Bike Fit Basics

Bike Fit Basics

It?s that time of year again when we pull out our bikes and enjoy the beautiful Washington DC region?s bike trails and scenery.? Here are some helpful tips to consider when taking your bike out for the season or are in the market for a new purchase.

Whether you ride on-road or off, pedal casually or competitively, it?s important to pay close attention to how your bicycle fits your body. A properly fitted bike will allow you to ride comfortably and safely, avoid injury, and produce more power, so you go faster with the same or less effort.

In general, when fitting a bicycle, there are five basis components to consider:
1. Frame size
2. Saddle (seat) height
3. Saddle position
4. Saddle tilt
5. Handlebar position

Frame Size
Frame size is perhaps the most important of all measurements because once you purchase the bike, there are very few?if any?minor adjustments that can affect the overall frame.? Frame size is not necessarily dependent on your height; rather, it is more a matter of leg length. Simply, the frame should be easily straddled with both feet flat on the ground, and with perhaps an inch or two of clearance.

-For a road or hybrid bike, you should have an inch or two of clearance between your crotch and the top tube.
-For a mountain bike, clearance should be about four inches?especially if you plan to ride in rugged terrain where an unplanned dismount is likely.

Saddle Height
A saddle (seat) set too high or too low can cause pain and lead to injuries of the back and knees, and it will also affect the efficiency of each pedal stroke. As a starting point, set the saddle height so that your knee is slightly bent when the pedal is at its lowest position and the ball of your foot is on the pedal. It is recommended to make adjustments in very small increments and, if applicable, to wear your cycling shoes during the adjustment process.

Saddle Position
To check the saddle position, sit on your bicycle and rotate your pedals to keep them horizontal.? If your saddle is positioned properly, your forward knee should be directly over the respective pedal axle (with the ball of your foot on the pedal). For precise measurement, use a plumb-bob to help you visualize the alignment.? Performance models. For example, women-specific saddles are wider at the back, have a shorter nose and usually have a soft or cut-out section in the middle. Men?s saddles may also have cut-outs. When selecting a saddle, try several to find one that fits you well.

Handle Bar Position and Distance
Handlebar setup is a matter of personal preference because it will affect shoulder, neck, and back comfort. Generally, handlebars are positioned higher for comfort (a more upright riding position) and lower for improved aerodynamics.

Most important tip ALWAYS? WEAR? A? HELMET! According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, a properly fitted bicycle helmet reduces the risk of head injury by as much as? 85 percent and the risk of brain injury by as much as 88 percent.

Of course, these are just the basics however, some small adjustments can go a long way to making you a more efficient rider and the likelihood of developing less injury.? If you do have an overuse injury relating to cycling or think you may be doing something that is contributing to an injury, the Doctors at Sport & Spine Rehab are well versed in these types of injuries and can create a customized treatment plan to address your deficits and get you back on the trail living injury free and putting on the miles! Happy Trails!!

Dr. Riccardo Tersigni DC, CKTP, BA
Clinic Director
Sport & Spine Rehab McLean
[email protected]

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