How to Setup Your Spin Bike
If you need to learn how to set up a spin bike, you’re in the right place. Spin bike setup and spin bike assembly are a lucrative business, so it can cost you more than you’re willing to spend on something like this. However, proper spin bike setup is extremely important because this will help you feel comfortable on your indoor bike and avoid pains and injuries down the road.
What you can do is learn how to adjust a spin bike yourself. That way, it won’t cost you anything and you can learn the indoor cycling setup skills you need, which will come in handy more than once, especially if more than one person uses your spin bike at home.
Today we will take a look at all the bike-fit steps so you can adjust your spin bike to your body and not suffer any discomfort during your rides due to incorrect spin bike setup. If you can’t afford a professional spin bike setup, don’t worry! There are a few rules you can follow to do this yourself and workout safely with these spin bike setup instructions. Or you can kill two birds with one stone and buy one of these spin workout DVDs. Some of them explain how to adjust your indoor cycle and ride a spin bike.
In this article I will walk you through how to set up a spin bike in two different ways: Five step spin bike setup which is a visual guide I created and a Three step guide for setting up your bike. First let’s start with the 5-step visual guide for setting up your bike correctly.
5 Steps Visual Guide to Learn How to Setup a Spin Bike
Wear your cycling shorts and stand against a wall bare-feet with a book between your legs, as shown in the image, use a pen to mark the wall from the top of the book. Then use a tape to measure the distance between the floor and where you marked on the wall. That is your inseam length, for sake of this example, let’s say your inseam is 670mm. For more guidance on how to measure inseam, you can read my guide. Now let’s go to step two of how to adjust your bike to fit you.
Now, multiply your inseam by 1.09 and use the outcome for the height of the seat as shown in the image. For the sake of this example, your inseam was 670mm. Here is how the calculation is done: 670mm x 1.09 = 730mm. At this point, you adjust the spin bike seat to 730mm height. remember to measure from the center of bottom bracket to the middle of seat cushion. Not to the top of the seat because the cushion reduces when you set on the bike.
Now, you would need to decide the handlebar height. Based on how you prefer, you can choose one of the following three options. Normally for a correct bike set up, you would want to adjust the handlebars to the same height of the seat. But it’s not written on stone and can change based individual riding style.
At this point, we are done with the height adjustment and we start the forward and backward (horizontal) spin bike fitting. As I explained in the image below, you want the ball of your foot to be aligned with your knee when your pedal is at 3 0 clock position.
Last step of indoor bike riding position setup is backward and forward (horizontal) adjustment of the handlebars. As explained in the image below, adjust the handlebars to make sure you are not stretched forward and your knees don’t hit the handlebars when you get out of the saddle for climbing riding style. This step of setting up spin bike doesn’t apply to you, if your spin bike doesn’t allow horizontal adjustment on the handlebars.
If my visual spin bike setup guide wasn’t helpful or you still need more guidance to correctly set up your indoor bike, follow the instructions below.
3 Steps to a Proper Spin Bike Setup
1. The Cleats
It’s easy to rush and just jump on the bike. After all, you spent a lot of time looking for the best spin bike and now you can’t wait to use it. But you need to take a moment to set it up and do it properly.
The first step in the process starts with the cleats because a well-adjusted bike starts with the feet. Cleat-pedal contact is essential to your comfort on the bike, so you need to pay close attention to that.
When you clip in for your ride, your feet will become the part of your body that’s most locked-in. If your cleats are not properly aligned, a ricochet effect will be created all the way up the chain, from your ankle to your knee, as well as glutes and lower back.
The best way you can make sure you’re fitting your cleats in properly is to place your spin bike shoes on and feel for the bony protrusion on the inside and outside which you’ll find beneath the soft upper of the shoe on each side of the foot.
You want to mark each protrusion with a sticker and then draw a line trough the two points. Then place the center of your cleat on the line. You also need to be mindful of orientation, for which you want to follow your natural stance.
