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Kama Sutra of Bike Positions

Nothing is more important to performance and comfort than your position. We look at photos of our customer's positions, good and bad, and give you the analysis of what makes a good riding posture here.

No other single factor influences the quality of your experience on a bike more than fit. Whether you are looking for increased comfort, better endurance, better handling, more speed or all of these things, your posture on the bike is the single most important factor.

To have good bike position you need perfect bike fit. This means the correct frame geometry and design, the correct frame size, the proper stem length and rise, the right handlebars, the appropriate pedal system for your riding style, the right shoes and cleat setup and a host of other adjustments.

During 1999 and 2000 we photographed over 700 riders in our store and at events to evaluate their position. Many of them are customers we built bikes for. Some are cyclists we saw at events. Each photo we picked for this feature has something to say.

Use these photos as a guide to think about your own position and where improvements can be made. Remember, however, that fit and position is a highly individual matter. What works for one person may not work for you. Just because Lance Armstrong sits on his bike in one position does not mean that position would work for you. If you do use this information to learn about the terminology of bike fit and familiarize you with some of the concepts, you will be one step farther along the path to improving your fit.

These photos were all taken with riders pedalling. None of them are posed. There is a mix of indoor trainer photos taken during fit sessions at Bikesport, Inc. and photos shot on the road, in the real world, during events we sponsor. Note that some of the photos were reversed 180 degrees so all the riders face the same direction for comparison.

Bikesport uses these components to adjust fit on every road and triathlon bike we sell.

Once we use measurements to determine your best frame geometry, design and frame size we change some, most or all of the following to get you in the best possible position:

Frame Geometry (Which geometry is right for you?)

Frame Design (What frame design is best for your riding style?)

Frame Size (Which frame size should you be on in a particular model?)

Seatpost (Do you need set back, center mount or forward post?)
Saddle (Which one is tolerable to you?)

Saddle Height (Where should your saddle be?)
Saddle Fore/aft (How far forward/back should I sit?)

Saddle Angle (what angle will be the most tolerable?)

Cranks (What length do you need?)

Pedal System (What "Q" factor and style pedal and shoe do you need?)

Cleat Adjustment (Where should cleats be positioned?)

Stem (What length? What rise? What stack height?)

Handlebar (What bend and design? What drop, length, width?)

Be sure to click on the photos to enlarge and see fit comments.

6 O'Clock crank position. Perfect position. Flat "A" back.
2 O'Clock crank position. Very poor position . Arched "B" back.
12 O'Clock crank position. Excellent knee/elbow interval. Perfect posture.
12 O'Clock crank position. Slightly arched "B" back. Very good posture.
2 O'Clock crank position. Excellent position. Arched "B" back posture.
6 O'Clock crank position. Perfect leg extension, excellent reach. Arched "B" back posture.
3 O'Clock crank position. Excellent powerful, compressed position. Arched "B" type back.
6 O'Clock crank position. Excellent leg extension with perfect reach. Arched "B" back posture.
2 O'Clock crank position. Slightly arched "B" back. Very good overall.
Almost 2 O'Clock crank position. Note elbow to knee clearance. Extremely long femur bone.
2 O'Clock crank. Excellent posture and relatively flat back.
6 O'Clock crank. Very good, powerful position although slightly high.
6 O'Clock crank. Extremely poor base bar position. Saddle too low, rider too upright, reach too short.
12 O'Clock crank position. Position too cramped. Femur/torso angle too acute and cramped.
12 O'clock crank. Excellent, although radical, low powerful position. Slightly compressed. (photo reversed for perspective).
Good powerful position. Too high with very arched back.
Shot from a forward angle, showing that rider is too high on bike.
Good position from shoulder back, but too extended from shoulders forward.
Although somewhat cramped and rounded in shoulders, a very low, narrow aerodynamic position.
Extremely poor, too upright and cramped position. (Aero bars on standard road geometry).
Although too high, a very good, comfortable power position with good joint alignment.
Back too arched, torso too compressed, reach slightly too long.

This diagram describes better than any photo the difference between a road geometry bike and a specific triathlon geometry bike. these lines were superimposed over actual photos of riders on thieir bikes while pedalling.

Note that in the triathlon position (red lines) the rider DOES NOT sit farther forward, but rather, the feet are farther back. Also, note the, more relaxed angles of the rider's skeletal alighnment on the triathlon position.

This is the REAL difference between a road position with aero bars and a triathlon position.

© Tom Demerly, Bikesport Inc.
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