The PT Bike Fit Revolution — For the times, they are a-changing. . .

Close your eyes for a moment.

Go ahead, I won’t watch, but this is a fun exercise:

Imagine what a ‘Bike Fitting’ looks like, or an image in your mind of a ‘Fitter performing a bike fit on a rider’. . . .

OK, now open your eyes. What did you see?

To the average person, they imagine ‘a road bike on a trainer, maybe with motion capture dots on their extremities, some fancy live feed of pressure mapping, and a cyclists in cycling kit, fully lycra-clad, or perhaps an elite (looking) rider in a wind tunnel or physiology lab’. In fact, this is what images pop-up when I just Googled ‘bike fitting’ right now:

Angles, angles, angles, oh my!
Road Bike, motion capture, and lycra- You get the idea.
Road Bike. Bike Fit. Motion Capture with ‘stick figure’ overlay.

And this is all pretty standard. Road bike. Bike Fit. Road Bike. Bike Fitting. Angles and data. Pretty pictures. “Look at these images, sir… You definitely need new equipment!”. Upsell. Upsell. Upsell. Industry is really good at this.

OK, so we can all agree that this is the ‘mental image’ everyone thinks of when they think of Bike Fit, right? This is the mindset of the population of riders who get Bike Fitting, and in this environment. Right? This is what is marketed to the public, and every image you see fits this ‘road bike cyclist’.

OK, So what?

For starters, what if I told you that road cycling, in the US is well, kinda. . . . dead? Fact: The the number of road cyclists, and those competing in road cycling events has continued to decrease since the 1990s era of Lance Armstrong, wherein we all (thought we) had an American hero?

Or, what if I told you that previously-huge industry events like Interbike in LasVegas is getting smaller, and the cycling industry is pulling money from these trade shows as the market continues to decrease?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love road-cycling and the beautiful bikes. But, we need to start to understand that this market has plateaued and essentially declined steadily I the past 10+years.

I know, it’s sad- but it’s true.

Heck, BICYCLING magazine, originally the most roadie-centric publication on the market has even started to place emphasis on other types of cycling: commuters, utility, car-less lifestyle, e-bikes, and gravel/adventure bikes!

Again, don’t get me wrong, road cyclists definitely need bike fit, but the market share is shrinking, and by my guess, accounts for now only 5–10% (max) of the cycling population. And yet despite this trend, every industry-based Bike Fitter in the country is going after and competing to win that 5–10%. New equipment, systems, wedges, shoe inserts, lasers, slow-motion videos, live data tracking, Watts, peak torque, and so many other fancy tools- oh my! And yet, all of this is focused on 5–10% of the entire market?

Can you start to see how this ‘road-bike mindset’ regarding Bike Fitting has very limited scope, tight competition, small market share, and ultimately, poor growth potential in the future?

But, there’s good news!

As I alluded to above, there does exist growth in cycling in the US, especially with the rise in demand for bike infrastructure and cities embracing a ‘car-less’ lifestyle.

Bike commuting in the 50 largest cities has nearly doubled in the past decade.

E-bikes and utility-style bikes are a gaining huge popularity both in the US and abroad.

Folding bikes for convenience and transportability on transit and ride-share.

Mountain Bike/ Adventure cycling/bike-packing, and gravel riding events (Dirty Kanza, Grinduro, etc.) have exploded in the past 3–4 years, revitalizing rural towns and bringing in significant tourist dollars.

Women ridership has increased.

By my estimation, this“new wave” group of cyclists represents a much larger, ~70% of the riding population, who are curious about cycling, want to ride more and use the car less, but are maybe a little are nervous, overwhelmed, and/or intimidated by a bike shop and the ‘bro-mentality’ that often accompanies this environment.

This ‘new wave’ is a much more robust group, and are looking for ways to improve their health, simplify their commute, decrease carbon emissions, and who want to get away from traffic and congestion . . . and who also really deserve and need a quality, non-discriminatory bike fitting to make riding more approachable, comfortable, pain-free, safe, and efficient — no matter what style of riding they prefer or enjoy.

One of my biggest missions at Pedal PT is to break the mold of what one would expect from Bike Fitting, and the everyday stats quo. Regardless of what kind of bike you ride, there exists massive growth opportunity for the specialized PT/healthcare provider to assist in this growing ‘new wave’ of cyclists who need Bike Fit, as well as proper education on cycling posture, cadence, shifting and pedaling skills.

The human body was not made to ride a bicycle, and experiencing pain while riding is extremely common (some report estimates an upwards of >85%, and women are 2x likely to have pain w riding than men)- and as healthcare providers with a background in anatomy, physiology, body systems, and in evaluating and treating pain syndromes, we are at a great advantage to this growing, overlooked group when we apply this information to one’s Bike Fit.

I’m committed to helping bring awareness that Bike Fit is important, and needs to be acessible for all riders… AND have created my brand NEW course The PEDAL PT ONLINE ACADEMY for Physiotherapists to:

✅ Learn Bike Fit from a Physiotherapy standpoint — NOT from Bike Industry

Understand documentation, billing, and reimbursement for Bike Fit services for cash-pay vs health insurance

Add Bike Fit services as a viable additional service for PT clinics, or side-hustle for the enterprising PTs

Expand the PTs knowledge of common cycling injuries clinical presentation signs/symptoms + Bike Fit scenarios

✅ ….so much more!

If you’re interested in finding out more about this exiting new course to help take the Physical Therapist into this next revolution of Bike Fit- Click HERE!

Owner/Founder of Pedal PT. Passionate Cyclist, Physical Therapist, Clinical Bike Fitter, Dad, and Entrepreneur, living the #BikeLife in Portland, Oregon.