You’re in the middle of your indoor exercise bike workout when, suddenly, you experience tingling or a numbness in your glutes. Or perhaps you’ve fallen victim to hyperextension because of improper pedal positioning. Instantly, your motivation deflates and you’ve cut your bike workout short by 10 minutes. Does this sound familiar? Thankfully, this is an avoidable situation. Read on to learn how to position your exercise bike seat properly for a comfortable and injury-free ride.
A good rule of thumb for a recumbent exercise bike is to place the arch of one of your feet onto the center of the pedal. Then, release the seat lock latch, push with your foot until your leg is nearly straight, and set the latch. If you are pedaling correctly, with the ball of your foot on the pedal, this should place a slight bend in your knee so that you don’t over extend and cause injury.
On the upright bike, the easiest way to position the seat height is to stand next to the bike. Unlock the seat post and raise the seat unit the top of the seat is at the middle of your hip. Then replace the seat post lock, sit on the seat and check to make sure your leg has the slight bend when the center of your foot is on the pedal. If the seat is too high or low, dismount the machine and raise the seat post up or down one notch and try the fit again. You may also be able to adjust the seat forward or backward to optimize the angle of your hips or to perfect the handlebar reach.
On various indoor cycles, like the Horizon Fitness M4, you can also adjust the bike handlebars vertically for maximum comfort. Start by raising the handlebars so they are slightly above the seat height. This allows for proper posture and alignment for even weight distribution while you’re biking. Make sure you can comfortably reach the handlebars without locking your elbows. You want to have a slight arch in your back, so make sure there’s no strain in your neck and shoulders.
If your indoor cycle has fore/aft handlebar adjustment, you can use that to maximize your riding position as well. After you have positioned your seat fore/aft (if the bike has this type of adjustment), release the handlebar fore/aft adjustment lock and place your elbow on the nose of the seat. Then, extend your arm straight pushing the handlebar with the tip your middle finger until your arm is straight and fully extended. Reengage the handlebar fore/aft adjustment lock.
Once you’ve made initial adjustments, ride for a few minutes and fine tune for the perfect fit. If you’re new to cycling or have taken some time off, don’t get frustrated if you can’t bike 10 miles the first day back in the saddle. Start with a mile or two at a time to get your rear familiarized with the bike feel, especially on an indoor cycle saddle, which is much narrower than a recumbent or upright exercise bike seat. Looking for more tips on how to ride? FitSugar.com also has a great video on how to fit an indoor cycle.
Weigh in: What differences do you feel between a proper bike fit and poor bike fit?