I finally sought Smiley out this spring after seeing this thread; I'm really glad I did. I just finished my second session with him. I just bought my first road bike last year and had never had a bike fit done before.
All the things people have said above are true with respect to how much time he spends, how detailed he is, how good at explaining things he is, and how he's happy to lend you components to try things out so you're not buying all this stuff you have to return later.
A few things stood out to me about his services:
1) He's really friendly to newbies. Like I said, this is my first road bike, and he was really patient in explaining everything to me. Almost everything on the bike needed adjustment (depsite my best efforts in reading a lot about bike fits and trying to do it myself), and he was good about explaining it all to me and answering newbie questions without being condescending about it.
2) Sometimes the bike needs adjustment, but sometimes the rider needs adjustment, too. Smiley pointed out that part of my fit issues was that my back isn't very flexible, and this is something I can work and improve, and this will improve the fit. He was also helpful in pointing out improvement in technique (pedaling, grip on the handlebars, etc.) It never occurred to me that these sorts of things could be part of getting a bike fit, but it was all extremely helpful stuff.
3) I didn't have to spend a lot on new components (this was something I was worried about). The "must buys" amounted to about $100 in my case.
4) He "owns" the fit. Once you hire Smiley to get your bike fit, he'll work with you until it's right. You can go back to him as many times as you need to within six months for free in order to get where you want to be. He says most people see him twice, but he's happy to have you back again if it's necessary. He's super responsive to emails and always answers all your questions.
5) Just because you're not noticing pain, that doesn't mean that your bike fit is correct. I resisted getting a bike fit for awhile because I wasn't noticing any serious pain and bike fits cost money. But I'm now noticing that I'm going a little faster, I feel like I have better control, and I suddenly became aware of discomfort that was now gone. I hadn't noticed it before because I had gotten so used to it (my saddle in particular).
I'm really glad I saw Smiley. I have no experience with other bike fitters, but he really helped me out a lot.
I recently had a wonderful experience with Smiley as well.
I was an NTPer last year, and rode on a road bike I had gotten as a gift a couple years back. I had never had a bike fit, but frankly I was much more concerned with figuring out how to ride clipless pedals and how to merely survive the bike portion of my tris. I learned so so much last year, and worked my way up to the half Ironman distance last fall, but accepted pain on long rides as par for the course.
This year I am doing Ironman Lake Placid in July, and I just completed the Kinetic Half Ironman this past weekend. As my training has progressed this spring, I realized that I really needed to get a proper bike fit, especially if I were to survive 112 miles of hills in Lake Placid. I emailed Smiley just two weeks out from my half Ironman, and he worked his schedule so that he could get me in right away for a fitting.
In the two hours I spent with him during the fitting, I learned more than I have in all my experiences in bike shops combined. He explained everything to me in extreme detail, which I greatly appreciated as I am definitely someone who needs to know why something is being done. The minute I got on his trainer, he could see that he would need to make some pretty extreme adjustments to my fit. He raised me up and forward on the saddle, raised my handlebars up, and adjusted the placement of my clips. He filmed the before and after, and the difference was astounding. Before, he described my riding position as "Superman" -- stretched way out, with locked out elbows, and so low on the saddle that I had to push down with my heels to get any power. After, I am much more relaxed in the upper body, get over the pedals much smoother and faster, and just have a lot more power in general. I had to order a few parts to make all these adjustments work, but he send me links to order them all at far below what I would pay in a regular bike store.
I also ended up switching out my saddle, because I had been riding on a fairly uncomfortable men's saddle. Smiley adores his old-school Brooks saddles, and while I was a bit skeptical at first (they look like hipster commuter saddles), I was sold the second I tried one. I'm still breaking it in because it's all leather and needs a while to mold to you, but I was so much more comfortable on the bike portion of my Half this past weekend than I have been on any long ride before.
I will recommend Smiley to anyone who is looking for a bike fit. He is only very slightly more expensive than a fitting at Freshbikes or another bike store, but the personal attention he provides is worth so much more. Plus, I finished my Half with an average pace about 1.5-2 mph faster than I had been averaging before, all with the same or less perceived effort, and I have Smiley's fit to thank for that.
