Mountain Bike Fit And Body Position Clinic | Ask GMBN Tech Special

Mountain Bike Fit And Body Position Clinic | Ask GMBN Tech Special


– Here at GMBN Tech, we
get a lot of questions about the effects of ill bike setup and basically how that affects you when you’re riding on the trail. Things I’m talking about
is stuff like numb hands, not being able to keep
the front wheel down when you’re climbing,
maybe struggling to lift the front wheel to do a manual,
or even just saddle pain. So we thought we’d take a
look through a bike setup and we’ll see how that affects
both your riding comfort and how you can actually
ride out on the trails. (funky techno music) Okay so the first one on that
last is your handlebar grips. They’re your direct point of contact for your hand to the
handlebar off the bike. Now there are lots of different
handlebar groups available and it’s a very personal preference thing. The grip that I might like may not be the right grip for you. so you have to bear this in mind. There are lots of different
durometers of rubber. You can have some with a firm rubber, some with a very soft rubber,
some with lots of padding, some with barely any padding. You get fat grips, you get thin grips, you get profiled grips that
give more support to your hand. It’s really important
to experiment and try and find the right
handlebar grip for yourself. But one of the first things
you wanna take into account is where the pain is that you’re getting. If it’s just discomfort,
you’re gonna be able to put this down to your grips I’m sure. You’re gonna be able to figure it out. These particular grips
from Ergon are actually fatter on the outside than
they are on the inside. So it actually gives
the outside of your hand a bit more support, and the
inside of your hand, it gives it a bit more room, a bit more
control on the handlebars. They also come in a couple
of different diameter sizes. I personally like the thinner one, even though I’ve got quite big hands. It might be the complete
opposite with you. I actually find a lot of
people do like a bigger grip, because it transmits less
shock through to your hand, but I really like being
able to feel the trail, feel what the bike is doing underneath me. And for that, that’s
why I choose thin grips. If you’re getting pain on
the outside of your hand, that’s because the area
is the ulnar nerve. And there’s a lot of reasons
this can be happening, but this is a nerve system that runs basically up the whole
outside of your arm. And it becomes a pressure point. So there’s a lot of different factors within that that can also add to it. But just bear in mind
with the grip pattern there’s a lot out there
that could suit you. Check these ones out on the screen now that I just bought at Sea Otter. They’ve got a mushroom profile. So what that means is it’s got loads of ridges all the way along. They’re designed to deform. So very comfortable to ride. And although they are very comfortable, they’re not my cup of tea, because again that’s just my preference. I prefer a grip that’s got
plenty of grip and texture to it, so when and if I do get sweaty hands, it’s not really gonna
affect my riding too much. With any sort of handlebar grips, you wanna be comfortable and
quite neutral on the bike. You never wanna be having to grip the handlebars really tight. If you get death grip, your
arms are gonna be more tense, more bumps and vibrations
can get transmitted. And it’s gonna tire you out. You wanna be able to be
quite flexible on the bars. A lot of riders do like
really soft compound grips cause they feel it has a better adhesion with the hands or the
gloves that they choose. So just take that into account. Now, the next point along
is your handlebar sweep and how you roll them, cause that makes a substantial difference to how they feel. Now sweep, basically, or the rake, is how much curve they have in them. Now you might think that
a straight handlebar is what you want. But really, that puts your
wrists at a bit of a funny angle. If you lay your wrists out in front of you or hold something, you’ll
find that they’re actually slightly offset, and the
natural position for them is to hold some kind of swept-back bar. So even if, like me, your bar
is quite flat, you can still roll your bar forwards or
backwards to get a different feel. So by loosening off a
couple of stem bolts, you can actually really
tune the feel of your bar and the position of your
wrists on the handlebars. That can have a substantial effect on how comfortable your
hands are and again, how you feel at the end of
a long ride or rough ride. It’s really important to experiment a little bit and to find your sweet spot. And when you do, just a little tip, get a bit of marker pen or a bit of tape, Tipp-Ex, anything like that,
and just make a little marker that correlates to the
line clamp on your stem, just so you know, if you
do move anything around, you can get back to that
sweet spot straightaway. Of course, to find your sweet spot, it does mean a bit of
saddle time to find out what works and what doesn’t
work, but I promise you it’s definitely worth experimenting with. Okay, and the other factor you
need to take into account is, if you’ve actually got your
cockpit the right size for you. So of course, there’s
different width bars, but they’re not really gonna
affect hand pain too much. But what might actually affect it is the height of your bars,
the length of your stem, and the height of your stem. Now, the height of the
stem is subject to moving up and down on the steer
chib and using system spacers either underneath or above the
stem to get that in position. Height of the bars, of course,
