5 of the most common bike fit mistakes that you should avoid

We take a look at how you can set your bike up to prevent discomfort and injuries

Clock22:18, Thursday 22nd February 2024

Your bike fit is up there with the most important things to get right on your bike. It can be the difference between a pleasurable experience that has you spontaneously adding extra few kilometres to your ride, or heading home early with your tail between your legs.

However, getting the fit of your bike right isn’t as easy as it first might seem, and many of us end up riding in incorrect positions for years and years.

We teamed up with professional bike fitter Jake Yarranton to get his take on the five of the most common mistakes riders make and most importantly, how you can avoid them.

Setting the wrong saddle height

Finding your optimal saddle height is a science in its own right with each person's preference slightly different from the next. The best way to get the perfect saddle height for you is to get a professional bike fit however, these can be costly.

For most of us, it's possible to find a comfortable saddle height at home. To do so, sit on the saddle and put your heels on the pedals. When your foot is at the lowest point of the pedal stroke you should have a straight leg. When using this method it is crucial to make sure that as you pass through the entire pedal stroke your hips are stable and do not dip to compensate for having the saddle too high.

Using worn-out cleats

For those of you that use clipless pedals, continuing to use worn-out cleats is a fast-track way of picking up an injury. As the cleat wears away it opens up the potential for it to slide around on the surface of the pedal. This instability can easily cause knee or hip pain as the joints have to try and stabilise the foot more.

Checking your cleats against a new set to see if they are showing signs of degradation is the easiest way to work out if it is time to replace them. Investing in replacing your cleats routinely can also prevent additional wear to the pedal itself, potentially saving you money in the long run.

Saddle discomfort

If you find that out on a ride, you are constantly readjusting your position in an attempt to find a comfortable position on your saddle, something needs to change. Saddle discomfort is not something that should be normalised and typically can easily be rectified.

Head to a bike shop that has a demo range of saddles allows you to try out a range of shapes and widths to find something that works with the shape of your pelvis.

Handlebar connection

How you naturally hold your handlebars can tell you a lot about your bike fit. A well-fitting bike will provide a comfortable riding position whilst holding the shifters with a finger or two covering the brake levers. If you find that you naturally rest your hands towards the back of the shifter it might be a sign that your bars are too far away from you. Fitting a slightly shorter stem that is 10-20mm less than the one currently fitted can allow you to have a better connection with the bars and shifters.

Lever position

Never take it as a given that your levers have been fitted evenly. On a new bike, you might assume that the levers have been fitted level with each other, however this is not always the case.

Having your levers at different levels can cause upper back pain as it can cause your shoulders to twist to compensate for the difference. Don't rely on the markers on the bars either, as it's often the case that they are printed inconsistently. Instead, find a way of objectively measuring the position of the levers on the bars, ideally with a tape measure.

What would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments section below and for more on bike fit make sure to check this article out on preventing pain whilst riding.

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