Biking advice needed

Hi, I'm new to the forum, this year I've just started biking with a friend. We both are looking to improve our fitness but for different reasons. He's trying to lose weight. I'm trying to gain a bit of weight and muscle. The idea being that he would go bike riding a few times a week. I would do weight training stuff a few times a week then join him on a Saturday for a bike ride for a light leisurely cardio workout. Maybe a weekday evening aswell in the summer when it's lighter and warmer.

We both thought id be the one who would find biking easier as when we have done running in the past I was happy jogging along at a pace he was pushing. Which would have suit our goals perfectly. But cycling is the complete opposite. I struggle and he's fine. Might be down to me having longer strides when running and lighter, or the fact he will naturally have stronger leg muscles then me or bike quality etc. I'm using my dad's squeaky old mountain bike for now which isn't the best.

So bit of background and goals out of the way. On to where I need some help. I went into my local bike shop looking to buy a new bike around £500 or under. I realised I was riding a bike completely wrong. I had the saddle so my feet were comfortabley flat on the ground. After showing me where to sit properly me and my friend went out for a ride on my old bike. Apart from feeling a little unsafe not being able to touch the ground properly when I stop. I found the new position allowed me to go further easier. Say around 20-30% better distance to time. However going to bed around 9-10 hours later. I was getting an uncomfortable Lower and upper back pain. I have an arched back mainly from being a couch and video game lover as a teenager. Which I'm assuming is down to me leaning over in my new riding position. Which is my problem. I can either ride a bike properly and put strain on my back. Or incorrectly.

Which Is where I need help.

I've read on here people getting a few aches in the beginning of riding properly so could it just be down to that? Is there a position I could use riding to help the back but still be correct for riding? Or when I buy my bike is there a certain type that could help my issues? Handle bar types, suspension types etc but still get good speed. I think I want a hybrid bike as 90% of my cycling is done on rough tarmac single track back roads.

Sorry for the essay but thanks for reading and any help I would greatly appreciate.


Turbo Rider

Just can't reMember
Cycling feels harder on your legs right now because you're using different muscles. I suffered lower back pain for years and was worried about cycling when I started, but oddly enough, it's gone away completely since starting a few months ago. Could be a pre-post ride stretching issue, but I don't stretch at all. Could be down to nutrition as well - a pre ride bowl of porridge & a banana, combined with a post ride glass of milk could help. A nice warm bath / hot shower could also help. Could also depend on the length of your ride...try riding for less time, but more often. If it persists or gets worse though, might be an idea to back off a bit and see a physician, in case cycling has just helped highlight a deeper issue.

Boon 51

Deal. Kent.
You must expect a few aches and pains when you star cycling as that is par for the course, but getting the bike set up will help matters greatly.
If you know someone that cycles already ask them to help you set the bike up because it sounds like that is some of your problems..

A good bike is a good place to start as well as a decent saddle and perhaps some padded shorts, and of course plenty of practice, then you will find it easier. If your back pains persist go to your doctors even if its for just a check up.
(I suffer with trying to put weight on too, so I take whey protein which stops my muscles aching but I expect I ride a bit faster than you)
A hybrid could be the right bike for you but make sure its the right size as your dad's I'm guessing is not. Try going to one of the bike cycle shops and get a test ride on a demo bike that might give you a better idea..

Lots to think about but that's all part of the fun of cycling.
Good luck.. :smile:


Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
I've read on here people getting a few aches in the beginning of riding properly so could it just be down to that? Is there a position I could use riding to help the back but still be correct for riding? Or when I buy my bike is there a certain type that could help my issues? Handle bar types, suspension types etc but still get good speed. I think I want a hybrid bike as 90% of my cycling is done on rough tarmac single track back roads.
It might be starting to ride and having underdeveloped core strength (some say yoga or pilates, other say just keep riding) but it could be position - there's tons of advice on road bike fitting/position online and some shops will do it for a fee and some will refund it if you buy the bike from them.

I feel position is a compromise between comfort and aerodynamics. The professionals go all out for aerodynamics and work to be able to sustain it and still get the power out. So yes, there might be a more upright position which is more comfortable for you, but it might not be so fast.

