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.
Had sold all of my bike stuff in the midst of serious injuries and cross country moves, so needed a road bike (because of the injuries) along with all else bike-related. Based on the reviews on this thread, I thought I'd try Smiley and decided to email pre-bike-purchase after reading about someone else's unfortunate bike purchase. Turned out to be a fantastic decision.
Smiley said he could do a pre-purchase fitting on a fit bike, determine the measurements that he would use for a custom-built bike, and then use those measurements to find a bike that fits those parameters. Could tell it was going to be a completely different experience when Smiley offered to pick me up at the metro station. Smiley had already set up the fit bike, so he put the cleats on my new shoes, and was able to figure out relatively quickly the exact measurements that would work best for me. Using those measurements, he gave me a list of 4 bikes that were close to those measurements. Tried all 4 - 1 was perfect and immediately felt like a custom built bike. Purchased it, took it for the fitting, which was incredibly quick after the pre-purchase fitting, and was all set. After a bunch of miles, took it back for a tweak or two, but have loved it every mile. My bike is only off by 1 cm in 1 spot from the measurements of a custom built bike but was only a fraction of the cost. Also saved me a ton of time, frustration, and the possibility that I would have picked the wrong bike.
Just picked up a tri bike (doctors were wrong, so found a newer version of one I had before injuries). No question that I was taking it to Smiley. Same fantastic experience. Smiley had the ISM saddle I wanted to try (was able to rule that out without a trek to a far off bike store), loaned me another so I can figure out if that's the way I want to go, and had a recommendation for a 3rd that had a 90 day guarantee. Yet another bike that fits well incredibly quickly. The only thing that was shocking was how inexpensive the fitting was for the second bike - knocked the first number off of the first fitting price. Had forgotten the 2nd bike was a lower price - was ready to pay the same price without a quibble because I was so happy with the fitting of my first bike.
Smiley also offers relevant advice about your cycling (since he can see what you can't) and adapts his advice appropriately to the experience level of the rider. He has a tweak policy (6 months, I think) that he honors, so if things aren't exactly right or if you lose weight/increase flexibility/whatever - he'll make it right.
I look back at the decisions (right and wrong) I made along the way to my first IM finish line - and my fitting with Smiley was definitely one of the decisions that helped me get there much more easily. It was a little more expensive than the fitting I had with the bike shop certified fitter, but I received much more time, information, and assistance from Smiley. And, if you have or get a second bike (I didn't expect to do so), the bargain is incredible. And you certainly can't get the pre-purchase fitting from a bike shop - that saved me so much time in shopping and ensured that I ended up with the right bike. Feel free to message me if you have any questions.
I just recommended Smiley to a colleague & her boyfriend based on all the reviews from this forum. I hope she goes!
This review is long overdue. I'm posting it now because I want to reiterate what others have said about how amazing Smiley is.
Last year as my training ramped up for my first 70.3 I decided it was high time I got myself a proper bike fit. I was spending WAY more time on my bike than I ever had before and, as a result, I was starting to notice all sorts of things that didn't feel good or right. It was easy to ignore them when my longest rides were in the 20 mile range, but as my mileage crept up so did my aches and pains.
Of course, I'd already had several "fittings", none of which helped, and I really didn't want to spend the money. However, when I tallied up the cost of weekly PT and chiropractor visits to fix whatever I messed up each weekend riding I was quickly convinced to pony up the $275 it cost me for a proper fitting.
Realizing that I was rather desperate, Smiley was kind enough to squeeze me right away. As it turns out, my fit was even more messed up than I wanted to admit. My cleats were in the wrong place. My post was way too low and ill positioned. My saddle was too far forward. My stem was too short. My handlebars were too narrow. All of this explained why I always felt like Gru on my bike, all scrunched up and hunched over. I could never spin my legs, because it felt like I was pedaling in a square (which it turns out I basically was).
The point of all of this being, getting a bike fit from Smiley was hands down the best investment I made toward my season last year. It was life changing, actually. I can't believe how much smoother (and circular!) my stroke is. Immediately after the fit it like hills took a bit less effort to go up and I felt much more stable, which made hills way less scary to go down. My hamstring tendonitis, IT band issues, and knee pain all went away.
The only downside to the new fit was that my old saddle just didn't work. Let's just say that my lady parts were not very happy (for those of you who are experiencing this issue but are unsure how to describe it to others, I've found the term "soft tissue pain" is the least awkward way to describe what you're going through.). Needless to say, resolving the saddle situation was incredibly frustrating for me, since my saddle was one of the few things that didn't bother me beforehand. Although to be fair, it was so ill-positioned that I wasn't really even using it with the old fit (literally). When I told Smiley that the new positioning of the saddle was causing me pain, he assured me that I didn't have to live in pain and was hell bent on getting it right.
Smiley was incredibly patient with me as I tested out about ten different saddles, adjusting my fit for each until I found one that worked. He even let me test out about 6-7 different saddles that he had on hand in his garage, and lent me a few to ride on for longer so could see if I liked them before making the investment.
Over the course of a few months of trying out saddles, I managed to find one that worked well enough to get me through my century ride last fall without too much discomfort. In all honesty, I'm not really confident that the perfect saddle exists. But I am confident that if/when I decide to take up the search for something better than what I have now Smiley will be 100% supportive and instrumental in making it work.
For all of you ladies out there that are having bike fit issues, please don't let the fact that Smiley is a man deter you from working with him. He is an absolute professional and I assure you that you will be just as comfortable discussing your issues with him as you would be with anyone else. While Smiley is not going to magically present you with a saddle that solves all your problems, he will do everything he can to make sure your bike fits right and that you're riding with a saddle you find comfortable.
