Wednesday, December 30, 2015

How Well Do you Move?

It has been a while since I've posted anything, and I've been intentionally quiet on social media through the holidays.  Even though Vector Cycle Works is a dealer for a lot of great cycling stuff and could have offered some great deals for the holidays, my main focus is providing the best service.  My online silence has been because I chose to use this time to dive deep into finding ways to improve the Vector Cycle Works customer experience.

Most of my customers are not front-of-the-pack racers.  Many are new to cycling and have taken this sport up because they want to get back into shape, or maybe have taken an extended break from riding.  I'm lucky to meet these people who are so excited about cycling - it really is a lot of fun, there are a lot of great, enthusiastic people in the various flavors of the sport, and it can be a great low-impact path towards greater fitness and health.  But, as many of us soon realize, cycling can be painful.  Why does something so simple have to be so complicated?  Why does it hurt?  Why can't I be as fast as that guy?

This is the often the point where people come to me.  People get a bike fit for a variety of reasons - discomfort or pain being at the top of the list, but getting faster on the bike is right up there.  One of my philosophies on bike fitting, which may be a bit misunderstood, is that it is not about the bike - it is about the body.  We are a pile of meat and bones with a history that has shaped us to be where we are today.  A good bike fit will accommodate us where we are today.  

There are certain geometric conventions used in bike fitting that have been derived from typical measurements of average people that have been proven to be effective in helping us be as efficient as we possibly can.  Most of those conventions are a working range.  For example, we adjust seat height based on a knee angle measurement, which has a range of about 10 degrees.  Ideally, for maximum efficiency and performance, we need to be close to the top of that range.  As a fitter, I could shoot for a specific angle and call it good, but using the same formula for everybody who comes in to me would be irresponsible.  Unfortunately, most of the people that come to me can't ride at the top of that range safely.  It often manifests itself as pain and can result in injury if not adjusted.

As I fit an individual, we identify where in that range that person can safely be.  This is where the individual is at their best - finding the limitations of their body and accommodating that.  I can make you faster via your bike fit, but there is a glass ceiling, of sorts.  Your body's history, composition, asymmetries, pains, past traumas, and past injuries all add up to make you who you are today.  As we get older, that history gets longer.  Your history might prevent you from getting the most out of your bike.  You are only as fast as you can be, but you want to be faster.  While the bike fit can accommodate your current potential, how can you truly unlock your potential?

I lose a lot of sleep trying to answer that question.  I want to help everybody I meet be pain-free and fast.  When fitting people, I've often seen some interesting movements and imbalances that I can accommodate, but can't necessarily fix.  Some result in a referral to a medical professional.  It is one thing to recognize abnormal motion and accommodate it, but another thing to understand what is causing it and correct that.  How do we lift the glass ceiling?  How do we unlock someone's real potential?  

Functional Movement Screening (FMS)
We have to look at the source of our movement to find these answers.  We need to look at how well you move.  I feel I have found something that can help move you in the right direction:  Functional Movement Screening (FMS).  I am now an FMS-certified professional.

FMS is not just about bike fitting.  Matter of fact, when I took the certification course, most of the people there were some sort of strength-training professional - personal trainers, strength coaches for college and pro teams in various disciplines, CrossFit coaches and gym owners, etc.  I felt a bit out of place, but was quickly assured by the instructor that I would fit right in because we all care about how someone moves.  FMS is about looking at the human body as a species rather than as an athlete in a particular sport.

When you look at us from top to bottom, as a human and as a system as a whole, how well we move is a function of how our various muscle, neurological, and skeletal groups work together.  We can't necessarily think of movement as what the quadriceps or hamstrings might be doing, but what they are doing as part of the entire kinetic chain.  In any given movement, such as pedaling a bike, some muscles are used to move us, while others are used to stabilize us.  A different movement may change the purpose of a specific muscle.  Often, if certain muscles are unable to do their job, the related muscles get recruited to do that job. A muscle that might be used to push the pedal (i.e. the glutes), may be compromised and used to stabilize us because of weak "core" muscles or a mismatched/poorly adjusted saddle.  Compensatory actions prevent us from using the muscles for their best purpose in that movement.

