So after the reasoning behind it (in a previous post) the actual bike fitting at Ciclissimo in Brussels, on the basis of the Cyfac postural system. Well I had a day off and decided to do it then. I took an appointment and went there in the afternoon.

The store is located in the back of a courtyard in a street off Montgomery. I does not really look like a store actually, more like an office, with a series of smaller rooms around a corridor. The first room is the office/measuring room, and that is where things start.

We had a chat on type of cycling I do, my training level, age and weight, but also my objectives and general riding style. The next step was the actual measuring. He used the “Cyfac board”, which allows for  standardized measuring. He measured leg length, shoulder width, height to the shoulders, arm length and for the feet, distance between the heel and the first metatarsus.

This data is then entered into a computer program along with the characteristics of the bike and accessories (saddle, pedals, shoes), which then churns out the optimal position. This position is a function of body geometry and type of cycling. It also provides the ideal frame measurements (should you want to buy a new bike or have one made to measure). This is then used to adjust the bike fit.

Any position on the bike will be a compromise between comfort, power transfer efficiency and aero-dynamism. Obviously you only want to sacrifice comfort in so far as necessary to gain the aero-dynamism you need. Secondly, the younger you are and the more you train, the more you will be able to sustain a very flat and elongated position. In short, a racer will need every second he can get and will thus have a very flat and elongated position on the bike. A cyclosportif will be able to afford a slightly more upright position.

So once the data was entered and the result prepared, we went into the second room (pictured above). The second room contains a few models of bikes ciclissimo sells (Passoni, Cyfac, Tommasini).

He lowered my saddle and put it slightly more forward. He also changed the stem for a shorter one. Mine was a 110 cm stem, he replaced it with a 80 cm stem (30 Euro). He also recommended that I buy a wider handlebar (44 cm instead of the 42 cm of the existing handlebar). I waited a bit and bought a Ritchey WCS Logic II on troc-velo.be, which was brand new and cost me 35 Euro (shipping included). Finally, he recommended I buy shorter crank arms when mine would die. He also adjusted my cleats on my cycling shoes.

This means I now have a much more upright position on the bike. It not only feels very comfortable, but also feels much more stable and powerful. I used to get lower back pain during longer rides, which is something I don’t get anymore.

Having now ridden six months with this position, I am very happy I did a bike fitting. Could a cheaper bike fitting have done the trick? Difficult to say. The whole process consists in adding a few millimetres here and removing a few there. The precise nature of the Cyfac postural system helps getting precise results. For me, this worked well.

So I would definitively recommend getting a bike fitting, and ciclissimo is a very good option for that in Brussels.

 

Website: http://www.ciclissimo.be/

Address: 24 rue du Duc. 1150 Bruxelles (behind Montgomery)

Tel: 0486/ 35 25 73

 

After doing the Tour of Flanders Cyclo, it was decided that I had earned sufficient “real cyclist” brownie points to pimp my ride. But since my resources are not unlimited (and each bike-related purchase must be rewarded by an even more outrageously priced purchase by my loved one), I had to make some choices.

My advantage is that my Cannondale is still pretty much fitted with the equipment it came with when I bought it, so the possibility to upgrade are endless. I decided to aim for a cost-optimal purchase with a view to increase riding comfort and power efficiency.

Hence the bike fitting.

Sure, you don’t get to buy more stuff, and don’t we all love buying stuff. However, not only should a bike fitting last longer than a bike or any other equipment, it ensures that you use your existing equipment as efficiently as possible. All purchases for the bike are “renewable” (ad infinitum), but this one is actually “sustainable”.

But then comes the next dilemma: which bike fitter to use?

There are quite a few shops that offer bike fitting in Belgium, and some have great reputations.