once you’ve got your bars you can’t change that,
so you’re gonna need some new handlebars if
you wanna change that. But you will find that after a
while and you do get settled, you’ll know what works for you and you can always reflect
that on any new bike. On this particular bike, I’ve got quite a high-rise handlebar; it’s about a 38 mil rise, 30 mil stem, two of a small spacer
just under the stem there, and it’s the perfect setup for me. Now, what works for me obviously won’t work for everyone else. And one of the things that’s
gonna give you hand pain is if your bars are too
low, you’re gonna have too much pressure on your hands. Now, a lot of people like low bars cause it makes for a very
aggressive-feeling bike, specially on cross-country bikes. It means that you’re in a really efficient power position for riding,
and it also means you’re gonna get a lot of weight on that
front wheel for traction. However, it does hamper
certain riding things and of course, gives you that pressure on the outside of your hand there. So it’s really crucial to make sure that it does work for you. Okay, so the next one on
that list that can help alleviate hand pain, is
your saddle position. Now, having a saddle too
far back on the rails, will mean you’ll have more weight on your hands on those handlebars; you’ll be leaning forwards more. So, if you’re having to run the saddle all the way back like
that, you might think that your bike might be a
little bit too short for you, in which case you might wanna look at potentially getting a
slightly longer stem. Now, you don’t need to go crazy; it just could be 10 millimeters. You could also roll the
bar forwards slightly to help buy you a little bit more length. You should generally have your saddle around a middle position
against your seat post. Now, there’s no golden rule
on this on mountain bikes, because your position changes all the time when you’re riding. You start a lot of road cycling,
when you’re spending hours putting the power down in
a very specific position, in that case it is very crucial
to get the right position. But what’s more important, I think, is getting your saddle angle. If your saddle is flat in an
ideal position, that is great, but if your saddle is slightly
nose-down at the front here, that can also put more
position on your hands, because you’re more inclined
to lean forwards on the bike. Now some people will want to
run their saddles like this, especially taller folk like myself, because you do end up with a saddle hanging so far out the
frame you actually need to counter that when you’re
climbing, because you end up sitting too far towards
the back of the bike. Now, do take some time to get
the correct saddle position on your bike, because it does
make a significant difference. Okay, so another one that you might not think
of is tire pressure. And this makes a significant
difference to the way– Not only how a bike handles,
but the comfort you get from it Now, I always tell people,
“You should try and find “a sweet spot with tire
pressure; you will get there.” Mine tends to be in the
area around 28 on the back and about 24 on the front,
but it does vary immensely cause of the varied conditions
we have here in the UK. In the winter, I’m
quite often under 20 PSI on the local trails, cause
they’re so exceptionally– The limestone and the
combination of mud we have here is just like riding on ice. So definitely experiment
with tire pressure. If nothing else, just
your front tire pressure, if it’s the hand problem you’re getting. And you will find you can get a lot more comfort from
the front of your bike. Now the same exact thing applies to how you set up your suspension. Now generally, you should be
looking or 20 to 30% of sag, and that’s of the
available travel on there. Now, RockShox, for example,
have markings on their forks to help you get to that sag point. So it’s well worth taking the
time to get your suspension set up correctly in the first place. But also consider your damping setups. Now, I’ve seen people running a suspension that is too soft for them,
and then they’re using the compression dial
to compensate for that. But what that means is you end up with a very harsh feeling fork, despite it sitting at the
correct height for you. Now, that’s not what you
want, because compression, if there’s too much of it on there, it can really, really jar your hands and give you prolonged
uncomfort to your hands. So really take care of
the settings on there, especially if you’ve got the
luxury on your particular fork of having separate high
and low speed compression. Now, high speed compression
is what you want to absorb those really big hits. Now, big hits can be
uncomfortable, whatever. It’s not those that give
you the hand fatigue, it’s the vibrations that
you get from smaller, faster frequency hits that
really make a difference. And low speed compression damping, basically the job of it is to
keep the fork up in the travel when you’re cornering and putting pressure on the front of the bike, and to stop it moving around too much
to the movement of you. But one thing that low speed
compression damping can do is make the fork not feel quite so supple on some of those smaller, faster, let’s just call them vibrations. So if you remove a few clicks
of low speed compression damp, you can get a bit more comfort back. I know it’s a trade-off, but there is a happy medium to be found. (funky music) Another thing that often comes up that is partially to do with bike setup but partially due to rider
input, is the manual. Now, the manual is
something we all like to do to pop that front end up and coast on down the road or down the
