Did you ever experience any sort of pain after a long bike ride which was just odd? We’re talking about neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain, elbow pain, and a couple of other pain types.
While most newbie riders think this is how it’s supposed to be – it’s cycling, after all, we are here to tell you it’s not how it’s supposed to be.
One of the most common reasons for any increased pain during cycling is an improper bike fit.
However, you don’t need to pay hundreds of dollars just to get a professional fit. Instead, follow this post to do the most basic fit properly and see if it provides any relief.
Why is Proper Bike Fit Important?
Proper bike fit won’t only prevent pain and issues such as:
- Neck pain
- Lower back pain
- Burning or tingling feeling in your feet
- Numbness or pain from the saddle
- Pain behind the knee
It will also provide a lot more comfortable ride, even if you’re used to riding in a very aggressive position. Not only you will comfortable on your bike, but you will also:
- Enhance your overall mood
- Prevent injuries
- Eliminate saddle discomfort
- Reduce or eliminate pain and numbness
- Reduce fatigue
- Increase efficiency
- Improve overall performance on a bike
As mentioned earlier, you don’t need to spend hundreds (even thousands) of dollars to get a professional bike fit. You can do one all by yourself (or with the help of a fellow rider).
However, if you’re into semi-professional or professional cycling, getting a professional fit from an expert is always worth the money.
How to Properly Fit Yourself to Your Road Bike?
Getting a proper fit is all about adjusting a couple of factors to match your height, size, and flexibility. By following these 5 steps, you will be a lot closer to being comfortable on your bike (and even a lot safer).
Check Your Frame Size
Just like your shoes, bikes and their frames come in different sizings. Is your bike size ideal for your height?
Here is the road bike size chart so you can easily find out which size you require according to your height.
Then, check out your bike and see if your bike’s size is your ideal fit.
In case it’s not, you can still try and fit yourself to the bike since it will still provide improvements – but ideally, you’d want to change the bike and find a bike size that fits your height.
Adjust Your Pedals & Cleats
Once you ensure you’re going to fit yourself to the right bike-sized frame – we start with the pedals and cleats.
You want to ensure you have an optimal cleat-pedal contact and this is the starting point of this bike fit.
Poor angles can strain your knee while pressure spots can cut off your circulation. Therefore, sit on your bike and clip in your shoes.
You’d want the ball of your foot to be a bit over the pedal axle, even a little ahead of it is ideal. Try pedaling for a bit and pay attention to your knee and foot.
The knee should be just a bit in front of your foot when you’re clipped in. Also, you want to ensure the knee and foot align well. You don’t want your foot to be far out in any direction, yet just under your knee.
In case your foot isn’t placed in the optimal position, you should readjust the cleat position after the initial test, and even repeat it as many times as it’s necessary to get the proper fit.
Adjust the Saddle
Seat height is a really important aspect of a proper bike fit – and fortunately, it’s one of the most recognized fitting aspects which about 80% of riders get right.
Once you sit on your bike, your knee should have a slight bend. Avoid fully straightening your knee (locking your knee).
If your saddle is too low, you will have a big bend in your knees, but if your saddle is too high – your hips will be rocking from side to side as you pedal.
A good rule is to follow when adjusting saddle height is to seat yourself on the bike, put your heel on the pedal and fully straighten your leg out (locking it in the knee). This should be your ideal saddle height. Why?
Because now when you place your foot properly on the pedal – you will have a slight bend in your knee and your hips won’t be rocking from side to side.
However, what most riders forget is that saddle can be adjusted forward and backward as well. Why is this important?
Because, you want to have your knee aligned with your foot, where the knee is just over the rock of your foot or is a bit forward. We’ve adjusted this previously with the help of cleats, but you should also adjust your saddle position for the best results.
To do this, we recommend relying on a laser which you can at the front of your knee and point it down. If your knee is far behind the rock of your foot – you should slide the saddle forward. And vice versa.
Adjust the Bar Angle
Adjusting the bar angle is all about finding a perfect angle that will be comfortable for your hands, arms, shoulders, neck, and even lower back.
You should rotate the bar until you find a comfortable position for your hands. Look for a comfortable bend in your wrist and that you’re comfortable pulling the brake levers.
However, the height of the bar is also important. If you’re looking to ride in a more aggressive position – you’d want to have your bar a bit lower.
Even level or higher is ideal for people who aren’t into racing but are looking for the most optimal bike fit that will help prevent injuries and increase comfort.
Adjust the Reach
Finally, when you did about 90% of the proper road bike fit – it’s all about adjusting your reach before you complete the process.
Stretch from the saddle to the bars is going to determine your riding position. You’d want your spine to lean at about 45-degree angle for the most comfortable riding position.
You want your elbows to have a slight bend, just like the slight bend in your knees, have your wrists at a comfortable angle and have no problem pulling the brake levers.
In case you require a shorter reach or you aren’t able to get a perfect reach even after adjusting the saddle height and position – you can change the stem length.
If you still feel like your bar is too far – you’d want to go for a shorter stem. But if your bar is too close to you and you can even hit the bar with your knees – you definitely need a longer stem.
Proper road bike sizing and fit is something every rider should know to do – and then, if you require any additional help, you can always seek professional help.
This is ideal for beginners who are new to riding or are new to road bikes, and if you spend one afternoon making sure these 5 factors are properly set on your bike to fit your body height and flexibility – you’ll have much more enjoyable and safer rides than ever before.
Of course, this is not something you should give a shot. But it’s something you should get done whether you do it yourself or you get professional help.
What do you find to be the biggest problem when trying to properly fit yourself to your road bike? Feel free to leave a comment below!