It’s uncomfortable, the pedals feel weird and you might experience some pain here and there. Bicycle set up is important. For obvious comfort and enjoyment reasons you want to ensure that the bicycle is optimally set up for your riding style but it is very important to avoid pain, joint soreness and a multitude of other complaints that could be avoided by taking some time to get the set up right.
*Note that sizing and set up for a mountain bike can be very different.
Correct frame size is usually taken care of when buying a bike at a reputable bike shop as it’s not surprising that good bike fit starts with the right size bicycle. It can become trickier if you are quite short or exceptionally tall and you should shop around to ensure that you are getting the right fit. For women you may also want to look at ‘women specific’ bike frames as you may be able to find a more comfortable riding position than that found with a frame (usually) designed for a man.
Having your saddle at the proper height for your body frame is extremely important in order to harness the maximum power in your legs as well as to avoid pain, chafing etc. Proper saddle height requires the ball of the foot to be on the pedal at its lowest point with the leg almost fully extended. There should be a slight bend at the knee. In order to achieve this, place your heel on the pedal at the pedal’s lowest point and your leg should be completely straight. This will ensure that when the ball of your foot is on the pedal, there will be the required slight bend in your knee. In order to change the saddle height, loosen the bolt or quick release lever on your seat post. Be careful not to extend the seat post past its minimum mark. If this is an issue you will need to purchase a longer seat post.
In addition, most saddles now allow for adjustment to the fore and aft position on the post as well as to the angle of the saddle by loosening the bolt located directly underneath the saddle using an Allen key or wrench. Adjust the fore and aft position of the saddle to ensure that you can safely reach the handlebars and brakes for proper control. Obviously this is crucial for safety. You may also need to angle the saddle up or down slightly to achieve the most comfortable fit. For example, at Airo Bike Seat we think the best fit is for the saddle to be installed at a 2 degree nose down position. Once your saddle is properly adjusted as to fore and aft position and angle, REMEMBER to retighten the saddle bolt prior to trying out the saddle. That’s it, the above adjustments will complete your basic bicycle set up to ensure that your ride is safe and comfortable. There are, of course, many ‘tweaks’ that can be applied to the initial setup to accommodate different riding styles, body physiques and personal preferences. If so, experiment with small changes and remember to record your initial settings if the adjustment does not work well.
For most riders, the basic bike setup will be all they need to enjoy their bike. For others, it may be necessary to consult a bike fitting professional to apply some advanced bike fit techniques. Ensure that you visit a qualified professional that has the necessary knowledge and specialized equipment to provide the optimal fitting for your specific needs.