To do this, sit on the edge of a table and allow your feet to hang loose. You’ll need help for this, so get someone to look at the angle of your feet to determine whether they turn naturally in or out. The way you set up your cleats needs to match that angle.
It’s important to note that spin shoe cleats can be adjusted to different stance widths, which is the distance between your hips, but there’s a limited degree of adjustment you can enjoy here. If you have wide hips, you want longer spindles so you can bring the feet out and your knee tracking can be straight.
When it comes to setting up your cleats, there are a few common mistakes you should avoid. Most of the time, people don’t consider where their feet naturally hang when their legs are bent or resting. This is why it’s common for people to either put too much rotation into the cleat or not enough. Either way, it will cause knee pain, so keep that in mind.
2. The Saddle
The next step is setting up the saddle. You want to work with a flat position, so use a spirit level to set the saddle to a minimum of zero degrees or a maximum of minus half a degree. Now, the basic formula to get your saddle height right is to multiply your inseam height by 0.885. The result of that multiplication should be the distance from the center of the bottom bracket and the top of the saddle.
This equation is the LeMond Formula and it has remained relevant since it was created by Cyrille Guimard, a French coach. However, it’s important to know that this formula doesn’t take into account the difference in pedal shapes, crank length, or shoe soles. The formula also assumes that all cyclists have the same flexibility and dimensions, and that’s not true.
That being said, the formula does provide a general estimate and it will help you get on the right track. An alternative to this formula would be dropping the crank to its full extension and rest your heel on the pedal. You want to set your saddle at the height where your leg is entirely straight.
This is called the Knee Over Pedal Spindle, or KOPS, and it helps riders define the right front and back position of the saddle. To test it out, clip into the bike with the cranks in a horizontal position and drop a plumb line from the back of the kneecap to the pedal spindle. When you do, it should pass through them.
If you’ve set up your saddle but you feel pain or an ache in the knee, it means the saddle is too low. When you place the saddle too low, it increases the angle at the top of the stroke, which creates more force at the front of the knee. If the opposite happens and your saddle is too high, you may experience pain in the hamstrings, the back of the knees, the Achilles heel and the back.
Adjusting the front/back position of the saddle will affect the angle of your hips. If you move the saddle forward, your hips will be open, and if you move it backward, they will be close. If you place the saddle too far back, you may experience hip pain. If you move it too far forward, you may experience knee pain. However, this may vary from person to person and it may not have to do with the position of the saddle alone; there may be other factors at play.
Another common mistake people tend to make when setting up their saddle is they don’t pay attention to crank length. If you’re suffering from back or knee pain, you may benefit from shorter cranks. Bike frame measurements are arbitrary, so if you have a long body but short legs, you’ll benefit from a long bike and a lower saddle.
If your cranks are 175mm, your hip angle might be closed as you pedal, while a shorter crank will open your hips up. Shorter cranks are also a good idea for people who are not very flexible and can’t set up the saddle too high.
You also want to remember that front/back adjustments will affect the height of the saddle. Moving the saddle back will increase the height of the saddle while moving it forward will decrease the height. This is why you must review your saddle height after you make front/back adjustments. And if you change the length of your crank, don’t forget to add or subtract the necessary distance from the height of the saddle.
3. The Reach
Setting up the reach of your spin bike is very personal because it will depend on your experience, your preference, body mobility, aerodynamics, and anthropometrics. For example, experienced riders usually have a longer and lower reach in the front because they have better mobility.
Professionals suggest that your priority should be to maintain a relaxed angle, which can range from 160 to 170 degrees, between your lower and upper arm. Also, keep in mind that they drop you want on the front end will change over time as well.
Beginners should start with the maximum spacer height and then decrease the number of spacers you use over time. This way, your body will adapt accordingly, but only if you make these changes slowly and not all at once.
It’s also important to remember that handlebars affect the reach. So, handlebars that are on the wide side will add extra distance. The ideal width will be the same as the distance between your shoulder’s bony protrusions.
