Can anyone recommend a good bike fitter? I used Eric Sorenson at Bonzai prevously but he isn't there anymore.
A lot of our merchant partners do bike fittings but I'll point out Paul Hoover at Conte's. He has a strong background in fitting and recently did a really good job for one of my clients who has had some ongoing issues. He's been great about continuing to make adjustments to really refine the fit.
Here's another vote for Paul Hoover at Conte's. I believe that Eric Sorenson is now at Cycle Life in Georgetown. I had gotten my first bike fit with Eric at Bonzai, but just got re-fit by Paul. It was a completely different experience with Paul. He was really thorough (I did the 3D fit) and clearly explained every adjustment that he made. I learned a lot from him, and I immediately noticed a difference in my riding (it feels like a completely different bike - in a very good way!!). I highly recommend Paul at Conte's!!!
Is Paul in Bethesda or Arlington?
Paul is usually at the Bethesda store, but Conte's only does 3D fits at the Arlington store. So if you schedule a 3D and ask for him to complete the fit, he'll take care of you at Arlington. Follow-up with him is usually done in Bethesda, which is nice because it's a quieter store (for now) so you can really go over details with minimal interruption. I highly recommend him for several reasons: he will talk with you at length about your riding habits, training issues, comfort, discomfort, nutrition, etc all before watching you ride; he takes the process in stages (so if he makes drastic changes during the initial fit he gives your body a few weeks to adapt to those changes before making the subtle modifications); his explanations are not overly technical so they are extremely easy to understand. I'm sure the other fit techs at Conte's are great too, but I'm just biased from experience. Good luck with your fit!
I don't know if things have changed, but I did my 3D fit at the Bethesda store. I now live a block from Conte's Arlington, but I still prefer the Bethesda store because it is quieter and you can usually get a quicker turnaround on things (fittings/tune ups). I believe that Clovis is the main fitter at the Arlington shop, but I think that Paul does work both.
A small addendum to Sandy's post -
I got my bike fit from Clovis at Conte's(Arlington). I think he's great and have recommended him to many times over at this point. The store, itself, is quite busy though. Though it's hard to say that's a bad thing these days...
Paul is going to be full time in Bethesda soon. Like I said before, well worth the money.
I just heard from Clovis that Paul no longer works at Freshbikes; he moved back to Charlottesville. The Bike Rack also does fittings but it's more expensive-- $225. Has anyone used them?
Who is the guy in MD that works out of his garage that was recommended on another post a while back.
That would be Smiley El-Abd, magoo252 at comcast.net . He charges $275 for the fitting, with free adjustments for 6 months. He comes highly recommended by several people, but is also more expensive than the shops. I'm trying to decide if it's worth it...
There's a reason Smiley is more expensive -- he has absolutely no interest in selling you anything. If he says you need X, its because you need X, not because he's gonna get a commission from selling you X. It's like anything, sometimes the best costs more.
Really, it is kinda of a no-brainer -- check out out the thread:
Best BIKE FIT in the area, hands down
I agree. You get what you pay for. No one should get a half you know what bike fit. Seeing as the marginal cost is marginal for a A+ bike fit and just OK- go for the best!
I was emailing with Smiley last night about the slight changes to his services (the time limit and the slight increase in price) and I stand by him and would pick him over any other bike fitter.
He's super responsive to emails. He stands by his fit and will work with you until your fit is perfect, which that should take less then 6 months to get to that point. And unlike the shop fitters, if you need more then the 2 fittings there is no charge or attitude and Smiley will insist that you come back to get the fit perfect. He will loan you a saddle or anything he has in stock. And if you need to buy anything, he will give you an online shopping list (with links) for everything he thinks you need for your bike at prices that no bike shop can meet. He will explain everything until you understand exactly what he's doing and why. And he's just generally an all around nice guy that will most likely never leave the area.
The only "negative" thing I will say about Smiley is that if you are looking for a fit with lasers, cameras, and a complete body geometry analysis - he's not the guy for you. He is more old school about his fits, but it works.
But to the original question - is Smiley worth it the extra money? I know there are legions of people that stand by their fitters - but there is always a few stories of people unhappy with their fits. I have yet to hear of someone being unhappy with their fit with Smiley.
I'll second, third, and then some all the great things said about Smiley. I've had fits at many a bike shop in town, including fits with people mentioned in this thread, and Smiley is hands-down the best and worth the money.
My fit took place over two weekends, and he spent two hours with me each time (and here I thought I just needed a different saddle!). He even went out and rode with me on Beach Drive to see how the fit looked in motion (because we ALL ride differently on the road than on a trainer). He has well over a decade of experience fitting people for pricey custom steal and titanium bikes--meaning his measurements HAVE to be spot-on.
And whether you're a newbie or a pro, he shows you the same respect, dedication, and concern, and will teach you a thing or two about why he does what he does while fitting you. Not sure what brand bike will fit you best? Go to him before you buy and he'll make recommendations based on your measurements. Bike shop recommend a bike that wasn't the right fit for you? He'll come up with a list of reasons why they did you wrong, shaming them into making things right. Since he's not connected to a shop and not pushing product, he can afford to be unbiased and honest (and no, he won't try to push a custom build on you).
