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Riding position - advice from British Cycling

Added 10 Jun 2014
Riding position - advice from British Cycling

In the first of regular advice from our friends at British Cycling, read on to find out how to find the best riding position for you.

Riding a bike should be an enjoyable and comfortable experience but many people find it unnecessarily uncomfortable and are put off. However, by following a few simple steps, you can easily find your perfect position on the bike and always guarantee a comfortable ride.

Stand-over Height
A good starting point for determining if a bike is roughly the right size for you and safe to ride is to assess stand-over height. Simply straddle the bike with your feet flat on the ground and the top tube should be approximately an inch beneath your groin. On some bikes the top tube is sloping and this distance may be greater but if you’re unable to straddle the bike in this way, it’s definitely too big for you.

Saddle Height
Setting the correct saddle height is probably the most important aspect of bike setup for ensuring comfortable and efficient cycling.
Too low and you’ll feel cramped and put excessive strain on your knees. Too high and your hips will rock from side to side and potentially put strain on your lower back.

With a friend holding the bike, sit on the saddle and place the balls of your feet on the pedals. With the pedal at the bottom of the pedal stroke (six o’clock), there should be a slight bend in your knee. You shouldn’t feel as though you are having to stretch but your leg should feel extended and not cramped.

If you need to adjust the height you will need to loosen the seat post clamp. There will either be a quick release lever which operates using a simple cam mechanism or a bolt that will require an Allen key. Once you’ve got the height correct, retighten the clamp, taking care not to over-tighten. If you’re unsure or the seat-post won’t move, take the bike to your local bike shop.

Saddle fore and aft
It’s also possible to move the saddle forwards and backwards. This will require an Allen key. This adjustment is made to ensure optimal pedalling efficiency and not to adjust reach to the handlebars.

Again, with a friend holding the bike, bring the pedals round until they’re in a horizontal position (three and nine o’clock). With the balls of your feet on the pedals, the knee of your front leg should be directly above the pedal.

british cycling riding position 

Want more advice like this? The British Cycling Insight Zone is full of comprehensive cycling advice and know-how from British Cycling’s experts, to help you improve your riding. The Insight Zone is available here.

British Cycling members have full access to the Insight Zone - become a member today and enjoy:
Up to £10m third party liability insurance  
Peace of mind insurance to keep you covered every time you ride your bike
Free legal support and advice
Access to our expert team who can help you in the event of an incident
Discounts on cycling gear
Enjoy discounts at Wiggle (at least 12% off) and Halfords (10% off)