Croston Cycles Bike Fitting Blog - Don't Reach Too Far!!

Croston Cycles Bike Fitting Blog - Don't Reach Too Far!!

Welcome to the Croston Cycles Bike Fitting Blog. We offer bike fitting in store and Nick Thomas, our expert and qualified fitter, will be using this blog to share his tips and ensure you maximise your cycling comfort and performance.  This week we look at the subject of cleat position and cycling performance.

One of the most common problems we see when bike fitting is the rider over reaching. In simple terms, this is the rider reaching too far to hold the handlebars. This can be attributable to one or more of the following potential causes:

  1. The frame is too big
  2. The stem is too long
  3. The saddle is positioned too far back
  4. The rider is sitting with a slumped posture
  5. The rider has added triathlon bars to a road bike... which rarely works!

Over reaching can lead to excessive tension in the lower, mid and upper back musculature with resulting fatigue and discomfort. The discomfort leads to loss of power and the longer an event is the more debilitating this discomfort can become.

Over reaching also closes the 'hip angle' leading to a loss of power, due to an ineffective pedal stroke. 

On a road bike we determine the correct reach by achieving a 90 degree angle at the shoulder when the hands are resting on the hoods (Note: this is done as part of the entire fitting process and not an isolated measurement). At 90 degrees shoulder angle the rider can relax and weight bear correctly through the bars – by doing this the unnecessary tension is released throughout the back.

Reach is often reduced once the saddle height and/or handlebar position have been improved. You can slide the saddle forwards and add a shorter stem to reduce the reach, but these are not long term solutions for someone riding a bike which is simply too big for them. 

Many people also tend to sit in a slumped position which posteriorly rotates the pelvis, drawing the rider backwards – the result is they then can’t reach the bars properly. This is usually a combination of inadequate postural endurance and/or complete unawareness, both of which can easily be addressed. A bike which initially looks too big can appear dramatically different once the person understands how to sit on the bike correctly.

The top tube on a road bike is longer than that of a time trial bike. If you add triathlon bars to a road bike and try to rest your elbows on the pads, unless you have a very long torso, it's likely you'll be significantly over reaching. Very short triathlon bars tend to work best in this scenario. 

As always with bike fitting, the process to work through in order of importance:

1. Comfort come first
2. Power output and efficiency
3. Aerodynamics - without impacting the 2 things above

Nick Thomas is the resident bike fitter at The Endurance Coach, based at Croston Cycles. He is a fully qualified bike fitter and expert in lower limb mechanics, holding a BSc (Hons) in podiatry. A 90 minute bike fitting session costs £75 and you can contact him using the email address: or see more about his fitting services by GOING HERE