Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the North
Robert Thorpe
Cycling Correspondent
12:07 PM 15th July 2020

Buying A Bike

When you’re a kid, the only concern about the bike that you want is the colour and how good and cool it looks! However, as you get older and hopefully wiser, being aware of a few key points will make your cycling more comfortable and help you to avoid unnecessary injury and pain. Yes, I know that cycling is painful at times, but trust me, it’s easier than you think to make it less so.

Ultimately, if you’re spending a lot on a new bike, we’d always recommend getting yourself properly measured and having a bike fit. This will ensure that the bike you buy is simply perfect for you. However, we’re also realistic and we know that most people won’t pay for a bike fit, and so here’s a few simple tips to help you.

Handlebars - yes the steering bit at the front! They come in various widths and If they’re too narrow or too wide, then they’ll cause shoulder, back and neck pain, and this could cause longer term issues. As a very basic rule of thumb, with your arms our front and in line with your shoulders, the bars shouldn’t force you to move the arms outside of this arc or indeed inside it. Your arms should fall straight and naturally to your front.

The Stem - the little bit that fastens you’re handlebars to the bike! If it’s too long, you’re going to be over-reaching and get back pain. If it’s too short you’ll be forcing yourself back and again will not be comfortable. The reach should be natural and comfortable, leading to a straight and not bent over back, as in the image below.

Saddle - If you look at the saddle on any bike, there are 2 marks underneath it, allowing you to move the saddle forwards or backwards. Ideally, look at this for comfort and position before changing the stem. If you have done so and the bike is still not comfortable, then change the stem. Moving the saddle forward or backwards is an easy fix. Your saddle height in easy terms, should allow you to be able to place your foot onto the pedal, with a leg only slightly bent when extended. Play around with the height until comfortable and then measure the distance between the middle of the crank and your saddle. This will give you your ideal saddle height on any bike.

When you’re buying a bike in the shop, look closely at these few easy issues and ask the shop to help you and to adjust the necessary items before you leave the shop. This way, you’ll be far more comfortable and enjoy your cycling all the more.

If you’d like more information on bike fitting, there’s a useful article on the PedalNorth website by Steve Smales, a UCI International Official.