Scenic cityscape of downtown Toronto Ontario Canada during a sunny day
The new LaFerrari supercar is a marvel of engineering and technical complexity; except for one thing: its seats.
In fact, this car does not even have seats — at least not in the traditional sense. Seating shells are integrated into the carbon fibre safety cell and the padding is moulded to the owner’s shape like a Formula 1 car. Both pedals and steering wheel get adjusted to achieve proper reach for legs and arms.
Given the amount of media coverage that this particular seat topic received, the idea was nothing short of spectacular. But I wonder how serious Ferrari really is when it comes to the actual fitting process. How much time will each of the 499 owners spend in Maranello, Italy, refining their seating position to get a perfect fit?
After all, for more than $1 million, I would want my car to fit like a glove. No different than a good pair of alpine ski boots, a well tailored suit or finely balanced golf clubs.
Or a bespoke bicycle for that matter: each rider spends three hours and more with a fitting expert at Vitess for instance to refine bicycle setup based on body physiological needs and riding style. Although there are only six contact points between the bike and the rider (hands, feet, sit bones), there are infinite ways to position one pair in relation to the others. But there is only one way that will make you feel great on the saddle, while helping generate the most power to the pedals.
The concept of fitting is probably not something that you put much thought into when spending most of your time on Hwy. 401. But when it is time to take your car to the track, it’s absolutely essential, because seating position greatly impacts fatigue level, safety and of course lap time.
This is no different than a proper bicycle fitting. While cruising around the block, a slightly awkward position on the bike would not be a big deal. But when going for an actual ride, whether it is a 20 km social between friends or a 160 km century, a proper body position will be instrumental in preventing injury while creating comfort and maximizing performance: the hallmarks of a great ride.
The analogy between proper car seating position and body position on the bike is interesting. Not only because both are needed to have a great ride, but also because the setup is quite similar.
It is about adjusting the contacts points with our lower body — proper seating support and effective leg extension, and then setting up the guiding elements of our upper body: steering wheel or handlebar — to achieve proper arm reach.
For both cycles and cars, the general rule is that one has to be done before the other. Just because moving the seat backward and saddle upward to create a proper leg extension directly impacts the arm reach — so then an adjustment needs to done to set the shoulders, arms and hands.
But the case of the LaFerrari is quite unique (for a road car): the two adjustments can be made independently from each other — just because the seat does not actually move.
In the end, if your LaFerrari or high-end bike is kept in a bank vault, this whole discussion is quite irrelevant. But if you want to test its limits (and yours at the same time…) — which the machines are designed for, make sure that enough time is spent fitting it to you and your needs.
- Whether on a 20-kilometre ride with friends or a 160-kilometre timed ride, proper body position maximizes performance and minimizes injury.