He costs a bit more than some places but it's still less than all the time and money I've wasted on fits at other bike shops in town. The mere fact that Smiley starts with cleat position--something I haven't had any other fitter do--speaks volumes (think about it--it only makes sense! If your cleats are off, the rest of your fit is going to be off!). I hate to call anyone out, but at the VERY END of my last fit with one "great fitter" mentioned above, I'd asked him about my cleat position (which he hadn't looked at at all during the fit). He held the shoes up when they weren't even on my feet, said "Yeah, looks good," and sent me on my way, eager to get to the guy with the $5,000 ride who'd shown up in the middle of my fit without an appointment.
After my fit I received an email from Smiley with a thorough summary of what changes he made and why. A week or two later he emailed me to see how the fit felt, to make sure we didn't need to make any more adjustments. Same with after my races. Show me a bike shop fit that does that! He cares about cyclists, cares about the job he does, stands by his work and isn't finished until he--and the rider--are 100% satisfied. That, to me, is well worth an extra $50!
I like Smiley - he's passionate, thorough and invests a lot of time in his fits. I don't think this approach will be for everyone though. He has certain core principles in his fits that some might not feel are the most modern nor super appropriate for triathlon (e.g., heavy reliance on KOPS). You'll also likely come out of the fit with a hefty shopping list of accessories to go and purchase - so be prepared for that on top of his fees. I was uncomfortable with my experience and wrote about it on another forum - I got some mixed feedback to say the least.
I'd say he's better for riders who've had bad experiences with fitters at bike shops, people with more $$ to spend, those suffering with chronic injuries (e.g., back/knee) looking for a totally fresh start and those trying to do the road bike with tri bar set up. In general he's more specialized towards roadies than triathletes.
I wouldn't recommend him for younger riders, those looking to be more aero, people with pre-existing opinions/beliefs on bike fits, ultra-seasoned triathletes looking for tweaks and those with really nice bikes who don't want to attach a bunch of random parts to their cockpit.
I know that Smiley comes very highly recommended by several people with the club but I did not have a good experience with him. I went to him for assistance and advice in buying my first tri bike. He insisted on making some pretty significant changes to my road bike fit - a fit that was working very, very well for me. He moved my cleats, raised and moved my saddle on the rails, put on new handlebars and a stem. This was in early February and the fit resulted in several injuries. I saw him two additional times for adjustments but saw a significant decrease in power and speed with each subsequent visit. I had two professional fitters check out these changes and both agreed that the set-up was very, very wrong for me (cleat position was wrong, stem and handlebars in conjunction with the saddle height and angle resulted in a very uncomfortable position that caused injuries and noticeable loss in power)...I am working with one of them to bring me dial me back in to a good position. Unfortunately, I still trying to recover from the injuries suffered from Smiley's fit. Also, I would recommend not having him install anything - this is best left to mechanics (my handlebars were uneven and my saddle was crooked).
I will say that Smiley did reimburse me for the fit and some of the costs of the parts he asked me to purchase. Unfortunately, I have had to have my old parts reinstalled and am still in physical therapy to help me with the hip injury from the poor fit.
My advice: find someone who is very detailed oriented and is willing to work with you as a rider - and listens to the feedback you provide about comfort (a fitter who insists that he knows best, even if you are uncomfortable or are in pain, is not a good fitter. After all, you are the one who has to ride the bike). It is also helpful to use a fitter that connects you to a computrainer or another tool to measure the affects of the fit.
I have gotten 4 fits in the area in the last 5 years. Here's my take
1. Bike Doctor in Waldorf, MD was the best bang for the buck. Steve Ruck did my fit. I sent the boy there. I'm not sure who fitted him, but it was a very good experience. It was about $160 for the fit, and they nearly duplicated the measurements I got a couple years later at...
2. Cycle Life, for $425. They know what they are doing. They're local. You just pay a lot for it. Personally, I'd rather drive a bit further out and spend $250 less.
3. Capitol Hill Bikes - basic fit for $65 (5 years ago). Amateurish. I wouldn't be surprised if I was the guy's first fit.
4. Conte's mountain bike fit - $150? TOTAL WASTE. Granted, Clovis double booked the slot and probably wanted to go home. I go a 30-min rush job, and left really unhappy. When I went to Boulder, I got refitted at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine ($250, worth every penny). They changed my seat position, stem height, handlebar length by INCHES.
I’ll give a shout out to Chris Richardson at the Bike Doctor in Waldorf. Chris is extremely meticulous and thorough & no question or concern will go unanswered. I know is not the closest, but it is quite worth the trip.
I had a lot of experience with road bikes, but when I was considering getting a tri bike, I contacted a friend in Annapolis for advice on bike fitting. She happens to be the course record holder for her AG at IM Lake Placid, so I really listen to her advice. Her words…“Go see Chris & look no further. He’s the best in the area.” I’d never question her advice, so I made an appointment with Chris. After we did a series of exercises for my fit, he asked me if I had a tight right hamstring. I was shocked b/c that was exactly the case. I knew the guy was the real deal. He did my measurements & filming, then we looked for a bike that would fit my body’s dimension. That's when I found out that I have longer legs relative to my torso, which is a key price of info on the stack & reach of bike frames. Long story short, my 1st ride ever on a tri bike, I did 70 miles without any issues & haven’t looked back.
The Advance Triathlon Fit is $160 for 2 ½ hrs and the Dynamic Precision Fit $250 for 3 hrs. In the Dynamic Precision Fit, he uses video motion to breakdown your pedaling process. Pretty cool process as he’ll sit down and explain your hip and elbow angle, back profile, leg extension, etc. All I have to say is that his rates are quite reasonable for the attention & quality of service you get.
Thanks for the advice, everyone. I met with Smiley yesterday and he was great! Add me to the bandwagon.