Bicycles Tailored by Cyclefit – Snugger than a Savile Row Suit
Cyclefit, world leaders in bicycle fitting for morning commuters and Olympic winners
Article by Sam Clark Photography by Andy Barnham and Huw Williams
Do you play out secret races on your morning ride to work against other, unsuspecting commuters? Quietly celebrating private victories after a sprint finish to the traffic lights with brave, last minute out-breaking? On Sunday morning rides do you imagine cresting Alpe d’Huez with a polka dot jersey on your back then racing down to the cafe in yellow?
Have you dreamed of having a dedicated team behind you who can squeeze every last drop of cadence out of your bike set up? Or, like most of us, do you have no idea what cadence is and would just like your ride to be more comfortable and, maybe, stop your knee hurting up hill? Please let me introduce Julian Wall and Phil Cavell, world class bike fitters and founders of Cyclefit.
Jules and Phil have been in, or rather on, bikes for most of their lives. They competed in a variety of bike racing disciplines before opening their first shop together in the early 1990s, just off Kings Road, London. The business grew, including a brief entrepreneurial stint, offering safe parking and a shower to cycling commuters. Plagued by lingering injuries from their racing past, Jules had a eureka moment, evolving a theory that their prolonged recovery was because they were still suffering from the ill-effects of their pre-injury riding position. Jules and Phil embarked on a seriously study of kinesiology and, keen to share this new found knowledge of human motion and mechanics with other cyclists, they opened Cyclefit, the first bike shop in Europe dedicated to bicycle fitting and biomechanics. Opened in 2002, the first Cyclefit is tucked away down a quiet beck street in Covent Garden, London. Its discrete door opens up to an Aladdin’s cave of sculptured carbon and hightec instruments. This is a Formula 1 pit lane for your bike, and for you.
The fitting studio is bristling with expensive, body mapping machines. These are World Tour level quality and Phil insists on providing the same bike fitting services to members of the public as he does to professional cyclists. ‘This is a process, not an event’, explains Phil. All fittings, whether for a commuter or a pro cyclist all start the same. With a cup of tea and a chat about how you cycle and how you would like to cycle.
The point of contact between body and bike is through the feet and the importance of this union between the foot and peddle has been an obsession of Phil and Julies for over a decade. It is essential to get a clean power delivery from your legs to the bike and, as with runners, cyclists need well supported feet or power can be lost and biomechanic problems can resonate back up through the body. Phil and Julies worked with Sidas, a company more used to ski boots, to design their own custom in sole specifically for cycle shoes which are individually molded to the customer’s foot.
Remember that classic Yellow Pages advert back in the 80’s, ‘that seat looks like a razer-blade’? Cyclefit use Gebiomized saddle covers to map the pressures you place on the saddle so the only razer-blade you have to worry about is one for your legs, or your chin.
Cyclefit are the first company in the UK to use motion analysis for commercial bike fitting. 22 sensors strategically placed on your body feed back information as you sit and peddle on a central jig. But as impressive as all this technology is, at the end of the day it is the world leading knowledge, experience and judgment of Phil, Jules and their highly skilled team that decipher the results and translate them to a bike set-up for the individual needs of the rider.
Like a Savile Row tailor can ‘measure you up’ as you walk through their door and sculpt your physique with a nip here and a tuck there in fall of cloth, the Cyclefit team can initially identify problems by simply observing how a person stands. They can tailor the setup of your bike to maximise power and speed, or correct an injury and avoid pain – or both. Essential for any Paris–‘morning commute’–Roubaix or Tour de Sunday-morning-teacake-run. And the fit is backed up with an expert team of physios and nutritionists to keep you fueled and on the road.
Manchester was the obvious location for their second shop, says Phil, ‘The Home of British Cycling’. The light and airy loft style, former factory building in Manchester’s Northern Quarter now sees more Lycra than the cotton that it originally produced. A forest of tempting carbon and alloy fills the shop and two fully equipped fitting suites are kept busy with local riders and profession cyclists.
Over a third of Cyclefit clients are female and this number is growing. An encouraging statistic for the widespread appeal of cycling and how seriously an increasing proportion of the population is taking it.
Included in their long list of professional clients, like the Trek Factory racing team, Cyclefit are proud to be partnered with the Matrix cycle team. The nine rider, womens squad includes Double Olympic Gold Medalist, Laura Trott who will be looking to add to her medal tally in Rio this summer along side fellow Great Britain and Matrix team members Elinor Barker and two times Para Cycling World Champions Corrine Hall and Lora Turnham.
At a fitting day before the Matrix team launch in the Manchester Cyclefit shop, Matrix rider Alice Cobb, ‘was really impressed by how thorough the fit was’, and ‘surprised it started with a good chat about her riding’. She had thought her bike was fine but the Cyclefit team tinkered with it, fine tuning the ergonomics and Alice, ‘couldn’t wait to get home and try it out.’
41 Newton St, Manchester M1 1FT/ 0161 826 1103/ cyclefit.co.uk/cyclefit-manchester
Prices start from around £250 for a comprehensive package which includes an initial interview with riding and physical evaluation, four camera Dartfish HD Motion Analysis, a detailed report with measurements for your optimal riding position and up to 3 hours with a technician to transfer the results to your bike. A free follow up session is offered to check you and the bike are still fitting the fit! For just less than £400 you can have the same fitting and cycling analysis that the professional cycling teams benefit from. For further details and arrange an appointment visit www.cyclefit.co.uk
To follow the successes and support Laura Trott, Elinor Barker, Corrine Hall, Lora Turnham, Alice Cobb and the other members of the Matrix team, Alderney Baker, Junior World Championship Medalist Harriet Owen, National Junior CX champion Amira Mellor and former National Hill Climb Champ Isla Rush go to www.matrixprocycling.cc