Improving the Fit and Comfort of Your Bike
In addition to proper seat height positioning there are other changes which can be made to further improve the fit of your bike.
Let’s start with the positioning of your seat: As a rule, when seated on your bike, with your crankarms horizontal to the ground, a plumb line dropped from the bony protrusion below the kneecap (of the forward leg) should bisect the pedal’s axle. The saddle should be adjusted forward or back to position you correctly. A properly adjusted seat will position you to best maximize the muscles in your leg.
Next, is the reach and height to the handlebars. For the ideal off-road riding position, your handlebar should be one to three inches below your correct saddle height. This handlebar to seat difference puts you into a forward leaning position that helps increase your pedaling strength by more effectively using your gluteus (rearend) muscles. Note: this is a guideline for cross-country or all-mountain bikes. Downhill bikes will have a much higher bar position. That said, many people buying mountain bikes for on-road or gentle trail riding may find this an uncomfortable position, if so, you’ll need to change your stem. The length of the stem, its angle of rise and depth in the steer tube all have an influence on your reach. A higher rise (10 to 40 degrees) stem will raise the height of your handlebar and a shorter length stem will bring the handlebar in closer to your body. The purchase of the proper stem can make all the difference between having a comfortable fitting bike that you enjoy – or one that you’re reluctant to ride because of the sore neck and back strain you end up with. Words of caution: never extend your stem above the warning line AND always ensure that it’s tightened to its maximum. Take a few minutes to fine tune your bike fit and you’ll really enjoy all that cycling has to offer.
Happy (and comfortable) cycling.