These compensations hold us back and are often the reason we get injured.  I fit a lot of Ironman triathletes.  Many of them come to me with some sort of overuse injury.  Once injured, we are 2-3 times more likely to get injured again.  We often short-circuit our rehabilitation in an effort to get back into our sport.  This isn't just triathletes or cyclists, we see it all the time in sports (and don't even get me started on the state of kids' sports these days, when 10 and 11 year kids are having "career-ending" injuries once limited to adults).

Part of this tendency for re-injury is because we think in terms of "getting stronger" as a metric for how well we've recovered.  We tend to think of strength as how much weight we can move or, in cycling, how many watts we can generate.  We shouldn't confuse strength with power.  Strength is just a component of power.  Being powerful requires having the following elements:

Mobility
Motor Control
Strength

These can also be thought of as a pyramid - mobility forms a wide base, motor control is a smaller step on top of that, and strength is the top, smallest step.  Too often, we neglect mobility and motor control for strength.  If you've ever been to a gym, you've probably seen somebody moving some big weights with poor form.  I see the same thing with cyclists, it's just not quite as obvious.

So, to have true power, we must train all 3 elements.  The question then becomes, "where do we start?"

This is where FMS comes into play.  I tend to think of FMS as having two distinct parts:

1.  Screening - The testing battery used to identify and measure our movement deficiencies.
2.  Correctives - Exercises prescribed to overcome those deficiencies.

When I first started looking at FMS, my plan was to utilize the screening as part of the fitting process.  I soon realized that the value lies in being able to provide corrective exercises to help "fix" people's deficiencies.  

FMS and Bike Fitting
At Vector Cycle Works, an FMS screening is now incorporated into the bike fit process.  I can also do the screening for non-cyclists.  The screening takes about 15-20 minutes and involves doing 7 movements which are scored on a scale of 0 to 3.  A perfect score is 21, and that is pretty rare.  Most folks I've scored so far have been between 6 and 14.  I scored a 12.  The scoring system is intentionally simple - it's not about picking out the specific muscle or reason for poor motion.  It's about identifying the weakness as a whole.  A low score indicates a lot, including the potential for injury, especially where there is asymmetry in movements (many of the FMS movements are scored on both sides, and the lower score is used for the final score).

Additionally, I now offer 1-hour corrective sessions along with prescribed exercises that customers can do at home.  This allows you to do some "off the bike" work to improve your experience on the bike.  The screening score by itself doesn't tell us much - it's the scores of the individual movements that tell us where we need to start.  We can identify your biggest deficiencies and concentrate on those first.  Often, focus on a weakness will improve your score on the other movements.

The cool part of the FMS process is that we can spend some time together to identify the exercises that actually work for you.  Try an exercise and re-measure.  If we see an improvement, we'll keep doing it.  If not, skip that exercise and move on until we find something that works.  A poor score can indicate tightness or weakness, and how we respond to different exercises will help us understand which it is.  We use progressions to work our way through mobility exercises, motor control exercises, and strength exercises.  It's pretty fascinating stuff.

This discussion wouldn't be complete without mentioning pain.  Pain is what drove me to become a bike fitter and pain is an important factor in FMS.  When performing the screening, any motion that invokes pain is scored as zero.  This is where I draw the line as an FMS professional and refer you to a medical professional.  There are SFMA (Selective Functional Movement Assessment) medical professionals to whom I can refer you.  I've made a few good connections in the Indianapolis area.

As a bike fitter, I am really excited to offer FMS as a service to my customers.  The idea of identifying what is holding us back and working to move that out of the way will help you find your potential.  FMS corrective work is separate from the ForeverFit bike fit, as that is about an accommodative bike fit.  Come in, get ForeverFit with an FMS screen, do some corrective work, we'll adjust your fit accordingly and we'll work together to get you a new PR!

