A Comfortable, Efficient Position on the Bike

Tips on a Comfortable, Efficient Position on the Bike by Murray Priestley

Good positioning on the bike is very important for efficient mountain biking. The height of the seat should allow you to have your foot at the lowest point in the pedal stroke. Still, it should leave some room for a slight bend in your knee. Your hips will rock when you pedal if you extend your legs fully. However, if the bend in knee is too much, the full pedal power will not get to the pedals. You run the risk of leg cramps and discomfort with incorrect positioning on the bike.

When you have your foot and pedal in the "3 o’clock" position, your knee should be directly over the pedal. For that, you will need to adjust your seat position by moving it forward or backward.

The width of the handlebars in your bike should be approximately
equal to your shoulder width. Its position should be at the same level as the seat.

A slight bend in your elbows will help you absorb shock while riding. A change in stem length may also be helpful. You will have a wide variety of stem sizes in your local cycle shop.

Keeping the hands straight and changing hand positions occasionally help avoid hand numbness over long rides. The grip should be firm, but relaxed. For additional positioning options, you can have a set of bar-ends.

You should position yourself on the seat on a comfortable saddle
well behind the cranks. The position should be so that it does not numb the plumbing or crush the folds. Your body weight should be on your butt while riding, not your hands.

There should be a noticeable bend in your elbow as you ride the brake hoods. This will keep your forearm more horizontal than your upper arm. Your position on the bike should give your body a good amount of flexibility. You should be able to make the necessary body movements without a strain while on the move. You can push the seat a little back and keep the bars much higher. This will allow you to grab the tops (the straight section of the bar next to the stem) gently without "falling into" them.

It is not impossible to find such a position in bikes. However, most people prefer small bikes because they are lighter, stiffer, stronger and more responsive. Experienced bike riders usually associate big frame bikes with newcomers. That is why they avoid bikes with big frames. However, when it comes to performance, those bikes are quite okay. A big frame bike provides a better perch with its weight, rust and squeaks. It gives a comfortable riding position.

Settling on a saddle height is the first step to determine the proper frame size of the bike. The saddle height is the distance from the top of the saddle to the center of the bottom bracket. The seat tube angle determines this height to some extent. If you go farther behind the pedals on your seat, you will be farther away for any given saddle height. The saddle height of your bike should give you a comfortable position with proper leg extension.

The saddle height and fore-and-aft ness should allow you to have a slight bend in your knee at the bottom of the stroke. After you set the saddle height and fore-and-aft ness, you can raise the bars slightly to ensure more comfort. Most of the riders have the tops of the bars where the drops are. The drops remain down so far that they never get to them. There are various reasons why they cannot raise the bars enough. It may be due to a short stem quill or a low stem angle. It may also happen if the frame is too small. Sometimes, the reason may be a combination of all these. The most common way to raise the stem on a bike is with either an up jotter like those you find on some mountain bikes or a long-quill "periscope" style.

Copyright 2005 Murray Priestley. This article is an excert from a new downloadable ebook. For more information see http://www.terrainskills.com/


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