Bicycle riding is great exercise, as long as you are positioned correctly. Otherwise, you may be injured from improper use, repetitive injuries or even crashes!


There are three types of bikes. A road bike is built for speed with dropped handlebars. This is what Lance Armstrong rode.

Mountain bikes are designed for off-road cycling with heavy frames and wide, treaded tires. It can be used on the road, but require more energy to pedal.

Hybrid bikes combine the features of both road and mountain bikes. The tires are somewhat wider and have upright, comfortable riding positions. These are the best choice for casual riders having fun and getting exercise.

There are five basic components to consider when fitting a bicycle: frame size, saddle (seat) height, saddle position, saddle tilt and handlebar position.

Frame size is the most important measurement because this is stationary. It is not necessarily dependent upon your height, but rather the length of your legs.

The frame should easily be straddled with both feet flat on the ground, having an inch or two of clearance for a road or hybrid bike. You may want four inches of clearance for a mountain bike.

The second component in fitting your bike is the saddle height. This is crucial for avoiding knee pain.

When you sit on your saddle, your knee should be slightly bent (15 degree angle) when the pedal is at its lowest position and the ball of your foot is on the pedal. Do not allow your knee to lock when your leg is extended.

The next component is saddle position moved forward or backward. Sit on your bike with your feet on the pedals and rotate until they are horizontal at the three o'clock and nine o'clock positions. Your forward knee should be over the forward pedal axle when the ball of your foot is on the pedal. You can move the saddle forward or backward accordingly, keeping the seat level.

Saddle tilt is the fourth component. Most people prefer this to be level rather than tipped forward. A carpenter's level can ensure this is level.

Saddles have become more comfortable, which is essential for long rides. My own bike has a shock absorber built into the seat, smoothing out the ride.

Saddles can be specific for men or women, with different features. Padded shorts and gel seat cushions also help a great deal.

The last component is your handlebar position. Most casual riders prefer upright handlebars that are positioned higher for comfort.

Some of my patients complain of pain in the neck, upper back or shoulders if their handlebars are too low. An unpright position will relieve this tension, but also causes more wind resistance.

These recommendations are mostly for casual riders. Certainly, long-distance riders on road bikes will want to be low and aerodynamic in position.

I recommend going to a reputable bike shop for proper fitting and recommendations. This will certainly cost you more money than self-serve at the department store. However, it could easily mean the difference between riding comfortably or not riding at all.

Lastly, don't forget your helmet. Head and brain injuries can occur, even at slow speeds. Ride safe!



Information taken from American Chiropractic Association

Copyright © 2008 - Konicki Schumacher Chiropractic. All rights reserved.

Dr. Tom Konicki is a board certified chiropractic orthopedist and has practiced for many years in South Dayton. You can reach him at www.kschiro.com or mail your questions to Ask the Chiropractor, 2165 Miamisburg-Centerville Road, Dayton, 45459.