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6 Hacks For The Perfect Bike Fit

6 Hacks For The Perfect Bike Fit


(booming music) – It is not that difficult
to get the fundamentals of a basic bike fit pretty much spot on. I’m talking about things
such as saddle height. But, there are a few subtle
changes that you can make that will make a huge difference to your confidence on the
bike, to your comfort, and probably to how fast you go too. – Yeah and a professional bike fit can be, well, pretty costly. So coming up are six
positional tweaks you can make to get the perfect position. And I mean, well, who wouldn’t want that? – I expect you’d like it?
– May I, no. – There is a lot of
work to do here, James. (sigh) (upbeat music) – And we’re gonna start
with handlebar rotation because that is certainly
not the first thing that most riders will think about when it comes to the
position on their bike. But where your handlebars are rotated, forwards or backwards, can
make quite a big difference to how your bike feels underneath you. As indeed, can the position of you hoods on the bars themselves. So it’s worth being played about with it. – Yes, so if we start with
rotating our hoods forwards, that essentially gives you a longer reach and increases the drop
between your saddle height and your hoods, making
yourself more aerodynamic and, well, lower on the front end. – On the other hand, if you
rotate your bars backwards or you move the hoods further
upwards around the bars, you’re gonna have much more
of a sort of locked-in feel on the bike, and you will have reduced both your reach and your drop. – Yes, so grab an indoor
train and experiment, so you can get your position dialed in. (upbeat music) Now, as well as the rotation of your bars, you could also try changing
the shape completely. Compacts are a relatively recent
invention in road cycling. They have been more common place in the last ten years or so. Because traditionally,
road bike handlebars had a really deep drop,
and what that meant was, that the difference of
your position on the hoods versus being on the drops
was really quite significant. – Yes, and for many riders this was well, uncomfortably, low. So they came up with a compact, which allowed you to be in the drops for those long rides, without
getting much discomfort. This is best for those
aggressive style riders. – So have a look.
– I mean like me, really. – You think you’re aggressive, do you? – Yeah. – Have a look at the bars
that you’ve got at home, and if they are the old traditional shape with a really deep
drop, and you’re finding you can’t get comfortable either
on the hoods or the drops, then it might be worth experimenting with compact handlebars, and maybe just try to borrow some
rather than putting out the expenditure before you
decide what’s right for you. (upbeat music) Next up, layback. This is saddle layback
which is effectively how far your saddle is behind the
center of the bottom bracket. You go to extremes when it comes to this. Traditionally, road bikes have had a reasonably large layback, so that it’s been quite a way
behind the bottom bracket. Then on the other extreme
you have time trialists, and even more extreme than that, you have triathletes who
basically have no layback at all. – Yes, and getting the wrong layback, well can significantly affect you power and, oh, give you a whole
host of knee problems. Well we don’t want that, and interestingly there was a study done that shows there was a higher
compression force on the knee, when your saddle was further back. – Yeah, which went against
what I would have predicted. – I agree with that. – Bear in mind a couple of things, that when you experiment
with your saddle layback, you will also be changing your
reach, so bear that in mind, and also if you move your
saddle forward, for example, you will also need to raise
it ever so slightly too. (upbeat music) Next up, saddle tilt. Now, believe it or not, the
International Cycling Union, or the UCI, for a few
years banned pro riders from tilting their saddle
