Can an AI App Fit My Bike

Can an AI App Fit My Bike

“Shall We Play A Game?”

In the 1983 movie “War Games”, the WOPR computer, AKA “Joshua”, asks, “Shall we play a game?”.   The game?   Thermonuclear war. In the end, after playing tic-tac-toe against itself, the computer, thankfully, decides it can’t win the game.  While it sometimes feels like tic-tac-toe is determining our fate, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has progressed immensely in 41 years.

Recently, there has been an uptick in online sites and apps that utilize AI to facilitate standalone bike setup.   How does an AI setup compare to a professional fitting face-to-face?  Here are our thoughts…

Can a Computer Provide a Good Bike Fit?

Can a computer provide a good bike fit?   It depends on what you call a “bike fit”.   What bike setup apps are providing is not really a bike fitting as much as a starting bike setup recommendation.   While this can be of value, it is important to recognize that a professional bike fit and an online bike setup are fundamentally different things.  While they both try to help optimize a complex task – a dynamic human (rider) interacting with a dynamic piece of machinery (bike) – a bike setup app is designed to establish basic baseline bike setup coordinates. In contrast, a professional fitting with a qualified fitter is designed to establish detailed setup coordinates while helping the rider understand how their bike and body work together.

There are multiple app-based tools out there for doing a bike fit at home.  With many you enter self-assessed physical measurements and/or take a video and some pictures, and out pops “fit” recommendations.   Sometimes an online fit may serve to lubricate an associated sales process – say to help someone buy a bike or product online with confidence – other times it may be a standalone, subscription-based process.  Again, the current goal of the better online apps is to provide basic setup guidance (saddle position, reach, drop).  Nothing more and nothing less.

A professional fit with a qualified fitter should be designed to provide a comprehensive and personalized approach that harvests assessment information to help the rider better understand how their body and bike interact.  This allows the rider to make the best decisions about items like riding technique, conditioning/rehab options, and equipment and bike selection/setup.  The goal of better professional fitting options is to look at the big picture while providing the details to help make sure the bike is set up well and the rider knows how to use it to their potential.

Understanding how different the two approaches are can help inform your decision. With this in mind, let’s explore some of the advantages and considerations of each approach in more detail.

Online Bike Fit Advantages

Online bike fits are easy to initiate and can be done just about anywhere and anytime.  This makes them convenient as it doesn’t require any scheduling or traveling to work with a fitter.

An online fit is designed to be automated and to remove the personalization and time-related items that can add cost.  Online fittings will usually cost less money than working with a professional fitter.

Some riders prefer to not interact with others.  Online fitting allows this to happen.

Like professional fitting, some online bike fit apps provide bike and equipment recommendations.   Like some bike shop fittings, the risk is these may be biased by backend advertising mechanisms and may not take into account just how difficult it might be to set a particular bike up to the fit coordinates.

A bike setup app can create a better riding position recommendation than a poorly informed or educated bike shop fitter.

Professional Fit Advantages

A professional bike fit should be more accurate and personalized than an online positioning.  Like getting a good haircut, the contributions of an experienced outside provider can be reassuring (and beneficial) for most of us.  It can be very difficult to self-assess many crucial physical and postural variables confidently or trust the results an algorithm provides to meet your particular needs.  Likewise, getting a properly made cycling footbed of your own making off the internet is almost impossible with most feet.

A professional bike fit is in 3D while online results are based on 2D.  This is important when it comes to making recommendations like cleat stance settings, handlebar width, crank length, and gearing. Additionally, the 3D view aids in recognizing and understanding body asymmetries.  Some of the biggest improvements we make in our professional fittings are often intuition and experience-based minor angle adjustments that no one, not even a computer, can actually see with their eyes.

The goal of a personalized bike fitting goes beyond just bike setup.  The goal is to help you be a more effective and complete bike rider.  A proper fitting goes well beyond just setting up your bike to match key body angles.  It is designed to look at you as a rider and then to work with your bike and your body to help you generate more power, speed, and endurance with less effort, discomfort, and fatigue through optimized setup and postural awareness.

