Effect of Changes in Cycle Ergometer Settings on Bioelectrical Activity in Selected Muscles of the Lower Limbs

Robert Staszkiewicz 1 , Michał Kawulak 1 , Leszek Nosiadek 1 , Jarosław Omorczyk 2  and Andrzej Nosiadek 3
  • 1 University of Physical Education in Krakow, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, Department of Biomechanics
  • 2 University of Physical Education in Krakow, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, Department of Gymnastics and Dance
  • 3 State Higher Vocational School in Tarnow, Department of Physical Education


Introduction. The aim of this study was to measure the duration of biopotentials in selected muscles of the lower limbs, evaluate the time of elevated bioelectrical activity in these muscles, and identify similarities and differences in electrical phenomena that occur in the muscles for various external settings of a cycle ergometer.

Material and methods. The study examined 10 healthy people (5 women and 5 men) aged from 20 to 30 years. A cycle ergometer and EMG apparatus were used in the experiment. The bioelectrical activity of six muscles of the lower limbs (rectus femoris, vastus medialis, tibialis anterior, biceps femoris, gastrocnemius caput mediale, and gastrocnemius caput laterale) was recorded for four different settings of the cycle ergometer (variable saddle height and method of foot attachment to pedals). The EMG records were presented with reference to the bicycle crankset rotation cycle.

Conclusions. The study found that changing the height of the saddle of the cycle ergometer and the use of toe clips in the pedals caused changes in bioelectrical activity in the muscles. The adjustment of saddle height affected the duration of potentials more noticeably than the use of toe clips. Furthermore, only one period of elevated electrical activity in the muscles of the lower limbs was found in the pedalling cycle. The longest time of the presence of action potentials was recorded for the m. gastrocnemius caput laterale, whereas the shortest time was observed in the m. vastus medialis.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • 1. Fonda B., Sarabon N. (2010). Inter-muscular coordination during uphill cycling in a seated position: A pilot study. Kinesiologia Slovenica 16(1-2), 10-15.

  • 2. Faria E., Parker D., Faria I. (2005). The science of cycling: Factors affecting performance – part 2. Sports Medicine 35(4), 313-337.

  • 3. Gamez J., Zarzoso M., Raventos A., Valero M., Alcantara E., Lopez A. et al. (2008). Determination of the optimal saddle height for leisure cycling. The Engineering of Sport 7, 255-260. DOI: 10.1007/978-2-287-99056-4_31.

  • 4. Horscroft R., Davidson C., McDaniel J., Wagner B., Martin J. (2003). Effects of saddle height on joint power distribution. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 35(5), 16.

  • 5. Wanich T., Hodgkins C., Columbier J., Muraski E., Kennedy J. (2007). Cycling injuries of the lower extremity. Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 15(12), 748-756.

  • 6. Hansen E., Smith G. (2009). Factors affecting cadence choice during submaximal cycling and cadence influence on performance. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance 4, 3-17.

  • 7. Li L., Caldwell G. (1998). Muscle coordination in cycling: Effect of surface incline and posture. Journal of Applied Physiology 85(3), 927-934.

  • 8. Cordova A., Latasa I., Seco J., Villa G., Rodriguez-Falces J. (2014). Physiological responses during cycling with oval chainrings (Q-Ring) and circular chainrings. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine 13, 410-416.

  • 9. Costan R., Pantea C. (2010). Electromyography assessment of muscles involved in a pedal cycle. Timisoara Physical Education and Rehabilitation Journal 2(4), 29-36.

  • 10. Drozdek R., Winiarski S., Siemieński A. (2014). Differences in the bioelectrical activity of the major muscle groups of the lower limb using road or triathlon position. In C. Urbanik, A. Mastalerz, D. Iwańska (ed.), Selected problems of biomechanics of sport and rehabilitation (pp. 12-20). Warszawa: AWF Warszawa.

  • 11. Dorel S., Couturier A., Hug F. (2009). Influence of different racing positions on mechanical and electromyographic patterns during pedaling. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports 19, 44-54. DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2007.00765.x.

  • 12. Burke E. (1994). Proper fit of the bicycle. Clinics in Sports Medicine 13(1), 1-14.

  • 13. de Vey Mestdagh K. (1998). Personal perspective: In search of an optimum cycling posture. Applied Ergonomics 29(5), 325-334.

  • 14. Silberman M., Webner D., Collina S., Shiple B. (2005). Road bicycle fit. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine 15(4), 271-276.

  • 15. Ericson M., Nisell R. (1987). Patellofemoral joint forces during ergometric cycling. Physical Therapy 67, 1365-1369.

  • 16. Ericson M. (1986). On the biomechanics of cycling. A study of joint and muscle load during exercise on the bicycle ergometer. Scandinavian Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine 16, 1-43.

  • 17. Savelberg H., Van de Port I., Willems P. (2003). Body configuration in cycling affects muscle recruitment and movement pattern. Journal of Applied Biomechanics 19, 310-324.

  • 18. Dias Lopes A., Alouche S., Hakansson N., Cohen M. (2014). Electromyography during pedaling on upright and recumbent ergometer. The International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy 9(1), 76-81.

  • 19. Chapman A., Vicenzino B., Blanch P., Knox J., Hodges P. (2006). Leg muscle recruitment in highly trained cyclists. Journal of Sports Sciences 47(2), 115-124. DOI: 10.1080/02640410500131159.

  • 20. Kosielski P. (2012). Anatomy of pedalling. Retrieved September 10, 2014, from www.medicycycling.eu. [in Polish]

  • 21. Fonda B., Sarabon N. (2010). Biomechanics of cycling: Literature review. Sport Science Review 19(1-2), 131-163. DOI: 10.2478/v10237-011-0012-0.

  • 22. Jorge M., Hull M. (1986). Analysis of EMG measurements during bicycle pedaling. Journal of Biomechanics 19(9), 683-694.

  • 23. Bober T., Zawadzki J. (2003). Biomechanics of the human locomotor system. Wrocław: BIK. [in Polish]

  • 24. Bini R., Diefenthaeler F. (2009). Mechanical work and coordinative pattern of cycling: A literature review. Kinesiology 41(1), 25-39. UDC 796.61:796.015.62:531.6.

  • 25. Bini R., Hume P., Lanferdini F., Vaz M. (2014). Effects of body positions on the saddle on pedaling technique for cyc-lists and triathletes. European Journal of Sport Science 14(1), 413-420. DOI: 10.1080/17461391.2012.708792.

  • 26. Cruz C., Bankoff A. (2001). Electromyography in cycling: Difference between clipless pedal and toe clip pedal. Electromyography and Clinical Neurophysiology 41(4), 247-52.

  • 27. Duc S., Bertucci W., Pernin J., Grappe F. (2008). Muscular activity during uphill cycling: Effect of slope, posture, hand grip position and constrained bicycle lateral sways. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology 18, 116-127. DOI: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2006.09.007.

  • 28. Bertucci W., Grappe F., Groslambert A. (2007). Laboratory versus outdoor cycling conditions: Differences in pedaling biomechanics. Journal of Applied Biomechanics 23, 87-92.


Journal + Issues