AIDS Lifecycle - Ride to end AIDS

Nutrition & Hydration

Expert Nutrition and Hydration advice for endurance cyclists. Learn more

Bike Fit

It is important to make sure your bike is fitted to your body.  You should have your bike fit by a professional.  This may or may not be the same person who sells you the bike.  Most bike shops will do a very basic check in order to put you on the right size bike frame, but you’ll want a fit professional to look at the nuances of your body, including your physiology, flexibility, strengths, weaknesses and past injuries.  They will look at frame size in relation to your body and your saddle, handlebar and cleat positions.   Your favorite local bike shop should be able to refer you to a fit specialist.  Many local shops have sent their employees to special bike fit training in order to offer professional bike fits in their stores.

The importance of proper bike fit

You should be comfortable on your bike, whether you’re on an easy 20 mile ride or a challenging 100 miles.  You should not have saddle sores, hand or foot numbness, knee, neck or back pain.  Any of these symptoms can indicate that you need to get a professional bike fit.  Remember, you will spend many hours in that saddle in one position.  It’s imperative that your fit is correct!

Most people do not realize that so many pains and injuries are because of a poor bike fit.  Along with comfort, fit has the greatest effect on aerodynamics and pedal stroke efficiency.  A saddle that is 1 inch too high can cause unequal distribution of forces through the pedal stroke.  This will lead to an unequal distribution of work on some muscles and give others a free ride.

Bike fit is the process of matching a changeable bike into a slowly moldable body.  An individual’s flexibility and strength make a significant difference in how a bike is adjusted even if you have 2 people of the exact same height. 

Basic Bike Fit checks include:

  • Saddle Height
  • Saddle Position fore and aft
  • Saddle tilt
  • Handlebar/ stem height 
  • Cleat position (on the shoe)

Note:  if you are riding a recumbent, there may be some additional or different adjustments required.  While recumbent bike fitting is less involved than a traditional road type bike it is still important to have a professional adjust areas that involve your arm stretch, cleat adjustment (if you’re using this type of pedal) and any adjustments allowed to ensure your leg stretch is correctly set with your pedals.