While Selle Italia’s idmatch system is usually associated with the numerical scale assigned to their wide portfolio of bike saddles, it actually extends to more than just saddles. The idmatch ecosystem uses a scientific approach for saddle sizing, cleat positioning, and complete bike adjustment for a personalized and anatomically correct fit. The comprehensive technology is a collaboration between Ergoview Laboratories and Selle Italia and includes one of the world’s first bike fit systems, the idmatch Bike Lab. Debuted at the end of 2016, the bike fit system is available at over 165 centers around the world. Due to supply chain issues and border closure due to the pandemic, there are only two locations available in the United States (i.e. currently in Oklahoma and Texas). We were fortunate enough to experience the automated fit system in person at the Sea Otter Classic 2022.
|Likes||+ Precise Fit based on body scan|
+ Streamlined process takes little under an hour
+ Thick construction feels durable and ergonomic
|Dislikes||– Almost double the cost of a traditional fit|
– idmatch accessories are currently limited to saddles on their website
Democratizing the Bike Fit
Whether you’ve just bought your first bike or have been riding for decades, having a bike fit is essential to optimizing performance and preventing cycling injuries. While basic measurements such as height and inseam can get you in the ballpark of the correct bike size, a bike fit ensures you are properly positioned. If you’ve been through a professional bike fit the traditional way where the fitter uses a goniometer and a plumb line to adjust your saddle and handlebar positions while you’re squirming on the saddle to make sure your sit bones are correctly situated, prepared to be wowed by the computerized fit by Selle Italia’s idmatch system!
Unlike a traditional fit that heavily depends on the fitter’s experience and knowledge of biomechanics, the idmatch system eliminates user error and automates the process. The idmatch system uses 3 key measurements (body, bike, and feet) to ensure a perfect bike fit. For the fitting, you’ll need to bring your bike shoes with cleats and your bike if desired. It’s best to wear form fitting clothes (aka bike clothes) as it helps scan your body with accuracy. Since we were at Sea Otter for the expo and didn’t want to walk around in spandex all day, we chose to wear street clothes instead. The full fitting takes about an hour from start to finish. You can even leave your bike at home as the idmatch system provides a full set of measurements that can be transferred to your bike at a later time.
One of the critical components of a bike fit is your cleat positioning. The idmatch Footmeter has a built-in laser that enables the fitter to take accurate measurement of the length of each foot. The rider then stands on the idmatch Forefoot Tilt Meter to check the arch of each foot (pronation/supination) when under load. Cleat position is then adjusted by placing your shoe with the cleat onto the idmatch Cleat Fit tool and using the laser and goniometer to mark the exact position of the pedal axis under the sole until it aligns perfectly to the cleat. So placement wise, the cleats are positioned away from the heel on the longitudinal axis and if your cleats need rotational adjustment, those can be done as well based on the computer recommended value.
The measurements vary between left and right in some people so the idmatch cleat fit system gets you the precise fit for each foot. Positions are relative to your feet instead of the shoes which means the positions can easily be transferred between different brands of cycling shoes. In our case, our cleats were off by about 4mm. Although that doesn’t sound like much, the slight adjustment eliminated shin pain on our climbs thanks to the more optimal positioning.
The idmatch Analysis System begins with asking a few questions about the rider like the type of bike (i.e. road, gravel or mountain), areas and duration of discomfort (neck, shoulder, back…), average number of miles ridden per week, body weight, and personal info. It then takes a 3D scan of the rider without markers to map key angles and distances between the joints. With feet (sans shoes) placed on the numbered spaces on the mat, the computer takes 3 images (2 front and 1 side) of your body to map your body and the joint angles. The measurements include the angle at which the pelvis rotates which is not typically measured with the traditional manual bike fit.
With the help of receivers on key reference points on the saddle and handlebar of your bike, the Set-Up system is able to capture critical saddle-to-handlebar distance, saddle height, and saddle setback of your existing bike (all measurements are in relation to the bottom bracket).