Peter Horn did an interesting post on the pavé blog on Frans Vanmarcke, a reputed bike fitter located in Ingelmunster. He is very cheap (50€ for four hours of work) and has apparently worked on the bikes of many famous Belgian racers (including Eddy Merckx, notoriously picky on his bike fitting). But I did not see myself do 100 km to get my bike fitted by an old unpleasant, dogmatic Flemish mechanic who does not speak English and probably will not want to speak French. And I don’t need (or want) a “racing” fit, as I don’t race, and from reading the article in pavé, I gathered that this was most probably the only thing I would get.

So I did a bit of research, and there are really all sorts of bike fitting methodologies. Some approaches are just too unscientific for my Cartesian mind. Others use an awe-inspiring quantity of electronic apparatus, cameras and 3D imaging, which tend to remind me of the Monthy Python’s Meaning of Life and the machine that goes “ping!” .

Many fall in the latter category, such as the ones using the RETÜL methodology (listed here). Some bike fitters seem to fall in between both extremes and are a mix between both approaches, such as Body2Bike, managed by an ex-mechanic of the CSC Team and a sports therapist. Finally, in Brussels intra muros, I was recommended the UrbanTriSport shop, which does bike fittings for around 50€, and I heard good things about the people running the shop.

In the end, I decided to go to the Ciclissimo shop, held by Pascal Vanden Bergh, near Mongomery in Brussels. Beyond the fact that he was recommended on a forum I often read and trust, what drew me there was the fact that he uses the CYFAC Postural System. This sytem is based on the work done at the Centre Médico Sportif of Lyon, a para-municipal medical center specialized in following elite-level athletes, and in particular cyclists and triathletes.

My experience with Ciclissimo in a next post!

An absolutly fascinating video to watch, documenting the fabrication of a steel bike by Soulcraft in Petaluma, CA.

FROM STEEL: The Making of a Soulcraft.

Quite quickly after having bought the bike, I realised that I would need a bike stand. It is quite indispensable to clean your bike post-ride and to do basic maintenance tasks, such as adjusting your gears. You could manage without, but it means carrying your bike with one hand and doing stuff with the other. Which is a pain in the arse, really.

There are mainly three types of bike stands:

1. The classic stand where the bike is clamped at the seat post:

2. The stand where the bike is maintained at the (front or rear) fork and the bottom bracket (so-called “Euro style” or “team race”),

3. The stand where the bike simply rests on the bottom bracket with a clamp around the down tube:

At first, I was convinced I needed a clam style bike stand. They are expensive and thus must be much better, no? And those are the stands you often see in bike repair shops as well. Then, by looking at race videos, I noticed they often use the second type of bike stand. They are slightly cheaper, but also look very good. But finally I read an article about building your own workshop in the April 2010 Cycling Plus issue (you can find it on the zinio.com app to read it on your iPad).

The article presented basically three types of workshops: the pro, the expert and the budget workshops. For the pro workshop, you need the crème de la crème: the PRS25 Park Tool, portable and tough (but at around 350-400€). For the expert workshop, you can go with the Topeak Prepstand Elite, sturdy but not as stable for heavier bikes (at around 200€). For the budget workshop, they recommend the Tacx T3000, which is Tacx’s entry-level bike stand.

The Tacx T3000 could be labeled as outdated by the more trendy and clever stands out there, but as they say, “there’s no getting around the low-cost effectiveness of this scissor design steel unit to provide a well planted and robust work base that’s unmatched for heavier operations“. It might be a bit bulky and heavy, but “it’s sturdy as a tree stump“. And the best part: it costs around 50-60€.

So that’s what I bought a couple of weeks ago and I put it to the test this week end. I wanted to clean the bike and the chain, and do a bit of adjustment on the rear derailleur.

Pros: It is indeed sturdy as hell and very stable, even on the uneven cobblestones of my sidewalk. It is very easy to set up and does not take up a lot of space when folded. The weight is totally reasonable and it is easy to carry around when folded.

