The size of the frame, seat position and body position on a road bike are all important areas to address to reduce injury risk. Research has now shown that these factors are important in improving performance. Injuries in cycling are either traumatic, mainly shoulder and upper limb, or chronic or overuse injuries, mainly lower limb.
50% of cyclists are likely to develop overuse knee injuries.
Saddle height can be optimized to improve cycling performance and reduce knee joint forces to reduce lower limb injury risk. Saddle height is one of the most researched areas of bike fit. Research has shown that saddle height should be set with the knee at 25-30° with the peddle in the 6 o’clock position to reduce the risk of knee injuries and to minimize oxygen uptake. However, the act of pedaling is dynamic, and angles may alter during movement. Although stationary measures are where a bike fit session will begin, observation during the pedal cycle may be needed to fine-tune the riders' fit.
Ideally the ball of the foot should be centred over the pedal axle. Small feet and high cadence pedlars should place the ball of the foot slightly behind centre.
If you have clip-less pedals you can make this adjustment by clipping your shoes into the pedal and adjusting the cleat fixing bolts.
Stem and Handlebars
Research suggests that the preferred range for stem height is 2.5 to 4.5 lower. To ensure good chest expansion and breathing the handlebars should be as wide as the cyclists shoulders. On a mountain or hybrid bike some riders may prefer a more upright riding position with a higher stem position.
If the handlebars are too far away you will be very uncomfortable and likely to lead to low back issues. The arms should be at 90 degrees to the torso when seated in the normal riding position.
Adjusting to Your New Position
It takes time to settle in to the new position and you may still have to do some fine tuning. Overall you should feel much better when you ride and less strained after.