Introduction to FitLab and bike fitting
Ata Cycle guarantees a perfect fit between rider and bike whether you bring in your existing machine or purchase a new one.
The FitLab at Ata Cycle is a suite of cutting edge tools and techniques for ensuring proper frame and component selection, and increasing each rider’s power, comfort, and control on the bike. While various fitting techniques and tools have been around for a long time, exciting new technologies have increased the potential for well trained and experienced bicycle fit technicians to eliminate guesswork and provide enhanced comfort, power and control for any rider with access to services such as the FitLab provides.
Our fit technicians have measured, advised, and served thousands of riders seeking greater comfort, power and control while out on the road. Some of our customers are leisure riders, others commuters, and still others ride for intense fitness benefits and at high levels of competition, including Jarrod Shoemaker who represented the United States in the triathlon discipline at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
Our system works so well because rider feedback is at the heart of the FitLab process. The documentation produced by the FitLab suite of software provides us with a permanent record of the rider’s precise position on the bike at the end of the process. With this amazingly detailed set of data points as reference, our expert fit technicians are able to diagnose and discuss the sensations associated with incremental modifications to the fit geometry. This process takes time, focus, and experience. It works because of the dedication and expertise of our personnel, motivated by the satisfaction of improving the cycling experience of countless customers, friends, and athletes.
At Ata Cycle, we HIGHLY RECOMMEND selecting a bike frame based on the detailed fitting assessment generated by the first two phases of the FitLab process. Selecting a frame based on the brand name, percieved bargain pricing, style, color, or any other factor, prior to receiving a scientific fit assessment, is usually a HUGE mistake. The differences in frame geometry between similarly sized frames can be subtle, but WILL have dramatic consequences on your ability to maximize COMFORT, POWER and HANDLING thorough proper fit. Most retailers fit primarily for COMFORT, as that is the shortest route to a sale, but rarely results in a fitting which also optimizes POWER and HANDLING. That is why we developed the FitLab — to establish a detailed, efficient protocol for first SELECTING the proper frame geometry, and then optimizing ALL aspects of the rider’s experience.
BIKE FIT PHASE ONE: Fit Kit
Achieving the desired harmony between each individual rider’s unique anatomy and their new, or old, bicycle begins with a compehensive data collection session using the widely popular FIT KIT System. This is the first of the three phases which comprise our proprietary FitLab analytical process. Using FIT KIT’s handcrafted, wood finished, hydraulic measuring tools, we establish a baseline platform for the ideal bicycle size and geometry to fit the rider’s body and athletic requirements. The initial consultation, done in conjunction with precise anatomical measurements, provides the initial set of data points which are converted by the FIT KIT software into a preliminary diagram of your optimal bicycle geometry.
BIKE FIT PHASE TWO: Dynamic Delta Power Analysis
With a preliminary geometry chart in hand, we then move on to phase two: dynamic power testing. This entails the use of a hand-tooled laser jig, which allows us to transpose the two dimensional initial geometry parameters into three dimensions quickly and accurately. Specifically, we use the laser jig to duplicate the initial geometry chart on a custom crafted, fully adjustable test bike. Then the rider works out on the stationary test bike, which is also equipped with a wattage metering capability.
With your initial position as a reference, a baseline power output and comfort level is established. Fine adjustments to the test bike dimensions can yield dramatic gains in power and comfort. Based on this dynamic power testing analysis, our expert mechanics then assemble and customize the rider’s actual bicycle, in exact accordance with the results of their power test.
We recommend that you ALWAYS start your bike selection process with the fitting, then choose a frame and component group based on the results of the first two phases of the FitLab process.
This is a major point of departure from the approach used by most retailers. We recommend that you ALWAYS start your bike selection process with the fitting, then choose a frame and component group based on the results of the first two phases of the FitLab process. This ensures that you have sufficient information to select a frame which not only fits your body comfortably, but also that will be correctly proportioned to maximize the handling characteristics you are looking for. This difference is KEY! At 95% of the bike shops out there, you will be sold on a bike BRAND, or perceived bargain component package, or frame color- or whatever it is that you respond to initially. While it may be the path of least resistance for you and the retailer, it is exactly the OPPOSITE of how frame and component selection should occur. This semi-random selection of a bike frame rarely results in a perfectly fitting bike for the rider. We have served countless customers who suffered through weeks, months or even years of fit disaster damage control which never solves the underlying frame geometry problem. This is why we feel so strongly about selecting the bike frame to fit the customer perfectly, NOT forcing a fit of the customer to the most conveniently available bike frame!
BIKE FIT PHASE THREE: Ergonomic and Biomechanical Analysis using the Dartfish video technique and Retül infrared motion capture system
The third phase of the FitLab bike fitting experience involves real time tracking of your pedaling dynamics while on your newly assembled and customized bike, using video cameras in conjunction with Dartfish software and the RETÜL infrared monitoring system. When complete, this final stage of ergonomic analysis reduces all relevant physiological variables to known quantities. By using two complementary tecniques—the video and infrared systems—we are able to isolate every significant variable in the rider’s ergonomic and biomechanical profile. In this context, ergonomic refers to the rider’s position on the bike as it relates to balancing of anatomical proportions overall. Biomechanical aspects relate specifically to the rider’s pedaling dynamics, and maximizing power output while minimizing strain on joint and connective tissue of the hips, knees and ankles.