This is a followup from earlier in 2013, and I can now confidently make my assessment after a full year in the saddle of two bikes Smiley fit me on.
If you don't want to read any further, here are the Cliffs Notes: The title of this thread is confirmed - BEST BIKE FIT in the area, hands down.
For everyone who wants more detail, I'll discuss both my TT and my road bike fitting.
This is what I race on. My bread and butter. For the previous seasons I hadn't been comfortable. My back hurt. My pedal stroke was rubbish. And I didn't feel like I was pushing as much power into the pedals as I thought I could. After seeing countless reports of success with Smiley's fit, I caved and drove up to Mary Land to see the man.
We discussed my issues, style of racing, flexibility, etc and he observed my form on the bike, and took video for reference. One of the brilliant parts of the process was Smiley explaining the mechanics of how the body works with the bike, where you lose power, where you mess up the pedal stroke, and how to get more power out of your position. Instead of selling me on major changes and expensive parts, it was a $50 fix (more adjustable pads) that helped me put my body in a far more comfortable position and tease out a few more watts. In the video he took of me in the new position I could see a remarkable change in my body angles and how much improved I looked (straight back, open hips, etc).
I raced a couple half irons and internationals, and to my surprise, no back pain. One of the biggest things I noticed during my first half iron was getting off the bike and feelings incredible on the run - shaving 9 mins of my run. I attribute this to less strain on my back during the 56 mile hammerfest. After each one of my following races, no lower back pain. And I was still in an aggressive position.
It was only $60 more to add on a second bike. Completely worth it. Smiley took me from pedaling in squares to a much smoother stroke, all with a set of $30 handlebars. He even loaned me a longer stem to help stretch me out to see if it also helped (it did), until I could buy my own and return his loaner. What a guy! I was able to slam my stack and get a lot more aggressive without and added discomfort - I can still go ride for hours and not feel like someone punched me in the kidneys.
Now, all that being said, he's a brilliant man with a lot of experience building bikes and fitting people. If you go for a fit, keep an open mind - if you go in thinking you know more than he does, you should be doing your own fits. What I like about him is he doesn't try to sell you on gimmick products or up-sell you on gear - he doesn't sell you gear, you get it on your own, but he takes the time to help you find affordable parts to fix your problems. He'll take the time to tell you why he does what he does, and does his best to make you feel confident in what adjustments need to be made. Some fixes are easy, some fixes may take a bit of time. Everyone is different, so not all remedies will work the same way for all.
What do you get from him?
-a great fit (1-2 hour initial session, depending how jacked up you are), plus free follow ups for 6 months)
-your measurements (useful for scoping out new frames to see if they fit)
-assistance, advice, and web links to parts he recommends for your adjustments
-knowledge (helps you understand the 'why' in his adjustments and recommendations)
-a few good laughs, he's a fun guy
Can he fix everyone?
-No. But he can help most. From Type-A to Type-whatever, if you're serious about the spirit of cycling he can probably help you. If he can't he can recommend another place to go - not all souls can be saved. If you aren't going to listen to him, don't bother getting a fit fro him. If you're serious about getting a great fit with plenty of success to back up his work, make the investment and go.
When I get a new bike, I'm going right back to Smiley.
I'm happy to elaborate more for anyone who wants to know more, or would like his contact information.
Right now is the perfect time to consider a fit - you'll have a good amount of time to dial in your position/fit before the season starts. You want as much time in a new position so you can make any follow on adjustments and time in the saddle to get used to a new fit before you head into race day.
An update to my post above almost a year ago:
After getting my road bike fit last spring, I contacted Smiley again this winter and told him I was starting to look at time trial bikes. Even though I was past my initial six month "free adjustment" period, he was happy take my calls and give me some advice. (One time I was about to pull the trigger on a bike, which he immediately warned me against. Knowing what I know now, that would have been a huge mistake. It was totally the wrong thing for me.). Another time I was at someone's house looking at a bike I found at Craigslist, and I called him while I was there looking at it. He was always willing to talk for a minute.
After feeling a bit nervous about getting the wrong size used bike, I decided I wanted to just get in to Smiley's studio and get my measurements right, so for only an additional $75 to my fit from last spring, he put me on his size cycle and got my precise measurements. Once we had this, we looked online together at the geometry for a few different brands, and he gave me some suggestions and ideas on what to look for. He was also patient with me as I barraged him with emails over a few days as I considered different things. :-)
A couple days later I went to look at bike I saw on craigslist, and since I had my measurements from Smiley, I was able to figure out really quickly that it was in the right ballpark. I knew Smiley would be able to tweak some things with stems, risers, and the like, so I grabbed it.
As expected, it just took a few inexpensive parts to get it pretty damn close to the ideal setup, and I went ahead and bought a nice saddle for it.
Buying used bikes can be a little dicey because unless you're really sure you have the size and geometry, I think it's easy to make a mistake that can be hard to back out of. Part of the temptation of buying a new bike is that the store has every size and lots of brands, and they'll fit you and get it right (although a side note: I talked to one shop about getting a new bike that Smiley thought would work, and even though they didn't have the size I needed, they tried to convince me they could make the size they had in stock "work". After I had my fit with Smiley, I knew they were full of it.) Anyways, I'm glad I went this route of getting my Smiley fit and then hunting around on Craigslist / ebay. Including the bike, the new saddle, Smiley's fee, and the minor parts, I think I spent about $1200 for a nice TT ride that fits me well and I really like. Something analogous brand new would have cost almost double I think.
Smiley is awesome. If you're thinking about shopping around for something used, go see him first and get your measurements all worked out. Then you'll know exactly what you need and you can find a deal on Craigslist or Ebay that you can bring to him and get tweaked and finalized so you'll be good to go. I'm really glad I did it.