Hello from Boston! (and the value of a professional bike fitting)

metamora

New Member
Region
USA
I want to introduce myself and thank the many forum members that provided me with timely reviews and information to assist in my recent purchase. Last week I took delivery of a new Specialized Turbo Vado SL 5.0 EQ. This is my first eBike and I am still getting accustomed to it, but overall, I think this will be a great addition to my stable. I have been riding Bacchetta recumbents (2 wheel high racers) almost exclusively for the past 15 years so the Vado is quite a departure from my wheelhouse. After a few short (25 mile) rides I was having some issues with saddle sores and some knee pain so I decided to book a professional fitting at my LBS (Belmont Wheelworks). After one ride I can attest to the value of this service. The difference in comfort was astounding! The fitting, which took roughly 1.5 hours included cleat adjustment to account for my asymmetric pronation, wedge inserts in my cycling shoes, seat adjustment (height, tilt and fore and aft), a new saddle that was a better fit with my anatomy, a new stem with a 30 degree rise (instead of the standard 17 degrees), and finally, removal of 1" from each end of my handlebars. Along with this I received instruction on proper pedaling technique which will help with my move back to diamond frame biking. For me, the added cost was well worth the investment. I feel much more prepared now for the two 400 mile tours I have scheduled for later this season. I haven't seen much discussion on this service so I thought it might help some new (and old) eBike riders.
 

BEC111

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the posting. an important lesson.

My Vado SL fits well after several ad hoc adjustments. But I still experience some saddle fit problems - senior male crotch issues. I’ve done all the trial and error positioning adjustments. That’s sort of OK, but I think I’ll need a different saddle.

As far as I can tell, there are two main ways to find the right saddle. One is buy a different saddle, try it for a few rides, adjusting its position a few times, and if it doesn’t work hope you can return it and buy another. (Some dealers and some manufacturers are more amenable to this approach than others.)

Or, get a fitting.

I guess the choice depends, to some extent, on the saddle price range in which you are shopping. It can take several $50 saddles to cover the cost of a fitting. Trying several $200+ saddles are a different story.
 

metamora

New Member
Region
USA
BEC111, there were a couple of factors that led me to get a professional fitting. First, my LBS offered me a $50 discount off the $150 price for the fitting. In addition, they offered a 20% discount off of any parts that I purchased during the process. Finally, I decided that it made no sense to buy a new $5K bike only to be uncomfortable every time I rode it. I was totally overwhelmed by the selection of saddles and needed some guidance. Left to my own sensibilities, I would have likely bought a saddle that had more cushioning assuming that would solve my problem. As it turned out, the saddle pain I was experiencing was only a symptom of several other problems with the way my bike was set up. After solving the fit issues, the selection of a saddle became relatively simple. The fitter offered a few suggestions based on his experience (and my price range), I tried them all and picked the one that I liked best. BTW, this is the first time I have ever had a fitting. I always assumed that I could figure out what would work best for me. Again, this may not be necessary or useful for some folks but I am glad I went this route and so far couldn't be more pleased with the result.
 

BEC111

Well-Known Member
BEC111, there were a couple of factors that led me to get a professional fitting. First, my LBS offered me a $50 discount off the $150 price for the fitting. In addition, they offered a 20% discount off of any parts that I purchased during the process. Finally, I decided that it made no sense to buy a new $5K bike only to be uncomfortable every time I rode it. I was totally overwhelmed by the selection of saddles and needed some guidance. Left to my own sensibilities, I would have likely bought a saddle that had more cushioning assuming that would solve my problem. As it turned out, the saddle pain I was experiencing was only a symptom of several other problems with the way my bike was set up. After solving the fit issues, the selection of a saddle became relatively simple. The fitter offered a few suggestions based on his experience (and my price range), I tried them all and picked the one that I liked best. BTW, this is the first time I have ever had a fitting. I always assumed that I could figure out what would work best for me. Again, this may not be necessary or useful for some folks but I am glad I went this route and so far couldn't be more pleased with the result.
Your explanation mirrors my thought process. I suspect I’ll go the fitting route after a few more rides this spring. I need to find The best place for a fitting of this sort, near me.
 

BBdoc

New Member
Region
USA
Very interesting update. I hope you get great enjoyment from your new Vado SL. I am wondering if you have the step through model or full height model? I am interested in the same bike but my local bike shop in MA doesn’t have any Vado SL bikes in stock. Maybe I should try Belmont?
 

PedalUma

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Petaluma, CA
@metamora, I am a big advocate for fitting and pedaling technique lessons. I build custom bikes in Northern California, including for disabled persons. Please tell us more about the pedaling techniques that you learned.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Mazovia, Poland
Interesting information @metamora!