downwards towards the front. Because they thought it was in some ways performance enhancing,
and what that meant, was that we had a number of
pro riders who complained of being numb and losing feeling in a place where you don’t
really want to lose your feeling. – Yeah, not so much. So to rectify that situation,
is you can slightly tilt your nose downwards, which will allow you to put more power out in a
more aerodynamic position, and will relieve a lot of the
pressure on your perineum, which will actually make your
ride a lot more comfortable. – It can also help if your
rider tends to stay seated on longer climbs because,
in that situation, if you have your saddle level,
when the road tilts upwards it can feel like you’re constantly slipping
off the back of your saddle. (upbeat music) This has to be one of the
least commonly adjusted parts of a bike, which is strange
’cause actually it makes a huge difference, potentially,
to both your confidence on the bike and your control over it. So most modern designs of
brake and gear shifters will allow you to adjust
how far the lever is away from your handlebars,
which is particularly useful for those of you who’ve got smaller hands, because if you can’t easily
reach the brake lever, not only is it going
to affect your braking but also your ability to change gear. Which at best is annoying, and at worst is frankly dangerous. – Yes, and different levers
are adjusted in different ways. But in general, there’s
a small screw in the back of the hood, which will allow
you to adjust the lever. You want to comfortably be
able to reach your lever from the hoods and the drops. And if you need to adjust your hands, it’s probably worth bringing
in your levers a little bit just to make it that little
bit more comfortable. (upbeat music) – And finally we have crank length, which admittedly can be quite
expensive to experiment with. So if you do want to
try changing it about, then try borrowing some
different cranks first. A few considerations
when it comes to choosing your optimal crank length. Firstly the type of riding you do, secondly your preferred cadence. And also of course the
length of your legs too. Tendency at the moment is
to go a little bit shorter, when it comes to cranks. Firstly, it helps those of you who like to have a high cadence. And secondly for time
trialists and triathletes, they’re finding it’s kind of
opening up their hip angle and making it easier to ride in that super aggressive aero position. – Yes, so if you are struggling
to put that power out in that aerodynamic
position, it might be worth thinking about shortening
your crank length. But just remember, if you
shorten your crank length, make sure you adjust
your saddle height also. So, for example, if you’re
going for longer crank length of around about 2.5 millimeters,
then make sure you drop your saddle height by
2.5 millimeters also. – Hopefully amongst those tips, you will find a couple of ways to get yourself more comfortable
on your bike and, handily, as you would have
noticed, not many of them, or hardly any actually, cost any money. So you don’t have to spend the earth to get yourself into the perfect position. What you do need to do, is
invest your own time into it, and we will also suggest that
when you make any adjustments, you note down what you’ve done, and even film yourself on
the bike on the turbo train, so you can see how it looks. – Yeah, and just those
little tweaks have helped me feel more comfortable on a bike. And, if they’ve helped you, then why not give this video a thumbs up? And if you’ve got any
hacks that we’ve missed that make you feel more
comfortable on a bike, then do let us know in the
comments section below. – Yeah, definitely, if there
is anything significant in your time riding a bike
which you would like to share with us and indeed with our viewers, we would love to hear from you. Now we’ve got another video
coming up for you now. This is something that
Emma did a few weeks back. This is bike set-up tips for people that are small in stature. So if that’s the case for
you, click just down here. – Yep, I’ll be doing that.

