Custom Bike - 6~8 weeks
Bike Repair - 1 week
My wife and I are finally tackling a new kitchen in our home (the one we have was 60 years old). The shape of the kitchen will require some custom sized cabinets to be built. After we went through the process of checking into cabinet builders, we settled on one who’s been doing this all of his adult life. He also sports a lot of gray hair, so he’s been doing it a while. How does this relate to bicycle fitting? Read on...
Over the last years, R+E Cycles has pioneered in the arena of bicycle fitting. We’ve even developed our own complete fitting system, NEXT-fit™. This includes techniques, software, and even our own tools. These represent major investments for a small company like ours, but our customer's comfort is important to us. One of our most famous creations, our NEXT-fit™ fully adjustable fit bike, has been copied and is being distributed (by a really big company) to many other shops around the glove ( I guess we should’ve patented that one, but then again, they say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery).
It's a Small World!
In 2012, I was on vacation in Idaho, when I realized I forgot my bike shoes. So, I drove into town to pick up a pair at a local shop. As I walked in, I was greeted by the owner, but my eyes went right to the back room where I saw a fitting bike that looked just like the one we had designed in 2004. I asked the owner "Where did you get that fit bike?" He proudly answered "I have a machine shop outside of town, and I make those." As I looked over this new fit bike up close, I asked "Where did you get the design?" He said "We actually make those for a custom builder back east, and they sent us the design."
I walked him over to the computer on the counter, and brought up our NEXT-fit™ website. I said "Wow, that's great copy of our design, don't you think? If I had patented it, we would have a different conversation, but since I didn't, I would like to talk to you about buying one." The next day he gave me a tour of his machine business, and then gave me a really great deal on a fit bike that we had designed. Actually, this saved us a lot of time because we were in the stages of thinking up a sturdier design of our original bike.
Does the fit-bike make the fit?
Alright! Back to business.
The interesting thing to me is that people sometimes assume that they could get the same quality and type of fitting at another shop because they are using our fit bike design. As more and more shops get these bikes, more and more people ask me “I know that shop X has a fit bike like yours, can I go there and get fit?”
It’s like that cabinet builder. He can build a cabinet with a hand saw and a standard hammer just fine. The electric saw and nail gun he uses don’t make the cabinet better, they just help the cabinet builder do the job faster.
Now, if I buy a Skilsaw, a nail gun, and then take a weekend seminar at a big box store, that doesn’t mean that I’m a cabinet builder.... it just means I have the same tools as a cabinet builder, and some basic knowledge on the subject. With a lot of practice, I will eventually be able to build a nice cabinet, but probably never as good as a real cabinet builder.
Big company X that is now distributing a copied version of our original NEXT-fit™ bike design is giving weekend seminars to folks who work at the shops that buy them. That’s a step in the right direction, but I would suggest checking the stats on your fitter. That’s the really important thing. How many years have they been fitting? Do they do it full time, or just once in a while? How many years do they have in the bicycle industry? Are they sporting some gray hair on their head?
The moral of the story is:
It’s not the flashy tools, lasers, fit bikes...etc. that will make your bike fit comfortably. It’s all about the fitter...the person using the tools.