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Bike maintenance guide: saddles/handlebars

PedalsChainWheelsGears and brakesSaddleCleaning up

On a bike, most of your weight is taken by your hands and your bottom.

So for maximum comfort, make sure your weight falls fairly equally on both.


Saddles are important because if you pick the wrong one then you'll end up with a sore bum!

Nearly all saddles nowadays have synthetic gel padding.

First of all check that the saddle is horizontal.

If it is, try moving it half-an-inch forward, then half-an-inch back - you have to fiddle around to find out what suits you.

Some people are more comfortable with the saddle nose pointed up or down just a fraction.

Saddle height is very important too.

If it's set too low you'll have much less strength when pedalling and your legs will become tired.

A good rule of thumb is to adjust the saddle height until you can stretch your leg right out and comfortably place the ball of your foot on the ground.

Your leg should then be bent slightly when the pedal is at its lowest point.

For mountain bikes set the basic saddle height in the same way as on a racer.

But for downhill and cross-country riding, allow more bend at the knee so you can easily put your foot down when it feels as if you're losing control.

Also your back should be at an angle of roughly 45 degrees to the ground.

This is so you can see ahead without having to crank your head back.

It also throws more weight onto the handlebars, holding the front wheel down and helping you to keep control over really rough ground or at high speed.


With your saddle now set at a comfortable height, it's time to set the reach to the handlebars.

In terms of handlebar height it's best to start with the top of the handlebar stem slightly below the top of the saddle.

When adjusting the height of the saddle or handlebars make sure that the limit mark is not visible.

If the handlebar stem or seat post are pulled out so far that the limit marks are visible, there is a big possibility they will either fall out of the frame or break due to the extra stress placed on them.

Also, the handlebars, stem and saddle take a lot of weight so check every now and then that all the bolts are tight and there are no cracks.

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