How To Perform A Basic Bike Fit

How To Perform A Basic Bike Fit


– [Simon] Getting your bike well set up to
your body can make the difference between riding in comfort and riding in pain. And
for those of us chasing performance, it can be the cornerstone to
reaching your full potential. Now, it is a complex topic, more art than
science perhaps but here is our Beginner’s Guide to get you in the ballpark. Now, the first thing to get set up is your
saddle height. Now with the ball of your foot over the pedal axle and you’re
pedaling at the six o’clock position, there should be a slight bend in your leg.
Now, if you get your saddle too high, then it will cause your pelvis to rotate
as your foot’s stretching and that will cause lower back pain and saddle
discomfort. And if it’s too low, then you’ll lose power and you’ll also get
knee pain. To get the best idea of judging your saddle position, it’s a good idea to
film yourself riding on a static trainer like this, because what it does is
it means that you get a better idea of what your natural foot position is.
Some people ride with their heel down, some people ride with their toe down and
that difference can subtly alter the angle of your leg. Next, you go for the forward
and backward adjustment of your saddle and this is called the layback. Now, the
age-old technique of telling whether you’ve got the right amount of layback is
by putting your pedals level when you sat on the saddle and you drop a plumb line
from the front of your knee cap and it should drop just in front of the pedal
axle. Micro-adjustments of this position can be tailored according to whether you
use your glutes predominantly or your quads predominantly when you’re pedaling
but this is perhaps a bit more of an advance technique and we’ll cover this
later. So now we’ve tackled the seat position, it’s time to look at the reach.
Now, it’s a common misconception that you can adjust the reach to your handlebars
from your saddle by adjusting your saddle position forwards and backwards. But as
we’ve just set this up from optimum pedaling efficiency, this needs
to be left where it is. So in reality, the way you can adjust the reach is by
moving your stem up and down about two to four centimeters depending on how much
stirrer space you’ve got and then unfortunately by just buying different
length stems. So it’s a reason why it’s a great idea to go to a good bike shop where
you buy your bike in the first place, is it stops you spending money later on
to adjust your position. Fundamentally, more relaxed ride will have a
proportionally shorter reach from the handlebars to the stem and a rider looking
for a more aggressive aerodynamic position will have a longer one. However, the
limiting factor is, in reality, the flexibility in your glutes and your
hamstrings so no amount of wanting to look aerodynamic is actually going
to make it an effective position. As a general guide, though, the angle of
your back should be about 45 degrees and the angle between your arms and your back
should be about 90 degrees and this gives you the best blend of comfort,
aerodynamics, and power. When riding on the tops, you can have an even more
relaxed position so it’s good for climbing but when you’re on the drops, by bending
your arms, you can get your back close to horizontal if you can stretch
that far for aerodynamics. So to sum up, first of all, you set your
saddle height then you set the layback and then finally, leaving that in one place,
you adjust the reach of the handlebars. Now as we’ve said at the beginning, bike
set up is a complex topic so some we’re going to come back to again and again over
the coming months and if there’s something specific that you want us to tackle with
regards to bike fit or bike problems then let us know in the comment section down
below and we’ll tackle it at a later date. – [Daniel] Single Pace Line is the most
efficient way of riding if you’re facing a stiff headwind or if you’re riding with a
very small group. In this video, we’re going to show you
exactly how to do it.

100 comments

  1. Guys, I`ve got a really big problem and nobody really knows a solution! Would be sooooooooooo grateful if anyone could help me: The ball of my left foot doesn`t feel as if it was correctly placed on the pedal (no matter which cleat position I choose), thus I can`t put real pressure on my left pedal. Same applies for walking and standing, i.e. when I stand on my left leg it feels as if there`s no real contact point between my foot and the floor (whereas with my right foot it feels totally normal as the pressure is distributed in balanced fashion through my ball and the heel) Any ideas?

  2. In one of your videos about doing a basic bike fit you mention about measuring with a plumb line from your knee to the centre of the pedal. Can an individuals physiology have a bearing on setting up a comfortable ride. ie different leg length and foot size? I can never seem to get it quite right .I'm 54 year old male, 5ft 6in but only take a size 5 five in a children's shoe. I suffer from chronic neck pain within 10-20 mins of cycling. It soon becomes so unbearable to the point I can't move my neck. I've even raised the stem because the low reach position means constantly looking up which sets off the spasms. I used to love riding my bike in my teens and do so now except the chronic pain which curtails the chance of doing some serious cycling. I'd love to train to be able to do a short 35-50 mile time trail, but would never make it without ending up in excruciating pain. Help!

  3. @GlobalCyclingNetwork please explain more for a women bike fit…can they ride a unisex or is female bikes more convenient for them.

