The key to becoming a better bicyclist is to be comfortable on the bicycle. If your bike causes you pain or discomfort, there are many minor adjustments you can make or ask your bike shop to make for you. Always try one small adjustment at a time and remember that half an inch can make a big difference. Ride your bike after each adjustment to see if it helps before trying the next change.
TIP 1: If your knees hurt, adjust your seat higher, lower, forward or back. If you’ve recently bought new cycling shoes or installed new cleats on your old shoes, then the placement of the cleats may be the cause of your knee pain. Adjust their angle.
TIP 2: If your neck or shoulders hurt, raise your handlebars or shorten the reach of your stem. Putting yourself in a more upright position will often help alleviate neck and shoulder pain. If you use straight handlebars, consider getting narrower bars or cutting down the ones you have. Narrower bars are also more aerodynamic.
TIP 3: If your hands hurt or fall asleep, turn the angle of your handlebars so your hands are in a more relaxed position when you ride. On straight handlebars, consider using bar ends to give you the opportunity to change hand positions.
TIP 4: If your wrists or hands hurt when you shift, install compact shift levers on drop handlebars so you don’t have to reach as far with your fingers. If that doesn’t help, you may need to ask your bike shop to change your STI levers to the older style bar-end type. On straight handlebars, try adjusting the angle of the shifters on the handlebars. If that doesn’t work, ask your bike shop to install different shift levers altogether. There are several different brands, models and types available. A different lever may make all the difference.
TIP 5: If your butt hurts, it may be because you haven’t cycled much. Try a gel seat cover for the first couple bike rides. If your butt still hurts after riding 2-3 times a week for 2-3 weeks, tip the seat down ever so slightly. If that doesn’t help, try a different seat. Seats are very personal, so it may just be a matter of finding the right one for you.
TIP 6: If your crotch hurts, tip the seat up ever so slightly and don't use a gel cover. If that doesn’t help, raise your handlebars so you’re not leaning over as far. Then try a saddle with a cut-out.
TIP 7: If your feet get numb or develop hot spots and you ride with cycling cleats, move the position of your cleats on the bottom of your shoes. They may be compressing a nerve. If you ride in sneakers, your soles may be too soft. Buy a pair of cycling shoes with firmer soles.
The more comfortable you are on your bicycle, the more you’ll ride your bike. And the more you ride, the more comfortable you’ll become. So get out there and feel like a kid again!