100 comments on “6 Hacks For The Perfect Bike Fit

  1. I'm surprised you didn't say anything about cleat position. Half the time i spend with my bike fit was focused on the shoes, and has ripple effects through the rest of the position on the bike. Order of fit is: shoes/pedals, saddle, and then bars.

  2. REMEMBER _ After riding hundreds miles, your body, conforms to the setup of your bike. Even if your setup is bad. So, any change you make to your setup, ""MAY"" feel wrong. Because of this, you should ride at least hundred miles, before deciding the change is right or wrong. After, you ride the new setup, go back to the old setup and go for a short ride. If your old setup feels wrong, your new setup, most likely is better than your old setup. If after going back to your old setup, it feels better than your new setup. Your old setup maybe more correct than you new setup.

    Greg LeMond as a Intermediate and Junior rider, rode with a very low seat height. He was told he should raise his saddle. He would raise a bit and change it back because it did not feel right. When he turned PRO, The team reviewed his position and raise his seat over 6 cm, along with other changes. He did not ""like"" the new setup. Because it felt totally wrong. The NEW position was in fact better after he was forced to use it. Look at pictures to see the difference in his Amateur and Pro setups.

  3. My most comfortable position stems from what I call the Mary Poppins position. My stem height is super high which enables me to sit totally upright in the saddle. Saddle position doesn't really matter as long as it's not to high and my butt stays planted on it. I like this position because I don't look like a mad dog in attack mode moving on the bike paths and it's just looks cool.

  4. I'm 6'1" and have been using a 180mm crank for years. Only 'problem' I've had is that on group rides I usually end up 20-30 feet ahead of the bunch after stopping at traffic lights due to the increased torque. They catch up eventually, though, so it's OK. 180mm feels short compared to the 190mm I had on my mountain bike. Love that torque!

  5. …… really?? just a week since 'GCN Show 303' in which Si and James confirmed that 'the perfect bike fit is a MYTH ??? Make your mind up fellas, this is laughable !!!

  6. @5:25 What about your spine? I have lots of pain because of that curve your body makes when riding the bike. Any ideas what to do?

  7. I always take a paint pen or sharpie and mark a small dot on any bolts/nuts for clamps, parts etc. so I know that when I adjust them I can simply look at the marking and see if the bolts/bits moved.

  8. Compact wasn't just always better, things changed. People didn't used to ride on the hoods nearly as much before brifters and handlebars reach was longer but higher, making the hooks position similar to a low hoods position now, the drops not very different, and tops extra relaxed for taking a rest.

  9. Does dan seem to think we all have a friend that owns a bike shop and will lend us whatever bars or cranks we want to get the right size

  10. I'm happy to see you talking about saddle ajustment without talking about the plum line technik (that is not correct because can or cannot work). Before I used the plum line to adjust the saddle and had knee pain. Took a while to realise that was because I had my saddle to far back, and now I'm very much fitted to my bike.

  11. Hi, I'm from Brazil and if it is possible I would like to have access to this study that shows the greatest knee compression force when the saddle is back. Thanks in advance and congratulations for the excellent work.

  12. Great vid – being new to TT it would be great to have a some more tips on the intricacies of setting up a TT bike position vs a road bike, I'm definitely going to have a play about with my lay back after watching this!

  13. FEET FEET CLEAT position!! Best way I have found is to ride on flats and record how your feet naturally position themselves on the pedals and then recreate this with you cycling shoes.

  14. Hi, thanks for a great video! Could you please post some reference or link to the study about knee pressure and saddle fore-aft?

  15. Me, I went the other direction with handlebars. Last year I bought my first new bike since 1991, and it had a compact handlebar, but it just never felt really right and I saw no point in being on the drops when I could achieve that by simply straightening my elbows a bit. This winter I built myself a 3T Exploro, and decided to go back to deep drop handlebars, and it just feels so much more useful when I actually have to readjust my position when going from hoods to drops.

  16. I'm confused on what James said about crank length and saddle height. Surely if you increase your crank length then you need to increase your saddle height unless he made a mistake in what he was saying.

  17. I think it's a great subject for a video. But you should explain what it's "supposed" to look like. E.g. you say you can adjust the layback of the saddle but you don't say how you measure that you have found the best layback for you.

  18. Maybe mentioned below already, but for an easy hack, flipping the stem would fit your description! Today's integrated superbikes make that hard, but for the many who haven't, its a hack.

  19. Just this week I did a pro bike fit, just like the one Emma did a few months ago. My mind was blown! I learned stuff that I did not know but also had some stuff reaffirmed. As I was about to buy a new bike I wanted to make sure that I bought the right size frame. It wasn't cheap, but well worth the money.

  20. I'm 178cm (5'8ft) and i'm riding size 49 (TT). is it just me or the size should be more bigger? but i feel comfortable riding it. opinion pls

  21. The saddle lay-back tweak irritates me. What happened to this nice pendulum-test to find the one-and-only right position for your saddle? Is this not the right way to do it anymore?

