Bike Fitting Art & Design
Art & Design
Science was not my strongest subject as school, our teachers told us that if we didn’t pass Physics we’d never get a job; so I was made to sit Physics O Level three times until I passed.
Art and Technical Drawing were my best subjects at A Level; Geology and Geography the two academic subjects I had to choose to stay on into the 6th Form had their attractions – digging in mud and drawing for Geology and bar charts and maps in Geography – but listing and remembering the names of extinct Molluscs was not my strong point and extremely dull and I failed them both miserably; I was never very good at homework which is probably why I never got my 1st Cat Licence as I couldn’t apply myself to structured application, I’d rather look at the view.
After a few years at Art College and various odd jobs I drifted into the bike industry and have been involved with bikes for over twenty years and, I am now a self appointed bike fitter someone who fits bikes; bikes to people and people to bikes - not your usual career path. Over the years I have come to realisation that many people do not ride bikes just for fitness they are on a journey or on a quest they ride for a reason not just to get from A to B; and in to my studio on occasion disguised in lycra walk recovering alchoholics, young people with chronic illnesses, cancer survivors and people looking to re invent themselves and their lives and they all ride bikes, want to ride, have to ride and they want me to help them and its an inspiration and a privilege every time.
Their motivation and approach to life despite their condition and challenges in every day life would be enough, but they want to ride a bike as part of their recovery or therapy, both physical and mental; get fitter, get stonger, lose weight, ride further, do that Ironman, ride across the Alps, ride from London to Brighton. I’m just part of the process they’ve sought me out. Pressure.
So it’s down to me to keep them riding, whether its round the block or a 300km charity ride; in most cases it just starts as a regular Cyclefit….lower back pain, hot foot etc but as we talk things start to come out and we get to know each other and I’m thinking how can I use my limited skills to help them ride a bike and achieve their goals, I can’t let them down it means so much.
I look at the bike they’ve brought in and I think ‘didn’t the person who sold you this care?’
Once on the Sizecycle I’m watching them pedalling, looking to see how their body is moving, how they are sitting on the saddle, how they are holding the handlebars and I’m composing a picture and I’m listening to their pedal stroke and I know I can make it better. They tell me they have pain on the inside of their knee and I can feel it in my own knee and I draw on the thousands of fits I have done and consider what to do and I make another lap around the room watching always watching calculating; move the saddle, adjust the shoes and it works and they say: "That feels better" and I’m glad; I make some more adjustments and body and machine move more easily together. The Spinscan shows a more even pedal stroke: two even valleys and hills and they look happier, symmetry? Their shoes are fitted and customised and their feet are more comfortable and supported and they say ‘the shoes feel nice’ and I feel good because it’s working.
More adjustments just a few millimetres here and there as they keep pedalling and their legs move smoothly and they look relaxed and comfortable and balanced and efficient and confident because they know they can ride a bike for a long time now and it won’t hurt and they’re going to do it; whatever ‘it’ is.
And when they’ve stopped pedalling and gone home I sit down and design a bike that fits them so well it is them; there is not another bike frame anywhere else quite like it. It looks good now on the computer screen all is balanced and in proportion, I hope they are going to like it and enjoy riding it. The frames are made by some of the world’s finest craftsmen from titanium and carbon I'm just part of the process; naked the frames are things of beauty and when they are assembled with carefully selected components they elicit emotions from those that gaze upon them.
That person I met for the first time only six weeks ago comes back to me when the bike is ready and I’m nervous, I hope it is as good as they expected it to be, I hope I’ve got all the components just as they want them and I show them into the room where their bike is waiting expectantly and I can see in their faces they are happy and they want to ride it so bad and they say: "it’s gorgeous"and I say: "Yes, it’s a work of art".