your cycle up for an efficient ride
positioning of the hands, feet and entire body are essential to anyone serious
about cycling training. Our cycling position guide should help you set up your
bike up to achieve the correct bike riding position.
correct cycle riding position
up for road bike will be different for each person as each individual has
different sizes for our arms, legs, torsos and any other part of the body. As
such, what is comfortable for one cyclist may not be so for the next when it
comes to road cycling. While we can't give a cyclist the perfect cycling
position, we can suggest a few basic tips which can provide the bike rider with
a setup close to perfection, which they can then adjust accordingly over time to
meet their own cycling requirements.
advantages of maintaining the correct cycling position include:
are many variants when setting up a cycle, but many people get it wrong from the
outset by choosing a cycle that is the incorrect size for them.
Other details to consider which will help determine the correct frame size for
your bike are saddle height, knee position, reach, hand position, and foot
position. A look at each of these in turn will help determine the final size of
the cycle best suited to the rider.
saddle height is measured from the top of the bicycle seat to the pedal when it
is at the bottom of its turning circle. When the pedal is at the bottom of the
stroke, the cyclist’s legs should not be fully stretched out, but there should
be a slight bend of around 25 degrees from a straight line (please see
than this means the rider doesn’t allow their leg muscles to operate near
maximum extension where they are most efficient, while more bend disrupts your
pedaling stroke and can affect the knees. Similarly, if the cyclist rocks back
and forth in the saddle, then it is considered too high.
common means of setting the correct saddle height is to set it at 109 per cent
of the inside leg (the distance between the crotch and the ground, in bare
feet). The extra 9 per cent allows for the extension of the ball of the foot
below the heel. However, it is important to take into account the height of the
cleats or shoes being worn by the rider, so it is best to set the bike saddle at
109 per cent and then raise it by the thickness of the sole.
position of the knee relative to the bike pedal also needs to be taken into
consideration. To check this, hold the pedals in a horizontal or level position.
A plumb line from the center of the knee joint should be vertically above or
just behind the axel center of the crankarm. If the knee is slightly in front of
the axle center of the pedal, this tends to force the rider out of position when
the distance between the shoulders and the top break levers when the cycle rider
is sitting in the more upright position. The correctly set reach should allow
the rider to sit an angle of around 45 degrees to the top tube of the cycle.
Reach can be adjusted by adjusting the length of the handlebar stem. A correct
setting allows reduced muscular strain in the neck and muscles, and also means
that breathing is unrestricted leading to improved performance.
handlebars should be positioned slightly below the level of the top of the
saddle. Bear in mind that if the handlebars are too low it can cause pain in the
lower back and the shoulders. A significant bend in the elbow, with a near
horizontal forearm, is good and helps reduce shock from the road.
handlebars are shaped to give the rider three positions where they can
comfortably grip — the tops, hoods and drops.
— these are quite literally as they sound the top straight portion of the
— the hands grip the break level hoods at the top of the curved portion of the
— the hands hold lower down the curve on the dropped or curved section of the
When riding long distances cyclists can suffer pain in the hands and this can be
helped with use of riding gloves and bar tape on the handlebars. Varying the
position of the hands on the handlebars can also help.
pedal foot position
position is mainly determined by the adjustment of the shoe cleats. Generally
speaking, the ball of the foot should be over the pedal spindle to produce
maximum efficiency and reduce the risk of injury. Incorrect positioning can
force the leg into an unnatural twist, reducing performance but also increasing
the risk of knee injury. Cleats positioned too far forward on the shoe can
produce excessive ankle movement, leading to the possibility of Achilles strain.
cleat should be adjusted so that the foot is directly in line with the cycle’s
direction of travel and not splayed out, although some minor adjustment can be
allowed for those with a natural splay of the foot in one direction or another.
of the frame is measured from the top of the frame at the point where the seat
post is inserted, down to the center of the axle carrying the pedal arm (bottom
women have shorter legs than men and need to use smaller frames than men of a
similar height. Manufacturers offer cycles tailored specifically for men and
women taking into consideration the differences in arms and legs.
about your cycling set up
this information about setting up your bike for the optimum ride has still left
you still feeling a little unsure, then good advice can usually be had from
local cycle retailers and cycling clubs. Most bike stockists will readily help
out and provide you with a cycle best suited to you and make the necessary
adjustments to get you on your way, while club members are only too keen to pass
on the benefit of their vast cycling experience.