Friday, May 11, 2018

Conquering the Andean





Recently, I posted a couple of teaser pics of a bike on Facebook.  I get the opportunity to work on some fun projects in the studio, and today's project is a brand new Diamondback Andean custom-ordered on behalf of a customer.  Aside from being a really interesting bike, the reason I wanted to write about this is because of the packaging: Diamondback is making some waves in the industry with their approach to direct-to-consumer bike delivery, which involved rethinking and retooling their shipping department to allow a consumer to receive a bike that's basically ready to ride.  Let's take a look at how they are doing things differently and if this is something that the end customer can comfortably assemble and ride safely.

I've had the opportunity to assemble a lot of bikes when I worked part-time at LoKe Bicycles in Fishers for a few months in 2016.  Bikes destined for the bike shop arrive in a similar state of assembly - the box is as compact as it can be, the bike is well-padded and there is quite a bit of assembly to be done.  I am certainly not the fastest mechanic, but most bikes took anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half to assemble.  LoKe has a really solid process documented for the assembly of every bike, from the tiniest of kids' bikes to the high end racing machines.  The process includes truing the wheels, ensuring the brakes and drivetrain are all working perfectly, cleaning and polishing everything, and ensuring everything is tightened and torqued to spec before it's put on the floor or delivered to a happy owner.

Diamondback wants to change that process (well, not the happy owner part) with a direct-to-consumer model, essentially eliminating the local bike shop.  For the bike shops, this doesn't sound like good news, but this is the way of our world now.  Good or bad, this is an option for consumers.  I'm all about consumer options, so let's look at this one.

This bike was for a customer, who we'll call Roger Shrubber.  Roger came to me for a MATCH bike sizing, where we discussed his goals and ideas for a bike, we sized him up using the F.I.S.T. protocol, and came up with a list of bike solutions that fit him along with his measurements.  In my opinion, this is the only way to buy a bike - find your happy place in space and put the right bike underneath you.  Roger's list included quite a few options, and he had been particularly intrigued by the Andean.  With his fit information in hand, he went to the Diamondback Custom Studio website and built his Andean the way he wanted it, even down to using the same aerobar extensions and saddle that he was sized up on.  There was one small hitch in the plan - we sized him up for 165mm cranks, but they were in short supply.  After a bit of discussion with the folks at Diamondback, we convinced them to allow us to install a crankset from a different source, making a rare exception of not delivering a complete bike.  So, what you see here is a bit of an anomaly, and it was nice that Diamondback trusted us to finish the bike.  With that, the bike was on it's way, shipped directly to me so I can have it ready to go when Roger comes in for his fit.

I picked the bike up at the local FedEx store.  The first thing that the guy behind the counter said to me was, "dude, your package is huge - let me get you a cart."  He wasn't kidding.  The box measures approximately 45" long, 37" tall, and 21" wide.  It's a bit cumbersome, so thank you Mr. FedEx guy for loaning me a cart.



Once the bike was at the studio, it was time to start the unboxing process.  The top has three tabs, and 4 layers of cardboard.  Opening the top exposes the bike, and the first thing you notice is that the handlebars are completely installed, which is part of why the box is so wide.  The aerobar extensions are detached, and packaged vertically right in front of the head tube.  Roger opted for HED wheels, which are packaged on either side of the frame.  An unmarked box sits on top of the back part of the frame and the seatpost sticking out of the bottom of it suggests what is inside.



Opening the box, we find the User Guide and Owner's Manual.  The Owner's Manual is your typical generic bicycle Owner's Manual, with a bunch of generic instructions on how you should probably wear a helmet, have air in your tires, etc.  It does come in a nice little sleeve with a magnetic latch.  The User Guide is a bit more useful - it includes instructions on how to unbox and assemble your Andean.  It probably would make sense to put a label on this box saying "Hey, open me first - the instructions are inside here."



Digging a bit more into the box, we find the saddle is installed on the seatpost, the bottle cage, and a few other parts and accessories, including a full set of spacers and bolts for the aerobars, which are the Profile Design Aeria, in this case.  Also, because of our special order, the Shimano chain was in here in the original packaging.




Following the instructions in the User Guide, we remove the velcro straps securing the base bar and wheels.  I pulled the wheels out first, the rest of the cardboard pieces, and finally the frame.  Tucked away near the front of the bike were the Profile Design accessories Roger ordered.



At this point, I'm ready to put the bike together and would like to put it in the bike stand.  The problem is that I can't find the seatpost binder clamp.  Digging around, I'm starting to panic a bit when I realize the unmarked box has a secret compartment, with a whole pile of more goodies, including the seatpost binder clamp.  Crisis averted.  We hit the jackpot - along with the binder clamp, we've got the Di2 charger and plug tool, a torque wrench, thru-axles, an extra rear derailleur hanger, and a bunch of other stuff.  The good news is we've got lots of stuff!



