Everything You Need to Know about How to Tell if a Bike Fits

Symptoms of Bad Bike Fit

A proper bike fit is a no-brainer. When your bike has a proper fit, and you are comfortable, it means more rides and more fun. It also means you can pursue your passion for as long as you want without any injuries. But, not everyone’s budget can afford a professional fit. A fitting specialist can charge anywhere from $150 to $300 to get your position back on the dial. As bikes need regular maintenance, this small amount can add up in the long run. The good thing is, it’s not really rocket science. There are several minor adjustments that can make a huge difference. And you don’t even need a professional to do it for you. You can do it yourself.

Yes, you read that right. You can have something close to a professional fit without spending a dime. In this article, we’re going to look at some common symptoms of a bad bike fit and how you can fix them. Of course, these solutions are no substitute for a professional fit, but we hope these will make your rides much smoother. So, without wasting any more time, let’s take a look at some common symptoms of a bad bike fit. Have a read!

Bowed Knees

Bowed knees – when riding – look funny. Many of us face this situation without even realizing it. Besides, when you are padding with your knees pointed outwards, you waste a lot of energy even if you don’t feel any kind of pain. Another sign is feeling a slight burn on your thighs, especially while climbing. Both of these signs mean your saddle is fit a little lower than its proper place. So, how do you avoid both these situations? Simple! Raise your saddle’s height. Do it in very small increments. Stop when your legs become parallel to the bike’s frame. Easy peasy, lemon squeazy!

Aching Hands

Aching hands can be a big distraction. You only know it when you’re 15 minutes into a ride and your hands start aching like hell. You try holding your bike differently, re-position your hands, but nothing works. Aching hands are a big symptom of a bad bike fit. It also leads to wrist and back pain. The reason behind aching hands is (again) either too high saddle or too low. A titled saddle also causes this problem because this position puts too much of your body weight on your hands. Its solution? Same as before! Re-position your saddle so that your legs become parallel to the bike’s frame.

Wobbly Hips and Lower Back Fatigue

Most of the time, lower back fatigue is a sign of a weak core. Hit the gym to overcome this problem. Other times, it results from wobbly hips (i.e., when your hips wobble side to side) if your bike’s seat is a bit too high. Again, you can resolve this problem by readjusting your seat’s height. Lower it gradually until you find the perfect fit. We also suggest marking it somehow so that you can find it again in the future if need be.

Knee strain

Another very common symptom of a bad bike fit is knee strain. Knee pain can be in the joints, back, or sides of the knee. Its reasons can be multiple, from too low a saddle to a bad cleat position. Therefore, you need to check the real cause properly behind it. Notice how your feet are aligned when you’re pushing your feet down on the downstrokes. Are they pointed downwards or straight? Always push the pedals down through your heel. Also, make sure the saddle is positioned in a way that your bony bit below the kneecap is directly above the ball of the foot.

Foot Numbness or Tingling

Numb toes or a tingling sensation in the feet can be due to multiple causes. It can be due to a poorly fit shoe, poor bike fit, poor cleat positioning, or a combination of all three. Most often, it’s a bad shoe fit. To solve this problem, make sure that your shoes are the right fit. Also, your hip rotators and hamstring are flexible. Therefore, your nerves won’t compress. Plus, work on your core to make it stable and strong. Finally, when it comes to cleat positioning, ensure it’s just behind the ball of the foot. Some experts recommend a 5mm distance between the two for maximum comfort.

The Creepiest Cycling Condition: Shermer’s Neck

Shermer’s Neck is a physical condition in which the neck’s muscles give up from fatigue. They become unable to support the head any longer, leaving riders with a flopping head. It’s a very rare condition affecting riders who attempt 500-1000 miles in a single take. Normally there is no pain involved, but it’s a very bizarre condition nonetheless.

The condition is named after Michael Shermer, one of the four cyclists who participated in the inaugural RAAM cycling event back in 1982. The first year he survived without any major inconvenience, but the condition affected him yet again the next year. Thus Shermer’s Neck came into existence. Its solutions are just as bizarre as the condition itself.


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    A quick Google search reveals people treat it in different ways. Some people use the support of a metal pole that goes up the rider’s back. Others use duct tape braids, whiplash neck collars, PVC piping, and many more. Select one which suits you!

    3 Key Measurements Every Cyclist Should Know

    After going through all the conditions that might affect a rider due to a bad bike fit, we hope you know why a proper fit is essential. It doesn’t matter whether you are getting a new bike, switching between two, or just installing a brand new saddle, the bike’s fit is indispensible. So, in order to keep your bike in a tip-top condition and give you the same road position each time you push your first peddle, keep these measurements in mind. We also recommend checking up on these measurements at a regular interval.

    Saddle Height

    The most important measurement is saddle height. This is because saddle height controls your overall comfort level, knee health, and efficiency. It is easy to set up but equally easy to mess up. Therefore, knowing your saddle height is vital for every rider. Ideal saddle height differs for everyone. However, experts believe your saddle should be high enough that your heel can brush the pedal at the bottom of the stroke. It should never be so high that your heel comes above your toes when you’re at the bottom of the pedal’s stroke.

    Saddle Setback

    The second important measurement is related to saddle setback. A right saddle position can eliminate pressure from your body parts, increasing your power in every stroke. On the other hand, a wrong saddle position leads to numbness in the body’s nether regions, discomfort, and even injury. To find your saddle’s sweet spot, loosen the bolts that attach the saddle to your seat. Now, move your saddle forward or backward to check for a suitable fit.

    Reach to Your Handlebars

    If reach to your handlebars is too far stretched, it can mess up your weight distribution. Because of this, you loosen control over the bike. In case it is too short (you’re sitting upright), your bike becomes twitchy, and you can lose control in long journeys. So, the length of your bike’s top and the length of the stem are crucial. Ensure that the front to back dimension of a bike is suitable for you. Your spine shouldn’t be bending to reach the handlebars.

    Key Takeaways

    This brings us to the end of the discussion. We hope now you know the common symptoms of bad bike fit and how you can solve these issues by making minor adjustments to your bike. However, this list is by no means exhaustive. Proper road bike seat position, suitable bike saddle position, and the right reach to the handlebars are vital measurements every biker should be aware of to avoid discomfort, muscle stiffness, and even injury. What do you think? Did we miss any symptoms? Do let us know in the usual place!

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    Everything You Need to Know about How to Tell if a Bike Fits — Bike Hacks