This is a follow-up to a post I made from long ago in this thread after having my initial fit with Smiley.
I wanted a check-up on my fit from Smiley before IMLP next month. There have been minimal changes to my bike and setup since the original fit, but I knew that I had changed and wanted his critical eye over the fit as a whole.
As a testament to the original fit from two years ago, I needed only minor changes - being taken from a neutral position (which I had fallen into), to a more aggressive position. But more than that, Smiley adroitly noticed that my saddle, had in fact developed a dip after years of wear. He changed up the fit to compensate so I wouldn't need to get and break myself into a new saddle before the race next month.
With a saddle height and position tweak, and couple of tips for focusing my position for greater power, I was on my way.
I maintain my recommendation for the fit and remain super happy with Smiley. Should I get new bike(s) in the future, I will absolutely be back in touch with him for both guidance on the purchase, and the fit.
His contact info: magoo252 AT comcast.net
So this is a very long overdue review. But, in short, listen to what everyone else has already said here. If you are new to biking, or want to see improvements in your performance, get yourself to Smiley immediately. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.
I did my first half ironman (Musselman) last summer on the road bike I had bought for NTP 2011. I wasn't having any pain issues on the bike, especially at longer distances, but I felt like I wasn't optimized, like I wasn't getting the most 'bang for my buck' with my current setup. My performance at Musselman was off for a number of reasons (weather, nerves, etc) so I knew I would sign up for this race again. I also bought a new (to me) TT bike last fall and wanted to get off on the right foot. So I decided it would be best to set up a time for me and my two bikes to see Smiley. I chose him based on the reviews at the tri club forum and also the specific experiences of other friends who are also somewhat injury-prone. I wish I had done it sooner. Overall, he sent me home with not only a fit on my two bikes, but the knowledge behind what makes a good cyclist. You can tell right away he is passionate about cycling and wants to share his passion with his clients. I'm also grateful that he made his recommendations based on how to optimize what I already had- he's definitely not out to sell you expensive replacement parts. He will offer loaners and/or send you to really useful websites to get a great price and return policy, if you do need to replace something.
The first change he had me make even before I saw him was to upgrade from SPD to SPD-SL pedals. And he clearly outlined the reasons he recommended SLs over the other brands. So immediately I knew we'd get along. I'm a Type-A overanalyzer type with an engineering/biomechanics background. That being said, I had tried to do my own fit and Smiley had no problems telling me everything I had done wrong on my own. :) Lesson learned!!
The first thing we did at my first visit (2+ hours!) was talk about my flexibility. I haven't been able to touch my toes since about age 10. But Smiley explained why having a strong and flexible core was important to everything that would come next in the fit. And he sent me home with recommendations for exercises and a stretching book to get on Amazon.
Smiley then set me up on the trainer, and filmed me pedaling on each stage of the adjustment process. Truly eye-opening. The road bike needed a lot of work, notably, the seat needed to be raised 2". The stem got flipped over, and the handlebars adjusted, so that I can get the most 'stretch' out of my upper body. I also really, really needed a new saddle. Smiley recommended a brand that I could order online but had an extended return period. But luckily I didn't need it!
The TT bike was set up a bit more 'conservatively' until I get used to riding it. Then later we get to talk about changing out the aerobars for a more adjustable version, depending on how aggressive I want to be eventually.
After my first couple of test rides, and Ron's spin classes over the winter, we made a number of other adjustments to both bikes over a series of follow-up visits. I needed a shim in my right shoe, and the aerobars on the TT bike needed to be lowered so my hands were more comfortable. Smiley was also great at listening to my feedback on the fits on both bikes. He made some adjustments to my road bike based on how comfortable I felt on the TT bike. (Probably unusual, but I never said I was a 'normal' athlete...) It had alot to do with KOP (knee over pedal) distance and what was best for my body and conditioning at the time. He eventually sent me home with all my measurements so in case I had to take a bike apart to travel I can put it back in the right spot, or if I ever decide to shop for an upgrade I'll know where to start. I highly recommend that anyone go to him *before* you make that big purchase. It will save you lots of time and guesswork and headaches down the road.
