How to Determine the Correct Saddle Height for Your Bike

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Improper placement of your bike saddle decreases your pedaling efficiency and increases your risk of injury. You benefit most from having a professional fit in a reputable cycling store. If you'd rather fit the saddle yourself, the simplest method involves sitting on your bike, placing the heel of your shoe on the pedal and adjusting the height of the seat so that your leg is almost straight, but with a soft knee joint, when your foot is at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Your pelvis should not have to tip forward for you to reach the pedals.

Knee Angle

  • The heel-on-the-pedal method, though, can result in a seat that's too low because it doesn't take into account differences in leg bone length. You'll need assistance to measure your knee angle for a more accurate determination of your bike seat height. Place the bike on a trainer and warm up, in your cycling shoes, for about 15 minutes. Visualize the pedal stroke as the face of a clock and stop your right foot when it reaches the point at which the small hand of the clock would rest at 5:30. Have your assistant measure your right knee's angle. Raise or lower the saddle until you reach the ideal angle of 25 to 35 degrees. A certified bike fitter uses a device called a goniometer to accurately measure this angle.

Inseam Methods

  • You can also adjust your seat according to inseam length. A method developed by Hamley and Thomas in 1967 proposes setting the seat height at a level equal to 109 percent of your inseam when measuring from the axle of the pedal to the top of the seat. Renowned cyclist Greg LeMond offers a method that also involves inseam length, but has you make the distance from center of the bottom bracket of the bike to the top of the seat equal to 88.3 percent of your inseam length. Ultimately, you have to go with a height that causes no discomfort or pain and maximizes your performance.

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