Another advantage some professional fitters have is that they have the backing of a strong bike shop or mechanic to work with you to make sure your bike is set to match the results from your fitting.   Having mechanical and product support means that a professional fitter can often not only help you choose a new bike that fits but can make sure it is set up properly from the beginning.   This pays off in terms of significant time and money savings for most riders while helping you become faster and more comfortable in the process.


The Bike Fit Tool Versus the Bike Fit Provider

From established manufacturers like Retul, Bike Fast Fit, MyVeloFit, Fit Kit, and Cyclologic Education (to name just a few),  there is no lack of bike fitting tools and systems available to fitters and riders.   Likewise, there are several apps available directly to riders to help build a baseline riding position.   However, this brings up an existential question.   To shift metaphorical questions away from the aforementioned haircut, does the instrument or the musician make the biggest difference in the music that results?  Regardless of your stance on vaccines, the images below should put a pretty abrupt end to any deliberation on the musical front.

Selecting a provider or methodology to work with on bike fit or setup is not dissimilar.   Tools can take you so far.  The results a qualified provider can get out of the tools are what make the experience and results special and hard to obtain generically.


What are You Buying with a Professional Bike Fitting?

In the end, with a professional fitting, you are buying the bike fitter’s experience and insights.  The best bike fitters tend to be part engineer, psychologist, biomechanist, mechanic, aerodynamicist, and coach.  While AI can produce positioning recommendations that are better than a poor or disengaged fitter in person, it has a ways to go to approach what a high-quality fitter can provide in person.   In our fittings, we often tell people being fit for the first time that our goal is to help them gain knowledge and set up in a day that would otherwise take a few years to acquire on their own.

Online Bike Fit or Professional Bike Fit.  Which is Better?

Online positioning recommendations from an app or professional bike fitting with a fitter, both have their place.  The best option for you as a rider depends on your expectations and goals.

This being said, most experts agree that a high-quality professional bike fit is worth the investment of time and money for most riders.  The personalization of a one-on-one experience provides more value and education for the rider than an online bike fit.

Here is what had to say about a quality bike fitting.

What Makes a Fit Werx’s Fitting Unique

A professional bike fitting at Fit Werx takes anywhere from two to four hours, depending on the rider’s needs.  This is because we are not just looking to place you on a bike in a prescribed place.  We are looking to understand you as an individual rider and to work with you to help you understand your role in terms of posture, potentially limiting variables and riding technique.   When these are looked at together, you get the most out of the position we build with you.

At Fit Werx, we were one of the pioneers of Rider First Bike FittingA Rider First Bike Fitting harvests the assessment advantages of Bike Fit 2.0 – a next-generation fit process initiated by Fit Werx to look at the complete cyclist as an individual.    Bike Fit 2.0 matches the rider’s needs, goals, and preferences with the bike while addressing issues specific to the individual simultaneously.  Our fitting process looks at muscle balance and riding posture and is supported by a deep tool chest of assessment and communications technology and tools.

This being said tools such as our adjustable fitting cycle, multi-camera motion capture software, saddle pressure mapping, and right/left leg power reading are little more than expensive toys if not for the experience and knowledge of our fitters.   All Fit Werx fitters are owners of their location and offer at least a decade of fitting experience and continued education.  Supporting our bike fitters is a staff of professional people with deep knowledge of cycling and their related activities.   For well over two decades, we have continued to serve riders and athletes from our local area as well as nationally and globally.  Regardless of whether you are next door or on the other side of the world, if you make the effort to work with us, we guarantee you will find your Fit Werx’s fitting experience worth it.

We want you to ride better than ever!

Contact us for more information or to schedule a fitting, product consult, or service appointment.

About Ian

From first time riders to Olympians, Ian has helped thousands of athletes achieve their cycling and triathlon goals. Ian develops much of the Fit Werx fitting and analysis protocols and is responsible for technology training and development. He is regarded as one of the industry leaders in bicycle fitting, cycling biomechanics and bicycle geometry and design. He is dedicated to making sure the Fit Werx differences are delivered daily and provides Fit Werx with corporate direction and is responsible for uniting our staff and initiatives.

Find out more about Ian Here


Recent Posts

Leave a comment


Fit Werx

Fit Werx