Adjust Your Bike for Better Cycling
While bicycles come in standard sizes for each type, such as mountain bikes, road bikes, and touring bikes, humans aren’t created equal. When buying a bike, you have to adjust it from saddle to shoe cleats to ensure the best possible fit.
Why Adjust Your Bike for Better Cycling
The main points of a making bike adjustments are two-fold. First, you should be able to sit more comfortably and, thus, allow riding for longer distances. Second, you can ride more efficiently, which means faster speed, better control, and better energy use.
Think of it this way: You have to be comfortable so that you can be 100 percent efficient in transferring the energy from your muscles to your bike’s pedals.
You will be comfortable when your bike is properly fitted, which means regular adjustments are a must. You must regularly assess the need for new adjustments as your riding knowledge, skills and style evolve over time.
Other benefits of making the right adjustments to your brand-new bike include:
- Decreased risks for pain in various parts of your body. You will soon observe that your common aches in the past have decreased in their frequency, intensity and duration.
You can reduce the numbness in your genitals, hands and feet, your rider fatigue, and your saddle discomfort.
- Decreased risks for injuries. Your bones, joints and muscles will be less vulnerable to repetitive stress injuries since these are in their proper riding positions.
You can make do-it-yourself adjustments to your bike. But for best results, especially when you’re still a beginner, you are well-advised to avail of professional adjustment services.
How to Adjust Your Bike
Let’s take a look at the three most important aspects of bike adjustments.
The height and angle of the saddle are two of the crucial bike adjustments that will likely provide the greatest benefits. This is because a perfectly set saddle will result in more efficient pedaling and less risks for discomfort, pain and injuries.
Research has even shown that 1 to 1.5 centimeters of variance from your optimal saddle position will have a significant impact on your energy expenditure during a ride.
Even a 0.5-centimeter difference can still result in a noticeable difference in terms of energy expenditure and comfort. The study also suggests that setting saddle height too low is better, in a manner of speaking, than setting it too high.
First, you have to check the saddle height:
- Sit on your bike’s saddle with both of your heels on the pedals.
- Slowly pedal backwards.
- Check your leg position when you’re pedaling down (i.e., as the pedal passes the bottom mark)
If your leg straightens fully when you’re pedaling down, then your saddle is at its correct height. If your foot struggles to reach the pedal at its lowest point, then your saddle is too high. If your knee bends when the pedal is at its lowest position, then your saddle is too low.
At all times, your hips should be level with the saddle. If you observe that your hips keep rolling with each upward and downward pedaling movement, then your saddle is too high. Your legs will be overextending themselves, which can result in knee joint damage.
Second, you must consider the saddle angle. You should always set your bike’s saddle with its top even and set on the center of the seat post. You can also check that it’s in a parallel position in relation to the ground.
The right saddle angle is just as crucial as saddle height when riding. Tilt it up too high and you will experience discomfort after only several minutes on your bike. Tilt it down too low and you will drift forward and push against the handlebars, which will result in tense shoulders, arms and hands.
You may, however, tip the saddle according to your specific preferences although a level saddle, more or less, is still the optimum position. You can slightly tip your bike’s seat up or down but no more than 3 degrees from its optimum position for best results.
In general, men will tip up their saddles while women will tip them down.
Your handlebar must also be in the correct height and angle since control and comfort lie here. You will be able to lean forward comfortably when your bike’s handlebar is at its correct height, which means less strain on your back, neck and wrists.
Here’s a general guideline in setting the correct handlebar height. You can adapt these guidelines according to your current riding needs.
You have to ride your bike with its original handlebar height and observe your body’s reaction. If after 30 minutes of riding your body’s screaming discomfort, then you have to make the necessary adjustments.
This is true for changing the handlebar angle, too. You have to try all the hand positions that you’ll likely use when riding, determine your most comfortable angle, and make the necessary adjustments.
You can loosen the handlebar clamp, rotate the bars for the desired angle, and tighten the clamp after finding it.
You should ride your bike wearing the right cycling shoes since these are important for safety, energy efficiency, and comfort purposes. But be sure that the cleats on the soles of your cycling shoes are correctly positioned.
There are two major adjustments in shoe cleats position.
- Fore/aft: The balls of your rest should rest over the axles (i.e., the centers of the pedals) when you’re pedaling.
- Angular: Your feet should be in a natural position while on the pedals, which will reduce the risks for repetitive stress injuries on your knees. You can align your shoe cleats by aligning them with an imaginary line bisecting the soles. You can change the angle slightly when you’re feeling any strain or stress on your knees.
Since you will need an objective third party to determine your lines, you should consider getting professional bike fitting services. The money paid for these services will be well worth it in terms of your increased comfort, safety and energy efficiency.