A Visit to Specialized HQ
Life is tough. Just as October was wrapping up and the rains were coming to the Pacific Northwest in earnest – I was shipped off to sunny, warm Northern California for a week of riding and training. Sometimes you gotta take one for the team.
Sarcasm aside – I’ve just returned from Morgan Hill, California; the home of Specialized Bicycle Components. Specialized hosts regular training sessions for their dealers on a variety of topics. The classes I attended covered their proprietary products and technologies and then a 3-day course on their exclusive Body Geometry (BG) bike fitting process. I’ve been in the industry for almost a decade and been fitting bikes for seven years – but with all the training I’ve had and all the things I’ve seen; I was thoroughly impressed with my first trip to Specialized.
Their facility outside San Jose is top notch and houses design and engineering, a testing lab, apparel design, sales, administration, and the dealer training school: SBCU. Just to the right of the front entrance is also a museum of various Specialized bicycles and related items with historical significance. Apparently, the displayed items rotate with some frequency; but on display while I was there was Tom Boonen’s custom aluminum bike he won his first Paris-Roubaix on (the bike credited with helping develop the Tarmac SL2), Christophe Sauser’s World Championship winning Epic FSR, a selection of Allez road bikes in nearly every frame material (no, not one of the ti-lugged carbon ones, unfortunately…), one of the original Stumpjumpers and a selection of Globe concept bikes among others. Easy to kill time there just reminiscing.
Their training program is also cutting edge – especially the BG fitting courses. Having been a career bike fitter for quite a while now (and before it became the buzz-word it is now); I’ve been trained on several systems, seen several philosophies pass by the wayside, and used or examined a lot of different fitting tools and gimics. I’ll tell you for certain – BG fit is the real deal. With the advice of Dr’s. Andy Pruitt and Roger Minkow, access to top-tier professional cyclists, and Silicon Valley engineers and designers at their disposal they already have a lot going for them. Add Specialized’s tenacious testing and desire for precision and class-leading products and services and it would be hard to go wrong. BG fit encompasses so many aspects of the rider’s physiology, history, and riding experience that with the analytical procedures used within the BG process, the end result is sure to improve the rider’s comfort and efficiency on the bike.
I also got a peek at the new Body Geometry “DATA” Video Capture system (which we’ll be receiving here at Sunset Cycles sometime around the end of the year – stay tuned for the announcement). The difficult, limiting set-up and variability of many of the other video analysis tools I’ve seen almost introduce the same amount of subjectivity as they’re supposed to remove. BG’s DATA system lets the fitter capture a video image of your starting position and then compare it at any point along the process to check the progress and show the rider the differences. The fitter no longer has to rely on their memory of the original position or on measurements of singular body segments and joints to analyze their changes – they can analyze the entire rider at once and in motion. The rider no longer has to take the fitter’s word for it that they’ve made improvements – they can see the changes real time and compare them against their original position. Additionally, the simple and easy to use interface empowers the fitter rather than requiring them to be an advanced computer user (or to think about complex processes) and to just concentrate on their primary task of improving the rider’s experience. You could describe it as dumbed-down “Dartfish” software and be relatively accurate. But, Dartfish has so many features that are not cycling-specific; why complicate the issue? DATA’s cycling specific approach delivers a simplicity which will result in a better end product for cycling’s unique purposes.
In the end, the trip was great – and I can’t wait to go back! Which I will in February for more fitting courses. I’ll let you know about those when I return. (And maybe this time I’ll take my camera…)
Enjoy the ride!