Whether you’ve got a Peloton at home or you’re hopping onto one of the nameless spin bikes in your gym’s cardio section, you’ll be a lot more comfortable if you can adjust it properly to fit your body. So how exactly do you do that? Here’s a checklist you can follow.
How to adjust your spin bike
Adjust the saddle height
As you walk up to the spin bike, take an initial guess at the best height for the seat (called a saddle) by putting it at about hip level. For some bikes, that will be even with the iliac crest, the ridge of bone that you’ll find just below your waist and above your hip joint. Another way to estimate is to pick your knee up so that your thigh is parallel to the ground. You’ll want the saddle to be roughly even with the top of your thigh.
These two guidelines may give you two different positions, but either will get you in the right ballpark. Next, climb onto the bike and check the height from there.
When the saddle is at the right height and the ball of your foot is on the pedal, your knee should almost be able to straighten at the bottom of the stroke. You should have just a tiny bend in your knee. If your knee locks out, the seat is too high; if it stays bent even at the bottom of the stroke, the seat is too low. (This test is more important than whether the seat is at hip height when you’re standing.)
Adjust the spin bike saddle position
The seat on most bikes can move backward or forward. Sitting on the bike, with your seat bones on the widest part of the saddle, bring your feet even with each other, so they’re at three o’clock and nine o’clock positions.
Your knee should now be directly over the ball of your foot (so, over the pedal). If your shin is vertical, with your knee directly over your ankle, the seat is too far back. If your knee falls in front of your toe, the seat is too far forward.
Adjust the handlebar position
Next, let’s look at the distance between the seat and the handlebars. This depends on the length of your arms. When you touch your elbow to the front of the saddle, you should be able to just touch the handlebars with the tip of your middle finger.
You’ve already set the seat position, so ideally, all you have to do here is adjust the handlebars backward or forward. Unfortunately, not all spin bikes are able to adjust this way. Hopefully, the setting for your saddle puts the handlebars at a good distance; if not, you can adjust the seat slightly, if needed.
Adjust the handlebar height
After all those measurement-based adjustments, this last one is a bit different — handlebar height can be anything that is comfortable for you.
One good way to find the handlebar height is to sit upright on the bike, and then hinge forward from the hips. You should be able to set your hands down gently on the handlebars without your back rounding. Beginners often prefer their handlebars to be higher, while experienced cyclists may want the handlebars low — even so low that they’re at the same level as the saddle. It’s usually best to go with the lowest setting that feels comfortable and doesn’t make your back feel too tired after long rides. As you get more familiar with the bike, you may want to adjust it downward.
If you ride at a studio or gym (or if you share your bike at home with others), look for letters or numbers on the adjustable parts and make a note in your phone or your training journal about the settings you prefer. The next time, you can take a few seconds to set the seat to “15, B” and know that you’re good to go.
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