I was ready to take the Specialized Retul bike-fitting service myself. What discouraged me, however, was the clause "the rider will agree to ride in cleated shoes with clipless pedals; these can be bought at a Specialized store". Come on... I will never let me ride clipless anymore! What do Specialized think? That everybody has to ride clipless? NO WAY :D

It took me some time to equip and modify my Vado SL 4.0 EQ to become my "dream e-bike". The list of mods is too extensive to list (I have probably spent the difference in price of 4.0 and 5.0 but the money was well spent). I applied the whole experience gained from my 30-month e-bike history (and made many mistakes meanwhile). Now, my Vado SL is the most comfortable and efficient of my e-bikes because I could understand what was making my rides uncomfortable in the past. My mods are very personal; I have become my own bike-fitter :)

My second principal e-bike, full-power Vado 5.0 has been fitted by me as good as possible. Unfortunately, some special construction features of that e-bike make it impossible to, for example, replace the stem, drop the handlebars, or add Innerbarend grips. Therefore, my "big" Vado is only my second e-bike in the terms of the ride comfort, and it cannot be further improved.
 

metamora

New Member
Region
USA
Very interesting update. I hope you get great enjoyment from your new Vado SL. I am wondering if you have the step through model or full height model? I am interested in the same bike but my local bike shop in MA doesn’t have any Vado SL bikes in stock. Maybe I should try Belmont?
BBdoc, I bought the full height model but they had quite a few Ebikes available when I was there. I would give them a call to see if they have what you are looking for before making a trip there.
 

metamora

New Member
Region
USA
@metamora, I am a big advocate for fitting and pedaling technique lessons. I build custom bikes in Northern California, including for disabled persons. Please tell us more about the pedaling techniques that you learned.
PedalUma, I am coming from 15 years of riding short wheelbase high racer recumbents exclusively so I need to relearn how to ride a diamond frame bike. The fitter was pleased and commented that I will have fewer bad habits to break! The geometry of recumbents is very different and employs different muscle groups. Apparently the recumbent position is more "quad" centric so I need to learn how to employ my hamstrings more on the diamond frame. He talked about how to lean forward to the point where you feel like you are about to fall over then use the force of your legs on the pedals to support your upper body. He also wanted me to focus not so much on pushing the pedals around but on transferring my body weight onto the pedals by allowing my heel to drop slightly as I come past the 12 O'clock point. Not sure I am explaining this very well and I still need to learn how to do it properly. Body weight does not come into play on a recumbent because you are basically lying on your back. So I need to learn how to use that to my advantage.
 

metamora

New Member
Region
USA
Interesting information @metamora!

I was ready to take the Specialized Retul bike-fitting service myself. What discouraged me, however, was the clause "the rider will agree to ride in cleated shoes with clipless pedals; these can be bought at a Specialized store". Come on... I will never let me ride clipless anymore! What do Specialized think? That everybody has to ride clipless? NO WAY :D

It took me some time to equip and modify my Vado SL 4.0 EQ to become my "dream e-bike". The list of mods is too extensive to list (I have probably spent the difference in price of 4.0 and 5.0 but the money was well spent). I applied the whole experience gained from my 30-month e-bike history (and made many mistakes meanwhile). Now, my Vado SL is the most comfortable and efficient of my e-bikes because I could understand what was making my rides uncomfortable in the past. My mods are very personal; I have become my own bike-fitter :)

My second principal e-bike, full-power Vado 5.0 has been fitted by me as good as possible. Unfortunately, some special construction features of that e-bike make it impossible to, for example, replace the stem, drop the handlebars, or add Innerbarend grips. Therefore, my "big" Vado is only my second e-bike in the terms of the ride comfort, and it cannot be further improved.
Stefan, yes I agree that getting your bike fitted is not for everyone and it sounds like you were able to do a great job on your own! You have to do what works best for you!
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Mazovia, Poland
Stefan, yes I agree that getting your bike fitted is not for everyone and it sounds like you were able to do a great job on your own! You have to do what works best for you!
I think bike-fitting makes sense when the e-bike is brand new, and the owner wants to get things done fast and efficiently. I'm not against it.
 

PedalUma

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Petaluma, CA
PedalUma, I am coming from 15 years of riding short wheelbase high racer recumbents exclusively so I need to relearn how to ride a diamond frame bike. The fitter was pleased and commented that I will have fewer bad habits to break! The geometry of recumbents is very different and employs different muscle groups. Apparently the recumbent position is more "quad" centric so I need to learn how to employ my hamstrings more on the diamond frame. He talked about how to lean forward to the point where you feel like you are about to fall over then use the force of your legs on the pedals to support your upper body. He also wanted me to focus not so much on pushing the pedals around but on transferring my body weight onto the pedals by allowing my heel to drop slightly as I come past the 12 O'clock point. Not sure I am explaining this very well and I still need to learn how to do it properly. Body weight does not come into play on a recumbent because you are basically lying on your back. So I need to learn how to use that to my advantage.
I teach people with subtle torque sensor bikes to focus on sweeping their feet back and up. If 12 O-clock is straight up, I have them focus on 7 to 10:00. I also have them keep up cadence. It is not how hard you pedal, it is how quickly they go around. Do not pound down. In whatever gear pedal lightly and quickly, particularly in high gear. The controllers inside motors also 'like' this because they do not hit spikes, so they can deliver power smoothly. I occasionally will make electric recumbents.
 

