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4 Road bike adjustments to help you find the right riding position

The first misconception many new cyclists make about their bike is that it will suit them and their riding style straight out of the box. Sometimes it does! But that’s rare, and you’re most likely going to have to try a few different positions – and saddles, different stems, or even handlebars – to find the one that’s right for you.

Setting up a road bike correctly and finding your perfect position on it is vital for efficiency, speed, performance and to help prevent injury. Consider this your no-nonsense checklist for finding your ideal riding position...

Cycling base layers in the Summer
First, the frame

Our bikes all come with a size, which correlates to your height. Don’t worry if you find you’re in between sizes; this is really just to narrow down your options. Next, you need to work out your ‘stand over’ height, which just means testing which of the sizes you’re choosing between allows you to safely get on and off the bike without having to raise your leg uncomfortably high or get your arms tangled up. The aim is to have 3-4cm of space between you and the top of the bike.

Sort the saddle

Finding your ideal bike riding position relies heavily on the saddle. You need a bike saddle that supports you properly and you’ll know it does when the big bones in your pelvis make contact with it. It should feel a bit like a puzzle slotting into place – if it doesn’t, or if you feel like you’re putting weight on the fleshiest bits of your bottom, try a different saddle.

Getting your saddle height right is one of the most important parts of finding your riding position, so don’t be afraid to take your time. When you’re at the bottom of the pedal stroke, your knee should have a slight bend in it, which you can make happen by putting your heel on the pedal and pedalling backwards slowly. If you find yourself reaching, your bike saddle is too high. If you don’t quite lock out your knee, it’s too low. Adjust from there.

How far forwards or backwards your bike saddle is will also affect your riding position, so play around with that too.

Hone the handlebars

You’ve probably realised by now, finding the best riding position is mostly trial and error, and that’s certainly true with the handlebars. Go for a short ride in a traffic-free place to assess how much you’ll need to adjust them. If your shoulders and neck are aching post-ride, that’s probably because you’re reaching too far and need a shorter stem. Pain in your lower back? Perhaps your handlebars are too low.

Position your pedals

Lastly, check the pedals. To avoid inflammation and numbness in your feet and leg strains, you need to make sure they’re positioned correctly. This isn’t rocket science – you just need to feel natural and comfortable, as well as in control. If you’re worried you won’t be able to find the pedal quickly in an emergency, it could be in the wrong place.

Riding style

All of the above has helped you work out how to set up your bike to suit your body, but as you progress you’ll also want to consider the best riding position for the type of cycling you do. Generally, for less-intense rides, you’ll be sat in an upright position and if you like to chop and change your cycling style or have a hybrid bike, you’ll favour a 60° position.

Going forward

Over time you’ll either get more comfortable in the position you've chosen, or you won’t, and it's okay to change it. You may want to enlist the help of a professional, should a bit of tweaking not solve your issues. At Decathlon, our in-store experts are always happy to take a look.

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