FitWell Bikes (2)

Fitwell Bicycle Company is hoping to change the way we buy bikes. They see a future where there is more than just a handful of sizes to pick from based on your height, where we can truly fit a person to the bike by their unique body type. $500 fitting sessions and $5,000 custom frames are the norm in this area, but Fitwell plans to bring this level of body fit to normally-priced bikes.

Vice President Ryan Cate is responsible for all product, sales and marketing of this small start-up, and his ideas on fitting a person to a bike are a ways ahead of the standard industry. He was approached by a friend in the industry to create a brand that was more fit and sizing specific than gender specific, because gender is not an accurate method of sizing. There are a lot of men that may have proportions more like a standard women, and vice versa.  Ryan noticed that there were a lot of bikes being ridden with large spacer stacks on forks to fit the rider, or other strange modifications in the attempt to make a poor fitting bike work. So they set out to make a change.

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Fitwell designed all the geometry by taking the adult height range, taking 6 different leg length ratios and developed the sizing from that. They also developed plots of other standard brands geometry, and finding out how they were missing or poorly fitting large swaths of the population by typically only targeting the median population with a 47% leg length ratio. Fitwell then spent a good amount of time plotting out the center of mass for each rider type, and keeping that properly placed between the wheels of the bike, and letting all other dimensions drive off of that.

Cate says “We want to offer bikes in the price point of a first good bike, offering the fit of a much more expensive custom bike, to insure the rider is happy and comfortable.”

Full geometry changes throughout the range in the sizing approach, including rear center to keep the center of mass of the rider properly balanced between the wheels.  Opposite of other companies, the wheelbase does not remain fixed, instead they concentrate on the handling geometry of each persona first, and the rest follows, this is what allows the rear centers (chain stay length) to change throughout the size and type range, keeping that rider balance between the wheels. This is extremely different than most stock geometry bikes, that typically all keep the same rear center for a model, and only adjust front center, stack and angles per size, which changes the mass placement over the wheels between sizes.

Fitwell’s intent is to shoot for gender neutrality in sizing, looking at proper fit for the body type over calling something gender specific.

FitWell Bikes (1)

Starting out with a series of personalities to fit the rider, Fitwell will direct you to a calculator on their website that uses a series of measurements, that drive a ratio between your height and leg length. This ratio will help determine whether you are Alex, Drew or Riley.

Alex is a racing fit, with a larger drop from the saddle to the bars, and is for a person who is flexible enough to reach below their ankles, and/or has a large torso length. Drew is a similar fit to Alex, in that its more for racing, and for a flexible person, but for a shorter torso length. Riley is relaxed and for someone who can only reach to their shin when bending over, and/or has a short torso length. There are several variables that work together, since the ability to touch your toes can be from flexibility, torso length, previous injury or other factors.

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Fitwell is starting out with two models. The deGroot is a butted alloy frame, full carbon fork, and available in Drew and Alex fits to start. The deGroot 1 comes with a Shimano Tiagra drivetrain for $1,265, deGroot 2 with Shimano 105 for $1,470 and deGroot 3 with Shimano Ultegra 11 speed for $2,195

FitWell Bikes (5)Fahrlander is butted chromoly frame and fork available in a Riley fit to start.  The Fahrlander 1 is $975 with Shimano Sora and Fahrlander 2 is $1,310 with Shimano 105. The Fahrlander also has disc brakes, which at this price point is not typically seen.

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  1. “fit a person to the bike” -> I really hope it’s the other way around. Don’t want to undergo body modification surgery just to ride a bike.

  2. Seems like a smart business idea. May not be for me, but makes a lot of sense.

    This isn’t ment to be a smartas$ comment, but any type of custom size to fit frame don’t show a ton of spacers UNDER the stem, and then take them and show them off this way. Kind of makes your company lose credibility before it is off the ground. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t need to be slammed but…keep the spacers on the top of the stem if you don’t want to trim the steerer.