  4. can you go into more detail on how to adjust cleat positions or wedges even. I just can't seem to get mine right and I'm experiencing a bit of knee pain. Thanks guys love the channel.

  5. I have a rider with what seems like a chronic pain on the back of his left leg that sometimes affects its ankle and sometimes moves up the back of the leg and knee going all the way to his glutes. We have performed several adjustments that have improved the riding but the pain doesn't seem to go away…. by the way the pain us felt by the rider before and after the ride not while riding….Any advice?

  6. Well done Simon I am one of those guilty of moving their saddle to get a good bar to saddle reach so your advice on altering my stem reach once I had achieved a good KOPS was welcomed. Although Peter White questions the validity of the KOPS method.

  7. EFFECTIVE TOP TUBE LENGTH…EFFECTIVE TOP TUBE LENGTH….EFFECTIVE TOP TUBE LENGTH….that is THE PRIMARY consideration in selecting a frame size and then adjusting the nuances of a shorter/longer stem, moving saddle forward/backward, adjusting crank length and cleat placement.

    But almost no one recognizes effective top tube length as the primary consideration for fit. And because of that reason bicycle fitting is a "voo-doo" practice of almost hit or miss.

    Sheldon Brown explains this VERY well.

  8. I definitely think it should be stressed that these are tips to give you a general starting point, but that you should not be afraid to experiment and find what works best for you. Just because the guy at the bike shop says it's right, doesn't mean it is. The by-the-book KOPS setup is dreadful for some riders. I found that I always had way too much weight on my hands, and always felt I was sliding forward off my seat. Moving the seat back a bit increased my power significantly, and made riding way more comfortable in general. Also, as I ride in the drops 90% of the time, a shorter more angled stem puts them at a better position, when I want a super-aero tuck, I just bend my elbows a bit more.

    If you're an average height light-weight cyclist, on a mid size frame, These tips will probably be quite close, but if you're really tall/short/heavy, etc. you'll probably find that your ideal setup could be quite different.

  9. I'm 5'1 and going for a 43cm tomorrow but the seat is quite low to the frame, and the stand over height is fine does this sound ok?

  10. i have set my seat position using your methods. I am still getting quite a lot of pain in my hips. I have gone from no cycling to 110 mile commute to work per week, which i have been doing for around 6 weeks so far. Any advise would be appreciated.

  11. Hiya,
    I've just bought a new cross bike and used the inseam method to get the right saddle height which feels really comfortable. When I rode my new bike back from the shop the saddle was way too slow and my lower back and the front of my knees hurt, but not anymore. Now, however, I'm experiencing pain in my elbows/arms/wrists as I'm resting my weight a lot on the handlebars for some reason. I also find myself trying to scoot back onto the saddle at times. Should I move my saddle backwards or forwards?-at the moment it's dead centre. Or should I tilt the saddle upwards ever so slightly? Or should I raise the handlebars a little? The discomfort lasts even after I've stopped riding so the strain on my upper body seems to be quite significant.
    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!( If this helps I'm also quite short – 157cm and ride a 43 cm frame) – could the problem be that the frame is too small? Apologies for the essay

  12. I've recently started riding road bike. went for a 40 miles ride after two weeks. While riding i feel pressure on my forearms and wrist, especially on left hand.

  13. When you talk about adjusting reach it is via adjusting stem length but there is no mention about how the "reach" of the handlebars themselves affect overall reach. Should this be a concern when you opt to replace your handlebars? For example, would you need to go to a longer stem if you replace bars that had a 80mm reach with ones that have a 70?

  14. Sorry, total noob question here. I'm a woman, but I don't know if I am built such that I would necessarily benefit from a woman's bike. Can any bike (woman's/men's/unisex) be adjusted to fit me in a bike fitting, or would measurements be done before I buy a bike to determine whether I need gender specific geometry? Thanks. Love your channel.

  15. Im feeling a lot of pressure in my hands when riding, and end up with wrist pain, thumb pain and numb pointing finger. How do I fix this?

  16. Hi all can anyone help with this one.I have done a bike fit everything is fine but when out on the bike after 10 or so miles my feet are going numb (not through coldness) any ideas please thanks in advance

  17. I'm 6 feet tall with a 33" inseam and looking for either a 56 or 58 Specialized Langster. Which frame size would be best for me I'm having trouble deciding.

  18. Does this setup guide also work for a touring bike like a Riese & Mueller Delite? I guess the positions and angles are different.

  19. I recently shifted from a Scott speedster to a Reacto. It's pretty aggressive and i feel a lower back pain on my first few rides. should i attempt to reduce the stem length or should i just concentrate on core strengthening? (I work out for my core everyday)

  20. Serious question below #torqueback , even though it could not seem so.
    If I steer the wheel while pedaling and my foot touches the wheel, does it mean I'm riding a wrong size bike or that my feet are too long?
    Thanks in advance.

