Since I’ve started offering Biomechanical Bike Fitting services, I’ve seen a lot of people. And I’ve seen a lot of bikes. Some are brand new; others are used, bought online through Craigslist or Kijiji. Whatever the case may be, I do my best to fit you to your bike so that you can experience a comfortable, pain-free ride.
I always recommend a thorough bike fit to highlight and correct all problem areas. There are a few common problem areas I see in many of my clients, and today, I want to share a few of those issues.
1. Wrong frame size
This is a common problem for those who have purchased their bikes second-hand. When purchasing a used bike, proceed with caution. While you might buy a bike from someone who is roughly the same height as you, that person may have significant differences in inseam, torso, and arm length. This means that you might end up with a bike frame that doesn’t fit you at all, leading to a less comfortable ride.
Also, if you happen to buy a bike frame that is too big or small, we may run into issues “growing” or “shrinking” your bike to fit you properly. In a worst case scenario, your bike may be unfittable, and you’ll have to get a new one.
If you’re committed to getting a used bike, make sure to first measure your inseam and check the appropriate bike frame size for it so you know what size to look for.
2. Wrong saddle height
When I first started cycling, I thought the cool thing to do was to jack up my seat post and get my knees into full extension; after all, it’s what I thought the cyclists in the Tour de France did! Many of my clients assume this is the correct position as well. This is unfortunately not the case.1 Having the saddle too high can cause knee, back, and saddle pain even on shorter rides.
On the flip side, some riders drop their saddle way too low to accommodate a slightly larger frame bike. This usually results in a “stretched out” feeling that is just as uncomfortable as being too high on the saddle. Too many cyclists assume this kind of discomfort is just something they have to get used to. But this kind of discomfort is not a normal part of riding.
Getting the right saddle height is very important for a biomechanically sound and, more importantly, comfortable ride.
3. Saddle doesn’t provide support
With there being hundreds of saddles on the market, it can be quite overwhelming to choose the “right one”. As a general rule of thumb, listen to your body, and get a bike fit.
Do you feel like your buttcheeks are falling off either side of your saddle? That’s less than ideal. Are your bits constantly being squished? Probably not a good thing. However, if your butt is sore after a few hours of being in the saddle, I wouldn’t consider that a cause for alarm.
If you are feeling unsupported or crushed by your saddle, a new saddle — and most importantly, a proper bike fit — can help these issues go away.
- Tour riders need a long seat post and stem to accommodate for smaller bike frames. Also, after closer inspection, I could see that Tour riders’ knees were nowhere close to reaching full extension. ↩