The summer months are upon us and I’m sure that many of you are out riding your bikes to enjoy the beautiful weather. I’m going to give you a few easy steps on proper fit for your bike to make sure your bike riding is enjoyable and comfortable.
First of all, proper seat height is very important. When you’re sitting on the seat with your feet on the pedals, you should only have a slight bend in your knee when the pedal is at the bottom position.1 I usually tell my patients when standing next to the bike, their greater trochanter or hip bone should be about even with the seat. If you can sit on your seat and plant your feet on the ground your seat is too low. If you have to rock your hips side to side while pedaling, your seat is too high.2 When having to stop, you should have to get off the seat or be on your tip toes when seated. 1
Second, your seat should be level. Try to avoid tilting it too far forward or backward. You should feel like you are sitting on the same spots on your bottom that you do while sitting upright in a chair, often referred to as your “sit bones”.1,2 On most bikes you can also move the seat forward or backward allowing you to make sure that you are centering your weight over the bike.1 Also, in this process make sure that you can still reach the handlebars. Your elbows should not be locked and you should not feel like you have to shift forward on the seat to reach the handlebars.2
The third step is adjusting the handlebar position to avoid having any strain on your back, neck, shoulders, or wrists.1 You should never feel like your arms are falling asleep or your upper body is too heavy to hold up. If you are feeling that way, try adjusting your handlebar position. This will vary depending on the type of bike you are riding, your body type, and just personal preference. Here are the three main types of bikes and you can experiment with what you like the best.
- Road Bike (skinny tires): Handlebars about 1-2 inches lower than the seat allowing you to lean forward and be more aerodynamic.1
- Mountain Bike (rugged tires): Handlebars often 3-4 inches lower than the seat allowing for a lower center of gravity to better negotiate obstacles you might find on trails or in the woods.1
- Cruisers: Handlebars about 1-2 inches higher than the seat allowing the rider to sit more upright and take a more leisurely ride.1
A good rule of thumb is that if you’re having increased back, neck, shoulder, or wrist pain, your handlebars are likely too low.2 If you’re feeling every bump on the road and your bottom is hurting, your handlebars are likely too high.2
Hopefully these few easy steps will make your bike riding experiences this summer more fun and long-lasting. If you’re having pain while riding your bike and you don’t have any previous aliments, you’re likely just not positioned correctly on the bike. Hope you have a safe and fun summer! Please share any exciting bike riding experiences with us.