Unsurprisingly, as you will discover if you attend cycling classes, it’s important to ensure your bike is actually suited to your body size before you can start making the most of it. If your bike frame is too big you will find it clumsy and slow to respond when riding, whereas if it is too small it will become nervous, especially when descending. Unfortunately, however, although buying a bike based on the advice of a shop assistant can work out fine, it is worth bearing in mind that they may have an ulterior motive for recommending a certain bike; for example, it may be that they are finding it hard to get rid of a particular model. If you are serious about cycling and want to ensure your purchase is as comfortable and supportive as possible, look for shops offering bike fit services. Once you have exact measurements to hand, finding the perfect bike becomes simple.
Having been running cycling classes and cycling clubs for years, I often come across individuals who have spent a great deal of money on a new bike before they actually know what to look for. As a result, they will often end up with something ill-suited to their needs. The following three points are the main things I encourage people on my cycling classes to look at when making this important decision…
Top tube length. The length of this tube has a huge impact on the overall feel of your bike. The taller you are, the longer it should be to ensure good handling during both climbs and descents.
Saddle height and position. Knowing how high your saddle should be is crucial if you want to avoid experiencing aches and pains further down the line. If it’s too high, you run the risk of damaging the tendons behind your knee and also creating problems in your lower back. On the other hand, if it’s too low, you may well experience knee pain (particularly in the front of the knee). Similarly, sitting too far back on the bike can also cause difficulties, so be sure your fitting is conducted by an experienced professional. Ideally, when sat on your bike, your pelvis shouldn't rock when pedalling; your leg should be extended in line with the seat tube, with your heel just below the horizontal line of the pedal at the bottom of the stroke.
Handlebar width. Selecting the correct handlebar width for you is important. Handlebars that are too wide cause the weight transfer of your upper body to give you neck and shoulder pain. Overly narrow handlebars, on the other hand, can constrict your breathing and put your arm muscles under stress.
Find out more…
If you’re interested in learning more tips and improving your performance and think you might be interested in attending cycling classes yourself, simply visit our website www.sportactive.net. Here you’ll also be able to pick up a free copy of our new guide, “How to become an expert road cyclist: Top tips to improve your experience of one of the world’s most popular individual sports”, packed with information on everything from how to brake correctly to the etiquette of riding in a group.