How to set up your bike correctly for spin class

Rhythm Cycling is low-impact on your body and doesn’t cause discomfort or pain unless you set up your bike completely wrong. Let’s ensure you get the best riding experience possible by locking in the basics.

The Saddle

Stand alongside your bike & bring the saddle height to a level where it’s parallel with your hip bone. For most people, this is the ideal saddle height. Hop on the bike & pedal it out to see if this saddle height truly works for you. If your saddle is too high, it’ll feel like you need to reach down with your whole body, and you will naturally hyperextend your legs. If your saddle is too low, you’ll find your knee overbending on the upstroke (when the leg comes back up), which could lead to experiencing knee pain and discomfort. Get out of the saddle and ride to see how the setup feels. Your bodyweight should be hovering over the saddle as you ride, with your inner thighs almost touching the saddle. If the saddle is more than a fist height away from your body when riding, this is a sign for you to bring the saddle higher up. This will automatically force you to keep your upper body up during riding and support this riding style.

Saddle distance to the handlebar

The length of your forearm usually measures the ideal saddle distance. Place your elbow on the tip of the saddle, and extend your arm to the handlebar. Wherever your fingers reach, that’s where you want to bring your handlebar end to. Adjust the distance from tip to handlebar like this to determine the proper distance. Adjust either saddle or handlebar to find the perfect fit for you. Depending on the brand of the bike, this might vary.

Make sure you’re sitting on the wide part of the saddle; this will ensure you keep your overall body weight in the hips. You want to feel your abs engaged on every pedal stroke.

Your arms should be able to comfortably reach the handlebar without having to round the spine or needing to shift the bodyweight forward.

The handlebar

The handlebar height is the most significant difference between Rhythm Cycling and Classical Spinning setup. In rhythm cycling, we like to add upper body movements. Therefore it’s vital that the handlebar doesn’t cause extra stress on our bodies. If the handlebar is too low or high, it will be impossible for you to reap any benefits for the core, and you’ll feel very uncomfortable during the ride reaching for the different hand positions.

I usually measure the handlebar height by eye and go around 5cm (2 inches) higher than the saddle height. If you feel discomfort rising out of your saddle, reaching for the handlebar positions, or pain in your lower back, the handlebar needs to be higher. The bar is too high if you can’t perform an upper-body movement comfortably out of the saddle.

The arms are relaxed as you ride & never feel like they need to reach for the handlebar.

If you suffer from back problems or are recovering from an injury, you may want to keep the handlebars slightly higher!

Overall riding form

As you ride, the overall weight stays in the back of your hips rather than in the front. You want to avoid pushing your body weight forward into your arms or the handlebar. The same goes for your feet. If you point your toes down too much, you risk clipping out of your shoes during the ride and, even worse, injuring yourself. Your inner thighs are bouncing over the tip of the saddle but never touching. Your arms are comfortably bent and gently holding the handlebar. This will allow your body to bounce with the beat as you pedal down and create this “dancing on a bike” sensation. Chest is out, shoulders relaxed, core tight. If you notice your hips rocking from side to side instead of staying stacked over the tip of the saddle, check your overall posture, set up & push&pull motion as you pedal to the beat.

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