Bike Set Up: A Refresher Course
Scanning the internet, books and previous conference notes, reminds me of the many options on setting up indoor cycling bikes for a class. I was working on my PowerPoint slides for the AFLCA cycle designation course I taught today and wanted to dive deeper into the nuts and bolts of set-up.
I came across this YouTube video, produce by Star Trac, the bike company that I typically use when I teach. It is very comprehensive and covers the majority of the points needed to set-up the bike.
As a quick review, here are some key points:
A crude estimate can be determined by lining up the saddle with hip bone (top of the iliac crest) or the crease of the flexed hip. I usually have participants sit in the saddle and complete a few revolutions while watching if the hips are rocking excessively. When the foot is extended the knee should be slightly bent, which really means the knee angle is approximately 25-35 degrees. Using a goniometer to measure this angle can be very helpful.
Handle Bar Height:
As I mentioned in a previous post, hamstring flexibility can help set the handle bar height. Have participants lean forward to the handle bars and set the height at a 45 degree angle from their hips. Beginners are looking for comfort so usually I have them place handle bars at the same height as the saddle. Whereas your experienced or more flexible riders will likely prefer a lower setting for height.
Saddle Forward (fore) or Back (aft):
Setting this position helps determine the placement of the knee over the pedal. This is where I find there are varying ideas of how to set up the ideal position. If the goal is efficiency and maximal force transfer from the foot to the pedal, participants will want to have the knee positioned directly above the pedal axel. By using a plumb line, there are two current thoughts on what to do:
1. Use a plumb line from superolateral patella/knee to the pedal axel, or
2. use a plumb line from mid-line of patella/knee to line up with the end of the crank arm.
To determine the position with either option, look at participant’s leg and imagine a straight line from the knee to pedal axel. If the plumb line is forward (/) over the pedal axel (option 1) or end of crank arm (option 2), the seat needs to be moved backward. Conversely, if the line is backward (\) from the pedal axel (option 1) or end of crank arm (option 2), the seat needs to be moved forward.
Handle Bar Forward (fore) or Back (aft):
Position will vary due to different torso lengths of participants. By a visual assessment, determine if participant is too far forward to reach the handle bars or too cramped (i.e., elbows hugging body) in their body position. Participants will typically self select the position for comfort.
After all four (or three depending on the bike) variables are set, re-check angle at the knee with goniometer and take long plumb line string and draw a straight line from the hip to the crank to the axel. If there is alignment with all three points on the participant’s body, they are set to ride!
For other reviews and/or suggestions on bike set-up, here is a sample of other recommended YouTube videos!
I wait every two years for the AFLCA's Fit Rendezvous in Edmonton. Nothing beats the energy of over 500 fitness leaders and trainers getting together to share their love and passion for group fitness. My conference started on the Friday night with the AFLCA trainers’ session on leadership. A future blog post will focus on some of its content but for this post I'd like to reflect on the indoor cycling sessions I attended. To save my legs and let's be honest, my backside, I didn't attend all the indoor cycling sessions, but I'd like to share with you what wisdom I took from the best of the best in indoor cycling instruction!
Effective Pedaling - Suzette O'Byrne
The Competitive Team Ride: Indoor Team Training - Krista Popowych
Ride One, Get One Free - Helen Vanderburg
The Cyclist’s Toolbox: Tools and Techniques to Enhance the Indoor Ride - Suzette O'Byrne
Let me be Your Guinea Pig
How strong is your gluteus medius muscles? Need your anatomy textbook to remind you what muscle that is? Well, let me refresh your memory...it is a one of the three gluteal muscles that is situated on the outer surface of the pelvis. It abducts the hip (moves the leg away from the body).
I have always wanted to have a biomechanics assessment. Weird you may think but with my history of musculoskeletal injury...I could fill this blog post!
Last year, my chiropractor told me of a new service at his clinic - Biomechanical Assessment. He encouraged me to consider making an appointment as to review my riding technique. I jumped at the chance to have another set of eyes review my cycling biomechanics, even though I've got many sets of eyes on me each week at class!
Brian, the biomechanical analyst, had me cycle (and chat - I couldn't resist) and he videotaped my technique. Can you see what's wrong in this video?
I had known going in that my gluteus medius had been a problem particularly on my left side. Muscular weakness! Not really thinking it through I hadn't realized that my weakness would be that clear on the video. And that it would show up with an internal rotation of my left femur at the hip joint. Knocking knees my friends. If you look carefully, it is mostly occurring on final phases of my pedal upstroke and transition into the down stroke. Who knew...well, maybe I should have as I yell and rave at cycle participants about keeping their knees facing forward!
Do you cue contraction of gluteus medius? Are your cycle participants knocking their knees?
It tends to be a problem especially for women. That is not really a surprise. With a wider pelvis, women are more prone to fall into this form. The Q angle is greater than men and thus forces the knee into a Genu valgum position. With weak gluteus medius muscles, research has shown that is position puts the knees at greater risk for injury and pain!
Now take a second look.
Improved? Yes! Did Brian have me doing something different with both my mind and body? Yes!
His recommendation was to bring my knees out such that they felt way too wide. I felt like I was cycling around a barrel but truly it was the right technique.
Lesson learned? In your next class, take a look at your cycle participants’ alignment. Can you provide them some cueing that will enforce proper riding technique?
Workman's Cycle Drills & Skills
Enjoy some of my favorite cycle workout drills either in a cycle class or on your own bike at home!