When it comes to the reach, the ideal position is the one that allows your arms to slightly bend. It shouldn’t feel like there’s a huge weight going through your hands and you never want to put the saddle forward for a longer reach. Once you’ve found the right back end, you want to leave it as it is and reduce reach with a shorter stem.
The last thing you want to do is ignore the warning signs, not for the reach or for any other adjustments you make. If you’re experiencing wrist or shoulder pain, it means the handlebars are too wide. You want to look at the length of your shoulders and have your arms fall directly to the handlebar.
Basic Spin Bike Setup
The three steps described above will help you a basic spin bike setup without having to turn to professionals for help. However, it’s important to know what there’s always room for further improvement. This means you can continue tweaking the initial setup you make so you can accommodate different physiques and riding styles. This is great if your spin bike is used by other people as well.
If that’s the case, you want to experiment with setting up your spin bike a little bit. But keep in mind, when you’re experimenting, you should tale it one step a time and make changes in small increments. Also, make sure you give your spin bike a ride before you settle on any new settings. And before you start making any new changes, make sure you take note of the initial set up settings so you can go back to that if your adjustments don’t work for you.
If you’re uncomfortable on the bike and you’re experiencing pains, aches, or other kinds of discomfort after long spinning workouts, it’s essential that you fine-tune your basic spin bike setup. When you make new adjustments, you want to consider your specific symptoms because they will help you determine what changes need to be made.
For example, if you’re experiencing back pain or you have a sore neck, you should try raising your handlebars a bit or make sure the reach is not too long. To do that, install a shorter stem, which will allow you to move the handlebar closer to the steering column.
If you’re experiencing knee pain, you need to consider the kind of knee pain, because it can come in many varieties. If the pain is on the outside of your knee, you should try lowering your seat, moving it a bit forward, or a combination of both. If the pain is on the front, try raising the seat, moving it a bit backward, or a combination of the two cycling bike set up adjustments. If the pain is on the back of the knee, try lowering your seat a bit.
If you have sore hamstrings, it’s usually a sign that you need to lower your seat. If the pain is on your hips, it may be caused by different things, but you should try lowering your seat. As you can see, your spin bike positions will depend on the kind of discomfort you’re experiencing, so you want to pay attention to your body. This is very important for a proper spin bike setup.
Advanced Spin Bike Setup
For most people, the basic spin bike setup we’ve explained above will be enough and it’s all you’ll need to enjoy comfortable and pain-free spinning. However, if you’ve completed the basic spin bike setup and you’re still not comfortable or pain-free, you might need to apply more advanced techniques. Often, it’s older people or folks with physiological conditions who need more advanced techniques, but any cyclist could make use of these advanced adjustments.
When you’re considering advanced techniques for spin bike setup you must keep in mind that though spin bikes are symmetrical, the human body is not symmetrical at all. However, we rarely notice the asymmetry of our bodies, but it’s true what they safe some people have one leg shorter than the other, one foot that points out more than the other, or even a slight curve on the spine to either side.
Taking asymmetry into account is important because it makes a difference in the way we strain and exert our joints and muscles on either side of our body. For some people, these asymmetries may even cause sudden pain, especially after long rides.
Advanced spin bike setup techniques are a bit beyond the scope of today’s article, so if you’d like to learn more about this, you’ll want to do your research. However, if you think that will take you too much time or if the task just seems too daunting or you want to be 100% sure the adjustments are done right, you might want to consider hiring a professional bike fitting expert.
Professionals are specialized in bike fitting, which means they have the knowledge and equipment necessary to provide the best bike fit. They will be able to determine your asymmetrical differences by watching the way you pedal your bike.
Professional spin bike fitting can take anywhere from 2 to 3 hours, or longer for more challenging setups. Additional to the basic adjustments, these professionals will also apply advanced techniques such as adjusting the space between the pedals, raising the height of a pedal, installing a stem for the perfect reach and height of the handlebars, and so much more.
Of course, each professional will have their own approach to the setup of a bike, and some will use sophisticated equipment including motion analysis, lasers, and more. Now, it’s important you choose the right professional for the job.
