We asked Lea to give us some tips about how to set up your Accelerate bike properly. Competing in the Canadian cycling circuit started out as a fun hobby for her but within two years of long distance and gran fondo experience, soon became competitive. Racing in the Catch-all and women-only races in 1st category, she has competed in road and closed circuit races since 2007 before entering into the world of Triathlons in 2012. Here's what she had to say:
Get the most out of your workout by ensuring that your body is fully supported via a proper set up on the bike. Luckily, indoor bikes are becoming more and more adjustable, and allowing for a much more customised fit for your specific body type.
Here are a few simple rules:
Vertical seat adjustment:
1. Stand beside the bike and raise the seat height till the top of the saddle is at the same height as your hip bone. This is an old school trick and should be used as an approximate measure to get you close to your ideal saddle height. Depending on the length of your legs and torso, this can further be adjusted.
2. Hop on the bike and clip in/tighten the cages around your feet. You want to get a feel of your comfort which is only done in a neutral seated position.
3. Imagining that the pedal stroke is a clock-face, adjust your right leg until it is at the 6 o'clock position. In this position the pedal crank is perpendicular to the floor, the left leg is bent and the right leg is as extended as possible. Ensure that the knee is not fully extended and that the leg has a very slight bend to it by further raising or lowering your seat height. In this position, you want to be as high as possible while retaining flexibility in your ankles. Repeat on the other side for a more detailed performance fit.
Horizontal seat adjustment:
4. Whilst still in a seated position, bring your right foot to the 3 o'clock position. In this position, the pedal crank is parallel to the floor. Adjust your seat back and forth in order to align the front of your knee to the ball of your foot. If you are wearing normal trainers for indoor cycling, this is step is crucial for the correct dispersal and distribution of forces as your shoes lack the rigidity of cycling shoes. If you are making this adjustment while clipped in, ensure that the front of your knee is in line with the cleat.
5. Ideally your handlebars will be lifted a little higher than your saddle height. The lower they are, the more you will engage your core and engage your shoulder muscles.
6. In a seated position, with both hands placed shoulder width apart with a relaxed grip of the handlebar, shoulders should feel zero tension. The elbows should maintain a small bend and never fully straighten out.
To further test this, if you take it out of the saddle, your knees should never knock the handlebar. The reach depends on your level of practice and you should begin in a comfortable, beginner position when first starting out.
Bike set up should be much more than memorising a few numbers. You should engage with your body to see what bike customisations suit you. If you have any injuries or concerns, arrive a bit earlier and get to know your instructor.
But a few rules to live by:
- technique on a bike makes your workout much more holistic, emphasising full body benefits and activating different muscle groups
- if your lower back is hurting, lower your saddle height a bit
- if your shoulders and neck are hurting, raise your handle bar and bring your reach closer
- if your knees are hurting, maintain a good range of gears without pushing too light or too heavy.
- if you are flat footed, slightly pivot your feet so that your toes point inwards
Your body will tell you if it needs adjustments and that could mean changing focus to your pedal stroke to ensure your movements have flow and are not static and that you balance all efforts and forces equally between your left and right side.
Book in for one of Lea's classes.