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  1. #1
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    Stupid newb question: riding posture & position

    Hello. A little backstory for context:

    I'm in my late 40's and out of shape. When coronavirus hit and my gym closed, I knew I needed to do something to get some kind of exercise. When I was a kid, my neighborhood was expanding into these forested hills that surrounded it. BMX was huge back then, and we'd spend entire days building jumps out in the woods & riding the paths we made for ourselves. So I thought, "why don't I get a mountain bike & ride through the woods again?" I used to love that!

    So I visited the bike shop around the corner & got a Specialized Pitch Expert (hah!). This was just in time for my local parks to close, but I can still ride on the paved trails & ride with my daughter. Anyways, here's my issue:

    I feel so awkward on a mountain bike. I mean, I can ride it, its not like I'm falling off or anything, but I remember sitting more upright on a BMX bike, with my arms relaxed & bent. Very comfortable. On a mountain bike, I feel pitched soooooo far forward. My arms are locked straight and I feel like I'm constantly holding the top of a push-up when I ride. Its hugely uncomfortable. In my BMX days, I could do a wheelie, bunny hops, and the like. Now, I have no idea how to do that from the weird position I find myself riding in.

    I've experimented with seat heights. Lower seats are definitely more comfortable and more like what I remember, but then the pedaling is more difficult. Am I doing something wrong? How do I know when I'm positioned properly on the bike? How high should the seat be? How far forward or back should it be? Is this just something I need to get used to?

    TIA!

  2. #2
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    Is there any way you could post a link to a picture of you on the bike?
    Sounds like it might be a bit big, but impossible to really tell without seeing.

    If the general sizing is close, it's not hard to swap out the handlebars/stem to get your hands higher and closer to you.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    Sounds like it might be a bit big, but impossible to really tell without seeing.
    I agree with SHMF. Personally I like my bars and saddle very close to the same height.

    This has changed sooo much for me over the years. I recall BITD when Tomac was on the podium every race so most of us emulated his setup. I measured the disparity in height between my saddle & bars — my bars were 8” lower than my saddle. Not kidding.

    Today’s properly set up mountain bike should be comfortable. Cockpit reach (saddle to bar) and bar height are all personal choice, but if you can’t get comfortable, there’s a good chance you’ve got the wrong size frame.
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  4. #4
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    Proper seat height for pedaling is going to be pretty high. It won't be good for attempting the tricks you knew from BMX and you'll want to drop the seat for that. But that won't be good for pedaling. Hence the dropper seat post.

    Yes, the riding position of a mountain bike is more forward-biased than what you remember from a BMX bike. Yes, it does make many tricks harder and you need to have dialed form to do them. You cannot be sloppy about your technique. Generally-speaking, the more forward biased the riding position, the more you need to engage your core to keep pressure off of your hands. Further, if you're top-heavy with your muscle development, that's probably going to factor into some discomfort. I know a guy who was in the NFL for a few years (mostly a practice squad guy) and after he left football, he took up cycling. His muscle development was all wrong for his new sport. He was too bulky and it held back his development on the bike. Being that he was already very comfortable in the gym, he changed his workout and over the course of a couple years, developed a leaner, lighter build that suited cycling better.

    You CAN make adjustments to the riding position on your bike, say, with handlebars that have more or less rise, stem length, etc. As to whether you should explore adjustments or just get used to how a mountain bike is different, it's impossible to say since we can't see you on the bike. It'd be reasonable to suspect that you'll need to do both things, but suggestions beyond that aren't going to be possible without pictures or even video.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the help so far, everyone! I'll post a pic of me on the bike later. For reference, I'm 6'0" and the Pitch is a large.

  6. #6
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    Welcome to the forum! I am 40 myself and actually pedal around a BMX bike with my daughter. She rides my 20" bike while I ride on a 24" cruiser. I don't do any kind of freestyle stuff. Instead, I just practice stuff like manuals, bunny hops, and other easy things. I'm also using my BMX bikes as a tool to teach my 12 year old daughter how to ride better. On her mountain bike, she was nervous to get off the saddle. Now that she pedals my BMX bike, she has no choice but to ride without sitting down.

    Most definitely there is a difference in feel between a BMX bike and a mountain bike. It may be that you aren't used to a mountain bike setup. Assuming that the shop fitted you to the correct size, you can definitely experiment with adjustments on the bike as Harold mentioned. You can try sliding the saddle forward and see if that helps.

    You can also take the bike back to the shop and ask them to assist you with the fit as well. They may be willing to help you out and give suggestions based on what they see.
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  7. #7
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    As promised, pic of me on bike. Feel free to comment on my gut placement as well! And TIA for the help.

    Stupid newb question: riding posture & position-bike_cropped.jpg

  8. #8
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    Looks to be a good starting point, seat height looks decent and you don't seem at all too far leaned forward. I think you should just ride it more and you'll probably get used to it soon.

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  9. #9
    since 4/10/2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Pro tip: wear shoes
    With shoes, the seat should probably go up a touch to account for the extra thickness.

    But generally speaking, it looks about right. Aside from small adjustments to fit that can be done over time to address specific issues, this is more of a "you need to get used to the fact that a mtb is different from a bmx bike" scenario.

  10. #10
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    That photo just gave me a great idea—SPD compatible socks.!

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  11. #11
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    How long have you had the bike, how many rides? I agree ,you look very close to where you should be. I there are any spacers under the stem, you could raise to bars that much.

  12. #12
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    If your arms really are locked straight, you don't want to do that.
    This post is a natural product. Variances in spelling & grammar should be appreciated as part of its character & beauty.

