Having a bike that doesn't quite fit may compromise enjoyment every time you ride it. That's why John Weirath opened The Bicycle Studio, located in the Redlands, where he personally fits, designs and builds custom bikes for locals who want an edge.
Weirath, who began fitting bikes 11 years ago, said his interest in proper body placement came about naturally as part of his physical therapy career. He also works with Olsson Physical Therapy in Grand Junction.
"Everything's very specific," Weirath said of his fitting methods. "It's tuned to the rider. Everything's been tailored to them."
According to Weirath, designing a custom road or mountain bike starts with the geometry of the frame. He takes a variety of biker-specific measurements with a movement screening, a pedal evaluation, Retul Fit technology (software that breaks down specific body movements) and an interview.
Then, he sends his data to Seven Cycles, a custom-bike manufacturer in Watertown, Mass. Once bike measurements are translated into drawings, Seven Cycles sends it back to Weirath for a final OK before its manufactured. The bike is finally delivered in pieces to The Bicycle Studio, where Weirath builds and fits it personally.
The whole process can take up to 11 weeks, and it costs between $3,500 to $17,000 (depending on client specifications). Weirath does free follow-up fittings for one year after the building process.
"If it's not fit right, you're not going to ride it as much or with as much enjoyment," he said, noting that improper fits can also cause injury and pain.
Weirath additionally does fittings for pre-existing bikes, making tweaks to its set-up to promote proper body placement. A personalized bike fit is done by appointment, takes up to two hours, and costs $250.
Bicycle Studio clients are reasonably serious about the sport, Weirath added, and most of them fall into the 40-60 age range.
"They're people who ride a lot," he said. "Only 10 percent of my clients are racers, however."
When Weirath relocated to Grand Junction in 1997, his own athletic interests - specifically his heavy involvement in triathlons - pushed him to learn more about proper bike fit and its implications in competition. He began researching "what was out there in terms of bike fitting" and there wasn't much, he said. So, he started doing it himself - at first helping people out for free, then as an official side business starting in 2002. He's been working out of his current location on Power Road for two years.
"Having a P/T background allows me to use (specific) technology," Weirath said, also noting that only a handful of physical therapists in the U.S. are fitting and building bikes as he does in his GJ studio. "It started off as a hobby or a passion. I found a way to combine those things into a job."
Weirath additionally offers training and coaching services for runners, cyclists and triathletes.