Proper bike fit means you have a position on the bike that lets you ride as long as you want, as hard as you want, and stay comfortable the entire time. A good fit can also help prevent overuse injuries that result from an improper position. The correct position will vary from person to person, depending on factors like age, style of riding, and physical attributes like flexibility. Below are some tips on how to stay comfortable on and off your bike.
Check out our webinar with Evan Thomas from Dockside Physio “From All Angles: Tips for Cycling Efficiently and Comfortably.“
The first step to ensuring a comfortable ride is making sure your bike is the right size for your body. Refer to our Buying a Bicycle Tab which has the sizing chart for proper size of bike compared to the height of a person.
Saddle (seat) height While the immediate effect is the negative impact on pedaling efficiency, riding with the wrong saddle height over a prolonged period can lead to injuries. Knee pain in the front of the knee could be an indicator that your seat height is too low, while pain in the back of the knee could indicate that the seat is too high.
There are a few methods to determine how to adjust your seat. Heel on the pedal, and an inseam height measurement, aka the Lemond Method.
Adjusting reach to handlebars. Your elbows should be slightly bent, not locked. And the lean of your torso should be supported by your core in a comfortable position. You shouldn’t have to slide forward or back on the seat.
Depending on your personal desire for your bike ride, you may want a shorter or longer reach to your handlebars. Traditionally, a sport cyclist will go for a longer reach, while a commuter or recreational cyclist will want a shorter reach for a more relaxed position. Bikefit.com is an excellent resource for more advanced bike fitting tips. Here is a blog post on adjusting the reach to your handlebars.
Bike fitting for Commuters:
Though there is no specific literature or fitting recommendations for commuter bikes, Evan Thomas of Dockside Physio has made a list of notes to watch out for to improve the comfort and performance even on a commuter cycle.
- On a commuter bike, one rides more upright, and therefore, most of the rider’s weight is on their sit bones. According to Evan, this is actually where you want the pressure, even if it feels uncomfortable at first
- Knee angles should still be in the 30-40° range, as it’s more mechanically efficient to be in this range for pedal pushing
- Elbow angles should be in the 10-15° bend range. A slight bend will allow you to absorb bumps in the road. Riding with locked elbows causes more vibration up the arms through the neck and shoulders
- Handlebars will be flat (like a mountain bike) so your hands will be placed wider. If you are experiencing shoulder or neck pain/tension, try moving the handlebar grips inwards (towards the centre of the bike) to position your hands under your shoulders.
Below is the “Quick Fix Chart” provided by Evan Thomas of Dockside Physio. Sometimes, all you need to do to improve your cycling performance and comfort on your bike is a small adjustment!
Stretches and Exercises:
It is essential to listen to your body when it comes to stretching; if something doesn’t feel good, stop what you’re doing. The following resources are great guidelines to help you identify what needs to be stretched after cycling, but they are not hard and fast rules what-so-ever!
Evan Thomas demonstrated some great exercises for cyclists at all skill levels. Below are copies of his slides with helpful hints to get you ready to get back on your bike!
Find What Feels Good yoga is a free online space to stretch. Check out Yoga for Cyclists for a great 20 minute session!