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How to Properly Sit on a Road Bike (Expert Tips)

Riding with a balanced and comfortable body position is a fundamental skill for a road cyclist. Even experienced cyclists struggle with it, and it can frustrate novice roadies. What is the proper way to sit on a road bike?

To properly sit on a road bike, you should be able to reach the tops and brake hoods on a road bike and the grips on a mountain bike when seated securely in the saddle. Your elbows should not be locked but slightly bent. A comfortable position of your core should support the lean of your torso.

Reminding yourself to relax your shoulders throughout a long ride or strenuous exertion could prevent you from experiencing neck aches the following day. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about riding a bike. 

road bike sitting positions

Expert Tips To Help You Properly Sit On The Road Bike

The following tips can help you smoothly position yourself on your road bike and ride without complications. 

Sit More Upright On The Road Bike

The height of your handlebar is also significant and, like stem length, affects reach. Lowering the handlebar and putting it in a more aggressive posture will improve the effective reach, while raising the handlebar will provide a more upright riding position.

Fix Your Handlebar Height On The Road Bike

The position of your handlebars significantly impacts your bicycle’s overall fit. Moving a bike merely 5 mm up / down, forward, or back can completely alter its efficiency.

The objective of performance is maintaining a low, aerodynamic posture that you can sustain for an extended period of time. In addition to that, speed is your primary concern. If all-day comfort is more important than all-out speed, you should adopt a more upright stance that decreases weight and arm strain.

Try riding with the handlebars in their stock position, as this will give you a starting point. This is not necessarily a straightforward procedure. Be patient, try new approaches, and keep track of what’s working and not.

If you experience shoulder or neck pain after riding, you’re probably shrugging your shoulders and reaching too far. Consider opting for a shorter stem. 

If you experience lower backaches, this may indicate that your handlebars are too low (or your seat too high). In contrast, if you get an upper backache between the shoulder blades, this could indicate the opposite.

If you’d like to watch a video about sitting correctly on a bike as you read, we’ve picked one for you: 

Adjust Your Saddle To Avoid Getting Hurt

Suppose your butt or crotch hurts after just a short time riding your bike. The problem is usually caused by a misaligned saddle or seat post, improper handlebar positioning, poor or improper saddle design, or a low-quality saddle. Sitting in the wrong place on the saddle leaves excess fabric between the harness and your body.

Adjust the up and down angle of your saddle. Adjust the side-to-side angle of your saddle, then adjust the seat-post height. Adjust the height and position of your handlebars so you don’t have to lean too far forward or too far back.

What To Look Out For When Riding a Road Bike 

Many folks start out wrong by choosing the wrong road bike size. Saddle height, knee position, reach, hand position, and foot position also affect bike frame size. Each of them will determine the rider’s ideal bike size.

Saddle Height

bike saddle seat bone measurement

The saddle height is determined by measuring the distance between the top of the bicycle seat and the pedal while the bicycle is at the bottom of its turning circle. When the pedal is near the bottom of its stroke, the cyclist’s legs should not be fully extended but bent at approximately 25 degrees.

Any less than this suggests that the rider is not allowing their leg muscles to perform near maximal extension, where they are most efficient, whereas more than 25 degrees can disrupt your pedaling stroke and harm your knees. Similarly, a saddle that causes cyclists to sway back and forth might be too high. 

Typically, the correct saddle height is fixed at 109% of the inside leg circumference (the distance between the crotch and the ground in bare feet). The additional 9% permits the ball of the foot to extend beneath the heel. 

Nevertheless, it is essential to consider the height of the rider’s cleats or shoes, so it is recommended to set the bike saddle at 109% and then raise it by the thickness of the sole.

Knee Position

The location of the knee on the bicycle pedal must also be considered. Hold the pedals in a horizontal or level position to test this. A plumb line drawn from the center of the knee joint should be positioned vertically above or just behind the crank arm’s axle center. 

When riding aggressively, if the knee is somewhat in front of the axle center of the pedal, this tends to drive the rider out of position.


This is the distance between the cyclist’s shoulders and the top brake levers when seated in an upright position. The correct reach setting should allow the rider to sit at a 45-degree angle to the bicycle’s top tube.

The reach of a bicycle can be altered by altering the length of the handlebar stem. A correct setting reduces tension on the neck and muscles and allows for unobstructed breathing, resulting in enhanced performance.

Hand Placements

The handlebars of a bicycle should be positioned slightly below the top of the saddle Keep in mind that lower back and shoulder pain is a consequence of handlebars that are too low. A large bend in the elbow, with the forearm nearly horizontal, is advantageous and helps lessen road stress.

Bicycle handlebars provide the rider with three comfortable gripping positions: the tops, hoods, and drops. As its name implies, the tops are the uppermost straight pieces of the handlebars. The hands grasp the brake lever hoods at the top of the curved area of the handlebars. 

Hands grip the dropped or curled portion of the handlebars lower down the curve. Long-distance cyclists may have hand soreness, which can be alleviated by using gloves and bar tape on the handlebars. Changing the hand position on the handlebars can also be beneficial.

