My Retül fit at Bespoke Cycling


The Wilier mounted on the turbo, ready for position scanning.

The Wilier mounted on the turbo, ready for position scanning.

About a month ago I had a Retül bike fit at Bespoke Cycling in Farringdon. The experience could prove to be some kind of watershed in my cycling history, and was probably the best £200 I’ve ever spent on bikes and riding.

Retül (‘re-tool’, ‘rettle’?) is a 3D bike-fitting service that aims to optimise your riding position. After scanning your existing position on your bike using sensors attached to various points on your body, the system suggests adjustments based on the optimal angles (torso, elbow, hips, knee, ankle) for power and comfort. The outcome is a document tailored to your physique, that you can take to any bike shop to assist with the fit process.

Bespoke Cycling insist on a bike fit before they sell you a road bike. It makes complete sense: although with enough spacers here and there you would fit almost any frame of the correct height, your figures will naturally match certain models and will guide your selection. The complete service is a 2-hour one-on-one process that starts with a discovery process about your riding – how much you ride, whether you’re comfortable riding, and how balanced and flexible your body is naturally. It moves on to the Retül fit, and finishes with a final fitting on your new bike.

My initial analysis by Ben Hallam, Bespoke’s resident physio and bike fit guru, indicated the following about my riding position:

  • My torso was stretched out and at an overly racy/aero angle on the hoods. I’d kind of always known this because I had never been naturally comfortable on the hoods, my preferred resting position was about 2 inches back on the curve of the handlebars.
  • My saddle was too high and too far back, exaggerating the stretched position and resulting in my rocking at the hips to lever my left leg over the pedal. My saddle rails were actually bent as a result of this.
  • My handle bar drops were too deep and my bars weren’t in the right position (this was me compensating for the fact that the drops were too far away).
  • I was a ‘paddler’ i.e. my pedal stroke tended to pull up from the toes after the down stroke. This was caused by 1) incorrect cleat position and 2) sitting too far back, and was evidenced not only by the Retül angles but also by my shoes and insoles, which revealed indents from my toes where I had been digging them in to claw the pedal back. This was also leading to discomfort in my foot arches on long rides.

Basically, I may as well never have ridden a road bike before for all that my bike fit me or that I knew how to ride it.

Once I had been analysed on my existing road bike, Ben put me on the Retül jig to fine tune my position and correct the wonky angles. Here are some before and after shots:

Before and after photos.

Before and after photos. Note the Fausto Coppi-esque hunch in the before shot.

Ben had the following recommendations to improve my pedalling efficiency:

  • Keep your chest up and away from stomach, maintain a longer flatter back (tuck chin down and back slightly).
  • Try and grow long and look over your bars for the front wheel skewer.
  • Relax the upper shoulders and pinch shoulder blades gently back and slightly down to open the chest and slightly bend in the arms.
  • Rotate the hips slightly forward.
  • Keep the pressure on each sit bone even throughout the pedal stroke to minimise hip movement.
  • Relax your ankle into a slight toe down position on the up stroke.
  • Drive the knee forward from 9 o’clock position (horizontal back)
  • Pick foot into a toe up position at 12 o’clock (top dead centre) to land onto the ball of the foot.
  • Squeeze your glutes and push down with pressure on the 2nd ball of the foot (base of the second toe) throughout the stroke.
  • At horizontal forward (3 o’clock), pressure should be going straight down through the ball of the foot and not through the heel. Scrape the feet through 6 o’clock (bottom dead centre) as if you are scraping mud off the bottom of the balls of your feet.
  • Continue to scrape backwards until the crank is at horizontal back (9 o’clock).
  • Keep your toes relaxed throughout.

In some ways it is quite infuriating that I didn’t go through this process back in 2007 when I bought my Wilier. Then again, it is hugely positive to have a fresh start at this stage, and to be able to look forward to a new era of efficient, comfortable riding. Already, after only 8 hours riding my new bike, I no longer seem to experience much lower back stiffness; my hot feet and sore arches have gone; and I can ride for prolonged periods both on the hoods and even in the drops.

My advice would be: if you’re doing any kind of serious road riding, riding sportives or racing, get a proper fit. I honestly cannot recommend it highly enough.


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