How Important Is Buying New Equipment During a Bike Fit?
You might be surprised to learn that an estimated 70%+ of equipment sold is probably unnecessary to alleviate your pains.. Here’s why.
“Low hanging fruit.”
You’ve heard this before, right? We tend to use this phrase to suggest doing the ‘easiest, simplest, and most efficient solutions’ to our problems.
For example, if your computer suddenly acts up, doesn’t load a page correctly, and/or stops working completely, the ‘low hanging fruit’ solution would be to simply reload the page, maybe reboot the computer, or check for updates that need to be installed. Simple and easy, and gets the results you want.
Your first choice wouldn't be to buy a new computer, or take it apart, install a new monitor, or try a new circuit board, right? You want the computer to work, not purchase more gear, right? You have a problem, and you want a simple solution. Most of the time, re-starting or re-booting the computer works. Only on very small occasions does the computer need in-depth work, new equipment, or installing new circuits to get it working again..
This might seem like an odd example, especially as this article is about Bike Fitting, but stay with me here: A Bike Fit is to help the rider achieve their goals- and 85%+ of people that request a Bike Fit have a common, simple problem — Pain on the bike. This could be pain at the contact points: handlebars, saddle, or feet for example; Or pain in the neck, shoulders or lower back or legs on long rides.
The rider’s primary goal is also simple- Eliminate the pain they are having, so they can enjoy riding their bike!
This is where it gets interesting.
The great majority of Bike Fitters in bike shops do not understand, or have medical training surrounding pain or injury — what causes it, what tissues are involved, physiology, anatomy, and how the body can adapt to a stimuli and regenerate to repair injury.
We always joke about having pain or an injury, and who you’d seek for help:
— I hurt my neck. Who do you see? A Physiotherapist or Doctor
— I hurt my back. Who do you see? A Physiotherapist or Doctor
— I hurt my knee. Who do you see? A Physiotherapist or Doctor
— I hurt my neck, knee and back while on my bike. Who do you see? . . . . . . . Umm, the bike shop guy.. (?!?!)
See how this doesn’t add up?
Now listen, I’m sure I’m pissing off a lot of shop Fitters out there saying this, but the fact of the matter is this — If pain is truly the driver for the majority of Bike Fit, the rider needs to see someone in the ‘body business’. . and preferably not somebody exclusively in the ‘bike business’.
This is ultimately why new cycling equipment is SO oversold and ‘up-sold’ during Bike Fit these days. Since the bike shop Fitters are not in the ‘body’ business, the solutions to all problems on the bike need to be remedied by equipment — that’s what they know, and have been taught to do in their Bike Fit Courses — which, to no surprise, was created by the same industry folks who make and sell the new equipment — see how this all works together??
If you are taught BikeFit by the ones who also manufacture the products, it all starts to make sense why the ‘up-sell’ mentalty is so strong in the majority of Bike Fit:
Problems with your hands? “New handlebars, bar tape, or gloves for you!”
Pain in your butt? “Well, you obviously need a new saddle!”
My feet go numb on log rides. “Let me sell you new shoes, AND custom insoles!”
Now, don’t get me wrong here. New equipment certainly has it’s place in the Bike fit world, and clinicians definitely need to familarize themselves on the equiment available. Riders absolutely need new stems, shoes, saddles, and handlebars for sure — the problem is, bike industry has created a BikeFit model where they blatantly side-step the “low hanging fruit” phenomena — it’s akin to the computer analogy of instead of rebooting the machine, the initial intervention is jumping right into taking apart the computer, re-soldering some wires, putting a new monitor on, replacing the keyboard and putting in new circuit boards, all to get the same result — and a huge waste of time . .. and money!
As a bike-centric Physical Therapist who has worked directly with all levels of cyclists on eliminating both simple and complex cycling pains now for over 13 years and performed 2500+ clinical Bike Fits, it’s estimate that 70%+ of all equipment sold in an average bike shop Bike Fit, is unnecessary to achieve pain-free cycling — — read that twice.
More often than not, it’s the poor positioning of the equipment that the rider currently has that is causing the problem.
As cyclists and Bike Fitters ourselves, we owe it to our clients to focus on the ‘low hanging fruit’ first, and then evaluate the results — you’d be surpised how many people do not need new equipment to get the result they want! And if not, next-level discussions about appropriate new cycing equipment becomes a logical progression in the pursuit of pain-free cycling.
Kevin Schmidt, PT, MSPT, Cert Bike-Friendly Physio is an everyday cyclist, entrepreneur, Physiotherapist and Bike Fitter with a passion for elevating the field of healthcare in managing cycling injury and Bike Fititng. In 2012 he founded Pedal PT: Bike Friendly Physcial Therapy. He has fully dedicated himself to the ‘bike life’ and hasn’t driven a car to a workday in over 13 years.
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Are you a Physcial Therapist passionate about cycling?
Be sure to check out my online course offering: “The Pedal PT Online Academy — Earn CEUs, and learn Bike Fit skills and how to succeed as a Physiotherapist in the cycling niche, while helping rider’s expeience the joy of pain-free cycling!