People often wonder what the fitting process is for a ‘made to measure’ bike and worry that it isn’t something that can be done from a distance. The simple fact of it is that it can be done very well remotely and that the vast majority of the fittings I do are done this way. I of course always welcome customers to visit me here in Bozeman for an in-person fitting (always a great excuse to put down the tools for awhile and go for a ride with you) but I know that I am a bit out of the way for most people. It’s interesting to note that of the hundreds of fittings I’ve done only a small percentage of riders have come here for it – most have gone through the multi-tiered process I’m about to outline and the results speak for themselves. I guarantee the end result.
The fitting process always starts the same way: with a conversation. In most cases this is on the phone but it is often done by email if the customer is in a different time zone, country or part of the world. We talk about how you ride your bike and what you like and dislike about your current and past bikes. We also talk about how you would like your new bike to look and feel. There are very few numbers exchanged at this point and most of the exchange is about how things feel to you and how I could make them feel better with a new bike. It’s through these conversations that we get to know each other and develop a firm understanding of where we are each coming from and the type of bike you need.
After this we move into the exchange of hard numbers and ideas. I have a questionnaire that I send to you that gives you a chance to document your thoughts and will no doubt get you thinking about things you hadn’t considered before. The questionnaire asks a wide variety of questions, and some will seem off-topic, but all the answers are relevant and useful to me. One of the key sections is where I ask you to tell me your likes and dislikes of your current and past bikes. The answers here will do a good job at pointing us in the right direction in terms of both fit and handling.
I will also ask you to fill out two measurement worksheets – one for your body measurements and the other for measurements of your current bike. The reason I need your body measurements should be obvious but the need for the bike numbers can be a bit harder to understand – after all you want a new bike because the old one isn’t working well for you so why are we looking at it? The reason is simple. I need to know how you are currently sitting on the bike so that when you tell me it feels too long/short/high/low I have a number to relate to. I will also look at your body dimensions and compare them to your current fit and these will almost always show why you are having a certain pain or find it difficult to generate power from a given position.
At this point, 99% of the time, with a few good conversations under our belt and the questionnaire and measurement sheets filled out, I have enough info to confidently design a new bike for you. There are rare occasions when even with all this things just don’t add up and I want more info. If this is the case I will ask that you send me profile photos of you on your bike as well as profile photos of your bike alone. This will bring the final details into focus and give me enough information to create a design.
The important thing to know is that I will not move ahead with a design until it all adds up. I will never go forward and propose a design to you until I feel I have everything I need to make good decisions on your behalf.
Now, with all this done I design the bike and send you a BikeCad image of the design so you can see the fit numbers, geometry and the proportions of the bike. I ask that you take your time and look it all over and then let me know if you have any questions. I know there are builders out there that feel you shouldn’t question them and that their word is final – but I am not one of those builders. I want you to understand the design and feel confident about it and in most cases the only way this can happen is if you ask questions and I give answers. In fact I enjoy sharing the thoughts behind the process with you and I try to dispel the idea that there is some black magic going on. In reality it’s pretty simple. Only when we are on the same page and each happy with the design will the build process begin. In some cases all the above takes a day or two and in others it can take a few weeks and that is all fine. We are in no hurry and will take the time to get it right.