Saturday, 16 May 2015

Pro Cyclist Bike Position, Pelvic Tilt & Bike Fit

Many professional and well regarded bike fitters such as John Cobb, Jo McRae, BK Bike Fit and Lostende Tours seem to recommend rolling the pelvis forward (anterior tilt) to get lower and more aerodynamic whilst not sacrificing (or even gaining) power and remaining comfortable.

Following this advice, my personal experience of bending from the pelvis and rotating it forward is that it moves the weight to the narrower area of the sit bones and soft tissue which is simply not comfortable for long periods of time.

I have noticed that the majority of pro riders look like they ride with a relatively upright/neutral pelvic position and then bend from the waist/lower back rather than the hips to achieve a low, aero position.

I'm not saying we should all imitate the pro cyclist bike position as they are at the extreme end of the cycling spectrum, but there must be a reason they ride in that position rather than bending from the hips as many renowned bike fitters seem to advocate.

Personally, I just don't see how it can ever be comfortable to ride a bike with large degrees of forward pelvic tilt for anything longer than about 10 miles at TT pace which is why pro riders, who have to ride hundreds of miles a day have adopted an upright pelvic position which puts your weight on the wider sit bones.

One benefit of tilting the pelvis forward is that it allows the back to be almost truly flat, I can't imagine riding for hours at a time with a large curve in the lower back is particularly healthy.

Here are some photos I found which demonstrate the professional cyclist bike fit and how they tend to bend from the waist/lower back rather than the pelvis. If any riders or bike fitters have any thoughts on this, please, leave a comment below.

Nikolay Mihaylov bike positio
Nikolay Mihaylov - CCC Sprandi Polkowice (credit
Allessandro Ballan bike position
Allesandro Ballan (credit - 
Bradley Wiggins bike position
Bradley Wiggins - Team Sky (Credit http://www.teamsky,com/
fabian cancellara bike position
Fabian Cancellara (Credit
David Millar position
David Millar - Garmin Slipstream (credit Patrick Hertzog/AFP/Getty Images)
Van Avermaet pelvic angle
Greg Van Avermaet - BMC (credit Richard Boudreau) 
Ian Burnett bike position
Ian Burnett (credit Chris Graythen/Getty Images North America)
Jan Ulrich - credit Wikipedia
Stijn Vandenbergh bike position
Stijn Vandenbergh (Credit
Wout Poels bike position
Wout Poels (Credit SportingNonsense)


  1. Really cool post thanks! I discovered, while trying to alliveiate som VMO pain, that when I posteriorly tilt my pelvis (as the pros) to a almost backward to neutral tilt, I am able to pull SO MUCH more on the upstroke than I ever have before. I have always had somewhat of a anterior pelvic tilt that overloads my quads but with my new found position (however I have to force it until my brain gets the new position) my quads are relieved and my hamstrings and hipflexors do more work. I can only imagine that this advantange is evident to the pros i.e. developing power all through the pedal stroke. Lance was an awsome TT-er and he also has the same position on the saddle as all your pictures above.

  2. Interesting perspective, one which I held for a long time until I finally got a really good bike fit from one of Steve Hogg's certified bike fitters. My view is that all the photos you have selected are those of the pros riding under the hammer and tend to sit forward on the saddle bringing their pelvis into an upright position. I find the forward pelvic position possible if the saddle (and most importantly the cleats!) are set up in the right position such that one isn't pivoted directly over the soft tissue you spoke of. One of the biggest mistakes I was told is that most people have their saddle way too high and that indeed was the case for me.

  3. @Peter Sjögren you have it backwards, forward pelvic rotation will use the glutes and hamstrings more and less quads, a more posterior tilt will use the qauds more

  4. I don't see how you can ever ride with a forward tilted pelvis and not put more pressure on the soft tissue than if you rode with a more upright pelvis?

    As a point of interest, I noticed the women pro riders seem to ride with a much more forward pelvic position. I assume this is a flexibility issue as women generally seem to have a lower back which arches inwards which is not conducive to riding "like the men do".