You can schedule your FMS screening and correctives at https://vectorcycleworks.appointlet.com.  Come in and make 2016 your best year ever!


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Taking the "Pain" out of the "Pain Cave" - Part 5: How Effective is your Indoor Training?


About this time last year, I started the "Taking the 'Pain' out of the 'Pain Cave'" series of blog posts.  But, as things got busy in the fitting studio, I got a bit sidetracked.  So, I thought that as trainer season approaches again and a lot has changed, it's time to talk trainers again.

If you missed out on the first few posts, you can catch up here:
Part 1:  Introduction
Part 2:  Resistance
Part 3:  Drive Types
Part 4:  Accessorizing

So far, we've talked a bit about the hardware aspect of training.  Since the last installation, Vector Cycle Works has become a dealer for several brands of trainers:
CycleOps
Elite
Kinetic (often referred to as "Kurt Kinetic")
Tacx
Wahoo Fitness

The various products offered by these manufacturers range from under $200 to over $1600.  In another post, I'll provide a more complete comparison of the specific products.  For the purpose of this series, we're going to talk about the effectiveness of your training.

I am often asked about what level of trainer is appropriate for someone, and that is going to depend a lot on budget, what you expect from the training, and what features help you justify the cost.  In the first few installments of this series, we covered the basics of the trainer types and how to accessorize so you can get in a decent workout.  That was all about the hardware, but now we're going to get into what I like to call the "squishy bits" - the aspect of the human experience that is a bit harder to quantify.  Humans are very analog, and we have a spectrum of "needs" and "wants" that we should understand.  Do you want it to be fun?  Do you want it to be effective?  Does your coach want information?  What is your budget?  How much time do you have?  What is your schedule like?  What motivates you?  These are all questions helping to define what you need.

Motivation is a big key here.  Are you intrinsically or extrinsically motivated?  What is the reason for you to get a trainer?  Simply put, many of us do indoor training because we want to ride faster.  We don't need indoor training.  We can take the winter off and go out and ride on the first nice enough day in the Spring and still have fun on our bike.  We might be a little rusty and find ourselves saying, "man, I was having a hard time keeping up with the group today" or "I wish I hadn't gained 10 pounds over the winter..." but we can still have fun on a bike.  Indoor training fills a "want" - a want to show up at the first Spring group ride feeling better than ever.  The spectrum of products on the market represent the spectrum of wants that we may have.  The fundamental question we need to ask ourselves is, "how effective will this workout be?"

I consider indoor training to have 4 levels:

1.  A trainer and the TV
2.  Enhanced with video
3.  Training with power
4.  Smart trainers

Let's look at each of these in a bit more detail.  For now, we'll cover the first two levels in about as much detail as needed, and just touch on levels 3 and 4.  The higher levels get considerably more complicated, so we'll save that for the next installment.

Level 1:  A Trainer and the TV
This is where you've got all the hardware, and you sit and ride for a couple of hours, maybe watching TV or a movie.  This is better than nothing, but is mostly ineffective for three reasons:
1.  You are not especially motivated
2.  You have no guidelines for training
3.  You have no way of measuring your progress

This level of training is what gives indoor training a bad name.  You can do this with the most basic of trainer, but you'll probably realize that you wasted your money because you became bored with it and the trainer now sits in the corner collecting dust.  You might even start hanging your laundry on it, along with the treadmill you don't use anymore.

If I could give this level of training a score of 1-10, I'd give it a 2, at best.  You want more than this.  You deserve more than this.

Level 2:  Enhanced with video
Level 2 is where we start to add a bit more structure and entertainment value.  There are a bunch of fun video options out there from brands like The Sufferfest, epicRides, Spinervals, Pain Cave, Cycling Videos Online, Ride Fit, Indoor Cycling Videos, Turbo Tripping, Real Rides, Endurance Files, and many more.  Having a few videos improves issues 1 and 2 above regarding motivation and guidelines.  The videos offer some motivation by adding entertainment value and making it a bit more interesting.  For example, The Sufferfest incorporates cycling video with indie music and a dark sense of humor to make the videos more tolerable and relevant to sitting on the trainer.  epicRIDES videos are rides through scenic areas with music and an on-screen narrative.  You can find a video to match your tastes.