The bad news?  Umm, we've got lots of stuff!  This is starting to look like a bike that the average consumer might not be able to assemble.  I get the impression this would be pretty intimidating for a new owner thinking they're going to get a bike that's almost ready to ride.

Nonetheless, we continue.  After installing the binder clamp, I put the bike in the stand for assembly.  Removing the last bit of packaging, I realize that when they describe the packaging that protects the rear part of the frame as a foam roller, they actually are including a real foam roller!  A quick look inside the box again, and the piece of foam that was used to protect the bottom of the fork is a pull buoy.  Way too fun - what a neat idea!



Since this bike was a special order without a crankset installed, the installation process was a bit more complex than what most folks will be faced with.  Basically, when you get this bike, you have the following to do:

1.  Install the seat post in the seat tube.
2.  Put the wheels on.
3.  Install the aerobar extensions.
4.  Install optional accessories.

Most of these steps are things a triathlete or cyclist will have to figure out eventually, but may not be comfortable doing themselves.  It seems like a lot at first, but Diamondback does a pretty good job of making it all as easy as it can be - the instructions are good, they provide things like carbon paste for the seat tube, etc., and also include a torque wrench so you can get it right.  It is nice to have a work stand and all the tools, but you could get by without.



For this specific bike, aside from the crankset installation, there were a couple of changes we ended up making.  When the bike arrived, Diamondback had set the pad stack and reach to be pretty close to what we had indicated online.  In this case, because Roger had selected the Profile Design Aeria cockpit, we had the ability to set it up a bit differently than Diamondback did.  Diamondback favored their stock stem spacers, while we chose to take those out and use the Aeria's pad/extension risers to get our desired position.  We felt it made for a bit cleaner front end, and frankly, looks a little cooler, too.



We also chose to swap out the round frame-mounted bottle that came with the Andean for an Elite Chrono bottle, which is a bit smaller, but makes for a tidy setup that is easier to get out of the cage.  As an added bonus, it matches the color scheme quite nicely, too.  If I were to use a traditional bottle on this bike, I would opt for a side-load cage to make it easier to get the bottle out.

Finally, we are looking to make for a smoother front end flow of the hydration system to the stem/storage box.  I am using Autodesk Fusion 360 to design a 3D-printed bracket to mount an FC35 on this bike.

With all this said, what does this bike and its gigantic box mean for the bike shops?  Diamondback is one of several brands working to make direct-to-consumer sales work.  I just got an e-mail the other day from Quintana Roo the other day where they were talking up their new packaging.  Talking with some of the bike shops in my area, many have realized that they need to adapt - maybe they aren't getting a new bike sale, but some are starting to offer an "Internet bike" assembly service, with some even supporting having the bike shipped directly to them for final assembly for the customer.  In my opinion, this has the potential to be a fair trade-off - make a little bit of service money without having the inventory/storage costs - although there might be some questions about how to handle any issues that come up, such as "what happens if the bike is damaged?" or "what if parts are missing?"

As Bob Dylan said, the times, they are a changin'.  As more manufacturers move to direct-to-consumer, will the local bike shop die off?  Only time will tell, but I think your LBS is safe for now, if they are willing to evolve with the marketplace.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Sidetracked Ride Review: Redbud Ride - London, Kentucky - April 21, 2018




After a pretty scary crash warming up for a cyclocross race in October 2016, I lost all desire to compete anymore, and decided to retire from racing - if you can call "no longer competing at the back of the pack in events I pay for" on par with "retiring from racing."  One of the main drivers for my racing was that I wanted to race in all 50 states plus 10 other countries, mostly because this set things up for "racecations" - a way to take the family to fun places that we might not otherwise consider.  It's a pretty simple deal - I get to go out and beat myself up for a day, and then we relax and have some family fun for a few days.  Everybody wins.  We've had a lot of fun in the process, and had hit 11 states before my accident.  Although I might not be racing anymore, I still want to continue creating good memories.

So, being a bit sidetracked, the goal has been tweaked: a metric century or longer in all 50 states and 10 other countries.  The attitude is different - I'm a tourist now.  The goals are simple: To take in the sights and experience.  To explore new places and new cultures, at a speed that allows one to take it all in.  To find peace through mileage.  To enjoy just riding a bike for the rest of my life.

These goals are not unlike the majority of the customers I see in the fit studio.  For many of us, there's something special about riding a bike - maybe it's the sensation of the speed and wind, or maybe it's a way to revert back to childhood, when a bike was our first real vehicle.  Whatever it is, it's a good feeling when you find it.  For some odd reason, I feel a need to share these experiences with you, in the hope that you might be intrigued by the events and participate someday, too.  I'm here to inform.  So, I hope you enjoy the first of what I hope will be many "Sidetracked" ride reviews.

The first event in this quest was the Redbud Ride in London, Kentucky.  I have known quite a few people who have spoken highly of this ride, it's not too far from home, and the timing was good - the Redbud Ride is held on a Saturday towards the end of April every year, and this year it fell on April 21.

