From Bike It to Bike Fit

There’s only one ‘f’ difference, but while Bike Fit is a money spinner for bicycle retailers, Bike It is community payback for Corridorri Cycle Sport of Surrey, reports Carlton Reid...
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Corridorri Cycle port isn’t a full Specialized Concept Store but, if you pardon the pun, it specialises in the brand. It was also the first IBD in the UK to become a Specialized ‘Body Geometry Bike Fit centre’.

Owner Guy Rowland knows a thing or two about going faster on bikes with dialled in fit: He’s been a national champion on the track and in 1986 was a medallist at the Commonwealth Games staged in Edinburgh. He rode in the four-man team pursuit –which also included 1992 Olympic Pursuit Champion Chris Boardman.

Along with Paul Smith, formerly of Pearson Cycles in Sutton, and GB Cycles of Croydon (at which he managed the CTC mail order shop), Rowland trained as a Body Geometry Bike Fitter. He’s owned the shop for 17 years, which two years ago expanded into its current premises, five times bigger than the old. Space was set aside for bike fitting.

“We wanted to offer a little bit more than putting a customer’s heel on a pedal and saying ‘yeah, that’s about right’,” says Rowland. “I’ve had a few bike fits in my time and I like the Body Geometry one best. Others wanted to change my existing position, but without giving me sensible reasons for doing so.

“We’ve now done a couple of hundred bike fits. Unless a rider has a severe issue – such as different limb lengths – we don’t find we’re radically changing riders’ positions. It’s fine tuning, but fine tuning that can make a huge difference in comfort and power.”

Rowland and Smith restrict the bike fits to one a day and charge £120 per fitting.
“We could do more fits each day but it’s very time intensive. In the beginning we did a lot more fits per day because we were the first accredited shop. People were travelling from all over the UK.”

The shop’s biggest sell-on after a bike fit is orthopaedics. “We sell a lot of shoe inserts,” says Rowlands. He doesn’t feel the need to recommend many oversize or undersize accessories.

“A brand like Specialized is getting component and frame sizes right. We’re not in the business of bike fit to sell new stems. Most bikes have enough adjustability.

“A bike fit, for us, is a chance to win over customers, it’s not a one-time thing. It’s a good chance to set up a personal service. If we do the job right, and don’t just flog one stem for the sake of it, we’ve got a great chance of retaining them.

“We get a lot of referral work from customers who’ve had a bike fit from us, referrals for the shop not just the bike fitting. Some customers travel past many other shops to get to us. Bike fitting leads to wonderful word-of-mouth referrals.”

Most of Corridorri’s bike fit customers are roadies, mainly older, sportive-type riders, with larger-than-average expendable incomes, and with a taste for £1,500 road bikes. A lot unlike the average Bike It customer. Bike It is the trade seed-funded scheme to get more school children riding bikes. The Bike It officer for Epsom is Gayle Rowson. She approached Rowlands and Corridorri is now one of Rowson’s most enthusiastic bike shops. Not because Bike It is a money spinner, but because it’s altruistic –and it’s creating customers of the future.

“We run Dr Bike sessions in local schools,” explains Rowlands. “We check over the bikes. We don’t work on them. We leave a note if a particular bike isn’t up to scratch mechanically, listing what needs doing. We’ll do a discounted repair for Bike It children but, of course, every school is different and there can be a huge variation in parental incomes. We tell teachers which are the ones that shouldn’t be ridden. Some are unfixable because they were bought for fifty quid from a corner motor accessories shop.

“We don’t make money from Bike It but I feel it’s essential to stay involved at the grass roots. When we started the shop we didn’t have much money, and worked a lot more back then on bikes we’d not think are worth repairing today. We lost a bit of that and it’s good to go back to see what the real world is like, not just the world of the enthusiast. It also brings back a lot of the community feel. Kids used to come into us and we looked after them. I run a bike shop to make a living but it’s my hobby, I enjoy doing it, I like seeing people on bikes.

“If a kid came in and had no money but was really motivated about cycling, I’d do whatever I could do to help. Not everything has to be for profit. Bike It is doing brilliant work.”

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