Type of bike? To me, rough tarmac screams steel roadster but then I'm a roadster fan... and most of the commenters here probably have a favourite bike type. If you decide to get a road bike, I'd look for phrases like "relaxed geometry", "randonneur bars" and a front fork that isn't aluminium. On a hybrid, the need for a forgiving fork remains, but you could consider some sort of swept or butterfly bars which may give a more comfortable riding position while still allowing you to hunker down into the wind if you need to. My hybrid has French bars mounted upside down, giving a choice between riding on the tops on rough stuff, hunkering down on the bends and sitting more upright with tiller steering - it also makes the bike look strange, which is a blessing (who'd want to nick that?) and a curse (hairy eyeballs from racers).

Good luck and enjoy rolling along!
Try stretching, as well.

I believe Anderson's book will be quite helpful, but there are many other yoga-based stretching routines for cyclists


New Member
Thanks for the responses. Clumping all the advice together I think the best thing for me to do is get the local bike shop guy to help me buy the right bike and get the riding position correct as he was very helpful when I popped in the other day. Then look into eating the right food before and after cycling. Stretching before and after, and crack on with my gym work aswell. Persevere with it all for a couple of months and see if the pain gets better, worse or the same and go from there. Cyclings either gonna kill or cure my problem.

Thanks again


Legendary Member
If it doesn't improve with time, stretching, pilates, core strength the right bike, correct fit etc, you might want to consider seeing a medical professional (sports physio a good place to start or see the GP). You don't want to end up with chronic injuries, believe me!

I don't think food is the answer for back ache, more a rumbly tummy, aching leg muscles or spinny head :smile:

Happy cycling :smile:


New Member
I was more thinking food for the weight gain side of things. I'm skinny now so don't won't to lose any more weight cycling. So I'm trying to eat what I've lost at least after a ride with carb and protein based food and drink.


Well-Known Member
I'm sure it isn't, since the guy in the shop helped you but I'll say it anyway: make sure your saddle isn't too high, if it is then you tilt slightly from side to side to reach the bottom of each pedal stroke and that can give you lower back ache. Try not to move from side to side as you pedal, your legs need to do the work not your need a low enough gear to be able to pedal reasonably easily and fast. I only say this because I do see a lot of new cyclists throwing themselves around in too high a gear and that is very tiring. You must have reasonable core strength or you'd be getting backache with weight exercises wouldn't you?...maybe you just need to think about it as you lean forward. There are a range of positions for cycling're not trying to be a TT rider after all.
Oh and about stopping...if you put your weight onto one pedal as you come to a stop then you can come forward off the saddle and put the other foot onto the ground, tilting the bike a little to that side a little as you land. As you increase the braking your body naturally moves forward anyway.
Gosh I sound opinionated don't I. hope some of that's useful..stick with it anyway, cycling's great.


I certainly suffered my share of aches and pains when starting to do longer rides. For me, the solution was simply to raise the handlebars a little - this takes weight off your wrists and puts less of a curve in your back. After a few months of regular riding, I was able to lower the bars a little and maintain comfort (they are around 2" below saddle height now FWIW).

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that while a good fit is crucial to cycling comfort, you may find your optimal position changes quite a bit as you develop the core strength, flexibility, and general conditioning to put in longer rides. So any fit you get in a bike shop should be tailored to your current levels of comfort (not to their idea of how you *should* be set up on the bike), and this position will probably need updating fairly regularly at first. Since the position of your saddle is relatively inflexible (move it too far and you compromise power, and open yourself up to all sorts of knee issues), it's likely you'll be doing most of this adjustment with the handlebars. I'm even tempted to suggest that an adjustable stem might not be a terrible idea at first (I was lucky, my 1960s era stem is the old easily adjustable quill type).

Good luck setting it up, and have fun with the new bike!


Lovely jubbly
Definetly stretching, I'm a self employed gardener and suffer lower back pain, my osteopath recommended stretching as I was so stiff! Now I'm a firm believer in regular stretching particularly my legs which as they weren't supple was causing my back to "do all the work". I can keep my aches and pains under control now.
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