There are a few simple adjustments that you can make to improve your comfort and efficiency when cycling. In this bike fitting guide we look at how saddle height, saddle position and handlebar position can affect your ride and how adjusting them can improve your comfort on the bike.
While you want to feel the burn in your legs to prove your putting in maximum effort not all pain on the bike is good. While we can all put up with a little discomfort you don’t want a troublesome niggle to develop into an injury that could stop you riding. If you are feeling uncomfortable on the bike, you’ll be pleased to know there are a few simple adjustments that could help make your bike more comfortable to ride.
5 ways to be more comfortable and efficient on your bike
1. Find the correct saddle height
Having your saddle at the correct height when cycling will help you to be more efficient as well as being more comfortable on the bike. The important thing to consider is that the three joints in your leg; ankle, knee and hip all move through a comfortable range of motion.
In the video we look at the important points to look out for when adjusting your saddle height and offers a simple, easy to follow technique to help you find your optimal saddle height.
2. Adjust the saddle position and angle
Once you have the correct saddle height there are a couple of other adjustments that you can make to improve your comfort on the bike.
In this video, we look at the fore/aft position as well as saddle angle and how fine-tuning your saddle position can improve your comfort on the bike.
3. Check Your Reach
Reach is a term to describe the horizontal distance between your bike’s bottom bracket and the handlebars. If you’re struggling with lower back pain or shoulder tension a change to your bike’s reach could help.
The easiest way to adjust reach is to change your bike’s stem. A shorter stem will bring the handlebars towards you, reducing how far you have to ‘reach’ to grab the handlebars, thus diminishing pressure on your back and shoulders. If you feel cramped up when riding, a longer stem could offer that extra degree of freedom when riding. We look into this in more detail in the video below.
4. Finding the best handlebar position
Handlebar set up is fundamental to your comfort on the bike. Handlebar position affects your reach which is how stretched out you feel on the bike. We highlight the key indications of whether bars are in the optimal position for you or not your and what you can do to remedy this.
There are two things that you can do change your handlebar position. Stack height is the height of your handlebars. This a very simple adjustment to make. Changing your stem for a longer or shorter one is the other way to change your handlebar position. This is easy to do and is a very cost-effective upgrade for improving comfort.
5. Check your Cleats and Pedals
Pedal cleats that aren’t set up correctly can quickly descend into foot, ankle, knee and hip pain. As a general guide, cleats should be positioned on the ball of your foot, angled straight. However, we are all individuals so a slight change may be necessary to get the optimal position.
Checked your cleats, you might as well cast your eye over your pedals too. Are they spinning freely? Is there any play in the bearings? Side-to-side pedal movement, when riding clipped in, can quickly develop into some excruciating knee pain.
All clipless pedals give a certain degree of ‘float’ – so it is worth checking this too! They allow your feet to rotate a certain amount while you’re attached, helping to avoid injuries, which can be caused by having poorly adjusted cleats.
It is worth remembering that your aches and pains will, most likely, have a different cause to your clubmates’. This guide offers general pointers that could send you in the right direction, but if in pain don't just grin and bear it. If you experience significant pain when riding, you really should think about contacting a professional bike fitter or suitably qualified medical practitioner.
Adjusting the reach - helpful how to guides
Adjusting your stack height and stem length is easy, there are just a couple of practical things you need to know. You will need to know how to tighten your headset properly and may also need to know how to fit a stem properly. The how-to guides below show you how to do this in clear easy to follow steps.
When you adjust the stack height or change your stem you will need to loosen and re-tighten your headset. Your headset must be tightened properly for your bike to handle properly.
Your stem holds your handlebars securely to your bike, so you need to ensure that it’s fitted securely. This is easy to do, just follow the instructions in this step by step guide.