The RETÜL technology, utilizing a series of infrared sensors, is an extraordinary tool in that it provides three dimensional imaging of your pedaling dynamics, particularly useful in diagnosing and correcting lateral anomalies in the motion of your knees, hips, and ankles. This data, in turn, facilitates the diagnosis and correction of flaws in the pedal stroke related to any such asymetrical anatomical anomalies. In addition to complex 3-D imaging, The RETÜL processor and software also provides us with a complete ergonomic and biomechanical map of the rider’s pedal stroke and position on the bike.
Armed with this crucial data, our fit technicians are able to fine tune every significant parameter of the fit, ensuring that nothing is left to chance, and protecting the rider from unwanted pain and discomfort often experienced when riding an improperly sized and customized bike. This data also serves as a blueprint for future fit adjustments which may be desired due to changes in the rider’s range of motion. Range of motion may increase as fitness and performance levels rise, and decrease as a result of injury or reduced training opportunities.
All of the common problems experienced by so many cyclists—including back pain, neck pain, knee pain, and posterior pain—can be solved through the proper application of the sophisticated analytical tools that comprise the FitLab at Ata Cycle.
BIKE FIT PHASE FOUR: Adaptation of Laboratory Grade Power Crank System
New innovations in crank/pedal torque analysis has provided Ata Cycle’s FitLab with laboratory grade, propriety power cranks that provide us the ability to observe left and right leg pedaling parameters, both separately and continuously with real-time analytics and protocols.
The benefit of FitLab’s power crank system, is cyclist can be preliminarily tested for deviations in right and left leg power output, vertical landing patterns in relationship to pedal axis and cleat offset, as well as detailed on-screen CAD outcome data relative to both “power phase” and “recovery phase” during each pedal rotation.
Specifically, FitLab’s power crank system can measure the following data:
Each crank arm independently measures:
- LEFT and RIGHT pedaling FORCE
- Whether pedaling force is PUSHING or PULLING
- LEFT and RIGHT pedaling OFFSET LOADS
In turn, this data is transmitted in realtime, via BLUETOOTH to a PC.
Knowing the CRANK LENGTH and the PEDALING SPEED, the software derives the pedaling POWER and EFFICIENCY values for each crank, and their TOTAL contributions.
FitLab’s power crank system is tested via a Servo-controlled Test Rig (STR), equipped with a reference Load Cell.
FitLab’s power crank system is tested in order to experimentally acquire the MEASURING ACCURACY of all the parameters.
Numerous tests on FitLab’s power crank system leads to the following ACCURACY VALUES (valid for both left and right crank):
+/- 0.25 % F.S. MAX LINEARITY ERROR on force reading, from 0 to 1,800 N F.S.
+/- 0.5 mm MAX ERROR, moving +/- 10 mm force position along pedal’s axis
In the final analysis, FitLab’s power crank system is a vital tool to help discover how each cyclist’s body generates power, and how to best balance and optimize his or her position preliminarily on the “fit bike.”
BIKE FIT PHASE FIVE: Adaptation Of Dartfish Motion Capture Software and Quintic Biomechanics Software
Ata Cycle’s Fitlab was one of the first to incorporate the use of Dartfish’s motion capture software in its bike fitting process – all the while taking advantage of each and every update and iteration of the platform over the years.
The important feature of Dartfish, is that it enables FitLab to analyze critical data such as a rider’s pedal mechanics and overall posture on the bike in real-time analysis, while quantifying each and every change in position and ruling out any biomechanical anomalies. This platform allows FitLab to fine tune the rider’s position, with goal of maximizing power, while at the same time enhancing comfort and safety.
Dartfish’s latest software, TeamPro Data, now supports data integration with video, which allows FitLab to import a rider’s “power map” from his or her power meter, and subsequently analyze it on-screen in conjunction with Dartfish’s software in real-time. This latest feature brings a whole new level of data collection and power analysis to the Dartfish platform.
A cyclist’s maximum power output is a major determinant of performance. Overall power output can be recorded accurately and reliably using an on-bicycle device such as a power meter. And, while overall power output is a very useful performance metric, it is limited as a biomechanical measurement which does not reveal any indication of “positional movement” adopted by the rider.
Quintic allows for a more detailed analysis of power through inverse dynamic analysis, which allows for the calculation of joint-specific power outputs. Therefore, by determining hip, knee and ankle power transfer, FitLab can understand in much greater detail how the rider produces his or her maximum overall power output.
In turn, this provides FitLab with valuable information as how to analyze and correct a rider’s position, via inverse dynamic analysis.
The process involves three segments of analysis: force output (kinetics), kinematics and body segment parameter data.
