After you have decided on the type and cost of your bike it is very important to be properly measured and fit so it works well with your body style.
This is the 6th tip in our series: “7 Road Bike Shopping Basics” which is also available as a FREE eBook at www.GearedUp.biz/ebooks/7-road-bike-shopping-basics.
Too often people buy a bike and try to start riding in whatever default position it is in. This quickly leads to sore necks, shoulders, backs and knee injuries. Remember, riding is supposed to improve your health, not hinder it! The salesperson should help you with the proper bike fitting and adjustments when you buy the bike. However, if you purchase a used bike, or you need to make your own adjustments at home, here are some rules to follow:
- Seat Angle
Start with the seat level with the ground. If you experience discomfort, angle the seat up or down a few degrees (maximum of about 3 degrees).
- Seat Height
Position yourself and your bike in a doorway, so you can hold yourself up while pedaling. Preferably have someone sit behind you and watch. Raise the seat until, as you pedal backwards with your heels on the pedals, your legs are completely extended at the bottom of the stroke. If you have to rock your hips to reach the pedals the seat is too high.
- Pedal/Shoe Adjustments
Pedaling is most efficient when you ride with the balls of your feet on the pedals. Trouble is, it’s possible to end up pedaling on your arches or tiptoes unless you use something to hold your feet in place. Toe clips can be attached to pedals to hold feet in the correct position.
- Seat Fore/Aft Position
Make sure the bike is level on the trainer. Then hop on and pedal a bit to warm up the muscles. Stop pedaling with one foot at three o’clock. Have an assistant level the crank arm and the pedal. Maintain that position while your helper holds a plumb line (a thread with a nut on the end works fine) against the indentation just beneath the bone that’s below your kneecap. Adjust the seat fore and aft on the rails until the plumb line bisects the pedal axle. Make sure your knee is not in front of the center of the pedal when the forward leg is at 3 o’clock.
- Reach to the Handlebars
Ideally, you’ll be able to comfortably reach the various handlebar positions on your bike without locking your elbows, straining your back and/or neck, or having to scoot forward or back on the seat.
- Handlebar Height
Comfort is key. If your lower back, neck, hands, and/or arms hurt, you’re probably leaning too far forward. If all your weight is on the seat and every bump feels like a kick in the pants, you’re sitting too upright.
Make sure that your bike is fit just right for you.