Beyond Bike Fit – Pressure Scanning Technology
I recently posted that I had visited cycling analysis start-up Cyclologic in AZ to meet with company founder Paraic McGlynn and familiarize myself with the latest technology he is working on in cycling fit and analysis. One of the most encouraging pieces of technology we worked with on my trip was the pressure sensing technology that the German company gebioMized offers.
There have been a few moments in time where technology really helped bring what was possible to do in a bike fitting to a new level – the Serotta Size Cycle and motion capture being the biggest. Pressure analysis has the potential to fall into this same category.
Pressure sensing technology is not a new concept. Biotech companies like ScanTek have built medical scanning pads for years and I remember thinking about how to transfer this technology to bike fitting over 10 years ago. Fit Werx was a start-up at the time and I never got back to that project. Thankfully, the folks at gebioMized did though and they have developed cycling specific pressure analyzing software and hardware. From my experience so far, the data harvest and visual abilities the technology offers can help a properly trained and skilled technician address everything from simple positioning based weight distribution issues to acute chronic saddle related comfort issues in ways we have never been able to do before and with greater reliability. I even see the ability to guarantee a rider that we can solve chronic saddle issues.
Below is an image that shows what my saddle pressure looks like in real time:
The good news for me is that my saddle pressure is pretty even and all pressure values are well within the “safe norms” for circulation and nerve health, as is my angle of regression (the angle between the highest load points on the left and right side). I have few saddle issues. However, for a rider with chronic saddle issues, this level of data analysis can provide a skilled cycling biomechanist with huge insights into where issues could potentially be stemming and how well a potential solution is working. For example, let’s say we have a rider with chronic single sided saddle issues and we have seen a potential leg length difference during our initial physical assessments. If we install a shim or make other cleat adjustments with this rider, the sensing software will tell us if we have truly made a difference in terms of how the pressure is distributed. Likewise, if we refer a rider to a physical therapist or other specialist to work on muscle balance issues that we think are relating to their issue, we can see if they are becoming more balanced with time.
The potential holy grail of chronic saddle issues may have also been achieved by gebioMized – the ability to offer a true solution to exceptionally challenging chronic saddle issues for those afflicted. With the help of a properly trained technician, gebioMized can actually take the scan information and create a custom saddle that directly addresses the rider’s issues. I saw the direct results of this at Cyclologic where we did a case study with a talented younger rider who had debilitating saddle issues for years that nothing solved. He had broken 4 or 5 saddles and fitters had tried just about everything one could imagine with him to overcome this, but to no avail. With a standard saddle, the gebioMized scan showed a huge spike in pressure on his left pubic symphysis – you could very clearly see the problem area and why it was an issue. It seemed like he had a bone exotosis (growth) or the like that was creating this pressure point and he was contorting himself on the bike trying to accommodate; there was no way he was going to be powerful or comfortable until this was solved as he was always in pain. After detailed data collection to help find the best saddle shape, gebioMized built him a custom saddle with a relief area exactly where the scans indicated he needed it. The results? All saddle sores and issues are gone. He is producing better power, can ride more often, and is finally balanced and sitting square on his bike. His chronic lower back issues also disappeared with the new saddle. Very encouraging stuff.
Next up, pressure sensing and the feet…