  13. #13
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    Stupid newb question: riding posture & position-screenshot_20200418-081543.jpgStupid newb question: riding posture & position-screenshot_20200418-081352.jpg

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  14. #14
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    Your riding position looks like a good starting point. I think you just need to spend some time doing short rides a few times a week and see how it starts to feel. It is very common to need a different saddle or handlebars to get a comfortable fit but you won't really know until you're familiar with what you have now.

    I used to ride dirt jump bmx and there's no comparing how a bmx bike fits compared to mtb. Bmx bikes are tiny and aren't made to fit with any kind of pedaling effeciency.

  15. #15
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    I had the same problem when I bought first mountain bike. Felt like I was doing push-ups to keep from falling forward. For me, it was that the frame was actually too small, making the cockpit - distance from seat to bar- too small. Looks from photo like maybe yours is too. Hard to tell. But that describes exactly how I felt. Could you try one size larger frame and see if thats it? If so, you might be able to exchange? Or, you can try a longer stem and setback seatpost.

  16. #16
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    Ask the LBS you purchased the bike for a fitting.

  17. #17
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    Fit looks reasonable, probably just gonna take a bit of getting used to and some small adjustments for comfort.
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  18. #18
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    Im in my early 40's and i started on the same bike 2 years ago. You fit looks right as everyone say with a slight bend to the knee. With shoes on, you will raise the seat a tad but i think riding it will give you more comfort. Wheelies and hops on a MTB will feel different from a BMX plus its been several years since you have done them so technique will have to be developed again. Its a great bike to get out riding on but i will say that if you hit a trail or 2, you will want to upgrade once the bug hits you. I sold my pitch and moved to a Kona Honzo but it all started with the Pitch getting me out riding. Feel free to check my other threads related to my decision on either upgrading my pitch vs buying new with better components.

    Get some seat time and it will give you a better idea of what you need. For reference i am 5'7 and rode a medium
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  19. #19
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    Try a riser bar

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rthur2sheds View Post
    Try a riser bar
    ^^^ 20-35mm lift might relax his elbows some for a lose/attack formation posture
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  21. #21
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    Same age, same position, same background from BMX as a kid. Got a bike to ride until the gyms open up their pools, and I do really enjoy it. Keep in mind on BMX bikes, you only sat down to relax, most of the time when riding hard you were standing. Shoot, the only reason they even had seats was to keep the vulnerable bits from hitting bars. And the races were one lap, generally downhill, and a couple of minutes at most (off of memory, anyway). But now you are on a bike that is made to ride for hours, working hard on uphills in continuous rides (not just to get queued up). You'd wear out trying to ride for hours standing.

    Newb here, too, but a couple of thoughts. I just had a dropper post put on mine. Seat kept getting in the way when I was gokng downhill and trying to lay the bike certain ways. You might look into that, may make you feel better while doing the downhill parts. Your seat looks too low to me, as others have said. With shoes, your knee should be a bit less bent even than now.

    It is just different. May hurt your lower back. May also hurt your neck from looking up if you go on really long rides. But you'll quickly adapt.
    Last edited by 67King; 05-20-2020 at 03:41 PM. Reason: Clarity

  22. #22
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    For seat height, this is what I've done to get in the ballpark for efficient pedaling:
    - pedal with your heels on the pedals
    - raise the seat until you can barely pedal with your heels without rocking your hips
    - Now, you should have some bend left in your knees, when you pedal properly with the balls of your feet on the pedal.

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  23. #23
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    Wow, nice to see this thread still has legs; thanks for all the advice! Things have gotten easier as I got used to the bike, and I took the suggestion to sign up for a skills class; hopefully it won't get cancelled due to COVID (I also took the suggestion to wear shoes). Down 6 lbs since my first post, w00t!

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by kkris View Post
    Wow, nice to see this thread still has legs; thanks for all the advice! Things have gotten easier as I got used to the bike, and I took the suggestion to sign up for a skills class; hopefully it won't get cancelled due to COVID (I also took the suggestion to wear shoes). Down 6 lbs since my first post, w00t!
    Great to hear! Keep it up.
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  25. #25
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    Progress....

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by kkris View Post
    Wow, nice to see this thread still has legs; thanks for all the advice! Things have gotten easier as I got used to the bike, and I took the suggestion to sign up for a skills class; hopefully it won't get cancelled due to COVID (I also took the suggestion to wear shoes). Down 6 lbs since my first post, w00t!
    I was just going to say, we arent the skinny kids shredding on bmx bikes anymore, its going to feel different!
    The size as pictured looks about right, you wouldnt want to go smaller. You could go with a higher rise bar and stem, that will get the feel closer. Itll be easier to pop the front. You could lower seat too, but doing the BMX bowleg pedaling at our ages will start wrecking havoc with knees and joints. The neat invention mentioned earlier is dropperpost, you can slam the seat down in a second when you want to mess around, pop it up to pedaling position.
    Anyway, have fun!

  27. #27
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    I just started very recently too. I'm 6'2" and also heavyset, and I have some physical idiosyncrasies. For one, I'm short-legged (30-inch inseam). I also have a dead peroneal nerve in my left leg, which results in having basically no ankle and a total inability to raise my toes with my foot flat on the floor (known as drop-foot).

    I rode both an L and XL bike at the LBS and found I was much more comfortable on the XL, so that's the one I bought. The guys at the shop did all they could to help me set it up, but I've since made a few modifications that have helped with riding comfort. I slid my saddle back about an inch and swapped the stock grips out in favor of Ergon GP1 grips.

    Best of luck to you!

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