So I just did my first race this weekend on the TT bike. (Rev3 Williamsburg Oly) and I have never had so much fun in a bike race before. And it showed. I improved from 20th exiting the swim to 11th in my age group after the bike, with the highest average speeds ever recorded on my garmin. I was comfortable in the aero position over the entire 24 miles and had plenty of power left in my legs for the run. I'm still working on core and flexibility and am starting to see improvement, not only in cycling but in the other disciplines as well. I'm excited to continue to learn and develop and improve. I'm definitely going back to Smiley before I make those big decisions to up my mileage or upgrade my gear. Check the other posts here for his contact info!
I could use a good fit. Where is Smiley located?
He's right off of Beach Drive so it's easy to bike to his place from DC/MD. Drop him a line at magoo252 (at) comcast (dot) net.
I agree with all of these reviews! I had a bike fit with Smiley back in the Fall pre- ironman training. I can not even tell you the difference it has made on my body for long rides. He did a great job explaining everything to me. I also agree with the comments about components necessary- I spent a lot less than I would have if I had the fitting done in a shop.
Overall- my back stopped hurting during my long rides and I felt faster after the fitting. It's well worth it.
So I had initially asked whether I should get some Aerobars for my bike or do a bike fitting since I was having issues with my hands falling asleep and not getting any speed out of my bike. I was suggested by multiple veterans to go to Smiley as he did wonders for them. I just got done with my bike fitting and I have to say thank you to everyone who made the suggestion. He changed the whole layout of my bike while explaining the reasoning behind all the changes, big or small, and why it would be better for me.
I had asked why I wasn't seeing much improvement on my speed and riding and he was very direct and honest not only with the bike issues but with me as well (i.e. Told me I needed to work on my flexibility). After the initial fitting, I went out for a couple bike rides and it was night and day. My hands are finally not falling asleep and the ride felt extremely comfortable. He also is very thorough in explaining your body and how it affects your ride, speed, power, etc.
He was very flexible in letting me drop off my parts and bike a day early to make sure it was ready for when I arrived so we can concentrate on tweaking the different components that were now on the bike.
I am super happy with my bike now and can't wait to go for a ride to see the improvements. I am looking forward to my next Triathlon and see how much time I can cut off of the bike. Thank you again to all the Veteran DC Tri people who suggested going to Smiley. I would totally recommend it to anyone.
Thank you to everyone who recommended I go see Smiley. As I transitioned from Olympic distance riding to HIM riding I started to feel the aches and pains of a bad bike fit. After going to see Smiley for my original fit (plus some minor adjustments), those aches and pains are most definitely resolved.
Smiley was quick to respond to my first email, and then again my last. He was quick to squeeze me in before my first race of the season which allowed for a PR on the bike. He recommended reasonably priced new equipment and even sent me the links so it was thoughtless when I got home. He worked with me when I was still not as comfortable as I would like and fit me in one last time to make some small last minute adjustments. He follows up via email with all of my measurements, both on initial assessment and when new adjustments have been made. He also sent a before and after video from his iPad so I could visualize my poor fit and even more importantly my new fit. Most of all I found Smiley to be very knowledgeable and with that knowledge, an excellent teacher. He didn't do anything without explaining it to me first, often using numbers and angles, which is most definitely my language.
I highly recommend going to see Smiley. You will NOT be disappointed. Thanks again for the recommendation EVERYONE.
I'm working on another review to put here, but didn't want to wait, so here's just a quick blurb for anyone new to this thread who just wants the bottom line up front -
I've been working with Smiley on fits for my Road and TT bikes. I'm much more comfortable on long courses, and noticeably more powerful. Every time I leave his shop/lab I feel more educated about my position on the bike and more confident in my riding.
If you're on the fence about whether you should get a fit or not, Smiley will validate your decision to get one if you go that way.
Ride pain free, ride stronger, see Smiley.
If you have questions, leave them here for me or send me a personal message.