Pedal to the Metal

This post is for all of my cycling friends.

I’d never really thought about bike fit until one day my physiotherapist (who ironically was helping me with my dud shoulder from my bike accident many moons ago) asked how I feel when I ride my bike. I quickly answered, “Oh, fine.” – only to notice on the ride home that yeah, my shoulder twinges with how I grab the handlebars. Uh oh.

So being me and believing that most things can be improved upon, I started making adjustments. Well, this week my tinkering backfired. I learned that bike fit matters immensely. I went to the bike shop and got them to add an extender to raise my handlebars. Thus, my mountain bike looked like an Amsterdam cycle. Odd, but my shoulders thanked me. Then, when I hit my first hill on the way to work, I went into shock. I fully considered getting off my bike to walk up something that I can usually, decently chug up. Another uh oh. Sure, I had happy shoulders, but absolutely no leverage with my handlebars so high.

I’ve Googled lots and returned to the bike shop knowing more about the three critical points of contact: handlebars, seat, and pedals. Your handlebars should be lower than your seat if you want more speed or greater traction. And your arms should be able to reach your handlebars with a slight bend in them to act as shock absorbers. (Mine weren’t doing that very well.) Your seat most likely should have a slight tilt up at the front, so you don’t slide towards your handlebars or rest the majority of your weight forward. (Something I was doing.) And when your leg extends down to pedal, the knee of that leg should be slightly bent. (That, at least, I knew!)

Those are the generalities to get you cyclists thinking. Here I’ve been a commuter cyclist for well over 10 years without really putting much thought into my setup, because it was decent, yet not quite right.


About gwenamon

bookworm, confidante, creative director, cyclist, global wanderer, music lover, shutterbug, shoe shopper, snowboarder, writer, yoga geek. i'm also a very proud mama of a lil mister named james.
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One Response to Pedal to the Metal

  1. Lolafalona says:

    You won’t believe this, but as a girl who cycles primarily indoors at spin class, they actually taught me how to adjust my bike exactly as you described! Maybe I will have to take my spin tour out on the road one day ;))))

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