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How to set your bike up to feel comfortable

Your perfect bike should fit you like a glove, with a few tweaks to your riding position everyone can enjoy comfortable, care-free cycling. We take a look at your bike’s contact points and the adjustments that can be made to customise your bike to your body.

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Getting started

Your bike is adjustable so you can customise the position for your personal riding comfort. If you are buying a bike, ask in-store for some help and tips on setting up your bike for the first time. Every part of your bike’s contact points – bars, pedals and saddles – can be swapped, so if you are uncomfortable there will be a solution.

Saddles and sitting comfortably

How you feel sitting on the saddle is just as much about your position as the saddle itself. A more upright position is often more comfortable as more of your body weight goes through your ‘sit-bones’ and less through the soft tissues. You can swap your bike saddle for one that is wider, narrower, softer or harder to suit your personal preference.

Hands and handlebars

A lot of urban e-bike riders prefer bikes that are more upright, rather than the sportier slightly bent-over style. If you feel discomfort at the front of your pelvis or in your hands and wrists the reach of your bike, how much you lean forward, toward the bars may be wrong. Lifting your bars up, using a shorter stem or sliding your saddle forward can help.

Feet and pedals

With your bottom on the saddle and your hands on the bars in your normal riding position, place your heel on the pedal when the pedal is at 6 o'Clock, directly at the bottom of the pedal stroke.  With your leg fully extended you should sit square in the saddle, not leaning to the side, and your heel should be in firm contact with the pedal, not hovering above it. When the pedal is placed in the correct position under the ball of your foot it will allow for the correct bend in your knee. Pain in your knee joints suggests your saddle height may be wrong for you. Your knee needs to be slightly bent to allow comfortable pedalling.

Shorts, gloves and shoes for comfort

You don’t need to dress head to toe in shiny Lycra to be comfortable on your bike, but a few key accessories can help. Padded cycling shorts or briefs are designed to be worn next to your skin, they offer some extra protection when sat on the saddle and are seam free so nothing rubs or chafes. You can wear them under your ordinary street clothes.

If you are riding a long way, padded gloves can help absorb some of the vibrations from the handle bar and help you grip if your hands get sweaty.

Finally, shoes – some cyclists like to use shoes that clip-in to the pedals but if you prefer to wear ordinary shoes and use flat pedals that is fine too. A firm sole helps you to pedal more powerfully and spreads the pressure of pushing down on the pedals.

Ask the experts

Riding a bike should not hurt! If you are feeling pain anywhere it is your body telling you something is wrong. A trip to a Shimano Service Center will help you get on the path to cycling comfort, you may need to upgrade some parts of your bike or get further help with your bike fit. Listen to your body, get some advice and get back to the joy of cycling.