Physical assessment in a digital age

In my eyes a thorough off-bike assessment has always been a key part of the bike fit process, an opinion also voiced passionately by Garth. Nowadays, as our routine of postural checks and exercises has grown and evolved, we seldom find ourselves writing anything less than a short essay on our findings, keen not to leave a single detail unrecorded.

As with any observation based assessment, the biggest challenge has always been providing the athlete with a clear impression of exactly what they’re doing – right or wrong. “Did you know you drop your knee in and rotate at the hips during a squat?” It’s one thing having it explained to you, quite another to watch yourself back. Today’s mobile phones make this a simple process with super HD, slow motion video available at our fingertips.

However, with Bodywatch, the team at EuMotus (a group of boffs from Harvard university) have created a system that not only records an athlete’s exercise patterns, but through the use of markerless infrared technology, assesses them for symmetry, stability and range of movement. Scored against a set of industry standard criteria, the athlete is provided with a detailed report which highlights area of concern and where improvements are recommended.

This in itself is a fantastic step forward in the accuracy and repeatability of our assessment. However, the real secret weapon of the Bodywatch system is its ability to give muscle balance recommendations. With astonishing accuracy, Bodywatch uses the results of the performed routine to compile suggestions of under and over active muscle groups. Having tested the system for several months now as well as in talks with physios and other sports therapists, we’ve found the results to provide fantastic and reliable insight. And our clients are loving the detail of the report they get to take away.

We’ll have plenty more to write about in the coming months as we continue our use of the Bodywatch with our bikefit clients so watch this space…



Joe Hickerton – Cyclocross Bike Fit Case Study

Ken Buckley, Team Manager of Spokes BPC Race Team, shares his write up of team rider Joe’s  recent bike fit.

Joe Hickerton Retul.jpg“Joe Hickerton is a prominent Cyclocross racer in the south region and gets regular podium places in the Wessex Cyclocross League.

During the Christmas break he visited Spokes BPC Racing team sponsor, Vankru Cycling for some assistance with his position.

Vankru Cycling are a Level 3 IBFI independent fitting studio and Master Retul fitters. Also voted amongst the top 10 bike fitters in the UK by cycling weekly.

Joe has had bike fits before but never one specific to his discipline of cyclocross. The demands of his event differ from traditional road cycling and so a specific riding position is crucial. Weight distribution and centre of gravity are a much greater concern when races are littered with slow tight corners taken at low speed.

They began by thoroughly assessing Joe’s mobility in the physio room. They discovered Joe has good hamstring and hip mobility. But displays some pronation and external rotation of his feet. Assessments also showed some left leg instability – something to work on away from the bike! This influenced the decisions in adjusting cleat position, saddle height and the drop from the saddle to handlebars.

With Joe’s knowledge of his event and the expertise of Vankru they spent several hours making changes to his position which aimed to improve his efficiency of pedalling, power transfer and handling of the bike.

The most notable changes to Joe’s position began with the cleats on his shoes. His cleats were moved backwards from being forward of the ball of the foot, all the way back so that they were directly underneath it. Joe immediately reported that it ‘felt right’ and there was less wasted effort through the ankle and foot movement. An interesting start to the fit!

Next came adjustments to the shifters and the saddle. One of Joe’s main goals of the bike fit was to improve the handling of the bike in low speed tight cornering where he felt he was losing valuable time. Joe’s saddle was moved backwards slightly to improve weight distribution across the bike, and then lowered to compensate for the changes to his cleat position and saddle setback. This also allowed his handlebar position to be altered. The bars were rotated forwards slightly whilst moving the shifters upwards in the opposite direction. The result of this was a more comfortable hand position where the flat of the bar follows directly into the hoods. Having the right feel through the bars and pressure through the hands is crucial for such a technical event like Cyclocross.

After some final small tweaks here and there, Vankru used the Retul 3D Motion Capture system to assess the changes to Joe’s position and record the results. Interestingly they managed to achieve a drop in back angle of -2 degrees for Joe whilst leaving him feeling more comfortable on the bike and more powerful through the pedals.

A lower back angle is something that aerodynamics enthusiasts usually look for as a quick and sure-fire way of going faster! The problem with just slamming your stem to achieve this effect is that it sometimes comes with a price of reducing your power output. By aiming to lower the front end of your bike in conjunction with a bike fitter you can be sure of a drop in handlebars without compromising your efficiency!

Whilst Joe is an expert in his event, Vankru work with riders of all experience levels to make them faster and more comfortable on the bike.

Joe has since been out testing his position and bagged an awesome 4th place in the hotly contested Coventry RC Boxing Day Cyclocross, won by Stephen Roach of Raleigh GAC.

Thank you Vankru for the support!

Check out Vankru’s website for details of their fits and prices. They are super busy, so book your CX bike fit now before the season kicks off again to avoid disappointment.”

Ken Buckley – Team Manager, Spokes BPC Race Team


Back to School: The endless search for knowledge

In our search for further learner, Garth and I decided to ditch the chain oil for massage oil

this winter and enrolled in a Sports
/ Soft Tissue Massage Level 3 diploma. For 30 weeks, our Tuesday evenings will no longer be spent working from the studio or sweating it out on the turbo, but will instead consist of lotion-soaked hands, scribble-filled notepads and information-stuffed grey matter…

The course, held at Eastleigh College, includes everything from detailed learning and practice of massage techniques (who thought kneading was just for bread making) to the function of the lymphatic system, through to the role of sports massage in injury treatment and prevention.

We’ll continue to post updates of our progress through the course, and will certainly be needing some willing volunteers for “treatments” in the coming weeks so keep an eye out on our social media posts for opportunities to put yourself forward!



One of the worlds top triathletes, Vicky Holland comes in for a bike fitting.

Wow, what a pleasure to have met Vicky Holland! And an absolute privilege to do her bike fit.

When an athlete lets you make changes to their bike, suggestions and position its very trusting and something that I’m lucky enough to do as a living, especially for an athlete that makes her living from her sport and is hoping to win at Rio 2016.

Vicky is having a brilliant season having won two World Series Triathlon championships, Cape Town and Edmonton and having gained Qualification for next years Olympic Games.

I was amazed to learn that Vicky had not had a bike fitting for 5yrs! For an athlete at that level, it could be the difference between winning and losing at the highest level.
This year Vicky has a new bike Sponsor, Dassi, and I was asked to go to Dassi HQ to do her bike fit.

As you can imagine I was as excited as a kid in a sweet shop, not only am I a great fan, but to work with an elite athlete that could win gold at Rio……that’s pressure!

There were some very nice changes to her position and recommended changes to some equipment.
It was a great afternoon and the results were great as only a couple of weeks later Vicky won in Cape Town.
I was excited and relieved to see that win….a great job by the whole team.