When Specialized acquired Retül in 2012 it marked a significant evolution in the brand’s commitment to rider ergonomics. Retül fitting stations are now available in 1,000 locations worldwide with nearly 500 of those added in just the last year. To keep the momentum going Specialized and Retül recently rolled out another high-tech solution called Match. And it’s free.
According to Retül co-founder Todd Carver, Match is not a fitting tool like their comprehensive Vantage Motion Capture system. Match is an advanced measurement platform designed to quickly and consistently collect basic sizing metrics. In as little as fifteen minutes Match gathers rider data and offers precise recommendations for frame size, seat height, saddle width, and shoe size. The suggestions generated are not just offered in raw numbers, but with specific products in the Specialized catalog.
For the brick and mortar retailer, Match is another service they can leverage to win dollars away from online sellers. The Match system instantly validates the bike shop experience with a level of individualized attention no website can offer. It’s easy for any shop employee to use and isn’t overwhelming to the customer. The process doesn’t need a bike and only requires the customer to remove their shoes and follow a few simple instructions.
Another important element of the system was outlined by Scott Stroop, the business and marketing manager for Specialized Body Geometry and Retül. “The Match system creates a uniform experience from dealer to dealer and helps introduce new riders to the importance of bike and accessory fit.” It’s that extra step successful shops are looking for to get an edge over their competition, whether it’s on the internet or down the street.
Each Match kiosk is built around a large touch-screen interface mounted above Retül’s optical sensor bar. After answering a few basic questions about rider gender, riding style, and general positioning on the bike, the system prompts the user to begin taking measurements with the wireless Zin Wand. Placed on the rider’s ankles, knees, and hips, the location of the Zin Wand is recorded by the optical readers on the kiosk. Those measurements accurately record leg length to establish frame size and seat height.
A pressure sensitive pad mounted on a stool measures sit bone width to help with saddle selection. It’s a non-awkward means of gathering a rather intimate measurement. Foot shape is evaluated in 3D on a dedicated pad and includes analysis of the rider’s arches to assess the need for supportive insoles. All of the measurements quickly pinpoint any asymmetry which might cause issues down the road. In that regard it’s not just new riders who benefit from a run-through of the measurements.
With the rider’s metrics and preferences recorded, the shop employee can then drill down to suggested products best suited to meet the customer’s needs. That information is saved on Retül’s Rider Portal database for future reference to help continually guide the customer through the buying process.
The advantages of the Match system don’t stop at the store level. Since its inception in 2007, Retül has gathered fit data from more than 20,000 individuals ranging from first-time riders to top level pros. Specialized hopes to integrate the Match program into 50% of their dealers with the goal of sampling 1 million riders by 2020. For a manufacturer like Specialized, data is king. As their database grows the easier it will be for their product developers to refine the fit of their bikes and shoes.
As bike shops struggle to maintain a foothold in an ever shifting marketplace, programs like Retül Match will certainly help tip the balance in their favor.