So  this time we will go through the basics in setting a person up on a bike. bear in mind this is for recreational and leisure cycling, at the end of this section i will explain the difference....


Now that we have delved into the different types of bikes out there, which one to choose to suit your needs and why, we can look at a few finer details to set up your position to make your rides more comfortable.

So lets start with

saddle height:

At the bottom of the pedal stroke, your leg should never be completely straight. There should always be a slight bend in your knee at the bottom of the stroke. Ideally, the bend is between 5 and 10 degrees. If it is more than 10 degrees, raise the seat post up until the bend is within the range. If it is less than 5 degrees, lower the seat until the bend is within the range. This will also optimize your pedal stroke, making your bike respond better. One quick way to check this measurement: If you notice that you are bobbing from left to right as you ride, the seat is too high. If you feel that you are working too hard, unable to gain speed or climb hills properly, your seat may be too low.

Seat position:

If your knees hurt when you ride, chances are that your seat position may be too far forward or too far back. When sitting on the seat with your feet on the pedals, the center of your knee should be directly over the pedal axle when the pedal is perfectly horizontal in the 3 o'clock position. You can check this by placing your bike in a trainer. Climb on the bike. Put your feet on the pedals and rotate one of them to the 3 o'clock position. Hang a weighted string from the center of your knee. It should intersect the pedal axle straight down the middle. If your knee is too far forward or too far back, slide the seat forward or back until you center your knee above the pedal axle. If you can't get this measurement right no matter how much you adjust the seat, the bike is the wrong size. Get a different bike.

Finally if you are cycling with clipless pedals (will discuss the benefits of this later), make sure that your cleats are set up correctly.


Pedal alignment:

If you are running pedals that clip to your shoe -- very common on modern bikes -- you can rely on the pedal to get your knee aligned left and right. Pedals that lock your knee into position keep your knees facing forward, but they also have a small amount of float. Pedals like this will typically allow your knees to angle about 6 degrees from side to side, which is within the recommended range of movement. This angle will be determined by your style of riding, and your legs will naturally find the best position within the 6-degree float. If your knees hurt because the pedal is forcing them into a proper position, it might take some getting accustomed to. If it continues to hurt, your knee may need medical attention.



To “clip in” or not to, that is the question.

You may have noticed many cyclists, road and mountain bike cyclists are “clipped into” their pedals and often wondered why would they do that.. there are many many benefits to being clipped in. However, for many, the thought of being clipped in strikes fear and thoughts of not getting “unclipped” in time when stopping or in an emergency stop. But with practice clipping in and out  (which bike stores should help you learn how to clip in and out so when you leave the store you have some confidence already using them) it will become a breeze and you won’t look back.

So, lets look at some of the benefits cycling clipless.

  1. Efficiency
    With your feet attached to the pedals and your body attached to your feet, you become one with your bike, which means more energy and power makes its way to each pedal stroke giving you more power in your pedalling action
  2. Power
    Clipless pedals let you pull on the upstroke as efficiently as you push down, creating a smooth and constant application of power through each crank rotation, so you end up using way more muscle groups this, spreading the workload more evenly allowing for faster, stronger pedalling.
  3. Confidence
    When clipping in and out becomes second nature, you'll begin to realise how at one you are with your bike. The bike will respond to your bodies movements giving you more confidence in your riding style.
  4. Control
    Clipless pedals give you more control of your bike, when using normal pedals you never really in control as when you hop over obstacles, you feel your feet may leave the pedals, but being clipped in, the bike will respond to your every move and direction change you need almost immediately.

clipless pedals for the majority have float adjustability. Meaning that you can allow a certain amount of movement for your feet laterally while clipped in. this is to ensure that your knee does not strain and move around unnecessarily. Your knees require movement to function and having them locked in without being professionally set can lead to injuring your knees. When using normal pedals for long rides or off road trail riding can lead to too much knee movement and the knees at wrong angles with weight bearing actions could lead to knee injuries. But when clipped in correctly and the right amount of “float” you can experience years and years of happy riding.

It is important that your cleats are correctly fitted to your shoes. To get the cleat centered to the ball of your foot the easiest method is too stand against the floorboards and measure from the floorboard to the ball of your foot. That would be next to the knuckle below your big toe. For arguments sake say it is 9cm, you then measure from the heel of your cycling shoe to the side of the shoe the 9cm.

Then run a line under the shoe. And fit the centre of the cleat on the line. Most cleats have a centre line to help guide you. Once fitted it should be as near to the axle of the peddle as well for the right fit.

To set the cleats for and aft you Move the cleat side-to-side to influence how close the foot sits to the centre-line of the bike. If you ride with your knees wide at the top of the pedal stroke, move your cleats inwards to move the foot outwards. If you ride with knees narrow at the top of the stroke, move the cleats towards the outside of the shoe and the foot inwards.

Road bike cleats have a degree of float to them, and the float allows the knee a degree of movement. The degree of float is color coded, so if you have red cleats you will have about 9 degrees, if you have grey cleats it will be about 4.5 degrees. And if you choose black cleats you have no float. These would have to be professionally fitted to avoid knee complications later on. Shimano red cleats are fixed whilst the yellow ones are 6.5 degrees. You will find the pro racers will have the zero float cleats but they will have been professionally 

set up..



above are standard cleats for a road bike pedals  illustrated below


Mountain bike pedals are differenr, smaller, can clip in both illustrated below



the cleats are smaller and both are more robust to deal with the elements..


Road shoes differ great from mountain bike shoes. they are lighter, and a lot stiffer than mountain bike shoes as one will not do much walking on them, and they need to be able to transfer all the power possible. whereas mountain bike shoes are a bit more flexible as some walking is expected in them. Agian they will be slightly heavier as they have been designed to deal with nature's elements.. 

below are images of road shoes and mountain bike shoes



there is a big range of different pedal styles for road and mountain bikes as well as with the shoes, so its really what is right for you and what you are comfortable with. but you will definately enjoy the benefits and advantages of riding clipless.

i mentioned earlier there is a difference when setting up a rider on a bike for a recreational cyclist and professional cyclist.  without getting to involved, when being set up on a bike to race, comfort is a secondary importance as the cyclist needs to maximise speed, power and performance to perform, i mentioned the differences when setting upu pedalling positions and saddle positions. A recreational cyclist is set up geared more for comfort and enjoyment. 

in the next section we will discuss safety importance and safety accessories, till then, stay safe, and stay seen..

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