Data for the inverse dynamics analysis are collected during a short “all-out” test of maximum power output. For this step, the rider is instructed to apply as much force as possible throughout his or her pedal stroke via a cycling ergometer. For the kinematics step, a high definition camera is used to capture the segment. Before the data collection occurs, a calibration square is placed next to the ergometer, while a short video clip is imported into the Quintic Biomechanics calibration procedure, wherein reflective markers are placed on the pedal spindle, 5th metatarsal joint on the foot, ankle joint center, knee joint center and hip joint center of the rider. From there, a video is captured during the power output stage and Quintic’s software is used post-event to obtain the kinematics data from the video.
Following the data collection stage, the video is imported into Quintic’s Biomechanics v17 onscreen menu to set the frame rate and calibrate the file. A five-point cycling model template is then created and saved linking the pedal spindle, 5th metatarsal, ankle joint, knee joint and hip joint. Using the imported video, the five joint markers are tracked and digitized automatically for 3 complete pedal revolutions. Once imported, the built-in filtering options are set to optimally smooth the raw data. Position, velocity and acceleration data of the hip, knee and ankle are viewed and analyzed in the angular analysis menu. Finally, the kinematics data is exported directly to Microsoft Excel, where the inverse dynamics analysis is completed with the kinetics and body segment parameter data.
In the final analysis, these results demonstrate the relative contribution of each of the lower limb joints to overall maximal power output. This information can be used to make cross-sectional comparison between different riders, or different bike setups, and also as a longitudinal measure to monitor the effect of different training intervals. This information is highly relevant to riders and coaches.
The automatic digitization procedure available in Quintic Biomechanics allows for the easy collection of kinematics data from video clips. Other options of collecting kinematics data (e.g. manual digitization or 3-D motion analysis) are either too time consuming or too costly to be considered for most bike fit settings. Another benefit of collecting kinematics data from the video capture, is it allows for the movement to be analyzed both quantitatively (collecting kinematics data) and qualitatively (analyzing movement directly from the video).
In summary, Quintic Biomechanics can be used to accurately and reliably generate kinematics data to use in an inverse dynamics analysis. This procedure allows the calculation of joint-specific power outputs in cycling, which is a highly relevant measure for the understanding of cycling performance.
BIKE FIT PHASE SIX: “The Evolution of Fit”
Over the years, ATA Cycle has been at the forefront of bike fitting, wherein the latest software, equipment, instrumentation, and biomechanics, have all been carefully incorporated into a detailed and precise taxonomy of possesses – designed to fine tune a cyclist’s correct anatomical and ergonomic fit based on proven techniques and methodologies.
Indeed, up until now, ATA Cycle’s FitLab has harnessed the most advanced protocols available to achieve this end.
However, as part of ATA Cycle’s ongoing pursuit of state-of-the-art technology, the evolution continues with the addition of the BTS Bioengineering Kinematics system, along with the BioBike/iCranks’ fully articulable “robotic fit bike”.
The result is a not only a comprehensive fit system that’s fully able to provide layers of intricate, detailed, analytical data, after creating a complete biomechanical profile of each individual rider, but above and beyond this blueprint, the system is capable of rendering recommendations and solutions to further improve a cyclist’s position. This is achieved through the first ever application of artificial intelligence, relative to biomechanical motion analysis.
Specifically, BTS’s propriety technology uses fourth generation optoelectronic motion analysis, which is capable of capturing very rapid and imperceptible movements. From there, the system supplements, synchronizes and manages all kinematic, kinetic, electromyographic and video data originating from the cyclist via connected systems (i.e. the BioBike).
Ultimately, when integrated with the BioBike/iCranks and BTS’s advanced wireless surface EMG’s (synchromyography/electromyography technology), the system has the ability to analyze any type of movement with any part of the body in order to create customized calculation protocols for complete motion analysis through an innovative API based visual operator platform. In the end, ATA Cycle’s professional fit technicians are provided with graphic and multimedia reports designed to give true 3D biomechanical reports that include everything from real-time torque analysis and deviations in dependent/independent pedaling dynamics, to vertical, lateral and asymmetrical anomalies, symmetry and musculoskeletal imbalances and injuries. Furthermore, BTS has in it’s extensive data base, information compiled from literally thousands of cyclists who have undergone testing, as to give corrective recommendations based to empirical biomechanical data. In simple terms, BTS’s propriety technology, integrated with the BioBike, sees what no human can. And, it can give advise on how to correct a perceived problem based on real biomedical data.
A perfect bike fitting occurs when your weight is properly distributed on the bike fore and aft, the contact points of feet, saddle and hands are in the correct relationship, and your cleats are positioned such that you are capable of developing maximum power with maximum comfort and optimal handling. This balance can only be achieved though the proper interpretation of the appropriate anatomical and ergonomic data by an experienced bicycle fit technician. At Ata Cycle, regardless of the price of the bike, the FitLAB guarantees that your position on the bike will be customized so that power, comfort and handling are fused into a harmonious whole.
Things to look for before book your fit appointment