How do you sit on a bike ?

nuggiebok Posts: 63
edited March 2014 in Road beginners
Being fairly new to this sport, in training for a charity event in May, I've started to increase the time and distance I'm cycling. After a few months of owning my first road bike (giant avail 2) I'm starting to get to grips with it, however I'm not sure I am sat properly.

Excuse the stupid question, but is there a correct way to sit on the bike and lean forward to the handlebars? I find I get quite numb down below at the front after about 45minutes so I am wondering if I am say properly? I'm constantly fidgeting around trying to get comfy, whether by shifting my bum around on the saddle or hands on the bars/hoods.

I've read that all my weight should be on the sit bones, but how do you then tip forward? Do you arch your back by bending or do you tilt forwards with the pelvis? If I arch then I feel as though the reach is too much (and an see the front hub between me and the stem).

I don't have much expendable income, and am still struggling with kit, so can't afford a bike fit or new saddle etc. you all seem to be very knowledgable so my ears are open :-)

I'm a female, 5'6 tall.


  • Ringpeace
    Ringpeace Posts: 105
    Your stem is too long - a common problem with off the shelf bikes which seem to come with a `120mm standard on blokes bikes anyway. IMO this small change can transform the way you ride your bike.
  • kajjal
    kajjal Posts: 3,380
    Have read about bike fit / set up on the web. Start by getting the saddle at the right height and position. Once that is done you will then get an idea about the handle bar position, too high / low, to stretched out etc.

    On my bike the vertical drop from the saddle to handlebars was too far so I flipped the stem into the upright position and put all the spacers below the stem. It is now fine with about an inch of drop. Flipping the stem also reduces reach slightly. Have a look for stem calculator websites to give you an idea of what effect changes will have. You could also ask at your local bike shop.
  • StillGoing
    StillGoing Posts: 5,211
    The drop from saddle to bars isn't the cause of back issues and there is more to set up than saddle height. As well as height there is fore and aft to consider linked in with KOPS and reach to the bars, and then throw in crank arm lengths. To the OP, go and get a proper fitting done with a specialist and not your local bike store who won't offer the same depth of service. A bike fitting isn't reserved just for the pros and those with expensive bikes.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • team47b
    team47b Posts: 6,424
    It can depend on your flexibility, some people can move their spine and pelvis more independently than others, so achieving the perfect bike fit starts with your 'limitations', flexibility will change over time, work out how you can alter your position to suit your bike as a starting point then with greater understanding you can then look at the bike.

    Mrs T is the same height as you and has the same issues, so I don't have the easy answer, but would be interested in your findings.

    Steve Hogg can answer this more thoroughly than me... ... smp-seats/ ... oad-bikes/
    my isetta is a 300cc bike
  • sungod
    sungod Posts: 16,515
    as above, read up on bike fitting, for instance there're several articles on it here...

    ...including some about set-up for women

    step one - saddle height
    step two - saddle position

    this should get you close, but don't feel you need to follow these/other methods exactly

    back profile depends on flexibility, some people arch, some don't, the main thing is to be comfortable

    if you've got the saddle position correct, you should be able to ride without needing to lean on the bars, a bit of weight on them is ok, but too much can result in numb/painful hands etc.

    presumably you're wearing padded shorts, if not, get some, it makes a masive difference

    also experiment with saddle angle, start with it level, if it's not feeling right try angling it down, but only slightly, it's no good it you slide forward all the time

    it is possible that the saddle is simply wrong for you, maybe you need a wider/flatter one, or a cutout, or something else, but don't assume a soft squidgy saddle is going to be more comfy, they can make things worse as you tend to sink into it and end up with pressure in the wrong place

    remember to take all advice, including everything above, with a pinch of salt, there's no one 'right' way, we're all different, so finding what's best for you can take a bit of experimentation
    my bike - faster than god's and twice as shiny
  • andrewjoseph
    andrewjoseph Posts: 2,165
    I think this advice to adapt to the bike is looking at things the wrong way. All good bike fitter will tell you to make the bike fit the rider, even the steve hogg links say the same.
    Burls Ti Tourer for Tarmac, Saracen aluminium full suss for trails
  • paul2718
    paul2718 Posts: 471
    You could find out who organises 'Breeze' rides local to you, perhaps go ride one. It is likely that the ride leader/organiser will be able to give you advice, or put you in contact with someone.

    To start with,

  • Doris Day
    Doris Day Posts: 83
    I used to ride a 54 frame racer on advice from a bike shop (stupid shop) after making several expensive changes it was still uncomfortable. I eneded up dumping it at the closest bike shop to me for free as it got to the point i couldn't stand the sight of it. 3 years later i am enjoying riding a 52 framed bike.

    Have you checked the frame is the right size, as bike fit is more than just changing the stem.
  • ai_1
    ai_1 Posts: 3,060
    There's more than one potential cause. It could be the bike size, stem length, saddle height, saddle tilt, etc.
    However it could also be the saddle itself. Ideally you need to ensure the fit is right first and then start looking at the saddle if the problem remains.
    I'm a guy, so problems may vary! but I couldn't get comfortable on a standard saddle if I tried to adopt an aggressive position. I then tried some other saddles like the Adamo ISM saddles and Cobb V-Flow saddles. I found both far better for aggressive ridign. The Adamo Breakaway solved the issue completely but wasn't as comfortable on slower rides especially in the mountains when I was sitting up more. I've since gone with a Specialised Romin Evo Expert which is a fairly conventional saddle except for the drooped nose and generous cutout and I find it a good compromise.
    You should be able to find an LBS that stocks test saddles you can try for a week or two and return. stocks Adamo and Cobb saddles and will post you a test saddle (you pay for it but they re-imburse you once you send it back). It may not be the saddle but it could be.