Pedal Foot Position

The adjustment of the shoe cleats largely determines the position of the foot. The ball of the footl should be positioned over the pedal spindle to maximize efficiency and limit injury risk. 

Incorrect posture can drive the leg into an unnatural twist, resulting in decreased performance and an increased risk of knee damage. Cleats positioned too far forward on the shoe might cause excessive ankle movement, contributing to Achilles pain.

The cleat should be adjusted such that the foot is squarely in line with the direction of motion of the bicycle and not splayed out, although those with a natural splay of the foot in one direction or the other can make modest adjustments.

Bike Frame Size

The size of the frame is measured from the top of the frame, where the seat post is attached to the axle carrying the pedal arm (bottom bracket). Women typically have shorter legs than males, necessitating the use of smaller frames than men of comparable height. 

Manufacturers take care to produce bikes based on men’s and women’s body types that account for diversity in arm and leg length. 

What Are the Most Powerful Cycling Positions?

road bike cycling position

The following are some of the most potent cycling positions. This includes posture, positioning, and more. Continue reading to find out more.


The “superman” position is not allowed in races. However, this was the fastest downhill position tested—between 6% and 7% faster than the second-fastest position and nearly 25% faster than the slowest position in the study.

Top Tube 4

The “Top Tube” position is the fastest position for road racing (descending). The cyclist sits on the rear part of the top tube with their torso stretched toward the handlebars with their head down.

Top Tube 3

This position is nearly identical to the previous “Top Tube 4/Safe.” However, it is about six percent slower. Though less than a 1% difference might not sound like much, throughout 3 miles or 5 kilometers, this slight adjustment accounts for nearly 2 seconds. 


The “Pantani” position is named after the late Italian cyclist Marco Pantani. It is ten percent slower than the “Superman” position and 3% slower than the fastest road-racing descending position. The 2nd fastest downhill road racing position, excluding the illegal “Superman” and the “Time Trial” positions. 

This position is only slower than the “Top Tube Safe/4” and the nearly identical “Top Tube 3,” which saw a slight lifting of the head saddle. Riding while crouching behind the saddle is 3% slower than sitting on the top tube.

Back Down 2

This is the fastest position while the cyclist is seated on the saddle, making it number 1 of only 5 seated positions out of the 15 total descending positions from the study. 3% slower than “Top Tube Safe” and 10% slower than riding in “Superman.”

Top Tube 2

In this position, the cyclist sits more upright than in prior top tube positions, but this top tube position allows for successful pedaling. This position would be great for a cyclist transitioning from coasting to pedaling, as a less upright posture would be the only adjustment necessary for coasting.

Back Down 1

While the “Back Down 1” and “Back Down 2” positions are extremely similar, the effects are distinguishable. 5% slower than the optimal position for a downhill road race, 2% slower.  


Froome’s famed descending position is 7.2% slower than the “Top Tube 4” position, which is the fastest position possible in road racing. This position is 15% slower than the “Superman” and the 7th fastest of the 11 tested downhill road racing positions.

Back Horizontal

A classic riding posture that is not the most effective for coasting downhill but is the fourth-best position for pedaling and quite possibly the finest overall downhill position.8% slower than the fastest position for the top tube. It is the fourth best for cycling.

Best position overall, coupled with Back Down 1. Even though this position is ranked 8/11 for downhill road racing speed, according to the riders, it may be the best position overall. When evaluating the appropriate posture in the real world, cornering, braking, and pedaling all play a role; aerodynamics alone does not suffice. 

Recommended Bicycle Saddle

Because each individual has a unique body type and proportions, a saddle that doesn’t work well for one person may work better for another. However, a few bicycle seats are consistently rated as being both comfortable and of the highest quality. 

If you are experiencing butt or crotch pain while riding your bicycle, consider purchasing one of these saddles (in a suitable size for your body dimensions).

Recreational Bike Saddle

Try a padded saddle if you prefer short rides and sit erect while pedaling a cruiser, urban, or commuter bike. 

Recreational bike saddles are broad with soft padding and/or springs and have a short nose to provide ample comfort. You can also choose a seat post with springs, which helps cushion your ride further.

Road Bike Saddles

Racing or logging many road miles? Consider purchasing a performance saddle that is long, narrow, and has minimal cushioning. During a ride, relatively little weight sits on your bones, and your tucked position would require as little material as possible between your legs for optimal power transfer and minimal chafing. 

If you’re new to road cycling, consider choosing a softer saddle that will keep you comfortable as your body adjusts to long cycling. 

Mountain Bike Saddles

On mountain trails, you may stand on the pedals, perch far back (often hovering over or even off your saddle), or squat in a tucked position. 

Due to these varying positions, you will need a mountain-specific saddle with padding for your bones, a sturdy cover, and a streamlined form to facilitate your movement.

Women-specific Saddles

With typically wider hips, ischial bones, and smaller bodies, women frequently benefit from saddles explicitly created for their anatomy.

While all padded seats provide comfort for the bones, the two most common cushioning materials respond differently to weight.


A well-fitted and adjusted bike should be easy to handle in all conditions. You should be able to gaze down the road and over your shoulder without strain or fatigue. Always remember that riding shouldn’t be uncomfortable; if it is, it’s time to make adjustments.