The Redbud Ride consists of 4 different length routes in the hills of central Kentucky, all starting in downtown London, with the longer routes taking you into the Daniel Boone National Forest:

Yellow Route - 22 miles, 795 feet of elevation gain
Orange Route - 33.5 miles, 1,481 feet of elevation gain
Green Route - 62 miles, 2,423 feet of elevation gain
Red Route - 101 miles, 4,175 feet of elevation gain

If you have some extra time to make a long weekend out of it, there are two additional events:

1.  A warm-up ride on Friday starting in Barbourville, Kentucky, about 25 miles southeast of London.
2.  A cool-down ride on Sunday morning, starting in Berea, Kentucky, about 40 miles north of London.

The three rides together really make for a nice way to explore central Kentucky.  In retrospect, I wish I would have planned for the additional time.  When you register for the event, you don't select a specific route - you choose whatever route you feel up to.  I had planned on doing the Green Route to get in my metric century.  This was a bit aggressive, considering my longest ride of the year so far had been just over an hour on the trainer with Rouvy.  It's also a bit aggressive in the sense of the terrain - coming from central Indiana, we don't have much for hills.

I chose to do this trip solo, as I had a bit to learn about being a bike tourist.  I also didn't have a lot of extra time - head down after work on Friday evening, spend a night at a hotel, ride on Saturday morning, and return Saturday evening so I can be back in the fit studio on Sunday.  This was a bit of a whirlwind adventure, which was made quite a bit more adventurous by picking up a nail in my car tire somewhere south of Cincinnati.  That's a story for another time involving tire sealants, taxidermy, croissants, and a language barrier.  While I didn't get much sleep and at one point thought I would miss the ride in order to get my tire fixed, it all worked out pretty nicely in the end.

I had only been through London, KY, once before and happened to stay in the same hotel as last time.  I wasn't sure what the locals might think of cyclists coming into town for an event like this, but found that the few locals I interacted with seemed to embrace it.  The locals were friendly and accommodating.  The hotel even started breakfast earlier than normal so Redbud Ride participants could fuel up and get to the start in time.

The ride starts at 8 AM, although it's an open start time - you can really start any time until around 10 or 11, as long as you get to certain points in time.  Since I spent the first part of the morning in the tire shop, I didn't actually get to the start of the ride until after 9 AM.  Fortunately, some friends happened to be at the hotel and planned a bit later start due to the brisk temperatures (it was in the low 40s when we started out) and we rode to the start together.  They had already signed in and were doing the 100 mile red route, while I was doing the green route and still needed to sign in.  We went our separate ways, and I ended up riding most of the ride by myself.

The route was very pleasant, well-marked, and well-supported.  Spring has been a bit slow to arrive this year, so the signature Redbuds weren't in full bloom quite yet.  Matter of fact, the trees were all still pretty bare, with hints of green and a few Redbuds just starting to bud.  Regardless of the season, it is very pretty territory.  The first few miles are in London proper, but it's not long before you start getting into rural areas, and you soon find yourself on some very quiet backwoods roads, following along rivers, with glimpses of waterfalls, rock formations, and some rather interesting local culture.

The roads were very good and the routes were well-marked.  Since I had a late start, I didn't get a feel for what kind of crowd was at the 8 AM start time.  I am not aware of how many riders actually participated.  Printed maps were available at the start, but the roads were well-marked enough that I really didn't need the map, other than maybe for the first few turns in town, which happen in fairly quick succession.

The event provided SAG support, and for much of the ride, the majority of the cars I encountered were the SAG vehicles.  I was amazed at just how many people volunteered and helped out with the event - from the SAG, to the rest stops, to the volunteers at the start and post-race party, and even a few folks helping to guide on course, there were plenty of volunteers.  The locals were friendly, and I found myself waving at a lot of folks along the way.

The Redbud folks also did a really nice job with the rest stops, which were located every 10-15 miles apart.  The food was plentiful with lots of choices from fresh fruit, to various homemade goods like brownies and cookies, to pizza.  There were a couple of flavors of Gatorade and water, too.  The food was served under tents and chairs were available to rest and hang out with friends.

I didn't get any pictures along the ride other than the picture at the top of this article.  Immediately after the second rest stop, there is a bridge that you are required to walk across, due to the gaps between the planks on the bridge being just wide enough to catch a tire.  The ride is also fairly hilly, with most of it gently undulating, with a few flats and a couple of bigger climbs thrown in for good measure.  There were two fairly challenging climbs, with the lesser of the two at around mile 11 and the biggest climb around mile 31 of the green route.

Overall, I found this to be a really enjoyable event, and would certainly recommend it to just about anybody - the 4 different ride routes provide whatever challenge you feel you can handle.  I do have a couple of things I wish I would have done differently: Since my tire adventures threw off my schedule a bit, I didn't get nearly as much time in London as I would have liked, and I'm not sure what London had to offer for the family to do.  Perhaps some others can chime in in the comments below.  I also didn't get to partake in the start when a majority of people started, so still have no idea just how big the event actually was.  I personally like a lack of crowds, and enjoyed just being alone with my thoughts and the wind for a few hours on a beautiful Kentucky Saturday.  The Redbud Ride has certainly set a high bar for my expectations of rides going forward.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

What is FUSION?


