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View Full Version : The "how's" and "why's" of proper bike setup



Becca713
09-07-2006, 03:51 PM
Hey everyone,

I just looked through all the threads in this particular forum and my Instructor Manual, and couldn't seem to find the exact answers I'm looking for, so I'm hoping you guys (and gals) can help me out.

I'm a big stickler on having my students set up properly on the bike. So far no one's really asked me why it's so important to have the seat hight and the fore/aft just so. Of course I know what a very general or basic answer of mine would be (i.e. "It's to protect your knee...prevent injury...etc") but I would like some more knowledge to back up my response, if needed.

Does anyone have any suggestions for what I could say beyond this, maybe related more to exercise physiology, knee health, or whatever? I'm headed into my second year of teaching at my current club, and want to start to educate my students more on why we do what we do with set-up and so forth.

Thanks in advance for helping me grow as an instructor!

Becca :D

ACinNJ
09-07-2006, 04:26 PM
One word...efficiency.

megale3
09-07-2006, 04:46 PM
One word...efficiency.

Of

Injury prevention
Performance
comfort
Meg

Becca713
09-07-2006, 04:55 PM
Okay, good start.

Anyone want to elaborate?

Meg, it could be your 1,000th post!

;)

alexkaboom
09-07-2006, 05:05 PM
1) Comfort
2) Biomechanics

I place comfort first because you can't be efficient if you aren't comfortable, being uncomfortable will tax your concentration and hence, performance will suffer. Lance said once: "No matter how aerodynamic my position is If I'm not comfortable, I won't enjoy the ride or do my best".

However, aerodynamics is irrelevant indoors so we'll move onto Biomechanics next...

As applied to cycling, this is the way each person applies power to the pedals, which is as different in each one of us as our fingerprints, this is why bike set up is more individual than general, to optimize the use of your muscles as you pedal... hence, the efficiency factor mentioned above.

So, when you talk to your participants about bike set up, tell them about the general guidelines and how efficiency and conservation of energy come to play... bouncing in the saddle for example, is a waste of energy that can be best put towards what matter most... pedaling... everything you do on the bike has to work towards the same goal, efficient pedal stroke... It's not just about cresting the hill but about how you feel when you do...

Injury prevention is also a big factor of course but unless someone if doing something seriously wrong, the negative effects won't be seen immediately and therefore, they might not relate to it as you talk about it...

Good luck,
Alex

amybatt
09-07-2006, 05:07 PM
Does anyone have any suggestions for what I could say beyond this, maybe related more to exercise physiology, knee health, or whatever?

Efficiency is critical, but that's a hard sell to people just starting out and/or those who don't understand pedal stroke at all.

I've only been certified for 3 months now, but I have observed as both an instructor and student now that I know proper setup. With respect to knee safety and the fore/aft position, I think if you were to have your knee either too far over your toe or back toward your heel, then you're not pumping up and down in a straight line as you would when your knee is centered the way it's supposed to be. Just consider the damage that can be done when that's done excessively. In a lame analogy, kind of like trying to nail a nail at an angle? It can be done, but not safely or efficiently.

Re: seat height, I think your hips and knees are at risk if you're either too high or too low. Too high and there's over-extension issues that can lead to strain. Too low and there's under-extension issues.

I'm not too sure I'd hang my hat on the "comfort" part of the story too much. I've seen people riding in a position that's "comfortable" for them but that entails laying on the handle bars, riding with the handlebars too low, sitting too far back (thinking that accomplishing the tuck is more important!). I set-up a newbie last week, perfect knee position and the straight leg pedal check and demonstration of her pedaling was perfect (if I do say so myself) but then she got off a few songs in and put the seat WAY down (not just a hole or two). Her knees were up around her ears the rest of the ride. I'll be curious to see if she returns, she said she had so much fun, but if she'll continue to ride that way.

Just my two cents, hope it helps.

megale3
09-07-2006, 05:26 PM
Well here it is my 1000th post and on a good subject.