The other element that gets introduced with some videos is on-screen instruction.  This is where the video has some narration telling you what to do and we start to introduce the concept of the structured workout.  We are trying to workout with purpose.  This is usually done based on rate of perceived exertion (RPE).  RPE is essentially you trying to determine on the fly just how hard you are working.  Video instructions might suggest "warm up at an easy pace for 5 minutes", or "go 10 out of 10 for 1 minute."  While a structured workout is going to provide benefit, it is pretty hard to guess what "easy" or "10 out of 10" actually is.  You might use a heart rate monitor or your speed and cadence sensor to give you an idea of where you are, but this is very much based on feel.

An alternative to the video version of Level 2 involves having a coach.  Your coach might prescribe a certain workout, similar to what many of the videos try to do, and have you report back with your results.  This is still very much about going on feel, but at least you've got that extra motivation that a coach can provide.  You are now being held accountable.

Another alternative is going to a spinning class.  This is the type of class like those offered at LA Fitness or Life Time Fitness where you get on a spin bike, adjust the flywheel resistance to your liking and a coach yells out instructions over the loudspeaker, all done to high-energy music.  Spin classes can be a lot of fun because you've got other people to motivate you.

Overall, I would consider training with video, being coached, or spin classes enhanced training that will help keep you on the trainer longer.  When it comes to effectiveness, I would give this a score of 4 on a scale of 1-10.  It's much more effective than not having it, but there is a long way to go.  These are still being held back by problem number 3 of Level 1 training:  There is no way to measure your progress.

Level 3:  Training with Power
This is where things get considerably more complicated, so I will keep this brief for now.  Training with power now takes that element of training by feel and quantifies it.  We are now starting to measure your output, addressing the third issue of the Level 2 training described above.  We are measuring your performance, collecting data, and using it to shape your overall training season.  This is no longer just a series of workouts, but a foundation for a plan.

In my opinion, this is the biggest jump in effectiveness between these levels - we're now jumping up to an 8 out of 10.  The best part of this is that there are many ways to go about it, to meet your needs and budget.  There have been huge advances in this area in just the last 5 years, particularly with what is called "virtual power."  Part 6 of this series will be all about virtual power and real power.  I'm gonna go into full geek mode on you for that one.

Level 4:  Smart Trainers
The concept of a smart trainer is not new - the CompuTrainer has been around for a long, long time.  Smart trainers take training with power up a notch by being able to adjust the resistance for you based on the demands of the workout.  Because of this, smart trainers can provide a more road-like workout - the ability to increase the resistance can allow you to emulate hills, allowing for workouts based on actual routes and race courses.  These course workouts add an element of fun to the workout that you might enjoy.

Smart trainers get expensive, although competition in this area has made them more affordable.  It also has made it more confusing.  You can take your training to a 10 out of 10 with a smart trainer.  The reason I say this is that while Level 3 provides the biggest improvement in being able to quantify the effectiveness of your training, Level 3 is all about the data and doesn't add as much "fun factor" as it could.  That might be enough motivation for you.  But, if you need just a little bit more, smart trainers push you just a bit harder.  When a workout segment expects you to push X watts for Y minutes, the smart trainer will force you to do that.  Without it, you can be told to do it, but coast through.  Like having a coach, you now have something holding you accountable.  Humans can benefit from that.


Summary
That was a lot of information.  In the next post in this series, I'll delve into virtual power and power.  From there, we'll get into smart trainers and other options to add more fun to your workouts!  Thanks for reading.


p.s.  Before you go, Vector Cycle Works is an epicRIDES affiliate.  Click here to buy their videos:
epicRIDES - Designed with Indoor Cycling Classes in Mind!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Allow Me to Introduce Myself - Meet Your Fitter



There are a lot of great bike fitters in the Indianapolis area, so why should you choose Vector Cycle Works over the others?