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PedalUma

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Petaluma, CA
I am now working on an imposable fat bike for snow and loose sand. It will take a local machine shop to make special parts to my specifications to make this an acoustic/electric bike that is intuitive, super powerful and responsive without any delay. The owner will have stories to tell about a builder He discovered, and his buy in, and investment, engagement, as they roast their fresh caught trout around a campfire in rural Washington this Summer. The guy is super cool. His wife sits on the couch and yells at the TV while taking pharmaceuticals-all While watching pharma ads for hours on end. He wants to get out with with his new super powers on his bike.
 

Prairie Dog

Well-Known Member
Region
Canada
City
Red Deer
I have to concur with @metamora with respect to having a professional bike fitting and, in my wife’s case, she considers that the 75 minute session was a sound investment. Since acquiring her Creo back in 2020, she’s experienced similar woes in feebly trying to gain a comfortable saddle position and dealing with a mild case of carpal tunnel only compounded matters.

She booked an appointment at the LBS in Calgary which employs a licensed physiotherapist who also specializes in using the Retul Bike Fit System. For anyone not familiar with Retul, it’s essentially a 3D motion capture system that measures and obtains real time data to optimize a rider’s position. It was pretty cool to see how it all worked.

@Stefan Mikes – When my wife booked her appt, both clipless and flat pedals could be used with the Retul System. We just had to let them know ahead before coming in. My wife will soon make the switch over to SPD clipless without drastically altering the new setup on her bike.

The stock cut-out saddle was not ideal and was ultimately replaced with a version (Specialized Mimic) that complimented her anatomy and was slightly tapered near the nose to avoid any chaffing of her inner thighs. It was determined that her sit bones were applying little pressure on the saddle and that most of the downward force was closer to the nose. He also trimmed the seat post a few mm as it was too long. Anther device that he used was an adjustable stem tool which allowed him to fine tune the length/rise of the stock stem which he discovered was also too long. The stock 80mm stem was replaced with a 60mm version with an adapter to accommodate the Futureshock.

The Retul camera
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My wife’s initial position on the trainer with her existing setup

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Hooked up with LED anatomical markers which are captured on the Retul camera

IMG_20220430_1115564.jpg

Determining proper stem lenght with the Retul adjustable stem tool

IMG_20220430_1159403.jpg

Futureshock adapter to fit the new stem

IMG_20220430_1220369.jpg

Once the final fitting is complete, the tech dials in her final bike position creating a digital map of her bike.

IMG_20220430_1231242.jpg
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Mazovia, Poland
@Stefan Mikes – When my wife booked her appt, both clipless and flat pedals could be used with the Retul System. We just had to let them know ahead before coming in. My wife will soon make the switch over to SPD clipless without drastically altering the new setup on her bike.
Unfortunately, the Retul bike-fitting in Europe explicitly defines "the rider has to consent to be using clipless pedals and shoes; if not already owning them, the rider will agree to purchase a set at the Specialized store".

On my last group ride, I met an inconspicuous and modest man (he later turned out to be a famous European graphic artist). He rode his gravel bike in trainers and with flat pedals. We had a little chat. He told me: "I was ready for Retul bike-fitting until I learned I would have to ride clipless. No way!" Exactly the same experience as mine!
 

Prairie Dog

Well-Known Member
Region
Canada
City
Red Deer
Come on... I will never let me ride clipless anymore! What do Specialized think? That everybody has to ride clipless? NO WAY :D
I agree that riding clipless isn’t for everyone. I would probably feel the same if I were to use them when riding my e-mtb over technical terrain (for obvious reasons) but when riding on pavement/light gravel I definitely feel more connected and at one with my road bike especially on steep climbs and also find them great for short bursts of power. Heck, I even ride with them on an indoor roller trainer.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Mazovia, Poland
I agree that riding clipless isn’t for everyone. I would probably feel the same if I were to use them when riding my e-mtb over technical terrain (for obvious reasons) but when riding on pavement/light gravel I definitely feel more connected and at one with my road bike especially on steep climbs and also find them great for short bursts of power. Heck, I even ride with them on an indoor roller trainer.
Some people suffer leg illnesses and need to be able to adjust the position of the feet on pedals as they ride.