At the end of 2017, I felt it was time to review and update the fitting services offered at Vector Cycle Works.  Those who know me know that I am one to constantly scrutinize and reevaluate everything I do in order to provide a better service that is appropriate to the needs of my customers.  My knowledge focus, process evolution, and desire to innovate in the bike fitting space is a reaction to what I see and hear with the people who come in for a bike fit.

There's no doubt in my mind that bike fitting is a very confusing concept from a consumer perspective.  There is a wide range of services generally labeled as a "bike fit" - from something as basic as getting the seat height good enough to the in-depth services that dedicated fitters like myself and others do.  Prices range from free to $$$$.  Within the fitting industry, there are disagreements in philosophies as to what is most effective, with some fitters taking a more geometric approach, while others are more medical (I say "yes" to both, but the emphasis depends on the customer's needs).

Further complicating matters, you have the concept of a pre-purchase bike sizing (i.e. the Vector Cycle Works MATCH service, formally known as RightBike), which some will call a bike fit, versus what I consider a bike fit, such as the Vector Cycle Works CORE and FUSION services.  It's confusing, and hard to understand what to expect when you schedule a bike fit with Fitter X.  I'm probably muddying the waters a bit by offering a sizing service as well as two different fit services.  So, let's see if I can clarify that a bit here.

My philosophies are shaped by a few key tenets:

1.  It's not about the bike.  I sometimes toy with calling what I do "cyclist fitting" or "ride tuning" or something like that, just to reduce the emphasis on the bike, but that would just further confuse matters, so "bike fitting" it is.  The key here is that it's about the human and how they interact with the bike - those few points where you touch the bike.  Everything we do is about mating those surfaces up better.  We fit the bike to you, not you to the bike.  Sure, there may be a need to swap some bicycle components, but the fact is that we are only doing that as a reaction to the needs of the human powering the bicycle.  The CORE of what we do as bike fitting goes (see what I did there?) is about accommodating the human, as is.  I've come to the realization over time that what I do is closer to athletic training or physical therapy than it is to the services offered by a bike shop.

2.  You are an athlete.  Many of my customers come in as a result of being inactive for a period of time (often measured in decades) and deciding that riding a bike looks like a good way to get in shape.  They then learn it hurts a bit more than they remember as a kid.  Sometimes, these folks sell themselves a bit short - "I'm just looking to get in shape."  I don't care what others might say, but I look at every person that comes in here with a sense of pride in them, and as an athlete.  You are a cyclist, and you are an athlete.  Whether you want to ride another mile without pain or are looking for a higher step on the podium, you are an athlete performing at whatever level is your maximum.  As an athlete, you will push your boundaries of human performance, whatever they may be.  When we push those boundaries, that's when we learn how much we can do, or how much it hurts to do it or exceed those boundaries.

3.  You are an energy system.  There are a couple of terms I use a lot in the studio - stability and energy conservation.  A core tenet of every Vector Cycle Works bike fit is energy conservation.  In order to be more efficient, we need to not be wasting energy on things that are not being put into the pedals.  We expend a lot more energy on a bike than what we put into the pedals.  You might be able to sustain 200 watts for an hour, but you will burn more calories than what is needed to produce those 200 sustained watts.  Power to the pedals is just one component of the energy system.  Unstable on the saddle?  That's a waste of energy because the "core" muscles have to work harder to keep you stable.  Less than optimal foot/pedal interface?  Another waste of energy because the oxygen-hungry muscles in the lower extremity are working hard to stabilize every pedal stroke.  Not relaxed?  More wasted energy.  Wasted energy results in increased fatigue rates, which results in more discomfort further into the ride.

From what I've seen in the studio, most folks are not optimized off the bike, let alone on the bike.  We are all asymmetrical piles of meat and bones, yet we try to interact with this crazy pile of carbon fiber, aluminum, and other stuff which is mostly symmetrical.  As with any sports-specific movement, cycling is going to strengthen and develop some muscles (our prime movers) while utilizing, but not necessarily developing other muscles (the muscles that stabilize the movement).  We develop imbalances through repetition, and repetitive use injuries are common among my customers.  I expect everyone who comes in here to have some level of dysfunction, but the number of people who are on the verge of injury or have already experienced it is concerning.  A proper bike fit could prevent some of these, but it's not the complete cure.  How does the old saying go?  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?

The Vector Cycle Works CORE bike fit is as good or better than what other fitters will charge $300+ for - we are establishing a stable foundation for your comfort and efficiency.  We will make you more comfortable, which allows you to ride longer or more often, which allows you to build the engine so you can be faster, or increase your performance.  CORE is as comprehensive and thorough as any accommodative bike fit will be.  Every Vector Cycle Works fit is a partnership in comfort and efficiency.

