How to Set up Your Bike

Aug 12, 2020 |

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Did you know your bike setup plays a vital role in your workout performance? Coach Jonathan shows best practices for perfecting bike adjustments to get your safest, most comfortable, and strongest ride.

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There are many different types of indoor cycling bikes, but the general principles for getting your best bike fit to your body are universal. Generally, indoor cycling bikes will adjust in one to four ways: saddle height, handlebar height, saddle forward/back and handlebars forward/back.

  • Saddle Height: The most important adjustment to proper bike fit is saddle height. We want to take the top of our saddle to the top of our hip. The easiest way to find “hip height” is to stand next to your bike and bring your inside leg up, making sure that your hips stay level. The little crease where your pelvis is at the top of the thigh should be pretty much level with the top of the saddle. From there, lock your saddle into place and jump on the bike to test out the height. It’s easy to tell if we’re riding too high but we seldom know if we’re riding too low. It may take a couple of adjustments to get the saddle just right.

    The goal is to feel a nice long extension in your leg while still retaining a slight bend in the knee at the very bottom of the pedal stroke.  With one pedal at the top of its arc and one pedal at the bottom, your lower pedal should allow for a flat foot pitched slightly forward and a  comfortable bend in your knee. If your lower leg is locking out, you’re too high. If you have a pronounced knee bend or you feel like you’re on a kid’s tricycle, then your saddle needs to come up higher.

    Why get this right? If your saddle is too low, the deep bend in your knees at the bottom of the pedal stroke means two things: 1) you are putting extra pressure on your knee joints, and 2) you are reducing your range of motion and not producing power as efficiently as you could be.If your saddle is too high, your leg and knee joint will pretty much lock out. This causes your hips to rock back and forth while you pedal. This is not a good place to be either!

  • Handlebar Height: The general rule of thumb is the top of the handlebars should be saddle-height or higher. If you have low-back sensitivity or are pregnant,  higher handlebars are always kinder. After you find your optimal saddle height, go ahead and check-in with the handlebars. When you were riding, you might want to raise the handlebars for more comfort. This adjustment is really yours to make as you see fit.

  • Saddle & Handlebars Forward & Back:  If your bike has a saddle or handlebars that move forward and back, take them to their neutral or middle of the road setting to get started. Once you set up the height for your saddle and handlebars, jump on the bike to finesse your handlebar distance from the saddle. Your arms can be stretched out with a slight bend in your elbow. Make sure that your handlebars aren’t so far that you’re lunging forward and not so close that you are pushing your shoulders up into your ear.

    If you can adjust your saddle forward and. back, you’ll want to play with your settings until it feels comfortable. Make sure your butt is at the back of the saddle. In addition, we tend to tuck our tailbone when we ride; make sure you open up your hips for an anterior pelvic tilt.

We hope this has helped you get an even better sense of how fine-tuning your bike setup can get you a greater ride that is more powerful, more comfortable, and most importantly safe. If you have questions, hit us up in the comments below or reach out to us in the CardioCast Member Community.

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