Indoor Cycling 101 – Bike Setup

Proper bike set-up matters, it is probably the most important aspect of the experience. Whether you are a beginner or pro at cycling having a trainer check on your bike modifications won’t hurt. For brand new riders, if you jump on the bike and start pedalling only to feel discomfort in ankles, knees or back, the wrong bike setup is the likely problem.

A comfortable riding position affects your pedalling efficiency and your comfort. The more you finely tune the set up on your bike, the greater at ease you will be in class. Consider going fifteen minutes earlier to set-up the bike to your height.

Saddle (Seat)

Adjusting the saddle height is the first step. The top of the saddle ought to be in line with the top of your hip-bone. To make sure it is hip level; place your thumb on top of your hipbone to check if your palm lies flat on top of the saddle. There are numbers on the saddle stem, remember your exact saddle height as measured on the bike for the next spinning class.

Clip into the pedals and bring your foot/pedal to the bottom of the pedal stroke. You’ll want a relatively full extension with a slight, soft bend at the knee. If you hyperextend the knee (a.k.a. lock the knee) or feel as though you are reaching for the pedals, it’s an indication you need to lower the saddle. If the knee is too bent and you are not getting that fuller extension, you need to lift the saddle higher.

The saddle slides back and forth and that position is determined by the angle of your knees and where they fall over the pedals. You want your knees to be over the ball of your foot. Start with the saddle in a neutral position.  Then, get your body into riding position and bring one pedal directly in front of the other so that the cranks of the bike are even with each other.

Whichever foot is in front, check to see where the knee falls. If the knee goes too far forward over the toes, slide the saddle back. If the knee is at 90degree angle and falls over or behind the ankle, slide forward.

Handle Bars

Handlebars are somewhat subjective. An outdoor cyclist may prefer the handlebars quite low, while most people are more comfortable with the bar at saddle height or higher. If you have back issues, it’s recommended that the handlebars be up a little higher.

Handlebars also slide back and forth on some bikes. To setup, start at a neutral position. You should be able to comfortably grip handlebars without reaching for them while keeping their shoulders drawn back away from the ears and soft bend at elbows. Always have a light grip on the bars and let the legs bear the body weight. Check that your knees don’t hit or come uncomfortably close to the bar as well.


Before starting the session, it is a good idea to tighten the adjusting levers and screws. Secure your saddle, handlebars and different adjustment areas before powering through the class. Remember all the numbers so that the next time you are in class the setup is a 30 second job.
A well-adjusted exercise bike is one less thing to worry about during the class.