Riding a bike is easy, right? It’s something that you learned when you are small and there is nothing to it really – all you do is sit on the seat and pedal with your feet! While this might be true for short bike rides, long distance bike rides are a different story. If you are attempting an epic ride and you will be sitting in the saddle of your bike for several hours per day your sitting position will make a difference.
If you are attempting a long distance bike ride such as a London to Paris charity bike ride or any other epic journey, finding the right riding position before you begin is essential. When you sit in the wrong position for several hours per day you will cause your body unnecessary pain and strain. Your muscles and joints will be put under stress and you will find yourself stiff and sore at the end of the day. You will also put yourself at risk for injury, which could really throw a wrench into the plans for your bike ride.
Here are some tips that you should keep in mind when riding a bike so that you can ride in the correct position and avoid injury:
Choose the Right Size Bike
Make sure that you are riding a bike that is the correct size. If your bike frame is too small you will be hunched over and this will cause strain on your back over time. If your bike is too large you will be extending your muscles too far to reach the pedals and the handlebars and this can also cause injury.
How do you know if the bike is the right size for you? You will need to measure the height of your pubic bone – which is the bony protrusion that is located between your legs and behind your genitals. Take a measuring tape and measure the distance from this point down your inseam. Once you have determined your pubic bone height, you can look on a size chart to find the size of bike that matches your measurement.
Find the Right Seat Height
The seat height is a very important measurement because it will affect the way that your legs move while you are pedalling. When you are sitting on the seat your knees should have a slight bend in them even when you are at the bottom of the pedal stroke – so try pedalling for a while to see if the position is correct.
The Correct Handlebar Reach
An important factor in finding the right position on a bike is your handlebar reach, which is a horizontal line from the centre of the head tube to the centre of the seat tube. When you are sitting on the bike correctly you should be able to reach the handlebars without any stress on your body. Your arms should be slightly bent and your back should be resting at an angle of approximately 45 degrees. When you are in the right position you will be comfortable and you will have the strongest and most secure grip possible on the brakes.
Often those with shorter torsos will have the handlebars on their bike too long and low. To fix this issue, try installing a smaller handlebar stem on your bike so that your back is at the right angle.
Your Foot Position
Make sure that your foot is also in the correct position when you are riding your bicycle. The ball of your foot should be over the pedal spindle in order to reduce the risk of injury. Incorrect positioning can also reduce your performance and also increase your risk of knee injury.
Make sure that the cleats of the pedals are adjusted so that your foot is in line with the direction you are travelling in – rather than splayed out. Of course, if your foot has a natural splay in one direction or another you can adjust for this. Also ensure that your cleats are not positioned too far forward on the shoe, as this will produce excessive ankle movement and put you at risk for Achilles strain.
Setting up the right sitting position on a bike takes a little bit more time, measurement and care than simply jumping on the bike and riding. Positioning becomes very important on long distance bike rides and charity challenges and it will help you to avoid injury, strain, stiffness and soreness at the end of the day.