Fit your bike to your body for comfortable, pain-free cycling

In Blog by Bev Kosuljandic

Whether you ride a bike to work or for fun, you will enjoy the experience more if your bike fits your body.

Although many people don’t realize it, poor bike fit is often the reason they don’t cycle more – either it’s too hard, or they suffer from sore joints, neck and shoulders every time they go for a ride. Often, (assuming their bike is the proper size frame), all they need is a basic bike fitting session, which can be performed by most reputable bike shops, or with basic tools at home.

During a basic bike fit, the technician sits you on your bike and repositions the handlebar height and seat so that you can get the most out of your ride. If you are making your own adjustments at home, or purchasing a bike, here are some of the things you should look for:

  1. As a rule, the angle of reach at your shoulder should be about 90 degrees – a little less if you are a recreational rider, and a little more if you are a bike commuter.
  2. The angle of your trunk should be 40 to 80 degrees from horizontal – on the high side for recreational riders, and in the lower range for road cyclists and commuters.
  3. Your knee angle should be 15 degrees from straight at the lowest point of the pedal rotation. The knee should be over the pedal for a recreational cyclist and over the heel for a road cyclist/commuter.
  4. Your wrists take up to 30% of your body weight while riding and should be as straight as possible to avoid problems – but don’t lock your elbows, keep a slight bend in them so that your arms will be able to absorb the vibration and shocks that are transmitted from the handlebars.

More cycling tips:

Gearing: pushing harder (higher gears) with a slower pace builds muscle more quickly, but can be hard on your knees. Lowering the gears and pedalling faster will give you a better cardiovascular workout.

Pedaling: Bike shoes and cleats or toe straps are a personal choice. While they do allow you to pull up on the pedal as well as push down, there is a learning curve. You have to remember to give yourself time to disengage from the apparatus before you have to put your foot down!

If you don’t wear clips to help you position your foot, remember to place the ball of your foot, not the arch, on your pedal. If you’re going for a long ride, wear shoes with a stiffer sole so that you distribute the load over the entire pedal surface. These two tips will make your feet happy and you’ll cycle more efficiently.

Bicycles are one of the most efficient machines ever invented and making sure your bike fits you makes it even better. Safe riding!

Are you a competitive rider or recreational cyclist? Our experienced sports physiotherapy team treats everyone from elite athletes to weekend warriors. To arrange an appointment, please call our office at 604-228-1474 or use our online request form.