  21. HI Guys Love your show it's like Top Gear for cycling! Loved the 'what not to wear' and 'what not to eat' – total jokes!
    I've just bought a rather snazzy cross bike, I've done a bit off faffing with the fit, bought a shorter stem, the chap in bike shop said it looked like the right fit for me i.e. slight bend at elbows. However I have just done a half hour ride on the common and now have a pain between my shoulder blades. Now could this be because this is the first time I have ridden in a few years (or any exercise for that matter) after having a baby, so I'm super unfit or does my bike fit need further tweaking? Also I used to ride MTB so my this is my first time using hoods and drops. Thanks x

  22. Can you tackle common fit issues? Issues that you'd run into with too short or long of reach, potential power loss or gain with setback position, etc

  23. Would love to see some more videos on saddle and bar adjustments for hybrid straight bar bikes. Also some examples like if you are having pain near back or shoulders what could be wrong type of suggestions.

  24. I am confused if 54 or 56 is the right fit, I am 5.11 in height and when I tried 54 size i could feel my legs too close to my stomach when peddling, where as on 56 there some pain on my fore arms. which size with what adjustments should be done.

  25. I get problems with my shoulders after longer rides (greater than 100km). I recently hired a similar-sized road bike whilst on holiday and on that bike the reach was shorter, which I realised was much more comfortable for me. So, I did a quick self-check of my geometry on my own bike, and my arm and back angles are 94 and 40 degrees, respectively, suggesting that my reach is indeed too long. I therefore think I need a shorter stem. I currently have quite a long stem (110-130mm, depending on what points I measure to and from). My question is, how much shorter a stem should I go for? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  26. I stumbled on a fascinating article about bike fitting. Apparently you can use your body to set up your bike correctly. Is it true? Here is the link: https://cyclingtips.com/2010/04/science-of-bike-fitting/

  27. hello there. i started cycling again after leaving the scene 15years ago. i just got a roadbike. Tarmac 2018 Specialized. my problem right now, i think the measurement isnt right. im having severe backache.. and also my arms gets numb after 20-30miles. i am also thinking that my bike is not properly setup. what should i do?

  28. I have a 2017 Giant TCR. Recently I flipped the stem as the riding position was a bit uncomfortable for 150+ km rides (lower back pain). Initially it looked to be a good move as my speed increased around 5-6% during endurance rides. Bu now, after a couple of rides with the flipped stem I have pain on the middle of my back. What can be wrong?

  29. I am 6'tall with 33" inseam and recently bought a new Trek Domane Al 2.I ended up with a 54 cm frame.It feels good and the riding position is good.Now I wonder if I got the right size.

  30. Hi I am, 5'3" I have Large size (19.5") hybrid bike. I am feeling that, frame size is bit bigger for me. Is there a scope to adjust the bike for my Fit? Would you please let me know what setting I need to do? Many thanks in advance!

  31. I think it takes a lot of riding to tweak your bike. You really need to get in tune with the feedback from your body. Also be prepared to tweak every ride until you are happy. I commute daily so this is easy. It took me 6months to get set. Also when starting cycling you might be stiff and not used to cycling so your set up will be different from when you ha e been cycling regular for 12months. Don’t be afraid to tweak things. This also applies to when you lose a chunk of weight. Adjustments might be needed.

  32. Borrowed a bike with an integrated seatpost where the saddle was 5-6cm too low. How much power loss does this cause?

  33. I switched MTB to Road Bike a few months earlier and I'm having neck pain after 40-50 km+ Riding.What to do??? 😐

  34. is there any simple measurement to determine bize size using arm length and ..let say.. top tube length?? there is one bike shop do tat but cant rmb wat he told me

  35. Layback question.

    I'm 6ft / 33.5" inseam. I have a 19,5 frame. I'm using a setback seat post and my seat is as far back as it can go and my knees are still 2" in front of the pedal spindle.

    Does this mean my frame is too small or wrong frame geometry all together?

  36. New at riding and lots of new experiences yesterday a girl tried picking me up. And today I got nailed in the head with a McDonald’s cup full of some orange drink by some asshole. Lol was nice and cool though.

  37. I love your channel! I've learned so much watching your videos. I was hoping you can give me some advice: I am 5 ft 5 inches (165.1 cm) & my inseam is 34 inches (86.36 cm). When I look at bike fit charts, my height recommends a small size road bike while my inseam recommends a bigger size. I want to be comfortable when I ride, do you have any suggestions?

  38. I have learned on my fixed gear that when fitting your bike I found it easier to raise the saddle of a bit better, you have more stability and be able to BUST ASSSS

  39. is it normal that when i'm over the saddle, standing up over the bike, i'm on my tip-toes? or does that mean my seat is too high?