Bike fitting is a bit of an art with a lot of science behind it.  Most fitters have a pretty wide array of tools at our disposal, and knowing which ones to use when is key.  We ask a lot of questions, listen carefully, and guide you through the process with the goal of addressing your primary needs.  I firmly believe that bike fitting is not about the bike - it's all about you, the enthusiastic rider looking to get the most out of their cycling experience.  Tools, methods, and knowledge are a big part of the fit session, but a lot of what makes a good bike fit is the relationship between the rider and the fitter - how well we communicate, how comfortable we are with one another, etc.  For someone who is about to invest their time and money into this process, it might be nice to meet the person with whom they are going to spend a few hours.  So, in an effort to make you more comfortable, I thought it might be helpful to introduce myself.

I like long walks on the beach in the moonlight...  Oh wait, wrong introduction...

First off, my name is Travis Rassat.  I was born and raised in rural Minnesota, near a small town called Waverly.  I'm proud of my small-town heritage - I believe in honesty, integrity and trust, and apply those principles to Vector Cycle Works.  In the picture above, you can see my first bike - I've been riding since I was 6 years old - I got that bike for my birthday.  That bike went through a lot - wheelies, jumps, sand, gravel, mud, you name it - it was ridden often and hard.  I learned to fix stuff at an early age, mostly because I had to make sure things were working before Dad got home, like the time I tore down our lawnmower just to see how a small engine works.  But, that's another story...  I was always wrenching on my bike, adjusting the seat and handlebars, and even at an early age, tore it down, repainted it, and put it back together.  A few times.  Curiosity and an interest in all things mechanical is in my DNA.

I moved to Indiana in 2001, got married to my wife, Keena, in 2004, and have two daughters, Natalie and Mia.  My day job is in the computer industry, and I'm currently wrapping up my Bachelor's Degree at IUPUI, where I've been going part time since 2006.  This is actually my fifth go at college, having studied mechanical engineering, computer programming (got an Associate's Degree from St. Cloud Technical College in St. Cloud, MN in 1998), computer science, motorsports engineering, psychology, business, and music history over the last 23 years.  I guess you could say I just love learning (or have had a really hard time figuring out what I want to be when I grow up).  If I'm not on a bike, I love hiking, camping, and doing things outdoors, especially in places like Colorado, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota, and any of Indiana's state parks or other wooded areas.  Anybody who has been to visit Vector Cycle Works has seen my drum set sitting close to the shop in my house.  I've been playing music since I was in 4th grade, although I've forgotten how to actually read music, and only play by ear and feel.  I like it better that way - it's not so rigid.  That's really just a nice way of saying that I'm a pretty awful musician.

Like other fitters, bicycling is a big part of my life, although this is where my story might be a bit different than that of other fitters;  I've never raced at a high level, been on a national team, worked in a bike shop, or worked for a bike manufacturer.  I'm just a regular dad and husband who enjoys cycling as a hobby and balances it with the rest of life.  That's not to say I am not competitive - I got into mountain bike racing around 2003, racing in a few DINO events before an old back injury (herniated disc in my back in 1996) and the birth of my kids put me on the sidelines for a few years.  In that time, I gained a lot of weight and never really recovered from the back injury.

In late 2008, when my daughters wanted me to pick them up and throw them in the air and I couldn't because of pain, I was heartbroken.  I felt like a failure as a dad and had to do something to change myself.  I was way overweight and hurt all the time.  A friend at work approached me and asked if I wanted to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.  Around that time, another coworker coerced me into doing a triathlon.  So, on New Year's Day 2009, I started a new journey to a healthier life - I was going to swim, bike, and run my way to the top of Kilimanjaro.  My first triathlon was the Carmel sprint in April 2009.  I think I was one of the last 5 finishes in that race, but I was hooked - within an hour of getting back home, I was signed up for my next triathlon.  After a few more races, I went all in and bought a triathlon bike in 2010 - a Quintana Roo Seduza.  I am still racing that same bike today, although it has been upgraded a few times.

