Fitting a bicycle is one the most important tasks to achieve if you want to fully enjoy riding on two wheels. In brief, it can be the difference between severe pains and comfort or between having a hard time riding and enjoying enhanced performance. Because so many cyclists don’t consider fitting a bicycle as being important or don’t even know that this “occupation” exists, we’ve prepared our full guide on this subject.
General things regarding position on the bicycle
You should know right from the start that each of us has his unique posture on the bike and there exists no universal recipe to determine it. In other words, you have to make the necessary settings but also to get out and ride and see if they actually work for you and if they need further adjustement. Your position on the bicycle depends on how long your legs and arms are, how mobile your body really is and how accustomed you are in riding a bicycle.
Although there are many charts, mathematical formulae, and other rather complicated means of finding one’s proper position on the bike, we’ll try below to offer you a few simple solutions to discover it. So, we’ll tackle the correct cycling posture for those into more serious riding, taking part to races or for those who simply want to make the most of their two wheeled machine.
Probably the most important thing when you pick a bicycle is to make sure it fits your size. Here are the right dimensions according to the length of your legs.
One more thing, don’t forget to wear cycling equipment when you fit your position on the bike!
First thing on the list is seat height. Your legs will deliver their best only if muscles are properly bent, so this setting will directly affect your pedaling speed and they way you do it. When your foot is not attached to the pedal, it should have this position.
With your foot attached to the pedal, it should have this position (see photo below). The knee has to be slightly flexed, but under no circumstances fully stretched.
Crank arm’s length is an important detail here, as it can vary between 165 and 175 mm. 170 mm is the standard dimension and this is our recommendation for medium sized riders (1.70-1.75 meters). If you’re smaller than this, we advise you to choose shorter cranks, while if you’re a taller person you should opt for this component in longer size.
This is also vital in terms of your comfort and performance. The saddle has to be parallel to the ground, without having its nose lowered or lifted.
As for its front to back positioning, hop on the bike and put the cranks as shown in the picture below. The proper seat post position is when the line of your knee is perpendicular on the pedal’s axle. Be careful not to go beyond the limits marked on the saddle’s rail.
Your neck’s and back’s comfort is for sure a precious item to you, and the component directly accountable for it is the stem. Why? Because it sets how much you’ll have to lean to grab the handlebars. A longer stem will pull you forward, while a shorter one will “cramp” you on the bike, affecting your pedaling efficiency. With the right stem you arms will be slightly flexed.
Heavy back pain can be associated with a handlebar fitted to low, while taking all shocks in the buttocks means that the handlebar might be too high. For a correct position, the handlebar must be in line with the saddle. For road bikes, it’s good to have the handlebar position with a few centimeters lower than the seat post (between 6 and 10 centimeters) while for a mountain bike the story is the same, but with the handlebar not as low as for road racing bicycles (between 4 and 6 centimeters).
Most bicycles are suited with stems which do not allow setting handlebar height. But, there are solutions. If the steering tube of the fork is long enough, you can give up two spacers, lowering handlebar’s position. However if the steering tube is not long enough you won’t be able to add extra spacers in order to lift the handlebar, as it will be impossible to attach the stem.
This too is important for comfortable riding but also for proper aerodynamics. When you choose the bike, look for the handlebar to have the same length with your shoulders, or even more if you’re going for a mountain-bike. Especially for this kind of bicycles, a wider handlebar means more control, a recommended size would be 660 mm. Also, a rise handlebar will slightly lift your hands when grabbing the bars and you can set it to be bent towards you or toward the front. Besides, when you purchase a handlebar you will see two specifications next to the length, backsweep and upsweep. Backsweep refers to the angle at which the handlebar may be slightly turned towards you, while the upsweep is the angle at which it may be turned upwards.
This is another essential issue in cycling and this article explains in detail the entire process of setting up cleat positioning. However it is very important that the fore foot presses correctly on the pedal and this happens when the ball of your foot comes above the pedal of the axle.