trail or whatever it is. Now, this can be difficult
if you don’t understand what your bike is doing,
regardless of the technique that you need to do to do it. For the actual technique,
there will be a link in the description below this
video of how to do the manual. That’s one of our videos
from over on GMBN. But for understanding the bike itself, let’s just look at what
happens when you do the manual. First thing, obviously, to
understand is it’s all about the balance point, in
which case, the fulcrum, or your balance point, is over
the rear axle of the bike. The bike pivots at that point. So the whole point is that you need to get your weight back behind that point in order to keep the bike balanced there. Now, if you’ve got long
chainstays on your bike, you will love the fact it’s
really good for cornering, puts you in a neutral
position on the bike, but it can make it
slightly harder to manual, because you quite simply
put your feet further away from your pivot point, so
it makes it harder for you to lean back and get in that position. So you really must understand that. So if that’s the case on your
bike, then you’re gonna need to look at the front of your
bike in order to counter that. Now, a shorter stem will help and a higher position on
your cockpit will help. But of course, it’s all in relation to the rest of your bike setup. The shorter your stem is,
the more upright you are when you’re sat in the saddle. And it puts you in a
more inefficient position to ride your bike. If you have the stem slightly higher, this can have the same effect. In fact, if you look at the angle of– the head angle of the bike,
the higher you put the stem, the shorter it makes that
top tube, effectively. We might only be talking
about five or 10 millimeters with an extreme height, but regardless, that means your top tube is shorter. It means it will manual very well, but it does mean that
other things will suffer. So there’s an effect to what
you’re doing on the bike there. Now, what I’m talking about
here, to get used to the bike and understand it, is
what the bike is doing. Any mountain bike is possible
to manual, technically. And you put enough hours in, you can work around these things. So even a bike with long
chainstays that might feel really hard to get the front
wheel up, if you persist with your technique, you
will make it possible. But you can make it easier
by doing little things like raising up your handlebar stem, getting a slightly higher rise bar, moving it all back towards you. That does make a difference. (funky music) Now something else that
comes up from time to time is about climbing steep terrain and how it unweights
the front of the bike. Now, because all of your
weight is on the saddle, pushing through down to
the back of the bike, it’s nearer a pivot point. The front end can get very light and it can be a bit of
a handful for handling. So of course, you can
take most control of this by getting your weight
forwards and low on the bike. If you’re happy to lean forwards on the front of the saddle here, you can keep that front end down without losing traction
on the back of the bike. If you just stood up to lean
over the front, you’re taking the weight off the rear
tire, which is your power. There’s a very happy medium that you have to reach to do this. And you need to find that balance in order to keep both
weight on the front wheel and enough traction on the rear wheel. Now there’s a few setup points
that can help you do this. And of course, you need
to understand as well, if your bike is too small for you, if it’s just simply too short, and the wheels are quite close together, so the bike has a short wheel
base, it can become quite hard to climb steep terrain, or
even descend steep terrain. And the reason for that
is, your virtual placement on the bike is gonna be quite high up, because of how short the bike is. And in order to keep it under
control on steep terrain, whether it’s down or up,
you’re gonna have to use your body weight a lot more. It’s gonna be a lot more
exaggerated, leaning forwards to extreme angles, or leaning
backwards to extreme angles. And actually being that high on the bike, you can have a bit of a pendulum effect. You can really upset the
weight balance on it. Think of it as a bit like a triangle. So the ideal scenario is you wanna be like an equilateral
triangle with your wheels and your body weight in the middle. So you’re roughly
situated between the two. That’s the optimum sort
of look you wanna be at, regardless of new geometry
and fads like that. That is what you wanna
settle for on a bicycle. Now, the next thing to consider is if your stem is too short on your bike. Now, a lot of riders these
days wanna have a shorter stem to make their bike more aggressive, handle a bit better on
the fun downhill stuff. But you can’t just plunk a
short stem on any old bike. Because the reason for that
is you’re bringing your weight nearer towards the back of the
bike, which might feel nice when you’re going down the steep stuff, because you don’t feel like you’re gonna get pitched over the bars, but when you’re going
back up that steep stuff, you need to keep your weight
over the front of the bike and that’s just gonna be
in the opposite place. So it’s all gonna be in
relation to the bike size. Now, you might notice that this bike is a pretty big bike, fits me perfectly, and it’s only got a 30
millimeter stem on it. That’s the correct length stem. You can put a 50 on that to start with, but I actually found that too long for all riding; the 30 is perfect for me. The next thing is your saddle position. If, for any reason,
