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Determining Your Bicycle Saddle Height

Common sense is that the right saddle, properly installed on your bike, should improve your riding performance, or at least make it a more enjoyable experience. The position of your body affects how you ride, how much power you put into the pedals, and how comfortable you are. However, a comfortable position may not be the most energy efficient, so it’s worth double-checking and properly sizing your bike and saddle. This guide provides instructions and instructions for properly setting the saddle height, fore and aft position and inclination of the bicycle:

Adjust your bicycle saddle

 

Saddle Height Calculator

saddle height

Saddle front/rear position

Saddle lean

Theory and Best Practice

 

109% formula

Lemon Recipe

ideal knee bend

related resources

 

Adjust your bicycle saddle

A properly adjusted saddle minimizes discomfort on the bike and allows you to pedal more efficiently. Keep in mind that a bike is unlikely to fit you perfectly when you buy it, unless you have it custom made or have it installed in-store after you buy it. Take some time to get the correct saddle position, as this will improve your overall riding experience.

 

The saddle can be adjusted in three ways: saddle height, fore/aft position and inclination. Adjustments can be made via the seatpost and the clips that hold the saddle to the seatpost. To adjust, you just loosen the bolt/clamp, adjust and retighten.

 

 

Saddle Height Calculator

To quickly find your ideal saddle height, you can use this tool. It calculates your saddle height based on your height and leg length measurements. Provides printable instructions and diagrams for road, mountain, kids and BMX bikes.


saddle height

Saddle height controls pedaling leverage. Too low can put pressure on your knees, and too high can rub the saddle too much. Children or their parents often lower the saddle for safety and confidence, but this doesnt allow them to pedal effectively and can make riding more difficult. This low saddle habit is likely to continue even as they become adults.


There are several ways to get the correct saddle height. A good way to do this is to sit on the bike with your feet on the pedals – ask a friend for help, use a trainer or lean against a wall. Put the pedals at the 6 o’clock and 12 o’clock positions. Your calves should be fully extended when your heels are on the lower pedal. If it bends, you need to lift the saddle. If you have to rock your hips to reach or not at all, lower the saddle. If you find yourself sitting on the narrow front of the saddle, you can also tell if the saddle is too highalthough this could also have something to do with saddle tilt.

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The idea is that your knees are slightly bent at the bottom of the rotation when you properly place your feet on the pedals. Also make sure not to raise the seatpost higher than the manufacturer recommends, as it could become unstable or even break while riding.


Saddle front/rear position

The fore/aft position of the saddle will determine how your body is balanced, which will also determine how comfortable and efficient you are on the bike. If you look at a normal bike, the saddle is behind the bottom bracket. Put the saddle too far forward and you won’t get the most leverage, and if it’s too far back, you can hurt your back and create muscle strain.

 

One way to position the saddle is to place it 2 to 2.5 inches behind the centerline of the bottom bracket or spindle. You can check this distance by resting your elbows on the nose of the saddle and placing your fingertips on the handlebars – they should just touch. Of course, if the frame or stem is the wrong size, or you have long/short arms, it might not work well. Another workaround is to place both pedal cranks in a horizontal position and make sure your kneecap is directly over the pedal spindle.

Saddle lean

Saddle tilt is also important. If the nose is tilted down too much, it will slide you into the narrower part of the saddle, a movement that tends to counteract in the hands, putting pressure on your arms and shoulders. If it is too tilted, you will feel it in the genital area. The general rule is to set the saddle parallel to the ground, but some women prefer a slight downward slope (especially if they are using a saddle designed for men) and men prefer a slight upward slope, but this should be very minimal. Whatever position you want to try, try it for a week or so, change it up a bit, and try again until it’s just right.

Theory and Best Practice

Go out on a bike. The more you ride, the more your body adapts to the bike, becoming stronger and more flexible. You may also feel more comfortable without making extensive changes to your bike. Adjustments to the stem, bars and cleats may also be required, but here are some proven methods for determining saddle height.

 

109% formula

Scientific testing has proven that the most effective saddle height is 109% of the inner leg measurement, although there are clearly individual differences. This seems to be a great combination of maximal muscle stretch and pedalling fluidity – a win-win. To get this measurement, you need to measure the length of the leg from the floor to the inside of the crotch. Do this while standing, without shoes. Multiply this length by 109% to get the length of the extended pedal from the top of the saddle to the bottom of the stroke (crank line up with seat tube).

If you find that your current saddle height is significantly different from this formula, make adjustments gradually. Note that the saddle height is something you will get used to.

Lemon Recipe

Three-time Tour de France champion Greg Lemond uses a bike sizing formula taught by French trainer and former pro Cyrille Guimard. Guimard tested his Renault team members and found that the traditional way of setting up the bike resulted in a low saddle height. By raising the saddle, he found that the muscles were better able to power the pedals.


Lemond believes the combination of measurements is the key to determining the correct riding position. These are saddle height, studs, front and rear position, stem height and length, right angles for handlebars and brake levers. It is recommended that you read Greg’s book Greg Lemond’s Complete Bicycle (1987) to fully understand his method. However, the formula for frame size and saddle height is as follows:

 

Bicycle Frame Dimensions (cm) = Inseam (cm) x 0.65*

* The original formula is now sometimes adjusted to 0.67 for modern bikes. Originally, bikes were measured center-to-center (centre bottom bracket to center of top tube), but center-to-top is more accurate for todays odd-numbered tubes, sloping top tubes, and other non-traditional geometries.

 

Saddle Height (cm) = Inseam (cm) x 0.883

This is measured from the center of the bottom bracket to the low point on the top of the saddle. It assumes that the rider is wearing standard cycling shoes and that your knees are bent 15 degrees at the bottom of the pedal stroke.

 

Ideal knee flexion (25% to 30%)

Knee pain is common among long-distance cyclists. If you’re experiencing knee pain, you may have the wrong seat height, incorrect gearing, or poor foot position. Often, however, a low saddle can cause overworked knees. Although a saddle that is too high means you won’t be able to pedal effectively at the bottom of the stroke and may even lose control of the bike.

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The consensus seems to be that when the cranks are level, your knees should be over the pedal spindle, or at a 25-30 degree angle, but again, there can be individual differences.

 

Poor old saddles are often blamed for all sorts of problems, from simple butt soreness to prone. Getting the right saddle takes knowledge and a lot of trial and error, as there are several factors to consider, but it’s definitely worth the effort, as having a proper saddle can go a long way toward improving your ride comfort. Choosing a saddle starts with a few simple factorsyour gender, body structure, riding type, riding style, and any riding preferences you may have. Once selected, the saddle still needs to be installed and adjusted to ensure you get the most out of it.

If you are looking for a new way of commuting or want a healthier lifestyle, we are here to help you. Visit our website to learn more about electric bikes and electric scooter or please leave information to us.

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