Using a laser pointer and a few tracking balls, a computer fitting can enhance the ride for bikers and reduce pain.
It starts with an interview, and a few body measurements. Then a cleat check: A simple adjustment can help relieve pressure on the bottom of the foot.
“I am marking where your fifth and first metatarsal heads are. The big bony protrusion behind your big and little toe, and that’s going to tell me where to place the cleat,” said Brian Jacobson, Fit Specialist at Running Away Multisport.
Now it’s time to hop on the Fit Unit. As I pedaled, Jacobson tracked my movement with a laser. Right away, he detected a problem.
“Do you ever have issues with IT bands being tight?” he asked. I said yes. Brian said he could tell it was the left side because he said my knee was tracking in.
It’s an exercise in geometry and physiology — angling one foot can fix the knee. Other adjustments impact the rest of the body.
“We are able to move the rider 1 millimeter at a time as they are pedaling so that they feel instantaneous feedback from position to position,” Jacobson said.
Tracking balls were placed along my legs and upper body captured my movement. It’s the same technology doctors use to analyze patients undergoing therapy for gait problems.
“There are certain measurements we are looking for in terms of the body angles, but a lot of it is going to be based off of rider preference,” Jacobson said.
The goal is to eliminate discomfort. All the data collected during the two-hour fit process will dictate the type of bike best for me.
But there are warning signs. Sports medicine physician Dr. Terry Nicola says if your bike doesn’t fit your body, you’ll feel it.
“Your knees hurt, you get this gradual worsening back ache, neck pain. And even the area around your crotch or genital area can become numb,” Nicola said.
At the end of the session, Jacobson posted my numbers. My long femurs and short torso make it trickier to find the right ride — but that’s part of the challenge. With the right adjustments, I’ll be back on the road and pain free.
The cost of the bike fit is $300 but if you buy a new bike, that money goes toward the purchase. You can also retrofit your own bike for a smaller fee.
Running Away Multisport
Fit Specialist: Brian Jacobson
2219 N. Clybourn, Chicago
800 Waukegan, Deerfield