you’re running a saddle slightly high at the front, a lot of downhill riders like to do that, it means you can access it
between your legs easier; you can just pinch it between your knees. There’s no reason, on a bike
you’re peddling up and down, for your drop post to have that. You want your saddle to be flat or very slightly down at
the front for comfort, good position, and stuff like that. If your saddle is tilting
up, your weight is gonna be further to the back of
the saddle, and of course what that means is you’re
nearly gonna be doing wheelies. So you do have to take that into account. And the final one that affects that is your suspension setting,
especially out back on the bike. Now generally, you should be running the same sag front and
rear, to keep your bike as balanced in all trail
situations as possible. But some riders,
especially those that fancy the gravity stuff, do often like to run a little bit more sag out
back than they do out front. And the reason for that
is to keep the front up and a bit more supportive
when hitting those turns and to get the maximum out of the back. Of course, when you’re climbing,
it flips the other way. However, you might be lucky
enough to have a bike that has some kind of lockout or compression
dial or switch on there. Make use of that when you’re climbing, because what that will do,
it’ll make your bike sit higher. And of course a bike with a backend that sits higher will climb better. (funky music) Now finding a saddle uncomfortable is one of the biggest problems
with any sort of bikes, especially road bikes, actually. But on a mountain bike, you do get people that suffer with getting the right saddle. Now, after years of
riding, I generally know if a saddle is gonna work for me. Of course, there are
gonna be some exceptions. But before you start
considering that your saddle might not be the right one for you, have a look at your
position of your saddle. Now, the first thing you need to get right is the angle of that saddle. You’re looking for something
that’s fairly flat, maybe a tiny bit pointing down at the front on a mountain bike. Reason for that is you
ride a lot of steep climbs, so you wanna be able to get
on the front of the saddle when you need to, again
off the back of the saddle. Now what you’re aiming for is
to make sure your sit bones are on the correct place on the saddle to support your body weight;
that’s what they’re there for. And that there’s gonna be no undue pressure on your undercarriage. Cause obviously, if you’re
gonna have pressure there, it’s gonna give you discomfort. Now, something else that
can also affect this is your saddle height. If your saddle is too high, then simply you’re just gonna be rocking on your hips and it’s gonna be a lot of
weight on your undercarriage. It’s never gonna be comfortable. So get the setup right first;
experiment with a few things. Even saddle fore and aft
can make a difference. Give that a try. Of course, clothing
makes a big difference, whether you use chamois cream or not, whether you have a chamois
insert with padding on your shorts or not, that
makes a massive difference. Then if you’re still having
problems, then maybe you need to take a look at some different saddles. Now, it’s a minefield out there,
but you can narrow it down a little bit by thinking
about the type of body that you have, because it’s very likely you’re gonna need one of
three types of saddle. So the mesomorph is
average height and build. Nothing fancy, what most people are. Then there’s the ectomorph, which is a bit more like
myself, bit tall and skinny. I mean, I’m obviously in the
region of 6’4, not a lot of me. And because of that, I tend
to need thinner saddles. And then of course there’s endomorph, which is a bit more stocky
and a bit more muscular, maybe a slightly wider
chassis, if you want. Now, a lot of saddle
manufacturers will give you advice on their website about what
sort of saddle you need for your build, based on those facts. Now, Ergon for example
have a little calculator on their site and you tell
them your sit bone width, which is an easy thing
for you to identify, and the type of riding you
do, how frequently you ride, how long you ride for, and it can make recommendations based on that. It’s a really useful tool. So I definitely recommend
checking that out. (funky music) Okay, and the final thing is
about becoming uncomfortable when you’re doing a long ride. So what I mean by that is
your legs and your feet. Now, obviously the first one is your saddle height and position. Once you’ve got your
saddle position dialed, which hopefully you have,
having seen all the other stuff that’s been in this video so far, you need to think about
your saddle height. If your saddle height is too low, then your legs are just simply
gonna be working too hard. On a mountain bike, you put
a hell of a lot of torque through those legs, so much
power on those dynamic moves to get up steep stuff, that if your saddle isn’t at the correct height
for really efficient riding, you’re just not getting the
maximum out of your legs and they’re gonna become fatigued sooner. It’s also not that good on your knees if you’re running a saddle
too low in the long term. So it’s definitely
something you wanna address. The next up is if you use any
sort of clipper’s peddles, if you have the cleat
in the correct position. So it’s advisable to start with, to get the cleat set up
at the ball of your foot. And the ball of your foot should correlate to the center axle part of the pedal. It’s arguably the most efficient
starting point to find. You might find you end up wanting to go slightly further
