Setting up your bike30 January, 2014 0 comments
Some quick basics: Setting up your bike
When I started riding I had little idea about setting my bike up for a better riding posture and positioning. It was only when I started to ride off road more with a local club that I began to realise how important bike set up is. Riding your bike in a comfortable and efficient position is an important element of your riding. If your bike is properly set up to suit your size, you are going to feel a lot more relaxed on the bike and therefore you will be able to ride for longer and faster. Obviously a lot can depend on personal preference and what type of bike you are riding. Some people riding a mountain bike will want a more upright position than someone who is riding a road bike. A badly set up bike can lead to quite an uncomfortable riding experience, so it is worth taking the time to try to set your bike up properly and then adjusting it until you feel comfortable on the bike.
When setting your bike you are going to some basic bike tools and it may be a good idea to get someone to help you.
Having your saddle height set at the correct height can take a bit of getting used to, as you set the height to your pedal position, not to having your foot on the floor. When setting your saddle height up you are going to set it up to the pedal in the bottom of the pedal revolution. Sit on the bike and have the ball of your foot on the pedal, you need to have your leg slightly bent. So adjust your saddle height by raising or lowering it to get the correct position. If your saddle is too high and your leg is too straight you will have a rocking motion in your hips when you ride and if it is too low, you will run the risk of injuring your knees.
Your saddle on your bike can be moved backwards and forwards at the top of the stem. Ideally, when you are sat on the bike with both pedals in a horizontal position, you should have the bone just below the kneecap in line with the axle in the centre of your pedal. So move the saddle either backwards or forwards. But be aware if you have to move the saddle too far in either direction, you may have to adjust your saddle height accordingly, you may have to do this two or three times to get a perfect ride position
Now you can adjust the angle on your saddle. Ideally you want your saddle to be more or less flat. You may see riders with their saddles angle one way or another, but by having your saddle set this way you are compromising your riding efficiency and comfort. If you saddle is angled with the front pointing down, this is going to place your weight forward towards the handle bars. This means that your wrists and hands will be having a lot of pressure put on them, If you ride like this for any length of time this will become uncomfortable. Having the seat titled back will mean your weight is set back and again will become uncomfortable to ride. Having your saddle flat will have you riding in a more neutral position with your weight spread evenly.
If you are riding with clipless SPD shoes and pedals, the cleats on your cycling shoes will determine your foot position on the bike. You should be pedalling with the widest part of your foot directly over the axle of the pedal, this way you will be getting more power down in your pedalling.
To set up your foot position, take your cycling shoe and on the outside mark where the widest part of your foot would be (directly behind your little toe) and follow this line across the sole of the shoe. Now, set up your cleats so that the centre of them line up with the line that you marked and then tighten the cleat screws.
Handlebar height is really a matter of personal choice, but the top of the handlebars should be level or at the most 6cm below your saddle height. The ideal height would be around 2 – 4.5cm below your saddle height. If you are riding a road bike, make sure that your handle bars are not so low that your elbows are hitting your knees when you are pedalling. A higher handlebar position will be more comfortable, but will be less aerodynamic.
So, these are the a few tips that will help you set up your bike for a more comfortable ride. As I said earlier, try making adjustments and see what feels best for you. If you have been feeling discomfort when or after you ride, you now know there is s solution to the problem.