Cycling takes enough of your stamina, focus and strength as it is, the last thing you need is extra discomfort when you’re hitting that 20% gradient. Here are some tips to make a ride more comfortable so that you can avoid little niggles and focus on the road instead.

1. Find a saddle that's right for you

Your saddle should work with you, not against you. Sitting on the wrong one for 50 miles can leave you feeling out of sorts and at risk of dreaded saddle sores. Saddle styles, of course, will vary from male to female but also between individuals.

Lots of bike shops will have trial saddles which mean that you can ride on them for a couple of weeks and figure out if they work for you before you part with any cash.

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Image: Fabric

2. Test a few pairs of bib shorts

Ill-fitting bib or cycling shorts, like having the wrong saddle, can also contribute to sores over a long ride. Of course, you already know that going commando is imperative but you also have to make sure that the chammy or padded part of your shorts is in the right place and doing a good job in keeping your privates protected.

Make sure the shorts are a right fit and have the right level of technical design to keep you comfy (down there).

3. Handlebar height and width

A lot can be adjusted on your bike to reduce strain and tension on the body. One of these adjustments is ensuring that your handlebars are sitting at the right height and that your reach is not too long or short. You also want to make sure that your bars are the right width for your shoulders.

Handlebar height

4. Double wrap your bar tape

One tip we nabbed from the pro cyclists is to increase the padding in your handlebars to reduce pain caused by vibrations from going over rough surfaces. Double wrapping your bar tape can provide a little extra cushioning which might be gratefully received on longer rides.

5. Wear gloves

Cycling gloves are worth wearing for three obvious reasons.

  1. They keep the chill off your hands so that fingers remain nimble enough to operate.
  2. They provide extra padding in the palms to alleviate pressure on the bars.
  3. Finally, they increase your grip which is especially needed if riding in wet weather where skin on bar tape can get slippy

6. Buy shoes that fit

Pedalling miles and miles can get very tricky when you’re wearing shoes that aren’t the right size. It’s really important to make sure your foot is comfortable with no rubbing due to being too tight.

You also don’t want too much movement if they’re too big causing your foot to slide back and forth with every pedal stroke.

7. Add a dollop of Chamois cream

As the name suggest, Chamois Cream is cream for your chamois – i.e the pad in your shorts. Its anti-bacterial properties and viscose texture prevents friction between your derriere and clothing and stops any harrowing chafe whilst in the saddle.

8. Give your body the fuel it needs

One of the biggest discomforts on a ride is suffering a crashing of energy blow, known in cycling as ‘The Bonk’. Respect your body by nibbling regularly on snacks in your back pocket and always carry fluids in your bottle cages.

9. Make sure your cleats are in the right position

If your cleat is in the wrong position on the bottom of the shoe it means that your entire leg is slightly out of kilter which is a sure way to give yourself an injury.

It’s worth monitoring how you feel on a ride and go back and adjust it until your leg is tracking happily. As a starter for ten, screw the cleat in so it’s in line with the ball of your foot and then tweak the angle on each foot if you feel uncomfortable.

10. Invest in a bike fit

For all the bike set-up points we’ve mentioned in this list, the safest and most effective way is to have a professional bike fit.

In this session you will cover cleat position, saddle height, handlebar height, handlebar width and loads of other intricate detail which combined together will tune your bike to you. It’s worth the investment.

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