Of the millions of Peloton members, there’s no way to know how many are short riders like I am. But here’s what I can tell you: there is a #shortietribe hashtag on the Peloton leaderboard.
Plus, there’s a Peloton for short riders Facebook group that has nearly
10,500 15,000 members. Clearly, there are plenty of short and petite people riding Pelotons.
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As someone who is 5’4″ I just qualify for membership in the Peloton Shortie Tribe. Here’s how the administrators describe this Facebook group focusing on Peloton for short riders:
“This is the place for petite and powerful Peloton riders if you are 5′ 4″ or under.”
Why join the Shortie Tribe
Even though I’ve had my Peloton since 2016, I never realized that my being vertically challenged might affect how I was riding my bike. In addition, I didn’t realize that I was not alone in this challenge.
Come check out my new PeloZone Blog!
Because of the popularity of my Peloton content and my Peloton expertise–I’ve been a Peloton user since 2016–I’ve decided to start a new blog devoted entirely to Peloton content.
But, before you head over there, head to Amazon, where, through 12/6/23, Peloton accessories are on sale by as much as 50%.
Clearly, there are thousands of shorter people with Pelotons not only looking for community but also seeking help with our unique challenges. One of the biggest challenges we shorties face is reaching the handlebars–or the fact that we can’t reach the Peloton handlebars.
Peloton handlebars too far away
If you’ve ever taken a traditional spin class at the gym, one of the first things you notice with a Peloton bike is its design flaw. That is, you can raise and lower the Peloton bike handlebars (and seat, of course).
However, unlike regular spin bikes, you cannot move the handlebars closer to you. (Weirdly, you can move the seat forward and back.) This handlebar issue is a huge problem for many riders, especially the short ones.
In fact, this is a universal complaint. Even the new Bike Plus doesn’t solve the problem. There, the handlebars only go up and down, like the original Peloton cycle.
However, here’s what I’ve discovered about the Bike Plus–it might be the better option for short rides. That’s because the handlebars on this version of the Peloton bike are automatically two inches closer to the seat stem than the original bike.
How to raise Peloton handlebars
I’ll admit it: figuring out how to raise the Peloton handlebars is not easy. But I did learn this trick.
One, loosen the crank arm between the water bottle holders.
Two, put one hand under the rounded part in the middle of the handlebars. Think about it like picking up a suitcase handle.
Three, at the same time, use your other hand to gently pull the handlebars towards the seat.
Finally, with both the “forces” working together, the handlebar should move up and down smoothly.
How a bike fitting can help
If you read my review of the Matt Wilpers remote bike fit, you may recall this feedback from my professional bike fitting, regarding the handlebars:
“I did tell him [my bike fitter] that I thought a flaw in the Peloton bike was that you couldn’t move the handlebars forward and back, only up and down. He said something to the effect that every bike fitter working with Peloton clients these days agrees with me 100%.”
Peloton handlebar extension for short riders
There are so many shorter riders wanting to know about how to extend the Peloton handlebars to make them closer. Here are some things I learned from my remote bike fitting. These are things to try first before calling in the cavalry (aka a bike fitter) or buying Peloton accessories for the handlebars.
One, if you have a long torso, moving your seat back can make it easier to reach the handlebars.
Two, lowering the handlebars helps you to reach the handlebars.
How does this work so that the handlebars no longer feel so far away? Well, it forces your body to “tip” forward more, thus extending your reach.
In other words, you don’t want to be riding your Peloton sitting straight up. Then, the handlebars are impossible to reach. However, leaning forward slightly makes it easier to reach them.
This is also a better position to ride in, because it engages your glutes and hammies. But that’s fodder for another blog post.
Peloton settings by height
It’s important to note that even though this blog post is focusing on Peloton for short riders, your height has nothing to do with your bike settings. For example, I’ve had readers of this blog write asking me for a “Peloton height chart.”
I got the sense that they wanted some kind of chart, like a shoe size chart, that would tell them where to put their seat and handlebars based on how tall (or short) they are. That’s not how it works.
Where to put your seat
First, your seat height has more to do with your inseam or leg length than anything else.
