The World of Bike-Fitting: Constrained by Culture, Democratised by Lance
by Philip Cavell, Cyclefit
Constrained by Culture Professional cycling was historically formed of a semi- permeable peloton, with very little free movement of influence and opinion in and out the bubble. In this closed model hearsay, tradition and bullying held the balance of power over the introduction of new science and thinking. And because the pro-peloton has always disproportionally influenced the consumer market, too often us retailers tended to replicate by rote some of their more stupid and poorly thought out practices. In many cases our customers suffered and they sought new sports and past-times that were more considered and better presented. In this climate bike-fitting was never going to get a fair hearing, and it didn’t. We found from our own experience at Cyclefit when we started bike-fitting in the 1990’s, that the early adopters were generally either referrals from the medical community or migrants from other more open and critically evaluated sports like swimming, golf, running, rowing etc.
Cavell measures up a customer
Democratised by Lance Without straying into the wildly contentious, there is one man that is due a lot of credit for change, a certain Mr Lance Armstrong, until recently seven-times Tour de France winner. Lance came to the sport of cycling from triathlon and thereby free from decades of dysfunctional programming. He didn’t care too much about adhering to tradition or fitting in, he just wanted to perform at the highest level he could and that meant shining the blinding light of science into every dark crevice of performance cycling (however ironic that seems in the light of recent events). Quite simply Lance democratised our sport, and many would say for the better. Lance also bought with him a new and welcome constituency who were similarly un-tethered from institutional introspection. The Lancification of cycling inspired and mobilised a whole audience, who whilst in love with cycling and its dramatic history didn’t feeling enslaved or restricted by it in any way. The new cycling audience was always more comfortable in a climate of critical reasoning, and this in turn was a fertile space for the topic bike-fitting to flourish and distinguish itself.