Main Body

4. How to Set-Up the Bike

There are typically three-four adjustments on most indoor cycle bikes. These knobs will allow the rider to move the handlebars &/or saddle forwards and back. When making any adjustments on the bike always make sure to re-engage the locking mechanism by tightening all of the knobs.

  • Turning the knob to release the locking mechanism will allow riders to move the handlebar and seat post up and down.
  • Knob near the handlebars
  • Knob under the seat.

Watch the instructional video below on how to set up your bike correctly.



Read the following information for an in-depth description of how to set up your bike correctly.


Seat Post Height Positioning

  • Stand next to the bike and adjust the saddle to be parallel to the top of your hipbone.
  • Place one foot in the pedal cage and sit on the bike.
  • Slide the other foot into the second pedal and find a resistance that allows for easy controlled pedaling.
  • Always check to make sure the rider is not locking the knee out at the bottom of the pedal stroke. The proper seat height will allow the rider’s leg to fully extend without locking the knee.

Common indicators of error in seat post height positioning:

  1. Seat too low: inadequate leg extension and power output
  2. Seat too high: knees locked out
  3. Seat too high: hips may rock in the saddle

Foot Position on the Pedals

Beginner cyclists often feel the need to insert their foot fully into the foot cage. This is a common misconception. Cyclists are most powerful when the ball of the foot rests directly over the pedal crank. For the average person, this will mean the foot is not shoved completely into the foot cage.

  • The foot cage straps should be tightened down to secure the rider’s foot from easily sliding out of the cage. It will also help the rider keep proper form during the pedal stroke.
  • During the up phase of the pedal stroke, the rider should be actively pulling up on the pedals. They should feel their toes lifting up in their shoes and hamstrings engage as they come up and over the top of the pedal stroke.
  • Remember: it is important to keep the strap snug but not too tight. If it is too tight it can cut off the circulation to the foot. It is also important to make sure shoe laces are tucked into the cage to prevent them from getting tangled in the pedals.

On the reverse side of the pedal there will be a clip on the pedal. Riders with cycling shoes can also clip into the pedals to prevent the feet from slipping off of the pedals. It is important to ensure that the cleats are properly aligned under the ball of the foot. Failure to do so could result in muscle strain and may lead injury over time.


Handlebars & Saddle

The distance between the handlebars and saddle (the fore/aft position) is an extremely important position in order to achieve a comfortable riding position, reduce tension in the upper body, provide knee and back protection, maximize the oxygen intake, and produce an efficient pedal stroke. The middle range of the fore/aft is a great spot to start from and often will be the optimal position for many riders.¬†Once the rider’s seat height has been established, it is time to determine the distance between the seat and handlebars.

  • Start in a seated position on the bicycle. Lengthen the spine and sit as tall as possible.
  • Hinge forward from the hips and place the hands on the handlebar closest to the rider.
  • In this position, the rider’s back should look long and elbows should be extended but have a soft bend in them.
  • If the rider cannot reach the handlebars or looks hunched over, the saddle and handlebars are too close together. If this is the case, have the rider dismount the bike and move the seat further back.

Once the rider believes they have found the correct distance, the last thing to check is the position of the knees.

  • Have the rider position the pedals at 3 and 9 o’clock (parallel to the ground). Turn up the resistance so they can keep their feet in this position with minimal effort.
  • If they cannot see their toes at all the seat is set too close to the handlebars.
  • If the rider can see their entire foot (or almost all of it) they are too far from the handlebars.¬†Typically indoor cycling bikes have numbers or letters to allow riders to easily remember their seat and handlebar height and position.

Handlebar Height

Remember for novice cyclists and those not training for competitive cycling events, comfort is key.

  • Positioning the handlebars a few inches above the seat height will make the ride more comfortable and help eliminate any low back discomfort.
  • With practice and increased flexibility, the handlebars can be positioned even with the seat.
  • Competitive riders may even position the handlebars below the seat as this is a more aerodynamic body position and replicates the posture held during competition.
  • It is important to note pregnant females should always keep their handlebars above the seat height.



Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Ch.1 - Indoor Cycling Copyright © by UGA PEDB Program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book