Riding a bicycle is one of the most enjoyable hobbies available. When you have your bike fit to your body it becomes even more enjoyable. Don’t let little nagging annoyances take away from your great ride.

Be more comfortable and have more fun when you follow these bike fit tips!

John Brown, HaveFunBiking

Riding a bicycle is one of the most enjoyable hobbies available. When you have your bike fit to your body it becomes even more enjoyable. Don’t let little nagging annoyances take away from your great ride. Read on to learn the causes and fixes to cycling’s most basic discomforts.

Before you ride, visit your local bicycle shop for a bike fit

A proper bike fit can alleviate most common discomforts. To set up your bicycle, I encourage you to find a friend to help look at you on your bicycle and adjust your bike fit. If no one is available, use your phone and take video of you sitting and riding your bicycle.

Bike Fit explained

The left rider’s position is safe and comfortable while the rider on the right is in for some sore days

Saddle Height

Look at the two riders above. The rider on the right is in for some sore days. The excessive amount of bend to his legs is making his knee support all his pedaling forces at a very acute angle, which puts excess strain on the joint when pedaling. His low saddle overworks his quadriceps and doesn’t engage his gluteal or calf muscles. The rider on the left is bending his leg at a wider angle which results in proper leg extension while pedaling, and incorporates all his muscles (helps with efficiency).

To set saddle height: Sit on your bike, place your heel on your pedal. Next, rotate the pedals backward (see below). You want your leg completely extended while keeping your hips level (at the bottom of the pedal stroke your leg should be just barely locked out with your heel touching the pedal). If you find you aren’t getting complete extension raise your saddle, but lower it if you’re tilting your hip to reach the bottom of the pedal stroke. Once you begin pedaling naturally (with the ball of your foot on your pedal, rather than your heel), you will have the proper amount of bend to your knee.

Don’t Lean Too Much

The rider on the right above is leaning over drastically, which means his upper body weight is supported only by his lower back and arms. This position will results in a sore back, shoulder, arms, and painful hands. His head is positioned so low he must crane his neck up aggressively just to see. This will also result in a sore neck.

The rider on the left has more support. By sitting a bit more upright he is using his bone structure to support his upper body. Adjust your handlebar so that your back is at an angle over 45-degrees from the ground. Your arms should extend at a 90-degree angle from his back with a very small bend to the elbow. Adjust your grips and controls to be in place when you reach out to take the bar. If you need to turn your wrist up or down to shift or brake you should re-adjust the controls.

Look Around

The rider on the left also has a very comfortable position for his head. He can see around and in front naturally without needing to stretch.

Once you have a comfortable setup, you should experience hours upon hours of painless riding. If discomfort continues after looking at charts on the web, then consult with your local bike shop. They are trained in advanced personal fitting techniques and can offer insights into potential causes of discomfort.

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4 thoughts on “Be more comfortable and have more fun when you follow these bike fit tips!

    1. John Brown Post author

      Hey Ruko,
      What type of trike do you use? I’ve sold and built a bunch in the past and they always seem to go to great homes. I’d love to hear about your experiences!

      Reply
  1. Dave DeGraaf

    Actually this whole issue of Have Fun Biking with its many suggestions of how to compensate for an inherently non-ergonomic design can be replaced with three words:Get a recumbent. After suffering through many early riding seasons with sore butt and numb crotch, in spite of a half dozen different saddles, and finally fearing that I would have to give up riding when my pinky fingers went numb for weeks after a weeklong bike trip, I saw the light. My only regret, after fifteen years, is that I didn’t switch to a recumbent fifteen years sooner. The feeling of not leading with your head in any potential mishap alone is worth it. Get smart–ditch the upright. You won’t regret it.

    Reply
    1. John Brown Post author

      Hey Dave, Thanks for sharing.
      I too love recumbents. In fact, I helped my father in law get a Rans recumbent a few years ago which he loves and rides frequently. While I love recumbents, and trikes, and folding bikes, and tandems, and…..well the list goes on, I realize there is different strokes for different folks. Like you, I have experienced some saddle soreness and hand numbness. Those discomforts ( and a few others) have prompted me to share the simple fixes I have found. Thanks to some simple adjustments on the bike, and good fitting gear, I have competed in 24 hour events free from discomfort. I’ve been able to get off planes in foreign countries, build my bike, and explore the surrounding areas happy as a clam. For some, the Recumbent is the solution (and hopefully everyone tries one at least), for all the others, there are solutions.

      Reply

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