FUSION takes this further yet.  FUSION goes beyond just accommodating who you are right now and accepting that for what it is.  I like to think of FUSION as being the ultimate cycling-focused human performance system.  We are now delving more deeply into our understanding of the engine and learning what aspects of that engine are preventing it from performing at its maximum.  In essence, we are looking to blow the lid off what is holding you back and increase that maximum.  It's a little bit of work off the bike to be better on the bike.  Here's how it works:

1.  Initial Session - The initial FUSION session is similar to the initial CORE session, with 2 additional pieces: 1) We perform a Functional Movement Screen to identify your deficiencies.  2) You receive an online workout from Functional Movement Systems with videos of functional exercises tailored to your needs.  Generally this is about 10-15 minutes a day of simple exercises to help you be a better you.  Most require very little equipment, although I've found that a foam roller is a critical piece of equipment.  If you don't have one, you probably should (you can get them cheap at www.performbetter.com).

2.  Two Week Visit - At your first visit, we will schedule 3 follow-up sessions.  At week 2, you will come back without the bike (unless you are experiencing any pain - then we will accommodate).  We are going to focus on the functional movement correctives during a one hour session.  We're going to work on some basics and build on the online workout you received after your initial session.  What is fun about this session is that we start to really dial in what works for you.  We will measure, try an exercise, and then measure again.  Did your movement improve?  If so, we have identified a useful tool.  If not, we throw that out.  We're not about wasting time - we're looking for the most bang for the buck with your movement plan.  You really only need 10-15 minutes a day.

3.  Four Week Visit - Like the week 2 visit, we are going to continue our focus on the corrective strategies, and if you've shown some progress, we're going to continue to build on your base, continuing to move up the ladder of mobilization, stabilization, and strengthening.

4.  Six Week Visit - Your "final" (and I really hesitate to call it that) FUSION session involves bringing the bike back.  We tidy up any fit issues, perform an additional Functional Movement Screen, and send you home with another online training plan tailored to the new and improved you.

So far, we've seen some really nice results in the studio.  It's obviously a bit of a commitment - we're looking at close to two months of working together (and I'm flexible - we can stretch that out as you need to, although I'm not an advocate of tightening up that timeline).  This works very well leading up to an "A" race or a targeted event, and we just have to start the process out a couple of months before that event.  Locally, a couple of very popular events that my customers target include the Ironman 70.3 Muncie in July, the RAIN Ride in late July, the Rollfast Gran Fondo in September, the Brown County Epic in October, or the Hilly Hundred in October.

The time is getting tight to complete the FUSION process for IM Muncie or RAIN, but there is time.  If you are interested, you can schedule your FUSION initial session at this link.  I look forward to helping you get the most out of your ride!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

From Paris, With Love: Adventures of a Bike Fit Dog Volume 1



Hello Everyone!

Allow me to introduce myself - my name is Paris Paisley Rassat, and I am the new Vector Cycle Works bike fit pup.  Actually, I have determined that I'm in charge of this joint from here on out.  My assistant bike fit human, Travis, goes on and on about how bike fitting is an art with a lot of science behind it, blah, blah, blah, but I got this stuff figured out - I got instincts.  I was born and raised Amish, too - so I know a thing or two about work ethic.  He babbles on about how I need to pay attention to angles and joint alignments and muscle firing and - this is about the time I start to tune him out - whatever.  Wouldn't it be easier just to have someone carry you around?  That's what I do.  I highly recommend it.

My assistant bike fit human is alright, though - maybe a bit dim, but sometimes he smells like peanut butter, and I like that in a human.  For that reason, I suggest you schedule your bike fit at Vector Cycle Works soon by clicking this linky thing.  Vector Cycle Works does have some human snacks and drinks if you're into that kind of thing, too.  I say, come for the food, stay for the bike fit!

Toodles,
Paris

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2018 Service Menu


As the calendar turns over to a new year, this is a time to reflect on the past year and look ahead to the next year and beyond.  2017 has been a very successful year at Vector Cycle Works, and it's because of the great people that come into the studio.  In 2017, we did about 260 fit sessions.  That was a lot.  Maybe even a bit too much.  Every session is a new challenge and a new learning experience, and every session helps me to evolve as a bike fitter.  Along with that, a few bike fitters from around the country came to the studio to take the BikeFit Level 1 course, which is always a lot of fun.

There were a few challenges this year, too.  Aside from dealing with a head injury from October 2016, I also had some scheduling challenges, thanks in part to coaching soccer in the spring.  This didn't help my availability, and one of my biggest challenges this year was keeping up with the needs of new and established customers.  I know I failed a few people on this, and had a few people go elsewhere.  I'm one to dwell on these failings because I simply want to be the best service provider I can be.  You deserve the best, and I am sorry if I have disappointed anybody.  I am always trying to improve, so as the holidays roll through, it's time to make some changes.

