There’s always a guru in all walks of life. Someone who’ll tell you how things should be, give you that little bit of insight that you just didn’t have before. In the case of the Guru Bike Fit system, I’m not sure if I should apply the name ‘guru’ to the system or the operator!At the end of each year Yaxley Riders (my local cycling group) have an end of year bash and this event usually includes a charity raffle. Having won nothing the previous year, at the end of 2016 I didn’t hold out too much hope either and as the numbers were drawn and the prizes given out I fully expected to go home empty handed again. But my raffle luck changed in an instance and out popped one of my numbers in relation to what was consider by pretty much all the group as the top prize! A voucher for a free Guru Fit courtesy of Gorilla Firm Cycling in Oundle. With an equivalent value of £200.
So I let the business of Christmas pass, oh and New Year…
… and my daughter’s birthday. It’s a busy time OK! And finally got myself booked in to have the fit on a Tuesday at the beginning of February.
Gorilla Cycling isn’t a shop I’ve ever been into before. Oundle is somewhere I cycle to and through and I’ve passed the shop many times both by car and by bike and although I’ve been meaning to stop by many times, I just never had. It’s essentially a boutique bike shop, the kind of place that stocks plenty of Cipollini and Colnago but if you’re after something cheap and cheerful you’d need to look elsewhere. It fits in to it’s surroundings nicely to be honest; at Oundle Wharf, alongside Amps Fine Wines, the Tap and Kitchen, Hambleton Bakery and Nene Valley Brewery. All high end businesses catering to the well off, of which there are plenty of customers in the Oundle area!
So as you’d expect I was well looked after throughout my entire bike fit experience. From the day I popped in to book and was shown around the shop to the day of the bike fit, everyone there was friendly and helpful.
The Guru Bike Fit System centres around a software controlled bike/machine. The thing you can see in the picture or on the Guru Cycling website. It’s a contraption full of motors and sliding rails onto which the operator can fix a set of handlebars and a saddle. At Gorilla Firm they have a huge range of saddles and bars to be able to match yours. Except of course my Charge Spoon which was quickly whipped off my bike and fitted to the machine for the session. The position of the chainring remains constant (although the crank length can be adjusted) and the system moves the contact points in relation to the chainring. The key feature really is that all the adjustments can be made by the operator on the fly as you are spinning away on the pedals. And these changes can be made in variable increments. So if you want to know what it would feel like to swap your 100 mm stem for a 103 mm one you can find out, of course good luck in finding a 103 mm stem to actually buy!
Of course more sensibly the movement can be adjusted in achievable increments, 10 mm further out etc. Equally useful the operator can also watch how you are riding as the adjustments are made. Do you appear to maintain the same cadence? Are you now bobbing more in the saddle? Does this look or that look right? The system has a turbo trainer back-end to it too, so the resistance can be adjusted appropriately in order to see how comfortable the rider appears in any position under a little more strain. It also gives a readout of power and cadence too that you can see in front of you on the big screen.
For someone who is new to cycling, has bought a new bike and doesn’t know much about setup, is particularly sensitive to tiny changes or someone who has injured themselves. This type of fit is perfect, it really allows you to find a comfortable riding position in a much shorter time than any method of trial and error, part swapping would. For me? Well, I’ve been riding my current road bike for around 3 years and I have made adjustments from time to time and so I guess I’m kind of used to my riding position. Also I’ve had time to optimise my position bit by bit over time. So I probably didn’t benefit from this fit as much as others might have. Even so, it was still a very worthwhile experience. In the most part just for clarification purposes and to be sure that I’m not missing out on anything but also to add the final finishing touches to my riding position; the icing on the cake, so to say.
In the end my friendly Guru Fit operator Jimmy (I actually forgot his name straight after being introduced, but it’s on the report fortunately), made minor changes to my cleat positions. My left cleat went a tiny bit further forward and my right cleat rotated slightly heel out. My reach stayed the same, as did my crank length; 170 mm is plenty for my short legs it seems! In the past I had dropped my bars down by a couple of 10 mm spacers, one at a time, and come to the conclusion that if I went any further there wouldn’t be space for my legs to come up while pedalling, due to my torso being in the way. Of course I was looking only at one component in isolation (the bars in this case), while on the Guru however we found that I was better off with both the saddle and bars dropped down a little further together. So I’m now riding with three spacers above my stem and one below – looks like the steerer tube will need a trim sometime soon.
Then after the session Jimmy made the changes we’d agreed on to my bike, while I browsed the shop and drank another coffee. By the time I got home there was an email waiting with a report on my fit. This is a very useful piece of information as it lays out exactly the fit dimensions that you settled on but also shows how these are measured. This should allow you to reapply your fit to your bike at a later date or even apply your fit to a new bike. And of course should you get a new bike from Gorilla Firm then they’ll have your fit on record and be able to setup your bike perfectly straight off. Overall I would say that this is the ultimate fit system but although it’s software controlled and very data driven, it still needs to be used in the right way to produce good results. With the wrong person at the controls you could still end up in the wrong position; fortunately at Gorilla Firm this is not the case and if you have the money to spare then this is a good way to spend it.