Virtually anyone can say they’re a professional bike fitter, but you need to find someone truly qualified and that’s not always easy. You want your bike fitter to either have a lot of experience in the field, have specialized training, or a combination of both. You’ll figure this out by doing your research; you need to go through their website, read reviews, and you also want to talk to them and make questions about their qualifications, their services, and their philosophy.
- If spinning class bike setup doesn’t solve the saddle sore, you should consider adding one of the gel bike seat covers or/and wear padded cycling short.
- Sometimes even after setting up your bike correctly or adding gel seat cover, the problem remains. In this case, you might need to consider replacing the spin bike seat. If you weigh above average, buy a wider seat with extra cushioning, if you weigh average or below, consider a narrow seat with plenty of padding.
- The most comfortable spin bike is the one that is ergonomically designed and can be adjusted in four-way (horizontal and vertical). Certainly, the best spinning bikes allow you to do all the spin bike settings, up/down, and fore/aft.
- There are tons of spin bikes on the market built by Chinese manufacturers without ergonomics in mind because the builders had no clue of cycling. So, no matter how good you are, you will never achieve a correct spinning bike setup.
Indoor Bike Setup FAQs:
When it comes to indoor cycling setup, many people often have many questions. That’s why we wanted to cover all our bases and provide answers for the most common questions on people’s minds.
A: Well, yes, you will need to set up your spin class bike every time you use it because other people may have used it after the last time you set it up. This is why you need to arrive a little earlier to spin class so you can adjust your seat’s height and position, as well as the position of the handlebars. Remember your comfort will depend on how you set up your spin bike, so make sure you do it well. To learn how to prepare for a spinning class make sure to click the link and read our detailed guide.
A: Yes, of course! Spin bikes are made for people of different heights. You just want to make sure you purchase a spin bike that will work for the minimum and maximum height of the group people that will be using it. This means that if you’re going to purchase the best spin bike for your home, you want to take into account the height of everyone that will be using it so you can choose a spin bike that will suit all of you.
A: As a rule, you want your handlebars to allow your arms to slightly bend. The perfect length is usually equal to the distance from shoulder to shoulder or a forearm’s distance from the start of your seat. You want to make sure there’s no discomfort and that you feel no pain. Please refer back to our third step, the reach, so you can set up your handlebars perfectly.
A: Yes, certain types of pains may me related to improper saddle adjustment. Actually, most pains and aches are related to some sort of issue with your spin bike setup. If you’re experiencing hip pain, your saddle might be too far back. If you’re experiencing knee pain, maybe it’s too forward. Crank length may also be causing you pain, so you may benefit from shorter cranks.
A: Before you go into your spinning class, there are some things you can do to prepare. For one, you want to be hydrated and fed, just make sure you don’t eat anything that’s too heavy or makes you feel full. We recommend a healthy snack to get you going and drink enough water not to feel thirsty.
You also want to learn to engage your core during your spin class. Abdominal strength is what allows you to maintain balance and remain suspended instead of leaning on the handlebars. So, imagine you have a girdle around your middle to remind you to keep your core engaged.
You also want to be mindful of your posture! Relax your shoulders so you can engage your core, and keep your feet flat and straight knees. These are all important elements to have a proper posture. So, keep these things in mind.
A: You don’t necessarily need to spend money on new indoor cycling clothes, but it’s recommended you wear proper spinning gear. If that’s not possible, make sure you wear comfortable clothing that’s breathable and doesn’t retain moisture. The one thing you might need to invest in is men cycling shorts or women cycling shorts because they provide extra padding. Or you can purchase a seat cover as well!
Spin bike setup and spin bike maintenance are not difficult, but there are many things to consider. That’s why we’ve put together a guide you can always refer back to when you have any doubts. As mentioned before in this article, a basic indoor cycling bike setup will be enough for most riders and it’s something you can do following the steps above. If your getting started in cycling and still need a more advanced setup, consider the services of a professional!