Learning to ride a bike is, for many people, a milestone in childhood, and it opens up the possibilities of traveling by bike or even getting into cycling as a sport.
But something that takes a little time, is finding the right bike, height, and size-wise, as well as setting the seat to the exact right height.
The right height can be the difference between struggling or using your bike comfortably. And it can also seriously affect performance and efficiency while cycling, as well as preventing injuries and accidents.
There are many rules about whether your leg should fully extend or not when on a bike, so what’s the deal?
Well, as a general rule, your feet should be able to reach the floor while you’re seated on the bike. However, they should reach the floor by not a lot, or in other words, your toes should be able to reach the floor, but you shouldn’t have your knees bent.
While cycling, your leg should extend fully when your foot is on the pedal, and the pedal is at the lowest point of its cycle. However, many people recommend that you should still have a slight bending of the knee, even when your leg is at the fully extended point so that you always have full control over the pedal and the cycling process.
So to answer the question in a more straightforward way: yes, your leg should fully extend on a bike when it is at the down most part of the pedal cycle.
However, to avoid hip injuries, and to maintain control over the process, it is recommended that you keep a slight bending of the knee, so you’re slightly lower than you would be with your leg fully extended.
How tall should my bike seat be?
Getting the right height for the seat of your bike is essential to ensure comfort, high-performance, and safety while cycling. In fact, if you go to a bike shop and you ask for help choosing out the right size of bike, they will probably help you choose based on the seat heights, and what works best for you in that regard!
There’s nothing worse than having to stop mid-cycle to re-adjust your seat, so it’s important to adjust it to the exact right hand beforehand. But how tall should the bike seat be?
Let’s start by clarifying that the bike seat height is the distance between the center of the bottom bracket and the center of the bike seat. There are many methods that you can use to figure out the right bike seat height, but here is one of the most traditional and reliable ways to figure it out:
- Start by sitting on the bike. It’s super helpful to have someone there to help you so that they can hold the bike upright for you while you figure out the seat height, and so that they can corroborate the process.
- Place the heel of your foot on the pedal, and then peddle backward until you reach the ‘six o’clock’ position, which is the down most part of the pedal cycle when your leg is outstretched in line with the seat tube.
- Your knee should be straight, with your leg fully extended. If it isn’t, and your knee is bent, then you need to place the seat higher. However, on the other hand, if your foot is barely able to reach the pedal and loses contact with it, then you need to lower the bike seat.
- Keep repeating this process, adjusting the seat slightly each time, until you have it at the right height.
- You’re not done yet! You’ve now adjusted the bike seat according to your legs, but you haven’t taken into account your style of cycling and body position. So the best thing to do is to take the bike for a little test run and see how it feels. Is it comfortable to peddle? Is your performance efficient, or are you struggling? Your leg should fully extend when cycling, but your foot should never lose contact with the pedal.
- After the test run, go back to adjusting the bike seat if necessary. And that’s when you should finally be done!
Should your legs be straight when riding a bike?
When you’re riding a bike, your legs should become completely straight when the pedal is at the down most part of its cycle. With the knee straight, and the leg completely outstretched.
However, this should be accomplished without your foot ever losing touch with the pedal, and without your hips having to rock to keep it that way.
If you have the bike seat set at the right height, your legs will become straight when cycling (and then bend back up, according to the cycling process). So, yes, your legs should be straight when riding a bike.
However, some people recommend maintaining a slight bending of the knee. This is because it is equally important to ensure you never lose contact with the pedals, as that is your way of controlling the bike.
And your hips should not have to push themselves and rock sideways in order to keep your feet on the pedal when your legs become straight. If they are doing so, you will eventually end up with some sort of hip injury, which is something to avoid at all costs.
How do I turn my bike seat forward?
Most bike seats can be turned and adjusted. However, if your bike seat is turning sideways, or even backward, far too easily or while you’re cycling, then it is likely that the seat adjustment is loose and unsafe.
The mechanism can vary from bike seat to bike seat, but there is usually a small handle, which you can pull to soften the tension on the bike seat so that you can adjust its position, and turn its direction as desired for comfort.
Related: Best Indoor Cycling Bicycles