  40. What do you have to say about glute vs quad dominate technique in regards to bike fit? you say you'll cover this later, but do you have another video covering this? I don't see anything in this video

  41. Brilliant video. Went for a first bike ride in months on my new bike.. and my knees were painful after and my quads are now really tight and painful.. any tips?

  42. I am yet to find a bike that doesn't give Me the-base-of-the-neck -pain after as little as 30-40km. Two of My bikes (cross-country / trail MTBs with slicks for touring) have been fitted to My anatomy, but My particularly robust and inflexible gorilla neck keeps aching nonetheless. Idem My drop bar bike (albeit unfitted). I'm worried My soon-to-be-acquired gravel bike might give My neck more trouble yet (or ache the same). A gorilla neck does helps against knockouts, but it, unquestionably, is a nuisance when riding.

  43. Hi sir, i have got ITB at right leg , but nothing on left leg . pretty comfort fit for left leg but not for right one ,what might cause this issue

  44. Hi, i have pain in my lower back due to ankylosing spondylitis, is there anything that i can do to minimize the pain while riding? i have Trek Xcalibur 7 and ride 18kms(one hour on bike) on weekdays and 90+kms(7-8 hours on bike) on weekends.

  45. I just bought a spin bike and I am having severe tailbone and lower back pain. I don't know what adjustments I need to make so this stops, each time I get on the bike i rehurt it .

  46. After 1/2 hr in the saddle I get a numb/ pins & needles left foot. I understand it may be my knackered old body or if there is something to try. I feel comfortable riding. Changed footwear (I'm afraid I'm an old school toe clips man). Anybody suffered the same?

  47. So long as it is comfortable then you are good to ride, bike fit is especially for pro cyclist to enhance their performance but if you are just a regular cyclist then it doesnt have too much difference 🙁

  48. Hi if you were 1 or 2 cm below the next size up on a frame would you go for the bigger size ? Thanks

  49. One of my bikes gives me lower back pain after the ride. The bike is a 54. I'm 5'11 and weight 190 do you think is to small or the fitting is incorrect?

  50. I must laugh at all of these fit videos because they always involve fitting you on a single platform horned seat. So this is like saying "Let me show you how to smoke properly" because traditional nosed seats caused an incredible amount of urological and neurological damage. The damage is accumulative so unfortunately people ride for years and then at some point after much damage has been done they realize all is not good. So be warned: be fit like this and suffer a lot later.:

    Dr. Steven Schrader, a reproductive physiologist with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), is one of the world’s leading experts on bicycle seats and the human anatomy.

    Dr. Steven Schrader: “When you sit on a chair you never put weight on the perineum. But when you sit on a bike, you increase pressure on the perineum sevenfold.

    The research shows that when riders sit on a classic saddle with a long nose, a quarter of their body weight places pressure on the perineum. The amount of oxygen reaching the penis typically falls 70% to 80% in 3 minutes. A guy can sit on a saddle and have his penis oxygen levels drop 100% but he doesn’t know it. After half an hour he goes numb.

    Today’s ergonomic saddles with splits in the back or holes in the center to relieve pressure on the perineum may make matters worse because they have smaller surface areas, and thus the rider’s weight presses harder on less saddle. The arteries in the perineum run laterally and they are not directly over the cutouts. The arteries come under more pressure when they come into contact with the cutouts’ edges.

    It is no longer a question of whether or not bicycle riding on a saddle causes erectile dysfunction. Instead the question is, What are we going to do about it?”

  51. Hi great video. How do you prioritise saddle height for performance vs feet on the ground at traffic lights please? Thanks.

  52. I have been riding my road bike for more than ten years now and have finally gotten serious about adjusting it to fit me. The video is good as it outlines the fundamental steps in order: saddle height, saddle fore-aft and reach. I have been adjusting saddle fore-aft and have found that having the saddle further aft makes my riding dramatically more powerful and comfortable. I'm more powerful because I am leaning over more and that makes me use my core muscles more and I'm more comfortable because in this position more of my weight is on my seat and pedals, where it should be, and not on my hands.

    It is not immediately obvious that moving the saddle aft will take weight off your hands but it does. As far as I am concerned this is a crucial result of the adjustment. I checked casually for my knee over pedal position and figure my knee is aft of the pedal spindle but I'm sure it doesn't matter. Knee over pedal is just a guideline.

  53. Hello GCN !
    I'm a fan for long time now, maybe 3-4 years, and this year, I'm finishing my degree in Physical Therapy. For my thesis, I choose a subject around posture for cyclists to prevent chronic pain. Now I'm looking for bibliography, and I went back to some years ago on you chanel.
    Finally the question : Do you have bibliography about the numbers you give ? about angles of the hip with the back, angle of the shoulders (2'32"), but also for the "plumb line".
    thank you for your attention, I hope to have a response soon
    Simon

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