Getting your bike set up

Man setting up a bike for a comfortable ride

Choosing the right bike for you is the first step - now it’s time to set it up. By making a few simple adjustments your bike will be a perfect fit.

Riding position

Your riding position can be altered by adjusting the saddle and handlebars. There are three things you want to achieve:

  1. The right saddle height – to make the most of your leg power and to make sure you can put a reassuring foot on the ground.
  2. Good contact with your pedals to maximise the power in your legs.
  3. Ability to reach the handlebars and your brakes – for good control and comfort. Everyone is different so you will need to find a comfortable balance that suits you.

Handlebar position

Well positioned handlebars are crucial for your comfort, and important for control of your steering and brakes.

Handlebars vary in how they can be adjusted. A good position to start is with your handlebars at the same height as your saddle. If you prefer a more aerodynamic ‘head down’ position, lower the bars. If you want a ‘head up’ riding position that’s easier on your back and gives confidence in traffic, raise the bars.

Make sure you can still reach the brake levers once you’ve adjusted your handlebars!

Saddle position

Getting the saddle in the right place will help you get the most from your pedal power without straining your body.

Some bikes have a handy feature that allows you to move the saddle forwards or backwards and adjust its angle. Adjust the saddle so your leg pushes vertically down on the pedal. If you find you want to slide forward or backwards as you ride, adjust the saddle to suit.

Use an adjustable spanner or an allen key (depending on your bike) to loosen the bolt underneath the saddle at the top of the seat post. You can then slide your saddle backwards or forwards and tilt it up or down. Tighten it well before trying it out!

Adjusting saddle height

Follow these three steps to find the right height for your saddle:

  1. Place your bike next to a large wall.
  2. Hop on and put one hand on the wall for balance.
  3. Put the ball of your foot on the pedal at its lowest point without stretching. Your leg should be straight. If you find you’re rocking from side to side when you ride, you’re probably too high and cycling will be harder work.

To adjust the height of your saddle undo the bolt or quick release at the top of the frame so you can slide the seat post up or down, making sure you don’t go past the minimum mark. 

If your seat needs to be higher than the seat post allows, you need a longer seat post or a bigger bike.

Different saddles

Women tend to have wider hips than men, and so women’s saddles are wider than men’s for the correct fit. Do make sure your saddle is comfortable – it can make all the difference to the enjoyment of riding your bike.

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