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  1. #1
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    How to actually sit on a bike?

    Hello. New here. If this is the wrong forum, I apologize.

    I started riding about 3 months ago. I'm not really sure what the proper 'category' for what I'm doing is. I have a mountain-ish-bike but I ride around where I live, which is a heavily-populated, urban area (i.e.: pavement). Also of note, I know nothing about nothing when it comes down to bikes. I just pedal.

    I have a question about what is the proper posture for your buttocks when riding, which I have a hard time putting into words, so bear with me.

    I find that there's quite a bit of an angle for your lower back/hips to move once you're actually seated on the saddle.

    I read somewhere that your back should be 'arched like a bridge', so I thought of sort of pushing my lower back 'forward', which seems to flex/lock part of my abdomen and my butt. While this feels like a somewhat unnatural way of riding, it actually looks like the 'arched like a bridge' thing. I can ride this way without too much discomfort, but I do find my legs getting tired more easily this way.

    The other end would be to stick your butt out, which just seems to put a lot more pressure on the peritoneum (sp?) area and me no likey. In turn, this would make your chest droop forward, which also doesn't seem like the proper posture.

    The third option would seem the most natural way to sit, which is just making sure you're sitting on your *forgotthename!*bones and riding. Not much to say about this one, just sit on the bike. I found this way to be less exhausting on my legs, but I do get some increasing discomfort as I ride longer and longer. Nothing too major and more a feeling of "Okay, gotta get off the bike now, enough for today", which may just be due to lack of training.


    Anyways, I looked and looked, but no one really seems to mention this bit about how to sit.

    I guess my questions are, does any of this ring a bell to any of you, guys? Is it just a matter of personal preference? Is any of these the 'proper' way to actually sit on a bike?


    Sorry for the bad grammar and extension of the post. English is not my first language, so it's kinda hard to put things into words.


    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    That's a question that only you can answer. There's lots of different ways to use a bicycle. How you actually ride will affect the best way to sit on your bicycle. As you use your bicycle more and more, don't be afraid to make subtle seat height and angle adjustments and it'll come to you.

  3. #3
    The Left Coast, USA FrenchFit's Avatar
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    It's a good question, but it has been the subject of lots of threads here and videos on youtube. What you are talking about is rotating your pelvis and getting a flat back or riding fairly upright. Visually, somone riding a townie with a basket on the front is riding upright, a competitor hammering in the Tour de France or sprinting on the track is riding fully rotated. As the previous poster said, it's up to you. Power, endurance, speed, saddle type, bike fit and alot of other variable are interdependent with how you position your body on the bike. Your sitz bones are triangular, so as you rotate forward your contact area become more narrow. My bias, having your pelvis on a different angular plane than your back is a bad idea for any significant distance. The arched bridged whale back effect is a natural thing for experienced and supple riders, as a noobie don't try to mimick that look.

    I have one MTB that I use as a commuter, I ride it more upright with a riser so I can have a better view and faster responses, hence I use a b17 saddle. However, I am still rotated ...just not as severe as a road bike. I think you'll find that your saddle position front and rear should match your rotated position, or your legs will be experiencing too much or not enough reach, which will affect power and endurance. This is a good argument for a bike fit, assuming you can communicate to the fitter the position you want.

    You can figure it out for yourself by doing long rides. If you are comfortable and efficient at 60 miles, you've got a workable position and fit, if you have problems they'll certainly show up.
    Last edited by FrenchFit; 03-23-12 at 09:02 AM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member bud16415's Avatar
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    I found this photo in a ad. I think the guy close has a good sitting position compared to the guy in the back of the photo.



    .
    What's not in your legs needs to be in your gears.

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    Thanks a lot for your quick replies!

    Guess it's just one of those things that take a lot of ride time to actually figure out what you're comfortable with.

    Thanks again!

  6. #6
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Of course if you are on a old style non race bike sitting more upright,
    so you can see better, not riding for speed,
    and dress in your normal or, sunday church clothes, then everything changes.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Monster Pete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Of course if you are on a old style non race bike sitting more upright,
    so you can see better, not riding for speed,
    and dress in your normal or, sunday church clothes, then everything changes.
    Exactly. It depends entirely on your riding style. For navigating city traffic, or any situation where you're not going for all-out performance, a more upright riding position is beneficial. I'd take an upright position on a good sprung saddle over any hunched-over stance any day. Of course, if you're looking for comfort and reasonable speed, you should look at buying or building a recumbent bike
    I've got a bike, you can ride if you like it's got a basket, a bell that rings and things to make it look good- Pink Floyd, 1967

  8. #8
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noodlesoup View Post
    I know nothing about nothing when it comes down to bikes. I just pedal.
    These two sentences make this perhaps the best first post ever.
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  9. #9
    Senior Member Nermal's Avatar
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    ^^^ Signature line material for sure. I kind of wish I had said it first.
    Some people are like a Slinky ... not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs.

  10. #10
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Think of it this way ...

    You know how you're supposed to stand with good posture (there are heaps of pictures out there to refer to ... do a google search) ... well, simply sit on your bicycle with those same principles in mind.

