Cycling is a fantastic sport. On the road or in the gym, it’s great for your health and anyone can do it.
Knowing how to set up your bike is a fine art, but it can be the difference between an efficient workout and a wasted one.
The perfect positioning and pedal stroke will evenly work your legs, glutes and core. But to achieve this, it’s vital to get everything (from the height of your saddle to the position of your handlebars) just right.
Whether you’re brand new to spinning or a seasoned cycling veteran, our guide to setting up a spin bike will help you get the most out of every workout.
1. Adjust your saddle height
Saddle height is a lot more important than you might think. Not only is it key to your comfort throughout the session, it directly effects how effectively you can drive your heel. If your saddle is too high you could lose a significant amount of leverage, and if it’s too low you could experience knee pain.
As a good starting point, stand alongside your bike and bring the saddle up until it’s parallel with your hip bone. For most people this will be the ideal saddle height.
Once you’re on the bike and in the right riding position (knee over the ball of your foot with the pedal at 3 o'clock; knee slightly bent with the pedal at 6 o'clock), you'll maximize your energy output and also be able to adapt your technique to different terrain, cadence and effort levels.
2. Check your seat position
When deciding on a bike saddle position, central may be great for some people, but spin bike seats are designed to adjust backwards or forwards for anyone taller or shorter than average.
The goal is to have your knees properly aligned, relative to your feet. Sit on the saddle in riding position, with your hands on the handlebars and the balls of your feet over the centre of the pedals. Position the pedals so that they’re level with each other, feet in 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions.
Take a look at your forward leg and imagine a line going from your knee. Is your kneecap directly above the centre of the pedal? If the answer is yes, your seat is good to go.
3. Fine-tune your handlebars
You’ll need to alter the height and position of the handlebars to keep your shoulders roughly in line with your elbows and hips.
The perfect handlebar setup is comfortable and limits unnecessary strain on your neck and back, while encouraging an effective, powerful riding position. If you’re more experienced, chances are you’ll be able to keep the handlebars at the same height as the saddle (the most effective position in terms of power output).
If you suffer from back problems or are recovering from an injury, you may want to keep the handlebars slightly higher to avoid aggravating any lingering weaknesses. However, we’d encourage anyone who starts with higher handlebars to begin lowering them to saddle height over time, to strengthen your core and boost overall workout efficiency.
4. Make sure you’re secure
Once you have your bike just how you want it, there’s one last thing to do. As with any exercise equipment, it’s essential to make sure everything is locked and secure before you begin.
Check all adjustment knobs and switches are firmly in place to avoid any mishaps during the workout session. You’ve just spent time and effort getting everything just right, so let’s make sure it stays that way.
5. Get your feet in position
If you’re ready to begin, step up onto the bike and get your feet on the pedals.
For bikes with toe cages and straps, align the ball of your foot over the centre of the pedal. This is the firmest, widest-striking surface on your foot, making this the most efficient and comfortable foot position.
If you plan on wearing cycling shoes and using clipless pedals, check the cleat tension on the pedals and make sure that your cleats are aligned properly on your shoes.
6. Burn those calories
Now you’re in the know, cycling like a pro should be second nature. But if you’re ever unsure, one of our team will be happy to help with any setup questions you might have.
Fancy taking these tips for a spin? Find a spin class at your local DW Fitness First for an incredible high-intensity, low-impact workout.