Injury prevention - Bars and upper body must be in a place that does not restrict range of motion (ROM) of the legs which is so about the seat and the lower body -ROM needs to be addressed since we never fully extend the hip or lock out our knee we may become tight with the muscles working where your feet are never father than 22 inches apart at anyone time plus think about that the ROM of a pedle stroke since it is less than that of walking. So get them as stretched out as possible without locking out making them snap their joints open.

Performance- the smarter the placement of everything their anatomy touches or is tied to the bike the more power and strength that can be sustained or applied. as stated above the metatarcels/pedals -seat for and aft/knee -and the handle bars/seat/back extention

Comfort- definitely an intuitive thing and mostly about the bars but comfort also for me includes stability or ease of mind in a solid footing or hand hold and place to sit:eek: . This is where in the input of the rider is critcal and may make or break their first ride and get them to come back.

1000 baby doing the dance
Meg

veespin
09-07-2006, 05:40 PM
I usually point out that the further away from a good biomechanical position you get three things happen....

1) You lose efficiency and power.....weaker pedaling equals a poor workout.

2) You increase the potential for injury.

3) You look like a Fred.

#3'd work for me every time.

Vivienne

megale3
09-07-2006, 05:46 PM
3) You look like a Fred.

Vivienne

Love that!
As a cyclist hate that when you see it

Meg

Todd S
09-07-2006, 05:56 PM
What's worse is an out of shape fat guy on his $5500 Trek bike in full Discovery team kit.

Like a blue stuffed sausage...

Todd S
09-07-2006, 05:59 PM
Take the bike fit quiz... :)

Becca713
09-07-2006, 06:38 PM
Take the bike fit quiz... :)

I would NEVER get hired to work in a bike shop! But I did get the ones right that seem to relate to Spin bike set-up.

Cool quiz, thanks for sharing.

Becca713
09-07-2006, 06:41 PM
Thank you, everyone, for elaborating on my initial question. I actually like all of the info on losing power and efficiency with improper set-up. The safety issues are a given to me. Comfort...well, as I say in class, the Spin bike seats aren't exactly the Cadillacs of bike seats so you're going to be uncomfortable in some way, proper bike set-up or not! :D

I teach primarily in a women's gym and am aready getting some ideas going about how loss of power and efficiency can relate to their fitness goals. Most of the women I meet in my Spin classes are there to loose weight. Is it possible that a rider who bounces in the saddle more than another rider will actually be burning LESS calories (everything else controlled, of course)?

Becca

p.s. Meg--contrats on 1,000+ posts!

ACinNJ
09-07-2006, 07:38 PM
Proper form, proper fit, proper shoes/apparel, proper fuel = efficiency.

All goals...weight loss, distance, speed will be accomplished by the sum of all of those.

You explain proper bike set up in context with everything that goes into training.

Todd S
09-07-2006, 09:22 PM
Most of the women I meet in my Spin classes are there to loose weight. Is it possible that a rider who bounces in the saddle more than another rider will actually be burning LESS calories (everything else controlled, of course)?


You can bet on it!

Calories burned is directly proportional to the wattage (power) they're putting to the pedals. If they're bouncing they're not pedaling against resistance and if they're not pedaling against resistance they're not putting any power to the pedals. But then I guess everything else isn't controlled because the bouncers will be the ones working against little or no resistance.

If power meters ever become a reality on indoor cycling bikes, they'll know exactly how many calories they're burning.

dlevin
09-08-2006, 01:42 AM
Sorry, guys, but what is a Fred? or Fred?

:confused:

veespin
09-08-2006, 07:17 AM
Sorry, guys, but what is a Fred? or Fred?

You'll know one when you see one!