  22. Great tips. Others have also mentioned cleat position. Anyway, my preference is to tweak one thing at a time, and in very small increments. Then, I listen to my body. It takes time to do, but it's worth it. If I started messing around with several variables at the same time then I think I'd have less than ideal results (or, it'll take longer to sort out vs. isolating one variable). And this is assuming you're relatively close to begin with and are just dialing things in.

  23. I’m sorry, this video was not worth publishing. There was no focus on getting the body more comfortable and the pelvis more stable. Starting with the foot adjustment is important and getting the right saddle height is often the greatest pain point for people as they’re usually too high.

    But this video doesn’t describe the feelings to look for when adjusting each of these parameters. For example, you start with bar rotation and hood angle. You needed to talk about how adjusting these two parts of the bike can reduce neck strain, shoulder tension, and increase overall relaxation of the shoulder area.

    When you talked about saddle fore/aft you never mentioned that this adjustment is responsible for balancing you over the cranks. The way to feel if this is dialed in properly for you is if the effort is balanced between and quads and hamstrings (after a ride, if you walk up stairs) and during the ride, if you can comfortably move to all of the hand positions without your back popping up or without falling forward on the saddle. If you feel this instability then try going back further 5 mm st a time until you feel solid.

    These are just two examples of all of the content missed for these two adjustments! Sorry guys, stay in your lane. Pretending you are bike fitters and misleading people like this is unprofessional. Stay in your lane.

  24. I am facing right leg ITB issue just outter of the knee ,left leg perfect , as i ride i notice my cleat might not be right or my saddle not right. but not very sure how wrong they are ,can you also put up a video on how you set cleat and saddle

  25. Well great….. where am I supposed to get a batch of free stems and other stuff to try?
    That shit ain't free dudes.

  26. I am suffering from what feels like a saddle sore,after a long ride I get this burning feeling(feels like my skin has been pinched or caught up between my saddle and shorts)…this only happens on the right side of my groin area…on the space where my right butt cheek sort of connects with my right thigh(sorry for such a gross description).

    What could be the problem…??? One of my cycling buddies suggested that I change my saddle but I am not convinced it’s my saddle, and another suggested that the reason I could be experiencing such could be that I have changed my riding style since joining a cycling team in October which has made me better and helped improve my cycling.

    I’ve been riding for 6 years now and this is a new experience to me,I’ve been riding with that same saddle since 2016 which was fitted properly.

    What would you gents advise I do.
    Your assistance will be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks.

  27. Not convinced that saddle should go down if you use longer cranks. A lot of back pain (referred from the hip) comes from the leg coming up too high at the top of the stroke. My advice is to find a height that feels ok at the bottom and the top of the stroke. Just a short ride and really focusing on any niggles as you pedal can establish this.

  28. When increasing the crank length by 2.5 mm should not simply raise the saddle by 2.5 mm, rather raise by 1 mm and move forward 1.5 mm, converse when shortening, and x2 when increasing by 5 mm, as you need to keep the same knee position over the pedal axle at 3 o'clock.

  29. De Ecuador por favor se ve interesante el video la posición del timón de ruta pero en español por favor. Gracias.

  30. you told us all the advantages of these adjustments, but you never told us the negative side. for example, moving the hoods forward round the bars, will not only give you a more aero position, it will also put more of your body weight on your hands, and you could end up with wrist trouble/sore hands.i would like to see a video with everything included.

  31. Whilst i haven't yet been able to test this, it does make sense: it's easier to fit a bike that's too small than too big.

  32. 99% of the time i watch youtube bikefit videos, I start mocking the presenter openly within about a minute. damn near none of you guys know what you're talking about. I sat here and watched your whole video. you did not embarrass yourselves, though I still disagreed with one or two points. cheers, guys. seriously.

  33. tilting the saddle could lead to a greater presure on hands, and by my fitting exp that cleat position could make a huge difference of the whole bike fitting

  34. Isnt the most important part of a bike fit.knee position above center of pedal with a slight bend in knee.and everything revolves around that

  35. Not to nitpick, but if you switch to shorter crank arms, shouldn't you raise your seat by the arm length difference rather than lower it? The shorter crank arms will effectively bring the pedals closer to the seat when at the bottom of the pedal stroke.