Since then, I've continued to lose weight, train, race, challenge myself, and explore the limits of my body.  I'm now down about 55 pounds from my peak weight, and feel a lot better, overall.  We reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in August of 2010.  I've continued to race, and you can see my results at Athlinks.  I've had some successful races, and I've had some terrible ones.  I've got a lot of great memories and stories and have enjoyed every single one of them.

In 2013, I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.  Along with that comes Celiac Disease, as they are related autoimmune disorders.  That has been a challenge that took over 10 years to finally reach a diagnosis, and I still struggle with it.  I deal with a lot of muscular and skeletal pain, as well as nutrition challenges.  While Lupus is not fun, I see it as something I can leverage when fitting riders on their bikes - I understand what it's like to hurt.

I got an interest in bike fitting after having been professionally fit myself.  I found the process intriguing, and wanted to learn more.  After a lot of self-study and experimentation with myself and a few friends, I became BikeFit-certified and started fitting others professionally in early 2014.  I've continued on to BikeFit level 2 certification and have a plan for additional training and certifications in the coming years.  I'm currently pursuing my USAC Level 3 coaching certification.

Of course, I still make time for some racing.  I've recently done something I've wanted to do for a long time - going into off-road triathlon and participating in the XTERRA Eastern Region Championship in Richmond, Virginia.  I didn't do very well, but I had a blast.  There will be much more XTERRA racing in my future, as well as some more mountain bike racing, some road races and events, and hopefully some cyclocross and track racing in the upcoming years.  I'm also going to figure out the marathon at some point.  I am also an ambassador for the Toughman triathlon series, which continues to grow and provide racing options in what can be described as a pretty interesting triathlon market.

XTERRA and Toughman provide a lot of opportunities to support my personal racing goal; My focus has shifted in recent years to "racecations" - going to fun destinations where I get to race, and then can recover with my family for a few days doing something we all can enjoy.  My goal is to race in all 50 states and 10 other countries - whether it's a marathon, triathlon, mountain bike race, road race, cyclocross race, trail run - whatever it might be.  So far, I've only raced in 9 states, so I've got a long way to go.  That 6-year-old boy in the picture at the top still dreams of getting to the top step of a podium somewhere, somehow, but as I've spent more time fitting and coaching others, their success has become more important than mine.  I would be much more proud to put you on a podium somewhere, somehow.

Anyway, that's enough about me.  Hopefully, you've enjoyed hearing my story and feel like I'm somebody you'll trust with your fit.  But, I'm much more interested in hearing your story - whether you find your ride painful or are trying to find that extra little bit of speed to get a win at your next event, I am here to listen, understand, and support you in your goals.  No matter what your goals are, new rider or a long time racer, weekend warrior or pro, I hope you'll come visit me at Vector Cycle Works soon - I think we'll have a great time together!

Thank you!
Travis


Monday, May 18, 2015

Trying to find Saddle Nirvana?

When customers come to me for a bike fit, saddle discomfort is almost always on the list of reasons why they are not comfortable.  We can do a lot to try to mitigate the discomfort with proper saddle positioning and fit, but sometimes the best thing we can do is try other saddles.  Everybody's body is different, and what works great for one person might not work well for others - we are all different and we are all asymmetrical.  Finding the best saddle for you isn't always easy, so I'm working hard to make Vector Cycle Works the best saddle resource in the area.

Over time, I've accumulated over 55 saddles from Cobb Cycling, ISM Seat, SQlab, fi'zi:k, Selle Royal, Chromag, Terry, and a few others.  Vector Cycle Works is an authorized dealer for all of the aforementioned brands, and I have a few others to give people options.  My goal is to provide options without bias - let's find the right saddle for you, not what's best for my bottom line. Prices range from around $50 to $250, so we can keep your budget in mind.  You can see the complete list here.  I'm always willing to take suggestions if there's something you've seen and would like to try.  If I can get it, I will.