1. No more soccer.  The good news is that there is no more soccer, which was especially painful since the soccer seasons are at very busy times in the studio.  This should make the April-June window better.  We do still have gymnastics meets, which run from January to March, but those are a little easier to work around.  The biggest challenge is that the event schedule doesn't seem to get set very far in advance.

2. More disciplined hours.  I know I can get a bit too chatty at times and don't make the best use of my time or yours, so I'm going to be more disciplined about that.  I've updated my schedule and services with more defined time blocks, and have set up my weekly schedule where weeknights have more emphasis on follow-ups and FMS sessions.  New customers will be limited to weekends, and maybe available evenings by request.

3. Redefined services.  This is where the big changes are and the main reason for this post.  I did a lot of soul-searching over the last few months, trying to find a way to make the Vector Cycle Works services more effective, more appropriate to what you want, and to also provide a bit more balance in my own life - if I am pushing myself too hard, I worry about the quality of my work going down, and I can't do that to you.

So, with that said, here is the updated service menu, and you can read more at www.vectorcycleworks.com.

Match Bike Sizing - $100

Match is the new replacement for RightBike.  It's basically the same service - you come in, we talk a bit and take you through the FIST sizing protocol, and then I generate a list of bikes for you.  I had to rename this because my name is dangerously close to a trademarked name in the industry.  As the name implies, we are trying to find a bike solution that is a perfect match for your body.  I really enjoy doing this for people, but I have been disappointed with myself because of the results for you.  What has happened is that it is generally a week turnaround before you get your report.  That's just not acceptable, in my mind.  In that week, I'm scrambling to update my bike list, fix broken links, etc.  It's a lot of work, and sometimes I've had over 20 hours into getting a list of bike solutions for one customer.  I find this disappointing and frustrating, and not good enough service.  That's a bunch of data entry time, it's too long for you to wait, and takes time from my efforts to continue to evolve as a fitter.

I have explored a few different avenues with this, including looking at a few other solutions and paying for another bike database tool, but it has been disappointing.  So, over the last few weeks, I have dusted off a part of my brain I haven't used in a while and created a software solution that allows us to generate a report of bike solutions in a matter of minutes.  It's still a work in progress, but it's got a lot of potential.  I think you'll like it.  I'm putting some stuff in place to make it useful to a customer base beyond those who come to Vector Cycle Works.

Touch Component Testing - Free to Established Customers

Up until recently, I had the idea that offering free saddle testing was a good opportunity for people to knock out what is often a major complaint and distraction from the rider's comfort.  Honestly, this hasn't worked quite as well as I thought.  I've had a few saddles that have gone out and never come back and I can't get a hold of the customer.  Since I try to keep inventory low, but selection wide, it's hard to balance this.  This needs to be better for all of us.

So, Touch is the new solution.  This is no longer a standalone service.  Touch is a free extra session for customers that have come in for a Match bike sizing or a bike fit.  My approach is slightly changed - I always like to work with what you have first, and many times, the saddle is not the reason the saddle hurts - it's something else in the fit.  So, I am taking the "fit first" concept a bit farther and using this as an extension to your established base with a Vector Cycle Works fit.  As we work through the fit process and discover opportunities for more comfort and efficiency at the touch points on the bike.  Touch is no longer just a saddle thing - it's an opportunity to explore saddles, handlebars, aerobars, and/or crank arm lengths.  There can be a lot to be gained with these changes, but I feel a lot more confident in your solution if we have established a base for your comfort and power.  Touch component testing also includes free installation of any parts.


Core Bike Fit - $200

CoreFit has now been renamed as Core.  The service is basically the same - an initial 2 1/2 hour session, with a free 1 1/2 hour follow-up.  The main difference is that we are going to put a bit more emphasis on that follow-up by scheduling it as we wrap up the initial session.  CoreFit turned out to be a very popular service that is more comprehensive than what most fitters in the area change $300+ for.  Core builds on that.  All BikeFit fitting parts are included.  Core includes a full report e-mailed to you within 24 hours and a follow-up phone call/e-mail within 3 weeks of the initial appointment, and again after 3 weeks after the follow-up.  A free Touch session is available to Core customers, as well.


Fusion Bike Fit - $350

I'm really excited about this one.  Fusion replaces ForeverFit and changes the way we think about what a bike fit is.  As the name implies, Fusion is the ultimate fusion of body and bike.  While Core and most bike fitting is seen as an accommodative process - putting a bike underneath you that accommodates you as you are at the moment - Fusion takes this a step further to help you improve yourself as a rider.  If you are having a hard time reaching the level of performance and comfort that you like, Fusion is going to help you break through the barriers hidden within you that are holding you back.

