While searching for my lower back problems I come across the suggestion that you should have a straight back on your bike to avoid pain, one example:

enter image description here

But on the internet you find a lot of "professional riders" that sit with a pretty rounded back and on a short frame, for example:


Ok, she is climbing and this is maybe just a temporary position.

source: https://www.orbea.com/img/blognew/in-text/Pendrel%202012%20en%20baja.jpg

enter image description here

source: https://hips.hearstapps.com/hmg-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/images/slides/still-going-0-1440612429.jpg?resize=980:*

enter image description here

source: https://www.orbea.com/img/blog/large/PENDREL_WORLD_CUP-20140906164951.jpg

Looking at their elbow bent they are all on pretty short frames, haven't checked the dates of the pictures. But a "straight back" sounds like a good idea even though frame geometries change over time.

Question: what's the right back position?

  • 1
    World Cup XCO races last roughly 90 minutes and for all intents and purposes, are all-out efforts. I'm confident Katherine Pendrel and others have much "better" posture when when spending more time on the bike at more of an "endurance" pace
    – Paul H
    Feb 2, 2021 at 22:08

1 Answer 1


A straight back might avoid pain there, but it's going to create quite a lot somewhere else.

In your first rounded back/straight back comparison pictures you can see that the rider's pelvis is upright and the ischial tuberosities of the pelvis - the 'sit bones' are on the saddle. In the second picture the rider's pelvis is rotated forward putting pressure on the soft tissue of the perineum. That picture makes me wince just looking at it. Chronic pressure on the perineum can lead to all kinds of complications, including numbness and erectile dysfunction (if you are a male).

  • 1
    Anterior tilt of the pelvis shifts the contact points on the saddle further forward. That may simply require a more suitable saddle that removes pressure from the perineum and supports the rider from the pubic rami. More forward tilt of the saddle may help as well. Hence, I don't think the OP's question can be dismissed that easily.
    – gschenk
    May 14, 2020 at 8:37

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