forwards or backwards for that position from a
preference point of view. But that is the best point
for just getting power to the peddle and supporting
your foot correctly. But something else to factor in is the cleat side to side, how
much float your cleat has. If your peddle mechanism has adjustable tension on it, for example– The Crank Brothers one doesn’t. It’s relying on you picking the cleats, whichever way around to get
15 or 20 degrees or even 10, like the new cleats we saw at Eurobike. But on Shimano peddles, for example, and other brands that are
available out there, like HT, they have adjustable tension on the jaws. The reason for that is the peddles have less float to start with,
that is your free movement before the jaws start releasing you. And the reason you wanna
have that adjustable tension, of course, is to stop yourself
accidentally clipping out. So a lot of riders tend to run
those with very high tension. Now if you’re the sort of rider that likes to clip out
a lot during a ride, you might find that actually
starts giving you sore knees. And if that’s the case, then you wanna get on top of that quick because that’s not the
ideal situation to be in. And whatever your pedal
choice, if you’re using any sort of clipper’s pedals
and you get pain in your knees, stop what you’re doing and reassess it, because you don’t wanna damage your knees. One of the best ways to get your cleats set up in the first place is
to sit on a big high surface and let your legs dangle off. Let your legs dangle until
they find their natural angle, and then aim the cleats straight forwards from that point of view, as you can see by this shot of Blake just sat on a log. Now, even the way that you
weigh your cycling shoes and the type of cycling shoes that you use will affect your feet. Now, just think about this a little bit. If you’re using a very lightweight
cross-country-style shoe, for example, they’re made of very thin, light materials so they have
a very stiff, aggressive sole. Excellent for power
transfer, not very good for long, long sessions in the saddle. You’re gonna get a lot
of fatigue to your foot. You’re gonna get sore feet
and potentially numb feet. So this sort of shoe, just for example, has a thicker sole on it; it’s better for off the
bike, bit more support. It’s designed for a long
session in the saddle. It’s a comfortable shoe, however, it can still cause you a few problems. If the shoe is slightly tight on you, it has a very solid toe
box and a heel box here, which does suggest that
if you’ve not gotten them in the correct size, you could get some rub there, you
could get some pressure. You don’t wanna have any
pressure on your feet. And in fact, on a cycling shoe like this, you actually wanna have
a little bit more room to wiggle your toes around,
because in winter conditions, that’s how your toes get numb. If you can’t move them, they’ll get cold, no matter how well insulated
you put over the top, if you’re wearing water-proof socks, etc. If you can’t wiggle those toes,
you’re gonna get cold toes. Circulation in your feet needs to happen. And that doesn’t happen as in the same way as it would if you were walking, because your feet are stationary
when you’re riding a bike and they’re not subject to any impact. Something else to take into account is they all generally have
very good retention systems. On this set of Northwave shoes, you’ve got twin Velcro straps and you’ve got a ratchet on here. Now the ratchet is easy
to tighten up securely, but some people go over
the top on these ones. And actually, you’ll find you have these looser than you think most of the time. Now the lower foot straps are
more just to keep your foot in the shoe; you don’t need
to have these too tight. And especially on the middle one, if it puts any excess pressure on the bridge of your foot
there, then it’s actually gonna be very uncomfortable
in the long term. This is the only one that does anything to actually clamp your foot
in the shoe and to give you all that power to pull up
on the shoe on the pedal. So just take that into account. And of course the socks
you use inside those shoes, if you’re wearing thick socks, it is gonna hamper your
movement inside the shoe and that will later lead to
a very uncomfortable foot. So just take into account that. And likewise, if you’re
a flat pedal rider, if you’re using, say, just a set of Vans or something like that,
on a long ride your feet are gonna get fatigues because
your feet are literally– you’re gonna get the old monkey feet, curling around the pedals, cause there’s not enough
support in the shoe. I love wearing Vans on my bikes, especially if I’m just
blatting around town or going to the jumps or the BMX track, but anything more than that, then they’re really not designed for that. Very comfortable, very grippy,
but they’re not a riding shoe So definitely consider some
dedicated riding shoes out there So there you go; hopefully
this has helped you understand the perfect
riding position on your bike and how that affects both
the comfort of your bike and your technique out on the trail. For a couple more useful videos, click down here if you wanna see how to perfect your shifting on the bike. That’s everything about
getting your shifting bang-on, perfectly indexed every single time. And if you wanna see all the cool stuff from Eurobike, click up here. As always, click on that round globe to subscribe to GMBN Tech. We love having you on board with us and we want you to watch all our videos. And if you like maintaining your bike and you like GMBN Tech,
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