Second, how close or far away your seat is from the handlebars depends on your torso length. Also, you want to make sure that your knees are not extending over your feet when you pedal. This is a great recipe for knee pain.
Third, your handlebar height is really a combination of height, inseam length and torso length. So, there is no one size fits all way to determine those settings.
Many Shortie Tribe members have mentioned going to their local Peloton store (likely in a mall near you) to get fitted. Peloton instructor Christine D’Ercole has a Facebook Live video on bike fitting. It’s a great place to start.
Or, you can do like I did, and get a professional bike fitting. It’s all done remotely. Many of my fellow Shorties have also had this done.
Products that extend the Peloton handlebars for short riders
Peloton short riders and other petite people who spin have come up with all kinds of ways to extend the Peloton handlebars. For example, some swear by taking a pool noodle, slicing it down the middle and placing it on the handlebars. I tried that. It didn’t work for me.
Others have found a foam barbell padding product on Amazon that you can put on the handlebars. It works like the pool noodle is supposed to by adding a few inches to the handlebars.
I have since added the Aerow Grip to my handlebars (which I mentioned in the aforementioned remote bike fitting blog post).
This is my Aerow Grip on my Peloton, which helped to extend the handlebars for this short rider.
The Adjuster for Peloton
Perhaps the gold standard for extending the Peloton handlebars is something called The Adjuster. It’s by the same people who make The Spintray, which I used to turn my Peloton into an exercise desk.
The adjuster works to let you slide the Peloton handlebars–and the screen–up to three inches closer to your seat. It is pricey, but short Peloton riders swear by it.
Those few inches really make a difference for them. So, in conclusion, if you’re having trouble reaching the handlebars, I would strongly recommend adding The Adjuster to your Peloton.
Peloton product for short riders: The Adjuster
Peloton bike alternatives for short riders
Not everyone who rides with Peloton has a Peloton bike or Bike Plus. You can always use the Peloton app with another spin bike.
How tall do you have to be to ride a Peloton
According to the Peloton website, they believe that 4’11” is the shortest height that a Peloton bike can accommodate. But, as I learned in writing my Peloton for kids post, there are plenty of shorter people who find a way to make the bike work for them.
In fact, I believe this standard of Peloton for short riders was more about people riding in the Peloton NYC studio than those riding at home. Because the truth is Peloton has guidelines on the other end of the spectrum, too.
Peloton Height and Weight Limit
The company says that the max weight is 297 pounds and 6’5″. But I know people who are heavier and taller that use the Peloton.
Again, I believe that these guidelines were developed for people who would be riding in the studio. Here is my review of the Peloton Studios NYC.
Petite workout gear and activewear short Peloton riders might like
Here’s another challenge that we short Peloton riders face: finding clothing that fits our short arms or short legs but maybe longer torso. I know that’s a challenge for me.
For example, when buying jackets, I need to buy a petite size because I have shorter arms. Cue the image of tiny T-Rex dinosaur arms.
However, I have a longer torso so crop tops are not good for me. Finally, I have a 29-inch inseam, which means regular pants are always too long. I need a short or cropped length.
This is all true with my workout gear. That’s why when buying leggings, I always go for the 7/8 length. Whereas they might be mid-calf for a regular height person, they are ankle length for me.
Clothing brands, companies and stores that stock petite fitness clothing
Over the years I’ve learned that not every clothing brand or store stocks fitness clothing that fits short people. But when I find one that does, they’ve got me as a customer for life.
For example, the online styling companies I love have petite clothing. This includes Stitch Fix. In both instances you can ask your stylist to put together an athleisure or activewear Fix, which is sent to you at home to try on.
In addition, there are brands and stores that stock plenty of petite activewear. I’m not just talking clothing in size extra small or extra-extra small for the really tiny. I’m talking about bona fide petite sizes, even if you wear a plus size. You feel me?
The Shortie Tribe for short Peloton riders
As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, there is a #shortietribe hashtag on the Leaderboard, and a Shortie Tribe group on Facebook. It is made up of short riders; you have to be 5’4″ and under to qualify.
To join the Shortie Tribe Facebook group, you’ll have to answer a few questions. This includes how tall you are. Make sure you answer all of the questions or the admins won’t approve your membership. It’s a super nice bunch of (short) people.