In order to make saddle testing as effective as possible, I have a great tool from BikeFit called the SwitchIt.  It is mounted on an old spin bike that I've modified into a poor man's fitting bike.  The SwitchIt allows us to change saddles with the flip of a lever.  We can make adjustments to angles and fore/aft position in seconds.  You can see a quick video of it in action here:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4w0OU36RfWY

I do saddle testing sessions for free.  A saddle testing session can take a couple of hours, but it's worth it.  We can usually start to identify some trends in what feels good for you and start to narrow it down to a few favorites.  We usually will revisit the top 5 or so, refining the adjustments to see what makes each one even better.

Afterwards, we'll mount the saddle to your bike and you can try it out for a couple of weeks.  Things will feel different on the road, and it's good to get in 5-6 rides to really get a feel for a change.  If you like it, you have the option to purchase it or order the model in a different color and follow up with an install.  If it didn't turn out as well as we hoped, we'll try again!

Of course, if you really want to maximize your comfort, we can follow up with a ForeverFit full bike fitting, which is guaranteed for as long as you own the bike.  We'll get a good foundation with the right saddle choice and then fine-tune the rest of your fit for maximum comfort and performance.

You can schedule a saddle test or bike fit at https://vectorcycleworks.appointlet.com.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Peek Inside Vector Cycle Works



It has been a while since I've had some time to write - life is busy at Vector Cycle Works!  In addition to getting to spend time with a lot of great folks doing bike fits, I've also taken some time to do a bit of remodeling.  I thought this might be a good time to give people an idea of what the studio looks like.  How about a quick tour?

The core of Vector Cycle Works is fitting and I am working hard to provide the best fitting experience in the area.  When I look at a bike, I look at the "touch points", including the saddle, pedals, and handlebars.  As you can see in the image above, the saddle selection is one of the key features of Vector Cycle Works, and I currently have 50 different saddles available for demo purposes and/or purchase.  I am a dealer for Cobb, ISM, SQlab, and Profile Design.  Because I firmly believe in helping you find the right saddle for you, I also have saddles from Fi:zi'k, Selle Royal, Chromag, Bontrager, Specialized, and Prologo, even though I am not a dealer for those.  You can see the complete saddle list here.

The yellow spin bike is equipped with a BikeFit SwitchIt, which allows us to try saddles and adjust them very quickly.  When a customer is looking for a saddle, we've tried over 20 saddles in a matter of about 30 minutes, thanks to the speed of the SwitchIt.  It's a really handy tool - if you are not sure if your saddle is right for you, make an appointment and we'll work together to find the right one.  I don't charge for saddle testing.

The spin bike is also equipped with another nice fitting feature - adjustable-length crank arms.  This allows you to try crank arms from 150mm to 190mm long.  For people who are dealing with hip impingements or other limiting injuries, shorter crank arms can make a big difference in your riding comfort.  For those of you looking to get a more aggressive triathlon position, short cranks can allow you to get low while keeping the hips open to save your body for the run.  As a Cobb dealer, I can help you get a Cobb crankset with short crank arms down to 145mm.  As a Power2Max Competence Center, you can take it a step further and get shorter FSA, Rotor, or Campagnolo cranks with a Power2Max Type S power meter.  There are some great options available and I am here to help you with that.

I am also working on machining an adapter for the spin bike to allow us to try different handlebars or aerobars easily.  Vector Cycle Works has a selection of Profile Design, Zipp, EIS, and 3T handlebars, aerobars, basebars, and accessories to help you find the cockpit that is most comfortable and aerodynamic for you.  For example, the Profile Design T+ series provides 4 carbon and 5 aluminum aerobar options. We can work together to dial in your front end, neutralize the wrists and shoulders and provide maximum comfort.

In the middle of the picture above, you may also notice an assortment of insoles.  I carry the SQlab insoles, which I feel are a compelling option for those who need a bit more foot support and/or are dealing with numbness issues.  At $40 a pair, they are also relatively affordable.

