Indoor cycling is an excellent physical activity, especially with the best exercise bike. The problem is regular sessions may lead to knee pains, backaches, or a sore butt. The solution? Adjust your exercise bike to fit your body type.

To do this, modify its seat and handlebar based on the length of your legs and arms. Then, test the adjustments with your body to ensure the bike fits you.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get into the proper, strain-free cycling form.

Step 1: Get the Seat Height Right

The ideal bike seat height varies from person to person, depending on one’s leg length.

Follow these steps to start adjusting your exercise bike according to your body type:

  1. Adjust the saddle to your hipbone level. Stand on one side of your exercise bike, next to the seat. Feel the rounded-off bone of your hips (iliac crest), then align your hand with the top of the bike seat.
  2. Climb onto the bike to check and adjust further. Push one leg down roughly at the 6 o’clock position (without clipping or strapping your feet into the pedals). Your knee should be completely straight, allowing you to bend it at about 5 to 10 degrees when you lock your feet onto the pedals.

TIP: To check the saddle height further, slip your foot into the toe cage or clip it into the pedal. Then, take your foot off of it. Your toe should slightly touch the floor. Too much toe-and-floor contact means the seat is too low. Your seat is too high if your toe didn’t graze the floor.

Proper Exercise Bike Handlebar Position

Step 2: Aim for the Ideal Handlebar Position

The correct handlebar position depends on what feels comfortable.

It also relies on your body size, physical strength, and cycling workout preference:

  1. Adjust the handlebar height. Sit straight and extend your arms out in front. Slightly hinge your body forward while keeping your back or spine neutral (Streisfeld et al. 2017). Move the handlebar stem or post up or down to ensure it is within your arms’ height.
  2. Move the handlebar forward or back. Comfortably grab the handlebars without overreaching or bunching up. Keep on adjusting until your arms feel comfortable.

TIP: Aim for a balanced distribution as you adjust the exercise bike to your body type. Put 50% of your weight on the front, while the other 50% goes at the back.

Step 3: Correct the Seat Distance

You can do Step 3 simultaneously with Step 2 to get your indoor bike adjustments right.

So, while achieving the perfect handlebar position, you may also:

  1. Move the bike seat forward or back. Adjust the saddle towards or away from the handlebar to comfortably grab it.
  2. Ensure you can cycle without your legs hitting anything. Moving the saddle too close may stress your legs while pedalling. Make sure your knee does not hit the handlebar, too.

TIP: Here’s a general rule of thumb: your ideal handlebar and saddle position should be the same length as your elbow and a loose fist. Use this as your measuring reference when you adjust your exercise bike to fit your body type.

Proper Exercise Bike Foot Positioning

Step 4: Check Your Foot Positioning

Keep the ball of your foot at the centre of the pedal. This recommendation applies to all exercise bike pedal designs.

Doing this should keep you balanced and give you optimum cycling power.

Correct foot positioning also protects you from knee pain and lets you target the right muscles.

TIP: Use regular sneakers or trainers when cycling with flat or toe-cage pedals. On the other hand, clipless pedals are small and have holes, so it’s best to pair them with the proper clip-in shoes.

Step 5: Assess Your Body Form

Here’s a checklist you can use:

  • Your spine is relatively straight.
  • Your core is engaged as you pedal.
  • Your elbows are slightly bent.
  • Your shoulders feel relaxed.

If you experience these while cycling, then you are using a well-adjusted exercise bike based on your body type.

TIP: Remember the adjustments you’ve made. That way, you can train with the proper settings even if you share your exercise bike with others.

Final Thoughts

Failing to adjust your exercise bike to fit your body type can affect workout outcomes and consistency.

So, check the seat, handlebar, and pedals before working out.

Make the most of your machine’s adjustable features to ensure comfortable and strain-free indoor cycling.

FAQs About Proper Exercise Bike Adjustment

1. Can I get injured from an improperly adjusted exercise bike?

Knee pain, bruised groin, neck and backaches, and sore butt are some of the problems you’ll likely encounter with an improperly adjusted bike. Not doing something about your bike setting will naturally result in serious issues. So, always check your bike seat and handlebar. You can also avoid injuries or discomfort from indoor cycling through proper hand positioning, body movement control, and stretching.

2. What causes butt pain or discomfort during indoor cycling?

Common reasons for butt pain during indoor cycling are improper weight distribution, incorrect cycling posture, too-long riding sessions, and wrong biking gear. To avoid this, make your indoor cycling bike set-up ergonomic. Sit properly and maintain a good posture. You can also use padded shorts or a gel bike seat cover for extra cushioning.