ASK RIDE… Do I need to get my riding position set up for each of my three different bikes?

After reading about the importance of getting my riding position professionally set up but I have three different bikes, a practice bike, a race bike for crits and road races and a TT bike do I need to have three different – Rene (QLD)

Hi Rene,

Yes you will need to change your bike set up between the different disciplines.

As far as the road vs criterium riding perspective, differences in position are based more on the demands of the event rather than a pure risk management (injury prevention) consideration.  Bar height and stem length is generally adjusted by the rider, with comfort and handling the most important aspects.  At the back end of the bike, saddle height and lay back, and cleat position should be positioned for the rider, with the intention of reducing damaging forces passed across the knees in particular.  These principles apply whether you are riding road races or criterium.

It is the differences between the ‘road’ (including criterium) and time trial positions which are most significant.  The major change relates to what occurs across the hip joint when you contort yourself into the aerodynamic position on your aerobars.  Taking your hip into greater flexion places the hip flexor muscles on the front of the hip into a much ‘shorter’ position, and the hamstrings and gluteals on the back of the thigh into a much more stretched out range.  This essentially means that whilst your position creates less drag in the wind, the result is a much less efficient pedal stroke.  As a result, in order to ‘open’ the hip joint angle and return the muscles driving the pedal to their much preferred range, the saddle needs to be higher and further forward that it would be on the road bike.  However remember the loads across the knee and demands of the position on the rest of the body still apply, therefore care needs to be taken to not expose the body to undue injury risk.

Blair Martin

Blair Martin, Physiotherapist, specialises in cycling, running and triathlon related injury prevention and rehabilitation. He runs his own popular practise in Sydney called The Body Mechanic.

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