Designed to look like an Italian Sports car, the idmatch Smart Bike is a fully adjustable bike simulator that has an adjustable crank and quick release system to swap out handlebars and saddles. The fitter then installs the saddle and handlebar recommended by the analysis system as well as installs the correct pedal to go with your cleats. Starting with the current/existing handlebar, saddle position on your bike, the computer dynamically adjusts the handlebar and saddle positions on the Smart Bike a few times while the user is riding. Optimal position is output based on the effects of the various ride positions.
After the assessment is complete, the system recommends frames, saddles, and handlebars from Selle Italia and other brands with a detailed report sent via email for future reference.
For all intents and purposes, the idmatch bike fit could be done with or without your personal bike. If you were to do it without your bike, the Smart Bike uses statistical data from over 37,000 cyclists of similar build to get started and then dynamically adjusts the position based on your performance on the Smart Bike until it finds the optimal position for your body. You would then be able to use this data to make adjustments to your personal bike.
INTERPRETING THE REPORT
Understanding the report is fairly straightforward and gives you the ability to apply the results to other or future bikes. The idmatch system uses the BRP and HB reference points as the basis of the calculations.
BRP: The Biomechanical Reference Point corresponds to the orthogonal line to the saddle’s sagittal axis where the saddle is 70 mm wide. This reference point is common to all saddles on the market (Source: idmatch.cc).
HB: Handle Bar point is the point of intersection between the bike’s handlebars and stem.
1: Final coordinates for your Saddle and Handlebar.
2: Starting position for the Smart Bike calculated from statistical data and your body measurements.
3: Final value in mm calculated from #1 which is used to setup your bike.
In our case, the computer recommended the saddle to be raised up 1mm and the handlebar up by 8mm. While the fit system assumes the rider rests their hands on the drops, you would place your hand on the handlebar if you’re someone who rides mostly on the raised hoods as the idmatch Smart Bike currently does not have hoods to simulate this ride position. In this case, you should take into account the height difference between the hood and the flat section of the handlebar and discount that value from the recommended Z value and raise or lower your handlebar accordingly. You can use the handy converter at idmatch.cc to see how the X and Z coordinates translate to actual measurements to adjust your bike.
In addition to the bike adjustments, the computer also recommends the size of saddle (S1- S3, L1-L3) handlebar (XS-XL for Road, and XS-XXL for MTB), and crank (in mm) that works best for your body geometry. The computer can also recommend if you need a compact (drop < 130mm) or round (drop > 130mm) handlebar based on your trunk and arm length.
While Selle Italia only sells saddles at this time, it’s easy to find the right saddle based on the idmatch letter size on Selle Italia website by filtering by “idmatch size” for example, we chose Road Endurance category and filtered by L3 and found various saddles matching that description. However, this becomes difficult with handlebars as they are not currently offered by Selle Italia. So, it would be helpful if the idmatch website were to have saddle and handlebar recommendations based on the idmatch size similar to what is available on the idmatch Analysis System.
Overall, we were impressed with the Selle Italia idmatch system and the bike fit process. The computerized system and fully adjustable Smart Bike system streamline the bike fit process. Rather than being limited to the dimensions of your existing bike or components, the Smart Bike allows for the optimal bike fit to be computed and then transferred to your bike. The automated process also democratizes the process as it doesn’t rely on a bike fitter’s experience or knowledge thereby ensuring more consistent results. As someone who experienced shin pain on climbs, we’re happy to report that the first ride after the cleat fit, we were able to shave off at least 2 minutes on a climb with zero pain. Hopefully in the not-so-distant future, more shops across the United States will carry this system so that more people can experience it. While the $300 fee seems steep, if you can afford it and find yourself close to an idmatch fit lab, we highly recommend it.
Disclaimer: The views expressed on this website are solely those of the authors and are here to help people make an informed choice before a purchase. The authors or the blog itself does not get any monetary compensation from the product manufacturer or third-party websites/vendor links that are posted here.