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Bike Fitting Tips

These tips in this article are not designed to be for the advance bike set up.

The majority of people who buy a bike from a shop do not receive even the most basic of bike fit to ensure that they will be comfortable and then enjoy the bike more.

It makes terrible business sense and in the time working in retail that taking the time to do even the most basic set up.

I noticed that customers would return to buy something new, whether it was a computer to gauge the distance and speed to a set of lights if they were riding in the morning or evening.  

The two main areas I concentrated on were the seat height and the position of the saddle on the bike.

What to Wear: 

To do the basic set up please wear shorts so that you can see the angle of your knee. Wear the shoes that you will be riding in as different shoes have variable thickness in the soles.

Where to do it:

To do your own saddle height can be simply done by leaning up against a wall while seated on your bike if you do not have a Wind Trainer 


First we want to make sure that your seat is level.  If the seat has too much upward tilt can result in pressure points.

Too much downward tilt can make you slide forward while riding and put extra pressure on your arms, hands and knees, which can lead to unnecessary discomfort whilst riding and possibly deterring you from getting back on the bike. Make sure you are sitting straight and not leaning over to far.

If you are, then move your bike closer to the wall so that you are sitting relatively straight.  

You need to ensure that your saddle is level. Too much upward tilt can result in pressure points. Too much downward tilt can make you slide forward while riding and put extra pressure on your arms, causing great discomfort.

To adjust the seat height, wear your biking shoes and riding shorts and place your heels on the pedals.  As you pedal backwards, your knees should fully extend in the down position.

If your hips rock side to side the seat is too high. Now when you move your foot into the proper pedaling position, with the balls of your feet over the pedal, you'll have a slight bend in your knees.  

You can also adjust the seat forward and backward (fore and aft position).  With your feet on the pedals so the crank arms are parallel with the ground, the proper position will put your forward knee directly over the pedal axle.

Dropping a plumb line from the patellar tendon (boney part of your knee cap) makes this adjustment a bit easier to see.

Handlebar Adjustment:

If the handlebars are too high, too low, too close, or too far away, you may have neck, shoulder, back, and hand pain.

Ensuring that your reach is set up comfortably allows you to use all the positions on the handlebars.  There are other, more advanced adjustments you can make, such as changing the handlebar width.

Here are some common complaints and possible solutions:

The saddle being either too low or too high can cause knee pain.  Another area of concern can be if the saddle is too far back causing you to push on the pedals instead of pedaling.

Back of the knee pain is due to the saddle being too high, lower by 5mm at a time until you finally reach the correct height.  

If the knee pain is occurring in the front of the knee that usually indicates that the saddle is set too low adjust up 5mm until you reach the desired height.

Neck pain is another common cycling complaint, and is usually the result of riding a bike that is too long or having handlebars that are too low.

Tight hamstring and hip flexor muscles can also cause neck pain by forcing your spine to round or arch, and your neck to hyperextend.  

Foot pain or numbness is often the result of wearing soft-soled shoes. Special shoes designed for cycling have stiff soles that distribute pressure evenly over the pedal.

This also helps you pedal more efficiently. Using too high a gear, which results in more pressure where the foot meets the pedal, can also cause foot pain.

Wearing padded cycling gloves that provide cushioning can prevent hand pain or numbness. You should ride with your elbows slightly bent, not straight or locked.

Bent elbows will act as shock absorbers and help absorb the bumps in the road. Changing hand positions on the handlebars can also reduce pressure and pain.  

Hopefully these few simple tips can see you enjoy your riding in comfort.    




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