Imagine a bunch of riders on a hill. Lead group all keeping up a decent pace, riding strong......you can almost see the muscle recruitment in their legs etc. etc. Now, 50 yds or so behind them, you have Todd's dude on the $5500 Trek in full Discovery kit.....with the visor still on his bike helmet, probably wearing a Camelback even though he's barely 5 miles from home ....and in a granny gear, legs spinning at warp speed and barely making enough forward progress to stay upright. That's a Fred.....or maybe a Poindexter, in your neck of the woods.

If I have a few psycho spinners in class when we're doing a strength ride and I haven't conveyed the idea of a climbing cadence when on a hill enough to get their cadence below, say, 100rpm I'll often described this picture. "Are we riding with the strong riders or are we riding with the Freds?" I'll ask........I do believe that one or two reach for the resistance knob.

Where bike fit's concerned, the Fred look is the one with the saddle waaay low and the handlebars waaay high and I find folk who ride like this are incredibly resistant to to any suggestions to change that pertain to efficiency or injury potential...."But I've always ridden like this with no problems" being the usual response (which in the context of repetitive stress injury, doesn't exactly fill me with confidence!) So, on Mencken's philosophy that one belly laugh is worth a hundred syllogisms, I'll point out the aesthetic and plausibility value of looking like someone you'd see on the pro peleton, rather than the Ministry of Silly Pedal Strokes.

Vivienne

dessertqueen
09-08-2006, 11:52 AM
What really and truly kills me are the "experienced" riders who feel as if they can use bad form because they've been riding for so long. It's almost like they are using new positions to combat boredom. Then the new riders come up with the same habits by watching them. Even other instructors have been known to ride laying on the handle bars, so it's hard to teach a class proper form and setup when it is not taught equally across the board!
b

Todd S
09-08-2006, 12:29 PM
Sorry, guys, but what is a Fred? or Fred?

:confused:

I'm not sure, but I think it started in reference to looking like Fred Flintstone meaning it probably refers more to the other extreme...

Vee's example is often referred to as a "poser" in some circles. The Fred's are usually the guys with the hairy legs, tennis shoes, and beach cruiser who tries to hang in your pace line.

I think you want to be somewhere in between a Fred and a poser to gain the most acceptance in cycling circles...

raptor
09-08-2006, 10:24 PM
What really and truly kills me are the "experienced" riders who feel as if they can use bad form because they've been riding for so long. It's almost like they are using new positions to combat boredom. Then the new riders come up with the same habits by watching them. Even other instructors have been known to ride laying on the handle bars, so it's hard to teach a class proper form and setup when it is not taught equally across the board!
b

Those experienced riders might well have cycled in that position for thousands of hours. All it means is that they've found a position that works for them. It doesn't mean it's the best position.

Last class I visited, I leaned my forearms right down to the Lemond's "aero bars." The ride called for aggression and focus at the time, and it helped. (Were I on my road bike, I would've been in the drops, and my position would've been in-the-ballpark similar.)

Lynn

megale3
09-09-2006, 11:13 AM
I'm not sure, but I think it started in reference to looking like Fred Flintstone meaning it probably refers more to the other extreme...

Vee's example is often referred to as a "poser" in some circles. The Fred's are usually the guys with the hairy legs, tennis shoes, and beach cruiser who tries to hang in your pace line.

I think you want to be somewhere in between a Fred and a poser to gain the most acceptance in cycling circles...

Yah we on some forums call our selves OCP or Over Compensating Posers :D We don't like to get road dirt on our bikes and hang at rest stops to talk shop way too much :D
Fredís are so interesting you can see them by there need to push their knees out in pacelines and give the best draft up a hill because of the space they take up and how far to the right you have to go to get around their displays of patella masochism.
Meg

kszspin
09-09-2006, 01:26 PM
patella masochism.
Meg

Now guys can have PMS = Patella Masochism Syndrome :D

megale3
09-09-2006, 01:37 PM
Now guys can have PMS = Patella Masochism Syndrome :D


Oh God here we are at the cross roads and now just finding this out. I have needed an excuse now I ahve one "I have PMS!":eek:
Meg