cycling position/ weight in saddle/ bike fit (for girl)
I am hoping to buy a hybrid and have tried the ridgeback comet which seems pretty good. I am stuck regarding which size to get (between 2) and I think thats partly to do with that I am not sure what my body position is suppost to be. One guy at the shop was getting technical and the other said it doesnt matter as long as you are comfortable (although how far do you need to ride to know if its comfortable?). I am not sure if I am suppost to be rotating my pelvis forward a bit and whether it will cause discomfort in my nether regions ( i am a girl!)? I have seen saddles with the centre cut out. Is that to allow you to get pelvis into correct position without discomfort? Should my weight be going there?
A bit of background info... I have not cycled for a long time and my last cheap halfords bike gave me neck/back pain. I am 6'1", 36" inside leg, so am looking at mens bikes to get the large/XL frame size. I will be riding on roads/cylce routes and maybe doing half hour per night and longer half day rides at weekends to start with to get fit.
There are a few issues. Women generally need a wider saddle because the ischial bones are farther apart. I've heard pros and cons of cutouts (eg. the edges may cut into you) and I'm not a woman so I have no personal view on that. Women typically have longer legs and a shorter torso than men (and that certainly sounds true of you!) so a bike big enough for your legs might make you reach too far forward. To fix that you may need to get the bike modified with a shorter stem, or buy a smaller bike and use a longer seat post, or find a bike with a WSD (women specific design). As you get more into riding you will gradually prefer to lean farther forward, and you may find that the seat and bike position that felt right initially aren't quite right then. However you may only need to make slight adjustments in seat position (they can slide back on their rails a bit) height and tilt, and handlebar height to fix that.
It is close to impossible to fit someone for a bike without seeing them on the bike. It is a good practice to visit two or three good bike shops and get two or three opinions on fit.
As a general rule, bike shop's are staffed by young males who, on their days off, pretend to be Lance Armstrong. They buy bike's that are waay too small, and ride with the handlebars three or four inches lower than the saddle. An okay position for a Pro. A terrible position for recreational riders.
An ideal bike fit allows:
- your leg to be almost, but not quite, straight when the saddle is properly adjusted. There should be only a slight bend in your knee when the ball of your foot is on the pedal, and the pedal is at 6 o'clock.
- the handlebars to be as high as the saddle, after the saddle is properly adjusted for height. Pro's don't ride with their bars that high...but you are not a Pro. Riding with your hands at the same height as the top to the saddle take pressure off your privates, and off your wrists and hands. It also reduces neck and back pain.
- allows you to stand at a stop sign, with both feet flat on the ground, without the top bar of the bike pressing against your crotch. I like "tall" bikes, so some of my bikes have top tubes that lightly brush against my crotch when both feet are flat on the ground. Most shops aim for at least an inch of clearance between the top bar and your crotch while standing over the bike.
If a bike is well fitted, your back should at about a 45 degree angle to the road with your hands on the bars in your "preferred" position. Some recreational riders prefer a bit higher back angle, but avoid sitting straight up, in the old Raleigh three-speed position. Sitting straight up puts a lot of extra weight on your rear, and will be uncomfortable on a long ride. When a bike fits "right", your weight is balanced between your rear, feet, and hands, and you can easily come up off the saddle while riding over rough pavement.