  36. Handle bar width should also be considered. I had a pro bike fit that addressed a variety of comfort issues and one immediate positive change was swapping a 42mm width bar to 38mm. My bike fitter noted the narrow width of my shoulders and explained that a handle bar reach that is too wide did not provide a stable, in line, comfortable platform for my upper body which adds stress to the shoulder and neck muscles. Since moving to narrower handle bars, the neck and shoulder fatigue that I had been experiencing has disappeared.

  37. What confuses me on getting a bike fit or measuring is…. bikes only come in certain sizes. So, I don't see why all this unnecessary measurements. The top tube should be for height (inseam) and the stack should go off of common arm lengths for those in certain height requirments. If your outside if those requirements, you would need a custom bike.

  38. As a professional bike fitter I would put the emphasis on hack! Any good bike fitter know you never start with the handlebars! Shoe/pedal interface then seat the out to the front! So much was overlooked here that it really is an injustice to think that a bike fit is this easy!! I lost a bit of respect for GCN on this one.

  39. Thanks for the video guys …… I have a question ….. I live in Canada I’m a British citizen born in the uk sooo……. we have a lot of salt on the roads out here due to the snow and ice it last from November ish through to March April I find I’m cleaning my bike and drive chain from every two weeks to almost every two three days…… am I cleaning too much? Any suggestions thanks 🙏

  40. I have been ridding with the same saddle for years without any issue but lately I am feeling pain in my left inguinal area after ridding which never has happened before? Would anyone have any clue what could it be? It is a gravel bike (previously I rode road and MTB) and I recently remove the clip-less pedals as I stopped going longer distances for the time being and I just commute with it. Any help would be appreciated.

  41. One thing you missed is this: any adjustments you make should be very very small. For example, move the cleats 1mm back, the saddle 3mm forward and 2mm up, and tilt it forward in the smallest amount the splines allow. Then go on a longer ride and evaluate comfort and power output. Because some changes might not be noticable on the indoor trainer, but will only be noticable after 1hr of intensive effort.

  42. good video , any idea how to calculate frame size of this type of bicycle (pedal on front wheel ), are they comfrotable to ride .

    https://www.princeton.edu/~maelabs/hpt/his/ya-9.gif

  43. dropping the saddle height when one increases crank length does have a completely different impact at 1200 and 1800 respectively, so should we take a middle way?

  44. Why is it everytime I watch these videos it's always Trek there riding.I would like to see Pinarello Colnago or De rosa Specialized.

  45. These are adjustments. Let me list 6 hacks that alter bike fit:

    1. Turn layback seatpost around for negative layback.
    2. Saw drop bar ends off and turn them around to make them bullhorn bars.
    3. Shim your bottom bracket cups outwards/inwards/left or right to alter q-factor (asymmetrical body, different leg lengths etc.)
    4. Put shims between shoe and pedal or thick insoles in shoes/get thicker shoe to undo leg length difference.
    5. Run different length crank on other side if leg length difference is very severe.
    6. Wrap old inner tube on the handlebar under the bar tape to get more comfort riding on tops/drops.

  46. "…first results already seems to indicate that sitting forward likely

    increases knee joint shear forces."

    INFLUENCE OF CYCLIST SADDLE SETBACK

    ON KNEE JOINT FORCES

    Mathieu Ménard, Mathieu Domalain and Patrick Lacouture

    University of Poitiers, Sport Sciences Department, Institute PPrime

    CNRS 3346, Robotics, Biomechanics, Sport and Health, Futuroscope,

    France

  47. Not sure if this counts as fit, but i wrapped the top of my handles in leather, then taped over the whole bar. The large handle is comfortable to grip, and i guess it means my upper handle position is higher too.

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