5 Steps to Help You Determine the Proper Bike Seat Height
A proper bike seat height is essential for a well-fitting bike. A cyclist who doesn't have their bike fit using the optimal saddle height is more likely to experience pain, injury, and poor performance. Once you have your bike fit dialled in, you'll have a more comfortable and enjoyable ride.
Now, proper saddle height will depend on the bicycle's frame size, material, and frame shape.
Some bikes, especially those with aero-bars for triathlons, are designed to allow for saddle height adjustment. Special instruments are needed to make these adjustments, typically found at a certified bike shop.
However, you can get an estimate without tools by following these instructions.
- Choose the Position of Your Handlebars
When choosing the position for your handlebars, it is crucial to consider your posture. Since cycling is a demanding sport, especially if you are racing, you may want to try a slightly lower position for speed or a more upright position if you are touring to ease pressure on your lower back.
No matter what your style, listen to what your body tells you and adjust your bike accordingly.
- Determine the Bike Saddle Height
To set the saddle height, put your bike in a trainer, lean it against a wall, and determine your saddle height. If your heel grazes the pedal when it is at its lowest point, then the height is correct.
Raising the saddle will relieve pressure on the front of your knee if it is painful, and lowering it will relieve pressure on the back of your knee.
- Determine Fore/Aft Saddle Position
To determine fore/aft saddle position, be seated comfortably on the bike with horizontal crank arms. Drop a plumb line from the front of your forward kneecap. The plumb line should touch the end of the crank arm. This is the neutral position, and you can correct it by loosening the seatpost clamp and sliding the saddle forward or backwards.
Road racers and time trialists like a position that falls a centimetre or two behind the end of the crank arm, which increases leverage in giant gears.
Cyclists who climb mountains or race criteriums in tight circles like to have their saddle further forward to improve their leg speed.
Remember to use stem length if your reach to the handlebar is incorrect. Don't change the fore/aft saddle position.
- Determine Your Reach with Stem Length
Stem length affects your comfort level. A good starting point is to have the front hub of the bike obscured by the handlebars when you're seated, hands bent slightly, upright. You can correct this for reach and aerodynamic concerns.
- Check the Saddle Level
Your saddle should be level. Using a smartphone app, you can check by laying a straightedge along its length. If your saddle tilts downward, you'll slide forward, putting too much weight on your arms.
Before you purchase the new bike you like, consider a model that has a taller head tube. This will provide you with more comfort and control while riding and allow you to assume an upright position without feeling too stretched out.
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