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Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Proper Bike Fitting

Posted by dr.erica On July - 18 - 20105 COMMENTS
bikefitpic 300x225 Proper Bike Fitting Auburn, CA

Proper bike fitting is important to preventing injury.

Biking can be a very good exercise, especially for those who cannot undergo sustained weight bearing movements. However, in order to prevent injury and improper joint wear, the bike should be properly fitted to your body. 

Seat Height
Using a doorway or other method of support to hold the bike upright, have someone stand behind you and watch your hips while you pedal backwards.  If your hips rock side to side, the seat is probably too high.  If there is more than a slight bend (15 degrees) in the knees at the bottom of the pedal stroke (6:00), the seat is probably too low.

Seat Fore/Aft
The seat is a proper distance from the handlebars when a plumb-line (any piece of string with a weight on the end) hanging from your kneecap, touches the end of the crank arm.  If you’re over 6 feet tall, ride long distances, climb a lot and pedal at about 90 rpm, you may prefer to be as much as 1 to 2 cm behind the end of the crank arm.  If you’re less than 6-feet tall, spin at 95 rpm or faster and like to sprint, you’ll probably prefer to be directly over the end of the crank arm.

Handlebar Height
For the recreational rider, your trunk should be 40-80 degrees from horizontal.  The shoulder to trunk angle should be 80-90 degrees.  For the road cyclist, trunk position should be 30-40 degrees and the shoulder angle 90-100 degrees.  Rule of Thumb:  In general, the top of the handlebar should be about one to two inches lower that the top of your saddle (for accomplished cyclists interested in aerodynamics [on the road] and good weight distribution [off the road] sometimes go as much as 4 inches).

Hand width
For the recreational rider, hand width should be slightly wider than shoulders.  For the road cyclist, hands should be approximately 2 centimeters wider than the shoulders.

Leg angles
When leg is at 3:00 in pedal stroke, knee should be directly over pedal and bent knee angle should not be more than 90 degrees.  When knee is at 6:00, there should be approximately 15 degree angle, only a slight bend.  The knee to pedal angle should be 35-45 degrees for a recreational cyclist, and 30-35 degrees for a road cyclist.


Knee Pain is usually associated with a seat position that is too high, low, forward or back.  Improper bike shoe or cleat position can also cause knee pain.

  • Pain in the back of the knee, backside or outside of thigh: seat may be too high or too far back, too much pedal float
  • Pain in the front of the knee: Seat too low, foot too far forward on pedal, pushing BIG gears
  • Pain at medial knee: foot position too wide, toes pointed out, or too little pedal float
  • Pain at lateral knee: cleat position to narrow, toes pointed in, or too little pedal float

Another cause of knee pain is using too high of a gear.  Try to use a gear that allows you to pedal quickly, about 70-100 strokes per minute.

Foot numbness may be due to the a toe clip that is too tight, shoes that are too tight, or sole of shoe is too soft thus compressing the digital nerve

Neck pain is commonly due to riding a bike that is too long or having handlebars that are too low.  Tight hamstrings or hip flexors can also cause this by forcing your spine to round or arch, and your neck to hyperextend.

Hand pain/numbness can be prevented by wearing padded gloves and slightly bending elbows.

[image by ryoichitanaka]

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