Is Your Saddle Set Up Correctly?

By Jennifer Sage On December 7, 2012 Under Business of Coaching/Teaching, Form and Technique, Outdoor Cycling

Are you set up on your bike properly? Those of you who have known me for a while know I am always reiterating the importance of proper setup in an indoor cycling class. I have seen it over and over again during my 16 years of teaching and training instructors: too many instructors do not set their students up correctly—if at all! It’s astounding to me when I travel to another facility and I set someone up, and the rider says these words:

Wow, thanks! No instructor has ever done that for me before!

Really? How can that happen? Isn’t that one of the jobs of an indoor cycling instructor?

Anyway, I know it’s probably not the instructors who are reading my blog who neglect to check their participants’ setup, because my typical demographic consists of instructors who want to know how to be better coaches and how to serve their students better. 😉 But, even if you do set your students up, you may still have some questions on how to do it better or more effectively, or you might be confused by some of the conflicting information you’ve heard.

Bicycling magazine recently posted some tips on setting yourself up on your bike. What I found interesting about this article that I think is helpful to indoor cycling instructors, especially those who are not that familiar with outdoor cycling, is the diagram that shows how different each rider’s setup might be even for riders of the same height. As an instructor, it’s important to keep this in mind—your student’s height does not determine where you adjust their saddle. Two individuals of the same height may be 2 inches different in saddle height and/or in fore/aft due to the lengths of their femurs, tibias, and their trunk length.

The Bicycling article says that you need to measure the angle at the knee, but fails to tell you how! You’ll need a goniometer to do that, and a quick lesson in how to place the tool properly in order to get a precise reading. In fact, this tool is so vital that I believe every indoor cycling studio should have a goniometer for all instructors to use. If your studio doesn’t provide one, you may want to get one of your own. (See below on where to get one.)

Also take note that on this Bicycling article, unless you really are an expert, you should ignore the part about cleat placement except in the most general terms. Your student should consult an expert at a bike shop for cleat placement. (Or you can take the BikeFit video training explained below.)

For more in-depth information on proper bike setup, I did an interview on the Indoor Cycling Association with Paul Swift of the company BikeFit this past September. You can listen to that interview here. Paul gives some great tips on setting your students up correctly. On that page, there is a free handout on how to use a goniometer and plumb bob on that page, so make sure you check it out. ICA members receive 40% off on the bike setup tools (goniometer and plumb bob) and everyone else receives a 5% discount.

If you really want to learn more about bike fitting, including cleat placement and the foot/pedal interface, BikeFit has a 6-hour training video. Go here to learn more about the video, including watching the first chapter for free. Again, ICA members get a 40% discount on this training. (For the discount code, go here.)


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