5 tips to improve your riding comfort aka your guide to essential cycling equipment
Do you ever wonder during a ride what is holding you back, what could you improve? Do you want to spend more time in the saddle, riding? In this article, we will give you tips on improving your riding comfort even on the longest rides. You will find recommendations on how to work on yourself, what to look out for when choosing cycling components, clothing and accessories, and why you ought to take advice from experts.
If you become a couch potato during winter and cycling is more of a spring, summer or autumn activity for you, give your body some time to adjust after winter break. Do not chase PRs and KOMs after a few rides. Make peace with the fact that it takes approximately 1000 km to re-adapt to the specifics of cycling.
Tip #1: Work on yourself and get a professional bike fit
Incorporate strengthening, stretching and relaxation exercises into your regular routine all year round. There is a reason why pro cyclists spend up to a third of their training doing just that. The stronger your core is, as well as your cervical spine and arms, the better the comfort and the higher the performance in the saddle. If you are not sure where to start, get in touch with experts. A skilled physiotherapist will be able to suggest exercises for the most strained areas of your body during the first visit. This will help you compensate for imbalances that decrease your comfort and performance.
If you are cycling more often than just during weekends with family, it is ideal to schedule a bike fitting - whether you ride on the road or off-road. These days, you can find professional bike fitting studios in virtually every major (regional) city. Thanks to cutting-edge technology, the experts can fine-tune your riding position down to the smallest detail. And they will even help you with the right choice of components such as cranks, stem, etc.
Tip #2: Do not underestimate the basic components of your bike
Which bike components determine your riding comfort? Choosing the correct frame size is essential. There are countless types of frames, and even if you choose the right size, its purpose - and therefore its features - will have the biggest impact on how you feel on your bike. Keep in mind that aero bikes will never be as comfortable as adventure bikes. Once you have found the ideal frame type for your riding style and chosen the right size (you can go to bike specialists for advice), you can focus on other aspects that affect your riding comfort. We talk about the contact points: saddle, handlebars, cranks and cleats.
Tip #3: Choose the right bike saddle
The saddle is the point with the largest contact area between you and the bike and is therefore absolutely crucial to overall riding comfort. It is also the first component most cyclists change on their bike, and unfortunately, they often choose their new saddle by trial and error.
So how do you choose the right bike saddle for you? You have to consider the cyclist's gender, weight and flexibility, the type of bike they ride, their annual mileage, and the average length of a ride. At Posedla, we know that the correct saddle selection is influenced not only by the above factors but also by the width of the rider's sit bones. When choosing a bike saddle, you will come across a number of parameters - width, length, weight, material, flexibility or padding - that tell you nothing without the right context and are more likely to confuse you.
For a long time, we tried to solve the puzzle of choosing the right saddle, until we decided to make our own: Joyseat - the world's first customisable bicycle saddle. We have simplified the saddle selection process as much as possible and invented a configurator to help you create a saddle that fits you perfectly!
|Podcast (in Czech): About the road to Joyseat|
Tip #4: Do not forget about any of the contact points of the bike
As mentioned above, the contact points on your bike - saddle, handlebars, cranks and cleats - all affect how comfortable your ride is. Bike fitting can help you with individual adjustments such as saddle height, fore-aft position and saddle tilt, handlebar width and cleats position. But the shape and material of the components also affect how you feel on the bike, so it is important to think about the choice you make.
With cranks and cleats, having as much support as possible is essential for power transfer. This is influenced by the size of the contact areas and their connections. With cycling shoes, the stiffness of the sole is important - the stiffer it is, the more efficient the energy transfer becomes. The length of the cranks, which must be directly proportional to your height, is sometimes neglected. The tightness of the cleats plays a role when it comes to disengaging the cycling shoes from the pedals. Those for MTBs are usually looser with smaller contact area than those for road bikes.
Are you looking for comfortable yet functional cycling shoes? Then you ought to be interested in their stiffness, weight, breathability, size and fastening. As mentioned above, the stiffness of cycling shoes plays a role in energy transfer. For weight, a simple rule applies - the lighter the more comfortable. The breathability of cycling shoes should vary according to the season - in the summer heat, you will appreciate that your feet breathe, while in the winter you will make use of the inside insulation. When it comes to sizing, keep in mind that if the shoes are tight-fitting when you first put them on, they will become very uncomfortable once your feet swell during your ride. Always choose the size which leaves you with some extra foot space. Lastly, fastening: the most common options today include the BOA wheel and the classic velcro fastener. Each option has its pros and cons, therefore manufacturers often combine them.
Cycling gloves and bar tape or grips are often unjustly viewed as not important and riders can be penny-wise and pound-foolish about them. Gloves can increase your comfort, as well as reduce scrapes and road rash - if worst comes to worst and you fall. A good quality bar tape/grips can act as a shock absorber. Plus, you are in contact with that cushioning from the first to the last mile, so it ought to feel nice to the touch. Remember that gloves, bar tape and grips do not have an infinite lifespan. It is a good practice to change them regularly to maintain the best possible material properties.
Tip #5: Keep your riding comfort with cycling cosmetics and appropriate clothing
You can have a great bike with an ideal frame, a riding position tuned by bike fitter and be in the best shape of your life, but after x hours in the saddle, you can reach a state in which no position is comfortable.
This is caused by bike (chamois) pads that have spent considerable time with you on your rides or have the wrong shape. If you ride your bike in every spare moment, you probably know that one bib is not enough. Sort through and replenish your gear with each season.
Our final tip to increase your riding comfort is to regularly use Posedla cycling cosmetics. This will take care of not only your butt but all your strained muscles, tendons and joints. Find out what, when and where to apply in our next article.
Blog: What are the benefits of cycling cosmetics and how to use itstep by step - you will find in this article.