    Also, yes, you are supposed to sit on your sitbones (ischial tuberosity). If you are not comfortably situated on your sitbones on your saddle, you may need to consider a new saddle that can accommodate you.

    But by "sit" we mean "sit lightly" ... distribute your weight between your butt and feet, don't drop your entire weight on the saddle as though you were a sack of potatoes. It does help to be in shape, and to have a strong core to do this well.

  11. #11
    Senior Member ottawa_adam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bud16415 View Post
    I found this photo in a ad. I think the guy close has a good sitting position compared to the guy in the back of the photo.



    .
    I would tend to disagree with you on this one. The guy further away has a flatter back, which, to me is better posture.

    Being someone with a back injury, it's important for me to keep my back flat and in a neutral position.

    It's all a matter of physiological differences and needs, hence my disagreement for classifying one posture as better than the other.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Rounded works much better for me...60 years old and no back injury.

  13. #13
    Blissketeer HokuLoa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
    These two sentences make this perhaps the best first post ever.
    SRSLY, OP almost buried the gold. Glad you caught that!

    OP, everyone is different and there is not a "single, correct way." Generally speaking a position that allows an activated core, a flatter back, and a chest up and out position is a fairly powerful setup. If your lower back is flatter and your core activated then if setup correctly your hips tend to roll forward and you can utilize legs muscles more efficiently. Really though, it totally depends on your physical makeup and the rest of your bike setup. Bottom line is to make sure you and your rump are pain/numbness free and can comfortably travel many miles. How you accomplish that often changes as you ride more/longer becoming stronger and more flexible.

  14. #14
    Senior Member bud16415's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ottawa_adam View Post
    I would tend to disagree with you on this one. The guy further away has a flatter back, which, to me is better posture.

    Being someone with a back injury, it's important for me to keep my back flat and in a neutral position.

    It's all a matter of physiological differences and needs, hence my disagreement for classifying one posture as better than the other.
    I think you are correct the guy in the front is most likely not that good of a bike rider.

    I saved that photo and added the blue and red lines because I thought it was a great comparison of weight and balance over the crank. And even more a good comparison of what causes hand and arm strain and takes away body weight from the legs that you can use to push against while cranking. If you look at Lance’s body and the line that shows how even his mass is over the crank. Between that and core strength his arms are not shooting straight down the forks, hardly holding any weight.

    For me if you want to know how to sit you need to know how to stand. Put your heals against a wall and try and touch your toes without falling forward. Now move out from the wall and allow your butt to move back as you lean forward. That athletic position is what you need to feel on the bike. Do the same experiment now with a chair in front to catch your weight with your hands. You will see Machka means by sitting lightly. When you have heals to wall you will find how much weight the hands are holding as you move your sit point back yo will feel hand pressure go and the weight move between your butt and your legs. Every time you push down you will be taking weight off your seat point when your arms are holding the weight every push on the crank will put weight on the arms.

    The “guy” in the front IMHO is in a much better position for power and comfort.

    .
    Last edited by bud16415; 03-24-12 at 10:41 AM.
    What's not in your legs needs to be in your gears.

  15. #15
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nermal View Post
    ^^^ Signature line material for sure. I kind of wish I had said it first.
    You know, you're right. Sig'ed. V
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  16. #16
    Senior Member megalowmatt's Avatar
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    The riders in the picture are in two fairly different riding positions. One is forward on the hoods and the other is riding the tops.

    Not sure that's a fair comparison.

  17. #17
    Senior Member bud16415's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by megalowmatt View Post
    The riders in the picture are in two fairly different riding positions. One is forward on the hoods and the other is riding the tops.

    Not sure that's a fair comparison.
    You are correct it isnt a fair comparison the hood are more of a reach as you point out as being more forward. if anything a more forward position would move the rider forward and put more weight over the hands and less on the legs. That is my point by shifting the weight back in the saddle it works counter to what you would think by allowing a longer reach and a lower ride position with less weight into the hands and more into the crank. As strange as it sounds moving the saddle back gives you a longer reach due to better balance. Again the test to do is stand with your heals to a wall and bend at the waist and reach out and see how far you can reach before you fall forward now move out from the wall so your knees can bend and butt can counterbalance your weight and see how much reach you can get. measure from the tips of your toes each time. The added benifit is when the arms are not straight into the front wheel lined up with the fork the become much better shock absorbers.

    As to the straight back or a little arch. I think thats to each persons liking. I look at it like a row of bricks are your spine. When you build a bridge the arch is the strongest form. But thats just my thoughts on it.
    What's not in your legs needs to be in your gears.

  18. #18
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    Some of the top competitive riders have horribly contorted bodies. For everyday riding you can safely ignore any pro riders. Check out the bike fit advice here.
    IMHO, you should perch on the saddle (rather than sit) with your sit bones making most contact, on a firm saddle.
    The impact of up-down movements should act to pivot your spine rather than compress it so I prefer some tilt in my position. You dont need to be so aerodynamic as racers so a horizontal back is overkill.
    I find that a fairly straight back is prefereable to a curved one, angles at about 45 degrees. this seems to keep my back weakness at bay. You can adjust your bar position to experiment and develop the core muscles that hold your back in place.
    The distribution of weight between saddle and bars plays a big part in the comfort of any particular position.

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