Spin Bike Handlebars Too Far Away? Here’s What To Do!

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kathlene pierson spinning instructor and writer
By Katie Pierson

Spinning® Instructor & Personal Trainer

 Katie holds ten different fitness certifications, including Group Fitness, Spinning Elite, Rockstar Spinning, and Personal Training.

Have you ever felt that you had to strain to reach your handlebars? Riding with your handlebars too far from your saddle is one of the biggest reasons for saddle soreness. Let’s break down how to set your handlebars up correctly every time you ride. 

How do you tell if the handlebars are too far away?

One of the easiest ways to tell if your handlebars are too far away is the feeling of straining to reach them. If you feel your back rounding to be able to touch the handlebars barely, they need to come closer, or your saddle needs to move forward. Another way to tell if your handlebars are too far away is saddle soreness. Saddle soreness is a significant indicator that your bike handlebars are not set up correctly.

When we must reach for the handlebars, our body is not in the best riding position. Rounding our backs, rolling our shoulders, and stretching forward make a different part of our anatomy rest on the seat. Setting up your bike the right way decreases saddle soreness and allows the body to get into the correct position to be the most powerful it can be with every pedal stroke. 

wrong position of handlebars
The handlebars are too far away: My pelvis shifts forward to reach the handlebars

How far away should bike handlebars be?

When your handlebars are in the correct location, you should easily be able to rest the heel of your hands on the portion closest to you. This placement also includes the ability to ride with your shoulders down and back, maintain a straight spine, and have elbows gently bent. With the variety of indoor cycling bike designs available today, a complete bike setup will help to find a comfortable riding position and placement of the handlebars.

You might wonder what to do when the handlebar height is correct, but you are still reaching. Unfortunately, not all bikes offer 4-way adjustability. Four-way adjustability allows the handlebars to move fore/aft and up/down. For shorter riders, the four-way adjustability of the handlebars and saddle is crucial to find the right fit. For example, if you need to move your saddle closer to the handlebars, the same knee position is usually maintained if you move your saddle up one click if it has been moved forward by the same amount.

For those bikes that no matter how much you adjust your bike, you are still reaching for your handlebars, a grip pad or handlebar extender is another option. These items are usually affordable and can help fix handlebar issues for shorter riders.

correct position of handlebars
The handlebars are in the correct distance: My shoulders are down, my spine is straight, and my elbows are bent.

How high should your handlebars be?

The height of your handlebars is usually a personal preference. Newer riders, those with back issues, or pregnant women should ride with their handlebars higher. As riders become more comfortable in the riding position, they can lower the handlebars to be slightly higher than the saddle. This lower handlebar position mimics the body positioning on a road bike.

One thing to pay attention to when deciding to raise your handlebars is the frame design of the spin bike. Most indoor cycling bike frames allow the handlebars to lift straight up, as pictured on my Bowflex C6.

BOWFLEX C6 raise & lower the handlebars

However, the handlebars move farther away when raised on a V-shaped design. Look at the C7 from Life Fitness as what happens when you lift a V-shaped frame’s handlebars. As you can see from the pictures, raising the handlebars for various models can have different outcomes.

Life FITNESS C7 raise & lower the handlebars

Need Help? Take an In-person Class

If you are having difficulty finding the proper position on your spin bike at home, pop into a local studio and have your instructor set you up before class. I recommend always asking for a performance fit; this is the only way I fit my riders, as it helps get the rider into the best position for each stroke. Even if the bike isn’t the same, you will get to feel how it should be on your home bike

Pro Tip: If you are new to cycling, are just new to that bike model, or just transitioned to cycling shoes, ask the instructor for help getting set up. We are here to help you!

FAQ

How do I extend my spin bike handlebars?

Handlebars are usually adjusted through a knob that pulls out from the handlebar column to move them up and down and lock them into place. There is another knob to move the handlebars fore and aft.

How do I know if my handlebars are too low?

If your handlebars are too low, your body is excellent for letting you know in the form of pain in the lower back, neck, or shoulders. Tingling in your fingers and wrists can also occur if your handlebars need to be higher.

Bottom Line

The correct handlebar position is dependent on the rider. Therefore, it should feel comfortable so you can focus on getting the most out of your ride.

Katie Pierson

Katie is the creator of MT Girl Fitness and has been a certified fitness professional for almost twenty years. She currently holds ten different fitness certifications, including Group Fitness, Spinning Elite, Rockstar Spinning, and Personal Training. Fitness is her passion, and she loves seeing her clients reach goals they never imagined.

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