  3. @K11, I know what you mean about the spacers. They seem to have a unique sizing system and ethos about wheelbase, rear center, etc. However, I think these are not fully custom frames.

    If that is the case, the head tubes may not be “customizable” aside from increasing with a frame size like most brands. That could lead to the continued use of spacers in many cases depending on the rider and desired fit.

  4. I hope that they succeed in their business. They are correct in noticing too many spacers under people’s stems. I’ve been riding mountain bikes since the 1980’s and it still seems that a lot manufacturers have geometries for thin racer-boy 20-somethings and seem to neglect that TRAIL RIDERS, especially older ones, do not fit these geometries and then have too stack a $hit load of spacers under the stem “trying” to get something that will reasonably fit them.

  5. Ever heard of H1, H2, and H3 frames? Seems like they are doing what Trek started 5 years ago. A name like “Fitwell” seems a little misleading to me. Using some static algorithm to “Fit” a person does not mean a bike fits IMO. A “Fit” should be done dynamically on a trainer w/ a trained professional.

  6. I notice that none of these have the bars (significantly) above the saddle. It’s nice to adapt to different people, but it seems they are only aiming for sporty riders, not your average granny or granddad, or leisure rider, who often wants to sit up straight. I mean, the kind of person that you sometimes see with drop bars upside down, or vertical bar ends. So yay for flexible fit – but we need a wider range still 🙂

  7. I hat the assumption that the body condition stays the same or static. That’s the problem with bike fitting – unless you continue to get fit updates as you gain fitness and flexibility, it’s pointless. I believe riders are best off teaching themselves how to understand fit and adaptation and to manage it on their own constantly.

  8. Smoke and mirrors… Good job marketing!

    This still doesn’t change fitting a bike…

    You wouldn’t sell someone a Tarmac when they should be on a Roubaix or an Emonda when they should be on a Domane.

  9. I guess this is pissing into the wind of most of the bike market today, but threaded headsets and super-adjustable quill stems like the Nitto Technomic allow all the bar-height adjustment anyone will need, without an unsightly stack of spacers.

  10. As a fitter it’s nice to see a new brand focussing on fit as a prime directive instead of “look at our light, stiff and vertically compliant carbon thing”
    But it’s unfortunate that these guys don’t have the geometry to back up their ideas. I’m 6’4″ in a race position (125mm or 5″ of drop to bars) and would ride the Large Drew. Which means there are two frame sizes for people taller than me (~0.5% of the population) and 2 sizes for everyone shorter (all the rest of the population). This does not strike me as a well thought out size range. And that is without considering the super low Alex geometry.

  11. Wow, I’m a domestic road pro, 6′ and have ridden a different bike brand every year since ’08 usually in a 56cm frame with a 130mm or 140mm stem because I like 13cm of drop due to my long arms. For me on a large Alex I may have no spacers under my stem and only a 100 or 110mm -6degree stem which just sounds crazy given that I have a really strange fit compared to 95% of the population. Would be interesting to see how a bike with such a short stem (by my standards) actually rode.

  12. Spacers? Really? Always leave space on steerer tube. Interchangeable stems for different rides. Duh! Century? Comfort. Crit? Slam it.

  13. The industry is going to arrive at a point where it becomes clear that the every other (or in some cases every) centimeter sizing of traditional (non-sloping) frames was the best fit method. The only reason that bicycles are produced in s,m,l sizes is so manufacturers could reduce costs. There was no benefit to the consumer. After cycling for 27 years and working in bike shops it amuses me that the industry abandoned the best fit method and that method of sizing and fit will one day be “new and revolutionary.

    Trek made strides in the right direction with H1, H2 and H3 fit. But unfortunately found it hurt John Burkes profits too much to make that many different models.

  14. I see they list specs for the groupset etc. but do they have specs available for the rest of the bike? Weight, other components, etc.

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