15 Mar 2016


A pain-free ride will have you cycling longer and stronger, as well as increasing enjoyment. Here’s how you can guarantee a more comfortable ride, and guarantee a better performance…

Long rides on either a Saturday or Sunday – or both for ultra-keen cyclists – should be a staple of many riders’ cycling diet. There are three key reasons why, and they boil down to the three Ps – physiology, practicality and psychology.

When it comes to physiology, long rides will build a stronger heart and lungs, meaning you’ll deliver more oxygen to the working muscles and so fatigue less rapidly. Your body will also become a more efficient fat-burner, meaning you’ll not only spare glycogen reserves for more intense moments, like taming Alpe d’Huez, but you’ll also tap into the fuelling source that’s in more plentiful supply. Take Vision rider Andrew Talansky (Cannondale) as an example. The American weighs 63kg. Let’s say his body fat percentage is 8%; that’s around 5kg in fat. And as 1kg of fat equates to 7,700 cal, that’s 38,500 cal even the lithe pro can tap into.

Vision rider Andrew Talansky and his Cannondale team-mates trade off comfort in long training rides with full aero positions in time trial stages

As for practicality, most of us have greater leisure time at weekends, so that’s the time to head out for 2 hours-plus without upsetting work or the family. And knowing you’ve racked up many hours of pedalling forges mental resilience. You know you’ve put in the miles and that gives you confidence come your next sportive.

You know the benefits so what’s holding you back? For many, it’s down to comfort. But with a few simple tweaks, you can ride in luxury…

The perch you plant your buttocks on is a highly individual thing, so don’t fall into the trap that a squashy saddle is more comfy. Some riders prefer a cutaway to relieve perineum pressure; some prefer a firm platform as it evokes the feeling of greater power transfer. Several saddle manufacturers offer systems where your measurements are taken, fed through a computer and determine the right saddle for you. Ultimately, though, the ideal is to try before you buy.

If you’re really determined to take on the gravel roads and pave, you might consider the extreme tactic of fitting a suspension seatpost from the mountain-bike world. However, a more ‘roadie’ solution is to choose a seatpost such as the Vision Metron SB0, whose carbon-monocoque construction maximises power output but still provides vibration-dampening comfort. It’s lightweight too, and it’s easy to adjust to ensure you get not only the right seat height but also the correct saddle angle for long-ride comfort.

Wider tires
If you’re using 23mm tires, change to 25mm. The increased chamber size nestled between you and the road means you can run a lower pressure than you would with a 23mm due to reduced chances of a snakebite flat, which elicits a more comfortable ride. And don’t worry about losing speed as studies show 25mm tyres can be faster than their thinner alternatives. Many of Vision’s road and triathlon wheels happily take 25mm tires, so you can consider the other factors – weight, profile, material, etc – when you look at an upgrade, safe in the knowledge that adjusting tire width is a straightforward possibility.

Drop handlebars come in different widths. Take the representative Vision Metron 4D Compact, which come in 400mm, 420mm and 440mm. Bike manufacturers fit bars that they feel are appropriate for the specific size of the frame. However, sometimes this isn’t suitable due to everyone having different upper- and lower-limb lengths. Also, the distance and reach to the drop section of the bars can feel too deep for many. That’s where a compact model comes in and is one that’s commonly adopted by professionals.

Choose your bars carefully: compact designs are available, such as the lightweight Metron 4D Compact – in a full range of width options

And more!
Further ideas to increase the comfort stakes include: choosing thicker handlebar tape, handlebar tape featuring a gel strip or simply doubling up on handlebar tape; having a bike fit; choosing a well-padded pair of bib shorts; and liberally applying chamois cream.