Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What Is A Bike Fit

Last month I posted that I had decided to become more serious about riding my bike for fitness.  So serious, in fact, that I had entered a Duathlon and had seven weeks to train.  Additionally, I figured that in the long run, biking would be a good way to get out in the beautiful spring thru fall weather and minimize the foot pounding that comes from running. Great idea right?

Now everyone knows it takes a minute to get used to the uncomfortable bike seat so I was pressing on through it not realizing there could be more to the situation.  However, when I began experiencing pain above my knees, upper back and shoulders together with sever lasting pain in my lower back and the inability to ride for more that 20 minutes before the seat pain felt disabling, I knew I needed help.

In pops Nedra Deadwyler, owner of Civil Bikes, who volunteered to be my Cycle Coach.  Yes, I know I'm fancy now lol!  In one lesson she practically eliminated all of my cycling complaints.  She also answered many questions I had and her lesson gave me the much needed boost of confidence. You can read more about that experience here.

I was so pleased with Nedra's help concerning cycling I figured I would ask her to chime in from time to time to assist us with cycling knowledge for beginners and she kindly agreed.  Below is a her first installment, with an issue which can make or break a beginner rider - A Bike Fit.

What Is A Bike Fit?

Riding a bicycle can be a fun activity that you make a regular life habit.  So much fun in fact that you make it part of your normal routine because it is both practical and fun.  Getting to this point is a different process for everyone because our lives are different and what we all need to accomplish in a given day is also different.  One step in making bicycling a usual thing for yourself is a proper bike fit.   

What is a proper bike fit?  It is just what it says; having your bicycle fit your body.  There are adjustable parts on your bike, namely:
  • The seat height, 
  • Saddle position, 
  • Handlebar (style and width), 
  • Stem height 
  • And handle bar grips.  

"Does your bike seat hurt? 
The solution may be a bike fit." 

The best time to start your bike fit is at purchase.  If you purchase your bike from a big box store you can take it in to your local bike shop and they will be happy to assist you with a bike fit.  You want to make sure that from the beginning that your bicycle’s geometry fits your body.  There are charts out there on the web to investigate bike geometry and your height, but for the sake of this post let’s go with a simple method.  The simple way to select a bicycle for your own body is to check your stand-over room.  Straddle the top tube of your bike and the distance between your body and the tube for a road bike should be between 1 to 2 inches.  The stand-over room for a hybrid and mountain bike would be 3 to 4 inches.  

The next step is to check your seat height.  Connect to this link, for a through description on seat position, saddle height and pedal alignment.  (  

The final step is handlebar and stem adjustments.  You want to make sure that when your hands grip your handlebars that you are able to reach without over-extending.  There should be a 5 to 10 degree bend in your elbow and your hands should be no further apart or together than when your hands are extended from your shoulders.  Otherwise a longer ride could be uncomfortable and you will add stress and pressure to your shoulders and lower back.  

Each of these components is vital to achieving the perfect bike fit. The goal is to have your bike sized for your body so that you will be comfortable and be able to ride as much as you desire.  

Nedra Deadwyler is the operator of  If you have any biking and or tour related questions, please feel free to email Nedra at  

Hope Nedra's Bike Fit post helped with any ailments you might have been having with your bike. What types of issues do you have with your bike that are stopping you from riding more frequently? 

Catch the art and nature shots I capture on my rides by following me on Instagram.

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  1. This is all great information! I don't ride but if I did, getting fit would definitely be an important first step!

  2. Great tips! I need to buy a bike soon, and this is really helpful! Looking forward to learning more! #wowlinkup

    1. Hi Janelle, thx! Keep an eye out, over the Summer there will be more bike info. Also contact me on CivilBikes website.

  3. I always have problems with the seat on the first day but it goes away after the first ride. It helps to wear cycling shorts or pants. #wowlinkup

  4. Great post! My bike seat hurts, but I don't think it's a fit issue. I do have issues with my hands going numb during a ride, and I keep meaning to have my handlebar position checked. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. You're right Wendy, handlebars are a big deal and several adjustments can be made there. Good luck!

  5. This makes total sense. You must get fitted properly for your bike else you will not enjoy the adventures you can experience on the bike. I am glad to hear you got it all figured out quickly before it became detrimental to your health. Love that you got an expert to comment on your blog. AWESOME! #wowlinkup

  6. This is great info. I can't wait to purchase a bike and get a bike fit. Biking is a challenge but a beautiful way to see around town and get in shape too.