Update 3rd July 2018
Importance of bike fit
Setting your bike up to suit your anatomy and physiology is very important. Even one hour of cycling can produce from 4,000 to 6,000. pedal revolutions. That’s a lot of movement of the knees and hips and ankles. A poor bike fit can put more strain than there should be on many of the bodies muscles tendons and ligaments
Optimum bike fit do it yourself
I believe most people can set up their basic bike fit quite well with some assistance. A good bike setup will assist with injury prevention, lessen fatigue. and assist with more efficient and faster cycling.
- Turbo trainer
- Spirit level
- Tape measure
- Plumb line
- Allen keys
- Paper and pen or computer / phone camera
Saddle height example
Achieving the correct saddle height is probably the most important measurement. Here’s a simple but effective way of setting your saddle height
First of all be sure to have the correct frame size. The most suitable frame size can usually be calculated from the cyclists inside leg measurement to the ground. Obviously, you should check the results by trying a similar bike size of a club members/friends bicycle before you go out and buy a new frame. Its possible to get frame size calculators online from various frame manufacturers. Here’s an example Frame Size Calculator
Set the saddle position in a horizontal position so that you are well supported by the saddle. Some people may prefer to have it pointing very slightly down at the front. However it should generally be close to the horizontal. A spirit level placed on the saddle can measure this. Check that the area the bike is placed on is also level.
Saddle height heel on the pedals
The saddle height is the most important thing to get right. There are many formulas for this measurement. however a well tried and tested method that will get you very close to the correct height is the heel on the pedal test.
Simply put the bike on to a turbo trainer or have someone support you. If safely on a turbo pedal with your heels on the pedals your leg should be straight at the bottom of the pedal stroke. If being safely supported by someone or something stable like a wall just back pedal to check the bend at the knee of the straight leg with the pedals in the 6 o clock position.
If there is a bend in the knee or you are rocking from side to side to reach the pedals the saddle needs to be adjusted up or down adjusted until the leg is straight.
When you then put your feet into the pedals you should have a nice bend at the knee that allows a very fluid pedalling motion. SAFETY: for children or If you are beginner to cycling or commuting in heavy traffic. It may be more important that you can easily reach the ground with your feet when sitting on the saddle. This is so that you can stop the bike safely without toppling over. This could be more important for a very young cyclist or commuter even though it will generally give a much larger bend at the knee than someone who intends racing or doing long cycles will require.
Cycling injuries / pain
Sometimes you may suffer with some niggles or pain in muscles or tendons during or after cycling. A lot of the time these are just from overuse through ramping up training too much. However they can sometimes also be caused by poor bike fit . Physio coach view A coach and or physiotherapist could be the first port of call to review your workloads and assess the pain issues. Either of these could refer you to a professional bike fitter. There are a lot of people doing bike fits now. So if you are going to get a bike fit do some research as to who is the most experienced with good reputations. Also be sure that they actually understand bike fit really well.
Introduction to cycling booklet
I have written a booklet Introduction to Cycling that will take you through the bike fit process step by step. And believe it or not you can have it for less than €5
- Correct saddle height
- Saddle position
- Handlebars height and width
- Shoes and cleats
- Cycling safety
- Training programmes from 40 to 200 k bike rides
- Cross training for runners, rowers, sailors and other athletes
- Dealing with punctures.
Step by step bike fit
The bike fit section is a step by step guide to setting your own bike fit up and reviewing it. Everyone should be able to set their own basic bike fit. As you progress with your cycling or have any biomechanical issues that are causing problems you may benefit from a visit to a bike fitter for more tweaks.