Question: I’m 65 and just purchased a “comfort” bike. I last rode 50 years ago. It’s incredible how bikes have changed. I have no idea how to operate the thing! The shop set the saddle too high so I can’t sit on it and put my foot flat on the ground. And shifting is a mystery. — Lou F.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: We try to include info for all ages and levels of riders at RBR. But riding a bike is riding a bike, regardless of age.
Some 80-year-olds compete at the national level in their age group on standard racing bikes. It’s just a matter of getting accustomed to the demands of the machine.
Be careful about positioning the saddle so that you can reach the ground flatfooted when you’re sitting on it. If you can, it almost certainly means that the saddle is too low. Pedaling in this position can injure your knees. When stopping, put one foot forward and stand off the saddle so your reach to the ground from the sitting position isn’t a concern.
As for shifting, it really isn’t difficult. Basically, the smaller the chainring (of the 2 or 3 in front by the pedals) and the bigger the rear cog (on the rear wheel) the lower and easier the gear.
For most cruising on level ground, use the middle chainring and shift up or down the rear cogs to get a comfortable pedaling resistance. The biggest chainring is for downhills or strong tailwinds, while the smallest chainring is for hills. As when in the middle ring, use whichever rear cog feels comfortable. This is a simplified version of shifting, but it works fine for casual riding.
Have fun on your bike! Cycling is a great way of exercising as we get older because it’s a non-impact activity. It’s a handy way to do errands, too.
Coach Fred Matheny is an RBR co-founder who has four decades of road cycling and coaching experience. He has written 14 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Fred Matheny, including the classic Complete Book of Road Bike Training, which includes 4 eBooks comprising 250 pages of timeless, detailed advice and training plans. The Complete Book is one of the many perks of an RBR Premium Membership. Click to read Fred’s full bio.