Feature: Dan Fleeman and Cycle Division Bikefit

Former world tour professional Dan Fleeman is still very much in the sport coaching many a star rider through his coaching business but recently, he also joined up with Cycle Division to help cyclists of all abilities to make sure they get a bike that fits.

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Feature: Dan Fleeman and Cycle Division Bikefit

Former world tour professional Dan Fleeman, who only two years ago won the CiCLE Classic, is still very much in the sport, coaching many a star rider through his coaching business but recently, he also joined up with Cycle Division to help cyclists of all abilities to make sure they get a bike that fits.

Seems like yesterday we were witnessing Dan win the CiCLE Classic ….

VeloUK visited the shop at Barton-under-Needwood (DE13 8AA) and spoke to Dan who explained “I’m working out of Cycle Division store as a bike fitter using the Guru bike-fit system. It came about through a really good friend of mine, Kieran Frend (best man at Dan’s wedding) and the owner of the shop and RST/Motodirect’s boss Jonny Towers who is someone I have known even longer than Kieran.”

“I first met Johnny on the chain gang in the days of Neil and Dan Martin so I have known him for 15 years or more and it was him that approached me midway through last year to see if there was anyway Cycle Division and my company, Dig Deep Coaching, could do some joint projects and one of the ideas was to do bike-fit”.

“That was something I wanted to do more of so it became a good partnership. It goes hand-in-hand with the coaching I do and works for the guys at Cycle Division too as they have some-one with experience doing the bike fits and hopefully that can help sales for them”.

Being fitted to a bike professionally is something that has taken on more and more of an importance in recent years as Dan explained. “As a pro, over the years, I have always been into bike set up and my biggest thing was once you get the position you are happy with, if you have more than one bike, that position is matched across the bikes.

“These days many people have more than one bike but you often find they are set up different; different saddles, different handlebars or even different length cranks and pedals. In my racing days, I always used to try and get everything to match; the same saddle, the same handlebars, same length cranks and same pedals and also match the measurements”.

Some will ask what are the risks of not having a bike fit to which Dan explained “if your saddle is too low for example, you are losing power. If your position is set wrong, as well as losing power, it can also lead onto injuries in your knees, shoulders, neck and so on”.

So where does he start with a bike fit? “You need to start with the saddle height and the ‘set back’ (how far the tip of the saddle is behind the bottom bracket), and once that is set correctly, you can adjust the reach by using different stems.”

“I have seen a lot people slam their saddle forward or back to get the same reach on their other bike but they are not taking into account the consideration of the different angles (geometry) on the others bikes. So they could be two or three centimetres out on the set back”.

The geometry across different types of frames, says Dan, will be slightly different (angles) and, whilst within reason, you can get some one’s position correct on two or three different bikes using different stems and handlebars, there will be always be limits and if a bike is totally the wrong size for a rider, it can be an expensive mistake that no amount of bike fitting can correct.

Dan then added that whilst different sized stems can help obtain the correct position, there comes a point when using too long a stem can affect the handling of a bike as well so there are a lot of things to take into account that a professional like Dan can call upon from the experience he has had as a professional rider and coach.

“The perfect scenario” says Dan “is to have the bike fit first so then there are no constraints on how the fit is made and we can find you the perfect bike and perfect position.”

Dan then showed me the bike finder system that the Guru system has which can take the position created on the rig and match it with available bikes like the Scott’s and Cannondale’s at the Cycle Division store. “Even if they are not buying the bike from Cycle Division, they can still come in and we can recommend which model and sizes they should buying from a wide range of makes” added Dan.

The Bike Fit Process

“First we’ll have a coffee” says Dan “and then go upstairs and I will take some measurements and check the crank length and get the machine set and speak to them and see if they have any issues and what their goals are or main discipline is. Like someone may say I have an issue with my neck or my back whilst some people will be more laid back and ask me what needs doing.”

“Then we do the scan and that gives us a starting point and gives us the approximate saddle height and reach and then I will get them to pedal and start observing them, making adjustments to saddle height and so on through-out the process asking them how it feels.”

“I know what looks right and what doesn’t and we carry on by doing the reach and then the bar height. I may also change the angles and do two or three different ones, but keeping the position the same (saddle height and reach). I’ll also change where the saddle is behind the bottom bracket. So I might start with one eight centimeters behind which is a long way and then I will do another at six or seven and then another five or six. Most people feel best with the middle one.”

“You need some-one to get a position where they can get the most power but equally, that is no good if it’s not efficient and equally an efficient (aero) position is no good if it’s uncomfortable or going to cause injuries. So you need to find a compromise.”

Dan went on to say “a crit rider’s position for example will be different to one for a rider doing sportives. “So we do a consultation at the start to find out what sort of riding they will be doing” Dan says, adding “so if they do 100 mile steady rides, we’ll have them a little more upright whereas if they are doing crits, or road races, you want to them to be as aero as possible. So I would set some one’s position up on what their main events are”.

Dan raced both road and mountain biking so was his position different on the two bikes? “Yes and no” was the reply. “The saddle height and set back I always ensured was the same, so I will always start with set back and saddle height. Some would argue to go slightly lower on the mountain bike but what I found was that with mtb shoes and pedals, there is a higher stack height so even if you are lower, the saddle would feel lower so I set them identical and with the reach, that is different because of the different handlebars.”

The Guru

When asked what advantage the Guru gives him over making the adjustments on a person’s own bike, Dan explains “whilst the position has to be taken from the Guru system and then applied to the persons’ bike or bikes, the advantage is that the position during the fit can be altered whilst they are on the Guru rig”.

“They sit on the rig and the whole process may take 45 mins to an hour but in that time, we can make micro adjustments in seconds – 1mm to 20mm at a time, and measure power where as when you do it on the actual bike on a turbo, they would have to keep getting on and off and the problem there is that it takes a long time so you try one position, and then spend however long changing it, and when you get them to sit back on the bike, it has been such a long time since they were on the saddle, they have forgotten how it felt originally.”

“Whereas with the Guru, the change is very quick and if they are not sure, we can press a button and go back to the original position and then try the change again to see which feels better.”

The final part of the process is to take the position found to be best on the Guru and apply that to the person’s bike(s). “We supply a full print out and email it to them, and in theory they could fit the bike themselves based on the info from the Guru bike fit especially if they multiple bikes. To do this they would need to know a little about what they are doing though so there is the option of getting us to do that position”.

After a hour of so watching Dan do a bike fit and listening to how it helps a rider, it is easy to see why it can save some-one a lot of money by ensuring that when buying a bike, they buy the right one with the best geometry for what they intend to use it for and that it fits their body so they get the most from it.

“Getting a fit and using the Guru bike finder, you will have the confidence that when you do the order, you can do it right down to the correct size of stem, width handlebars and crank lengths as well as frame size. A lot of people are buying a bike on the internet but the wrong one so a bikefit will save you a lot of money in the long run”.

Thanks Dan for the chat. Best way to book is call the shop on 01283 711398 or use the online system https://www.cycledivision.co.uk/guru-bikefit/guru-fit-bike-optimisation. A full fit Is currently £99 plus £20 if you would like the position replicated across to your bike.

Cycle Division: 32 Main Street, Barton-under-Needwood, Burton-on-Trent DE13 8AA

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