The initial session is about 3 1/2 hours - we do everything we do with Core, but add in a Functional Movement Screen.  The FMS helps us find your deficiencies and asymmetries that prevent you from performing your best, on the bike and in any athletic endeavor.  You will receive a 6 or 7 week FMS Pro 360 online functional workout, which includes a functional workout designed specifically for you.  Your workout is generally about 10-15 minutes of movement-specific training per day.  You will leave the initial session with 3 more sessions scheduled - 2 more FMS-only sessions at 2 weeks and 4 weeks, and then a final follow-up with the bike at 6 weeks or so.  We can also work in a free Touch session in there, if desired.

When the dust settles, we have worked together 4-5 times over a 6-8 week period to help you become an even better you.

As I mentioned, Fusion is exciting to me, as this is starting to really challenge the way we traditionally think about bike fitting.  I've been striving to find ways to take what we know as bike fitting to a deeper understanding.  Bike fitting is not a bike thing - we strive for comfort and efficiency to enable a specific type of human performance.  If you are looking for more comfort and performance, Fusion is a deep dive into understanding yourself as a rider, athlete and as a human in order to help you reach your true potential.

Those are the main services.  Additionally, we can do FMS as standalone sessions, even if you are not a cyclist.  These are billed at $50 per hour and are 1 hour sessions.  Any additional fit sessions beyond what is described here, including additional bikes or additional shoes are billed at $50 per hour.  The exception to this is existing ForeverFit customers - you still have your ForeverFit guarantee for as long as you own your bike.

There is so much more going on, but this is the important stuff for now.  I am excited about what 2018 will bring and look forward to you being a part of it!  Schedule some time at Vector Cycle Works soon at https://vectorcycleworks.appointlet.com.  If you don't see anything that works, call me at 317-833-0702 and we might be able to find some other options.

Thank You!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Why Now is a Great Time to get in to Vector Cycle Works


It's that time of the year - the days are getting shorter and it's starting to cool off a bit in Central Indiana.  The  triathlon, mountain biking, and road racing seasons are wrapping up.  The holidays are going to be upon us soon, which generally means a busy time of the year with a lot of calories.  Things even slow down a little bit here in the Vector Cycle Works studio.  Other than the cyclocross folks, bike commuters, and hardcore riders, it's the time of year when we start to spend a bit less time on our bikes and maybe even put them away for a few months.

In my opinion, this is an opportunity.  This is the time to get in to Vector Cycle Works.  Here are a few reasons why:

Get a head start on your next season.  

Bike fitting at Vector Cycle Works is not a "one and done" deal - it's a partnership.  If you are looking at improving for next season, this is a great opportunity to get ahead.  A CoreFit or ForeverFit bike fit can help you establish a comfortable and efficient foundation for winter training, so you can build your engine for your best season yet.  With the Vector Cycle Works ForeverFit and Functional Movement services, you can maximize your work off the bike to improve your performance and experience on the bike.

You still remember what hurts.

If you've been out riding regularly and dealing with knee pain, saddle issues, back pain, numbness, or any of the many other cycling-related issues cyclists tend to accept as "that's just how it's supposed to be", now is a great time to get a fit while you still remember what bothers you.  Maybe the saddle has been an issue, or maybe you just want to try something else.  This is your chance to make those changes - with a CoreFit or ForeverFit bike fit or a free saddle test, we can establish a base to get you more comfortable now and follow-up when you start really ramping up your riding again.

There are great deals to be had on a bike right now.

I was talking with a few of the local bike shops this week and they've got some really nice bikes priced to move.  The 2018 models are coming out now and the remaining 2017s are being offered at a really good price.  If you are thinking about getting a new bike, this is a great time to do a RightBike session to find out what fits you best.

Focus on your function.

As an FMS (Functional Movement Systems) pro and guy who deals with a lot of pain, I'm a big advocate of understanding how our bodies work, recognizing our deficiencies, and doing the appropriate work to overcome our limits.  With FMS, we can do some work off the bike to improve our overall daily function and experience on the bike.  Most of my customers want to just get on the bike and hammer out the miles.  I see a ton of hip dysfunction that is holding people back from being their best.  A little bit of work to establish balance within the body can help prevent injury, improve comfort, and improve performance.  It's a matter of understanding what you need and focusing on that.  With FMS sessions or ForeverFit, you get a functional training plan that might be just 10 minutes a day to improve you overall.  It's really cool stuff.  Whether you are managing pain or looking to get those last few watts, an FMS plan designed specifically for you can help you make big gains with a small investment in time and money.

You can learn to love trainer season.

I geek out about trainers and training with power.  If you are interested in getting a trainer, Vector Cycle Works is a dealer for Kinetic, Wahoo, Tacx, CycleOps, Elite, and a few others.  Indoor training doesn't have to be awful.  With a trainer purchase, I will come to your house (in the central Indiana area), set up your trainer, and help you get connected with your choice of software to make your indoor training effective.  There are really great tools available, and I'm here to help you sort through those and find the best one for you.

The lines aren't as long.