Not shown in the picture is the assortment of stems I have available for loan or purchase.  Stems in-house range in length from 60mm to 130mm, with angles of +/-25 degrees, +/-17 degrees, +/- 7 degrees, or +/- 6 degrees.  More are coming soon.  As part of a fitting session, we can use a Salsa Size-O-Matic adjustable stem to emulate the different stems available on the market to find your sweet spot.

Of course, we can't take a tour of a fitting studio without talking about the fitting process.  I use a combination of tools to tailor your fitting session to your needs.  My BikeFit Level 2 certification drives my processes, and other tools like motion capture help enhance those processes.  Bike fitting is very thorough, and you can expect to spend 3 hours here for your initial fitting.

Anyway, that's the quick tour - I hope to see you in here soon!  Book now at https://vectorcycleworks.appointlet.com.


Friday, January 30, 2015

Interested in Riding with Power?


If you are interested in learning more about power meters, I have some exciting news:  Vector Cycle Works is now a Power2Max competence center.  So, what does that mean?

As a Power2Max competence center, I can help you get a better understanding of power meters and what they can do for you on the bike.  I will consult with you regarding the Power2Max product line.  If you choose to order a power meter through me, installation and support is free with the purchase of the Power2Max power meter.

As always, my goal is to be a cycling performance resource, and while I can get you a Power2Max, we can discuss the advantages and disadvantages of power meters from Quarq, SRM, Garmin, PowerTap, Stages, and others - I try to be unbiased, and will help you find the best solution for you.

If you would like to learn more, call me at 317-833-0702 or e-mail me at travis@vectorcycleworks.com.  You can also check out the Power2Max website at www.power2max.com.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Now at Vector Cycle Works - the ISM PN 1.1


One thing I believe in doing as an extension of bike fitting is to provide a good selection of saddles.  Saddles are very individual and being able to provide options to try out is part of my service and the Vector Cycle Works experience.

As promised, I want to introduce new saddles here in the fitting studio at Vector Cycle Works as they come in.  Last week, I got a trio of saddles from ISM Seat, including their new PN 1.1 test model.  you can read what ISM has to say about it here:


ISM has introduced 5 new saddles, and with this, some of them have a new naming convention.  The PN stands for "Performance Narrow", and if you are familiar with some of the other ISM models, you might notice this looks a lot like the Attack.  Matter of fact, when I lay them on top of one another, the profile is basically identical.  The difference lies in the padding - the PN 1.1 uses their 40-level padding, which is like the Prologue.  Basically, it nets out to be a little bit softer version of the very versatile Attack.  

To sweeten the deal, ISM is offering the PN 1.1 for an MSRP of $149.95, which is a little bit lower price point than many of their existing models.  The PN 1.1 comes in three colors - black, white, and pink:




Because of the nature of saddles and how they interact with the human body, it really isn't fair for me to do a review, per se;  I could go out and ride it for months and tell you how wonderful it is, but that doesn't tell you much about how it might work for you.  The only way to really review it is to try it out yourself.  If you would like to check it out, come on in to Vector Cycle Works and check out the growing saddle selection!

Specifications
Length:  275mm
Max width:  110mm
Rail length (usable):  80mm
Width at centerline:  100mm
Height at centerline:  60mm
Nose width:  50mm
Weight:  N/A (I currently only have a test model, so the weight is not accurate)
MSRP:  $149.95






Tuesday, January 20, 2015

New Saddles in the Studio!

There is a lot of exciting stuff going on in the Vector Cycle Works studio this week!  Look for news on several new saddles from ISM Seat, SQlab, Chromag, and Selle Royal very soon.

Today, three of the new ISM saddles came in - the PN 1.1 (test version), PR 1.0, and PR 2.0.  I will do a short write-up with some pictures over the next few days.

If you've been wondering if your saddle really is the right one for you, come on in to Vector Cycle Works and check out the selection of saddles available for testing!  Currently, there are 42 different models in stock, and all of them can be borrowed - I just ask for a $100 refundable damage deposit, you can then ride for 2 weeks for free, and $5 for each additional week.  Click here to see the current selection of saddles.