Amid all the craziness that is my job less than a month(!) away from the big show, a post on the Wired Gadget Lab blog caught my eye. As an iPhone junkie and, obviously, bike nut, I’m always on the lookout for bike-related iPhone apps, or programs. There are a bunch already that map your rides and keep stats about them using the built in GPS and various training diaries and gear calculators, but this one that Wired mentioned is pretty unique and thought provoking. It’s called “Testrides” and it’s a “virtual bike bike fitting room.”
It’s been great to see the evolution and widespread adoption of more scientific fitting among bicycle retailers over the last 10 years from the old standby of standing over the top tube and seeing how much clearance there is. Testrides, developed by a company called Wildlab in Japan, uses the phone’s built-in camera to snap a profile photo of the cyclist’s body. With the photo on the screen, the user taps on the touch-screen to specify their body’s joint positions. The cyclist then can input the geometry specs of a particular bike from either a catalog or the manufacturer’s website to “model” it. The app puts the two together so that you can examine a “virtual fitting” to decide whether a particular bike, geometry or size works for you.
I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet (in the iPhone’s world of mostly free or $0.99 apps, $4.99 seems like a fortune), but the screen captures here give an instant idea of how it works. The developer mentions a few limitations of the program that maybe they can work out in future updates if they get a good response. One is that the app does not account for drop handlebars or bar height variations. They clearly state that the app is designed for the casual cyclist, “so please do not use this app for competition or advanced sport purpose,” as the website says. I think this could catch on and see some pretty cool evolutions of the app.
In thinking about the impact that a program like this could have, I wonder why there hasn’t been something like this available already for cyclists to fit themselves. I mean there’s nothing about this app that screams that it needs to be mobile, so why now and why on the iPhone? I don’t envision people whipping their phones out while in a shop to check out the fit of a bike that’s right in front of them. I just think that it’s because of the nature of the iPhone and its bundle of features. It’s got a camera, a touch screen and the processing power all in one. It just happens to fit in your pocket.
So what does this app mean to cyclists? What are the implications for manufacturers and shops? Is this a tool that will help cyclists to appreciate proper fit since they can play around with it on their own time? Will shops be able to whip out their iPhones and snap a picture of a customer and do a quick and dirty fit on them? Maybe manufacturers could offer their geometry specs in a downloadable format compatible with Testrides that shops could have pre-loaded with the models they sell. Maybe Testrides could then suggest a range of bikes that would fit customers well. How about different profiles set up with different fit philosophies? Just think about the fun that the triathlon segment could have all of their new thoughts on fit and different aerobar designs? I bet Dan Empfield over at Slowtwitch could have some fun with this… Come to think of it, I could have some fun with this. Where’s that iTunes giftcard I got for my birthday…
The app just launched about a week ago and there are no reviews of it yet in iTunes. Anyone else out there try it yet?
In related news, Serotta will be launching their next generation of Size-Cycle bike fitting tools at Interbike this year. Check out the schedule on our site for info and times.