One of the challenges at Vector Cycle Works is that there can be as much as a 6-8 week wait to get in.  There isn't right now - it's down to just a couple of weeks.  If you want to get in, now's the time to do it!  If you're not sure where to start, here's what I would do:
  1. If you don't have a bike or want a new one, schedule a RightBike session.  We will spend about two hours getting an understanding of your goals and sizing you up to find your happy place in space.  You will then get a list of bikes (it usually takes me a few days) that will fit you.  You can then go out and get that bike.  Bring your RightBike report with and the shops can usually set it up according to your report so you can test ride.  The cost of your RightBike session ($100) will apply to a subsequent CoreFit or ForeverFit bike fit.
  2. Do a free saddle test.  If you haven't experienced a saddle that fits you well, you don't know what you're missing.  Try out one or all of the 75 different saddles available and find the one that feels the best.
  3. Once you've got yourself some good equipment, it's time to schedule a CoreFit bike fit.  The CoreFit bike fit service is $150 and is as comprehensive as for what others are charging $250-400.  CoreFit offers a lot of value for the money.  It's a great way to establish a Vector Cycle Works partnership.  We will delve deep into understanding your body
  4. Get some time in now before it's too cold to ride, or maybe start some indoor training.  Maybe use your free CoreFit follow up to tweak things a bit.
  5. Upgrade to ForeverFit.  You can upgrade from CoreFit to ForeverFit for the cost difference, which is currently $150.  You will get the ForeverFit guarantee for as long as you own the bike, and you'll get a Functional Movement Screen and a 6-week functional training plan.  You can use this to help make bigger gains as you get ready for next year.
When it comes down to it, I'm here to help.  I often say that I'm an evangelist for cycling and healthy living before I'm a bike fitter.  I do bike fitting because I love helping people enjoy riding a bike.  Regardless of your abilities or riding experience, you can get more out of your ride.  I'd love to help!  If you have questions, you can call me at 317-833-0702 or e-mail me at travis@vectorcycleworks.com and we can get a better understanding of your goals and come up with a plan that will help you reach them.

Or, if you are ready to take the plunge, you can schedule at https://vectorcycleworks.appointlet.com.  See you soon!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Free Saddle Testing at Vector Cycle Works



If you are having a hard time find a happy place on your saddle, Vector Cycle Works offers free saddle testing.  The best way to determine if a saddle will work for you is to sit on it!

A saddle test session usually starts off with a quick conversation about your issues and type of riding, a couple of measurements, and then we set up the test bike based on your current bike geometry.  A BikeFit SwitchIt (as shown in the picture above) allows us to change saddles and adjust them quickly - it's not uncommon to go through 20-25 saddles in a saddle testing session, trying to find that one that really feels good.  We can quickly swap saddles and tweak position and angle to get immediate feedback.  Once we find a saddle you like, we'll mount it on your bike for an extended test.

If you are experience discomfort or numbness, and are ready to try something new, you can click here to schedule your free saddle testing session!

Vector Cycle Works is an authorized dealer for several brands including Brooks, Chromag, Cobb Cycling, Fi'zi:k, ISM, Profile Design, Selle Royal, SQlab, and WTB.  Inventory is kept to a minimum, but we can order in other models or colors, as needed.  There are currently over 80 saddles available for testing and there are more coming soon.

This isn't a complete list, but here are some of the saddles that are currently in stock and ready for a test ride:

Chromag Juniper 

Chromag Lynx DT

Chromag Trailmaster DT 

Cobb Fifty-Five
Cobb Gen2

Cobb Max
Cobb Plus
Cobb Plus 2

Cobb Plus DRT

Cobb Randee

Cobb SHC

Cobb SHC DRT

Cobb VFlow

Fi'zi:k Aliante VS

Fi'zi:k Antares VS

Fi'zi:k Arione VS


Fi'zi:k Mistica
(Regular and Large)
Fi'zi:k Vesta
ISM PL 1.0

ISM PL 1.1

ISM PN 1.0

ISM PN 1.1

ISM PN 2.1

ISM PN 3.0

ISM PR 1.0

ISM PR 2.0

ISM PR 3.0

ISM PS 1.0

ISM PS 1.1 

ISM Road
Profile Design Vertex 80 TT
Selle Royal Scientia Series
(Three Models/Widths: A1, A2, and A3)
SQlab 611 Ergowave Active Series
(4 widths: 12cm, 13cm, 14cm, 15cm)
WTB High Tail Series
3 Levels: Pro, Team, Carbon
WTB Pure Series
5 Levels: Comp, ProGel, Race, Pro, Team

WTB Rocket Series
5 levels: Comp, Race, Pro, Carbon, Team
3 widths: 130mm, 142mm, 150mm

WTB Silverado
3 Levels: Pro, Team, Carbon

WTB Speed
4 Levels: Comp, ProGel, Pro, Team

WTB Speed She
2 Levels: Comp, ProGel

WTB Volt
5 Levels: Comp, Race, Pro, Team, Carbon
3 Widths, depending on level: 135mm, 142mm, 150mm