A Brief History of BikeFit
Bike Fit Systems’ (BikeFit) origins date back to 1995 in Los Angeles, California when the first product, the Cleat Wedge® (originally known as “Big Meats”), was co-developed by Paul Swift, the founder of BikeFit.
In the 1980s, while Paul was living at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, the primary bike fitting adjustments were saddle height, stem height, foot-cleat fore/aft and cleat rotation positioning. The latter was a break-through by a company named Fit Kit. However, knee tracking was not considered, other than coaches telling the athletes to bring their knees in while pedaling. Paul watched some of America’s best talent leave cycling due to knee injuries. He recognized that fitting needed significant improvements but because his primary focus was racing at the world-level, he couldn’t invest the time necessary to fitting.
While Fit Kit introduced some important basic concepts to bike fitting, the system lacked several key foot/pedal interface adjustments. Around this time, Serotta entered bike fitting; however, being a bicycle frame manufacturer, their primary focus was discovering the perfect frame size for their customers. Neither Serotta nor Fit Kit’s products addressed the cyclist’s discomforts and/or suboptimal positions. For the most part, discomfort was commonly accepted as normal and something you “had to get used to.”
As Paul began winding down his athletic career, he started to focus on developing the first commercially available bike fit system that addressed the connection/contact points in greater detail—the goal: eliminate of pain and discomfort. Up to that point, no one considered the front view which led to a break-through in side-to-side cleat adjustment and observing knee patterns while pedaling. The Cleat Wedge not only addressed forefoot tilt, but it could also be stacked to address leg length discrepancies. The pelvis and hands (additional key contact points) were finally being considered. BikeFit helped people realize that a better ride was possible through our many products and knowledge.
In 1996, BikeFit introduced the ITS Wedges® (in the shoe), although at the time it was called “Sole Power.” Unfortunately, the cycling world was not ready for this wedge due to the “old world” recommendation that you bought your shoes small and stretched them to fit your foot. Simply put, there was not enough room inside the shoe to make the ITS Wedge viable at this point in time.
Paul (and the bike fitting products) left LeMond Fitness in late 2006 and set up shop as Bike Fit Systems LLC (DBA BikeFit LLC). From its inception, BikeFit focused on developing new bike fitting products and teaching a philosophy and approach to bicycle fitting. By focusing on education, BikeFit trained hundreds of fitters in bike shops, private businesses, and clinics. Through this process, BikeFit products were placed on the feet of thousands of cyclists and in return, we received invaluable feedback to develop new products.
In 2016, Paul partnered with a majority stakeholder for the products and he transitioned the educational training component into another company called CyclePoint (www.CyclePT.com). Clinicians and bike shops access education via traditional print mediums, a streaming online course, and intensive hands-on seminars.
BikeFit’s products are used by cyclists and triathletes in every major cycling and triathlon event around the world, from the Spring Classics to the three Grand Tours, from long distance triathlon to Ironman World Championships. The products have been used in countless national championships, world championships, and by an Olympic Gold medalist.
Based in Kirkland, Washington, BikeFit has a global reach with European and Asian distribution centers. The most influential and recognized bike fitters, as well as in the medical community throughout the world uses BikeFit Products. BikeFit’s current goals are continuing to grow its unique relationships in the bicycle business and the medical community by distributing tools and products that solve problems and allow cyclists to reach their full potential.