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Sean Madsen launches bike fit education company

Published May 2, 2016
Bike Fitting Solutions offers to train retailers on bike fit at their stores or in Santa Cruz.

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (BRAIN) — Sean Madsen, who has performed thousands of bike fits on world-class athletes using the most cutting-edge equipment available, has formed a new company with the aim of teaching bike shop employees how to do fits on everyday riders, using whatever equipment is available.

Madsen most recently ran Specialized's Body Geometry fit program, including its retailer education programs through Specialized Bicycle Components University. During his five years at Specialized, he was also involved in the development of Specialized BG products. Prior to that, Madsen worked for the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine in Colorado, where he did bike fits and also consulted with Specialized. He has done fits for an estimated 12,000 riders, including four Tour de France winners.

But Madsen, who left Specialized in February, said professional bike fits are too often seen as a service for elite racers only, when sometimes less experienced and less committed riders might benefit as much or more. And offering fits to those riders opens up a much larger market for retailers.

"Right now fits are being offered to 2 percent of riders. I want to engage the other 98 percent and help shops engage them," he told BRAIN this week. "Even if 15 percent of riders got fits, bike shops would be doing very well."

To that end, Madsen is offering two-day classes for shop employees where he teaches them how to do fits on everyone from entry-level riders to pros. Madsen's system is not tied to any specific fitting equipment or bike line — a boon to retailers who don't happen to carry one of the big brands that offer bike fitting programs and equipment.

Although he can work with retailers on how to make use of any fancy fitting equipment they might already have, Madsen said with his system most fits can be done with the customer's own bike mounted to a stationary trainer.

Besides the biomechanics of fitting, the classes also cover business aspects, such as how to use fitting services to help build community around a store, and how to tailor services and prices for the local market.

For example, Madsen said one key for retailers is to develop a system that includes a free bike sizing during a bike sale but charges for more detailed bike fitting services.

"Some shops will give too much away," Madsen said. "You do need to look at what you need to do to sell a bike and then draw some firm lines about what you charge for."

In most markets, Madsen advises retailers to offer a basic 45-minute to hourlong fit for about $100, with a more thorough fit available for perhaps $250 for a 2½-hour session.

"One of the things I've seen in recent years is a trend toward shops buying equipment that costs $10,000 or $20,000, and then they feel like they have to charge $350 for a fit to make it worthwhile. I think that's going in the wrong direction," Madsen said.

"The goal is to have a simple system with proven methodology that works for every rider. And then it's expandable up to a super-detailed service if you want it."

Madsen is teaching small classes — usually a maximum of three students — at a facility in Santa Cruz. He's also available to travel to shops to teach. Cost is generally $1,500 per student for the two-day class.

"The travel costs and the time away from the store is often a big barrier I've seen over the last few years, so I am offering to come to them and do the class in their store," Madsen said.

More information: bikefittingsolutions.com.

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