Adjust the Saddle

Just as important as adjusting the handlebars is finding the right position for your saddle. If your saddle is set too high or too low, you’ll lose efficiency as you pedal and may even cause strain or injury to your body. We can’t tell you how often we see people riding with an improperly positioned saddle — in many cases, a saddle set too low with the person’s legs in a bow-legged position, which causes strain on the knees.

You know that your saddle is set to the right height if you can just barely place your toes and the balls of your feet on the ground when you sit on the saddle (see Figure 18-2). Go for the maximum leg extension without locking out your knees or bobbing your hips in order to reach low. Pain in the back of the kneecaps results from seats too low; pain in the front, from seats too high. Your leg should be bent at a slight angle when your foot is on the pedal at its lowest position.

Adjust the Saddle

Figure 18-2:

The proper saddle height.

Another adjustment you can make is the fore and aft (how far back or forward the seat is positioned). If your seat is too far to the rear, you’ll be stretching to reach the bars, which puts strain on your back and knees. (See Chapter 9 for how to adjust fore and aft.)

Check Tire Pressure

Before you set off for a ride, make sure you check your tire pressure. If your tires aren’t properly inflated, riding will be less efficient and you’ll be at greater risk of damaging your rims and getting flats.

When checking tire pressure, it isn’t enough to pinch the tires to feel whether they’re firm — tires that are under-inflated feel very similar to those with the proper amount of pressure. The most accurate and surefire way of checking tire pressure is to use a tire-pressure gauge. When filling tires with air, pump them to the recommended pressure listed on the sidewall of the tire.