Cons: Firstly, you can’t swing around the bike to do both sides. So you either walk around the bike, or just lift and rotate the whole stand with the bike on it. But that’s really no big deal. Secondly, if your bike is heavy (like my 18kg Fahrradmanufaktur city bike), it is a bit tricky to put it on the stand, especially the first time, as you have to maintain the bike balanced on the stand with one hand while screwing the clamp around the down tube with the other. But you get quickly get the trick and it is no real issue with a 8-9 kg road bike.

My conclusion? I’m happy I bought this and didn’t spend more one something else. If one day I have money to spare and space in my cellar for a workshop, I might upgrade to something else. But for all practical purpose, this is really a great work stand.

As mentioned in an earlier post, my solution for eyewear is now to wear contact lenses with non-prescription sunglasses. I purchased the sunglasses during the christmas break, and did a few stores in and around Brussels to try out all the models I wanted to see (the ones with the best choice are Van Eyck Sport in Aalst and Optique&Vision in Toison d’Or Gallery).

I had more or less settled on Oakley, mainly based on their reputation of quality, their looks and their PRO factor. I knew I was not going to buy the Jawbones or the Split Jacket, as I was simply not ready to spend 200€ or more on a pair of sunglasses that are difficult to wear outside of the cycling context. The Radar and M Frames are just too dorky to my taste and I wanted to be able to use it for other sports or just for casual wear. Flak Jackets and Half Jackets were my most serious options. But in the end, after trying them on, I decided on the Straight Jacket. The latter model is a bit more bulky and is branded as “active” and not “sport”, but it simply looks better. I also feel more comfortable using it for skiing/snowboarding as the rim goes all the way around the lenses.

Oakley Straight Jacket

So I put them to the test last weekend.

As expected, they do fog up a little bit when you stop riding. They are not as well ventilated as the above mentioned “sport” models and that has a price. But they only fogged up when I stopped riding, and de-fogged after ten seconds, so no big deal.

As concerns the lenses, the “black iridium” are quite dark. It will not be an issue when the spring and the summer will be here, but I had to take them off after the sun started to go down. I guess I’ll just buy a cheaper pair with light lenses for the darker days.

Otherwise, nothing to say. The lens quality is simply amazing, there is no distortion. They also protect very well from the wind, so that was super comfortable with the lenses. And the visibility angle is good, the think-ish rims did not bother me.

So the conclusion? I think that if your budget (or personal taste) allows for it, go for a model with interchangeable lenses. But for a good looking and more discreet pair, you can definitively go with the Straight Jackets.

I am short sighted. Nothing extreme, but I don’t see much without my glasses. I own a pair of corrective sunglasses, but they fall off way too easy. They are nice to cruise in my automobile or hangout at the park, but any rapid movement and they fall off.

So the only solution until now has been to ride with my eyeglasses, but that’s not ideal either. The worse is probably in the rain, where water and fog on the lenses make it quite hard to see anything at all.

There are several alternatives I found while roaming the interwebs. Some riders with big dispensable income (mostly MAMILS I guess) seem to be getting prescription Oakley sunglasses. I guess that this is the best and most elegant solution, but I read that it costs you around 350 euros. Rudy Project also has good prescription sunglasses, and they are probably cheaper.

So expensive, and with the disadvantage that you can’t take them off, for example in darker areas, if you go into a shop or just don’t want to wear them.

Another solution is to resort to sunglasses with inserts. You basically clip-in prescription lenses right behind compatible sunglasses. Rudy ProjectAdidas and Bollé offer sunglasses which allow for inserts. It is much cheaper, but I read that the glasses are heavier and fog-up more easily. And you still can’t take them off when you want to.

The best solution I found was simply to purchase daily disposable contact lenses. I can’t imagine not wearing eyeglasses in my daily life, but contact lenses are perfect for a few hours. This gives me a wide choice of sports sunglasses, for a reasonable price, and the possibility to take them off whenever I want.

