaviour and processes.