Bike Commuting 101: Eliminating Pain

Excuse #5:It hurts when I ride

The Truth: That's easily fixed, but your bike might not fit you. Here are the five keys to a plush ride, according to le grand French constructeurs of old.

FIT: To eliminate back, neck, and wrist pain, your saddle should be close to even with your bars. And if the distance between the two doesn't feel right (meaning you're neither scrunched up nor overstretched), nothing will.

MATERIAL: Lightweight chromoly steel is springy (absorbs shocks), strong (is very hard to bend or crack and, unlike carbon, will never break), durable (will most likely outlive you), and practical (is easily repaired).

SADDLE: Leather takes on the shape of your derriere for years of untroubled riding. We love two models with anatomical cutouts, the Brooks B17 Imperial ($142; brooksengland.com) and the Selle An-Atomica Titanico LD Watershed ($180). The Titanico is softer out of the box but will reach the end of its life sooner. Not into leather? Top pick: the WTB SST ($60–$140; wtb.com), a padded shell with a cradling shape.

BARS: Make sure your wrists aren't bent awkwardly. Drop bars offer several hand positions. The Nitto Noodle ($54–$65; rivbike.com) is a favorite.

TIRES: Bigger equals superior comfort, traction, stability, and versatility. You don't want to go any lower than 28mm in diameter, and 32 to 40mm is more like it. And don't pump them to capacity; try 75 percent of max to start, and then experiment.

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