5 Ways to Troubleshoot Your Ride

How to fix your positioning, posture, and technique—and ride more comfortably


Sometimes it’s a struggle to get comfortable or find your rhythm on the bike. You know something’s out of whack but you can't figure out what it is. Often it’s subtle problems with your posture or your pedaling form but sometimes it’s the set-up of the bike itself. Take the guesswork out of the equation with this troubleshooting guide to solving five common problems so you can ride harder and more comfortably.

The problem: Your shoulders are rounded and your head and neck are leaning forward.

Why it’s probably happening: You’re having difficulty reaching the handlebars easily, which is pulling your posture out of its correct alignment. Moving the handlebars closer and/or higher will help but you’ll also need to hinge forward at the hips, keeping your abdominal muscles engaged and your shoulder blades retracted, to maintain good form.

What can happen if you don’t correct it: You could end up with back, shoulder, and neck strain and pain.

The problem: Your knees are splayed or bowing outward.

Why it’s probably happening: Your seat may be too low; raising it to an appropriate height should help. Also, be sure to keep your posture in its proper alignment: your knees should be in line with your elbows and your toes.

What can happen if you don’t correct it: The quality of your pedal strokes will be compromised, and you could end up with knee pain and strain.

The problem: Your elbows are splayed like flapping chicken wings.

Why it’s probably happening: This is a matter of poor posture, pure and simple. Make sure your seat is correctly positioned then give yourself a body-position check: Keep a slight bend in your elbows and keep them fairly close to your body, in line with your knees as you pedal.

What can happen if you don’t correct it: You could strain your wrists and elbows and send muscle tension up into your shoulders, neck, and upper back—not what you want to happen!

The problem: Your knees are smacking your wrists with each upstroke.

Why it’s probably happening: Your handlebars are probably too low and maybe too close. Raise your handlebars and check your seat positioning; it may need to be moved back a bit but only if the front of the kneecap on your forward leg isn’t directly above the center of the pedal when both pedals are parallel to the floor. 

What can happen if you don’t correct it: Your pedal strokes will be choppy at best and you could hurt your knees and wrists, too.

The problem: Your hips are wobbling from side to side.

Why it’s probably happening: If your seat is too high, your hips and tush may rock back and forth as your legs stretch to reach the bottom of each pedal stroke. Lowering your seat should remedy this problem.

What can happen if you don’t correct it: Besides compromising the quality of your pedal strokes, you could end up with a serious case of lingering saddle soreness.


Continue Reading