I have gotten the contact lenses, I now have to pick a pair of sunglasses. I’ll probably go for the Oakleys, the PRO choice par excellence. The Jawbones would be my first choice, but at 200 euros, I won’t be able to justify that to my significant other… We’ll see what fits best!

“Your jersey must match your shorts, which must match your arm warmers, which must match your socks. But under no circumstances should a replica pro team kit or a national/world champion kit be worn unless you’ve earned it. The only acceptable team kit is your own club kit. Retro wool kits are sometimes acceptable, but even that is iffy.

“To look cool if you don’t belong to a club or a team, wear a stock Castelli or Assos kit but don’t mix and match. To be Euro-cool, wear the kit of an obscure European amateur team, but only if you have a story about how you spent the winter riding with them in Majorca to go along with it. Please, no century jerseys (I’m going to take some heat on that one), nothing with cartoon characters on it and never, under any circumstances, go jersey-less. Especially if you are wearing bibs.”

PezCycling News: How to look PRO (via Cycling tips blog)

My friends got me a Garmin 705 for my birthday. Well, actually, they got me a Garmin 605 and I decided to upgrade to a 705. For just 80 euros extra, you have a heart rate monitor integrated into the device.

(They got it from eXpansys.be, for about 200 euros, instead of 300 euros in brick and mortar stores. The device was delivered in one day by DHL and they have good after-sale service. I recommend!)

That is a really nice gift, and I’m looking forward to using it soon on the road. I always find it fascinating to see how we now have tiny devices that have more CPU power and memory than my first computer, which I got about 15 years ago. That PC had 250MB of hard drive memory. Yes, hard drive memory.

This is not by bike. I am not that geeky.

Those devices opens up whole new perspectives in the way we approach exercising. On that topic, Wired had a very interesting piece about a year ago:

“Not only can we collect that data, we can analyze it as well, looking for patterns, information that might help us change both the quality and the length of our lives. We can live longer and better by applying, on a personal scale, the same quantitative mindset that powers Google and medical research. Call it Living by Numbers—the ability to gather and analyze data about yourself, setting up a feedback loop that we can use to upgrade our lives, from better health to better habits to better performance.”

What is a bit freaky though (the Wired piece is about Nike+, which is linked to a Nike database, the Garmin 705 can also be hooked up to a Garmin database), is the amount of information you give about yourself to a third party, if you really want to exploit all the possibilities the devices offer.

The Nikes and Garmins can use the databases as a huge consumer test bench in order to taylor the devices to their consumers needs. But they will also use them to optimise the marketing of the device and maximise the revenue they milk from us.

The Red Kite Prayer blog also pointed out that all those stats may modify the way we ride:

“I realized in that moment that I had, at some point over the preceding years, ceased to ride my bicycle. I had begun to ride my computer, and, in the end, it had ended up riding me. I had stopped collecting experiences on my bike and resorted only to collecting statistics. Perhaps worst of all, I had stopped seeing where I was going. I was the computer. The computer was me.”

But I guess that is also a generation thing, and I would tend to also agree with the point made by the WV Cycling blog:

“Sometimes data does make a ride easier. If I know I have fifteen miles left to ride, and no water left, that’s okay. I know I can make it home. The comfort of knowing how many miles are left, or where I am exactly, or even how fast I would need to go to get to my destination at a certain time really does remove some of the thinking involved with riding; this way you can focus more on the ride, your friends, and the scenery around you.

“I am not a professional, but these little pieces of data act as secondary entertainment, and security nets. It is also great to be able to view and share rides with others using Garmin Connect’s route mapping features. There have been TOO MANY times since I have purchased this thing that I went: “oh, I didn’t know we passed so close to THERE…” Which in turn, created a similar, but shorter/longer/steeper/calmer/safer ride by knowing what roads, elevations, stores, or options were available.”

We will see where this device takes me. But of one thing I’m pretty sure: at least I’ll stop getting lost in Flanders. And that is pretty cool.