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  1. #1
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    How high should the bike seat be?

    I know its all probably preference...but I was wondering if you should be able to touch the ground if youre sitting on the seat?

    How high of a seat do you guys put yours?

  2. #2
    Cycling induced anoesis
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    I like Peter White's explanation for setting a nominal (starting) saddle height.
    How to Fit a Bicycle
    5th section.

    I'd add that during this process a rider should wear what they plan on wearing when riding (ex: padded cycling shorts/ bibs, cycling shoes w/ clipless pedals, running shoes w/ platforms....).

    Also, if you've never been fitted to your bike, consider one. A standard (~$50) fitting should do.

  3. #3
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    I'm glad this question was asked, I was curious as well

  4. #4
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    Your seat should go all the way to your ass.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by TWB8s View Post
    Your seat should go all the way to your ass.
    :thumbup:

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by clu985 View Post
    I know its all probably preference...but I was wondering if you should be able to touch the ground if youre sitting on the seat?

    How high of a seat do you guys put yours?
    It is the relationship of your seat to the pedals, not the ground, that matters. Depending on frame geometry and such, as well as how much you want your leg to straighten throughout the stroke, you may or may not be able to reach the ground from a seated position.

    On my road bike, I can reach the ground with my tip-toe if I need to. On my mtb, the bottom bracket is higher off the ground, and I'm a couple inches from touching the ground from my seat when in pedaling/climbing position.

    I'd say either get a fit, or just try a few different positions and see what works for you.
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  7. #7
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    I use the Lemond formula. Assuming your cranks are 170mm, the formula is:
    Inseam x 0.883 = Center of bottom bracket to the top of saddle.

    I use that as a starting point and make very small adjustments from there.
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  8. #8
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    I figured the seat should be pretty high. I guess as a newbie, I didn't want my seat to be that high in case I fell :/

  9. #9
    I <3 1911s
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    Quote Originally Posted by clu985 View Post
    I figured the seat should be pretty high. I guess as a newbie, I didn't want my seat to be that high in case I fell :/
    When I first got back into riding, I started with my saddle pretty low for the same reason as you. Then I would raise the saddle by 1cm after each ride until I finally reached the most comfortable position. When I first heard of the Lemond formula, I took measurements to see how far off my saddle height was. It turns out that it was within an inch of the formula so that's proof that it works for me.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by teflondog View Post
    When I first got back into riding, I started with my saddle pretty low for the same reason as you. Then I would raise the saddle by 1cm after each ride until I finally reached the most comfortable position. When I first heard of the Lemond formula, I took measurements to see how far off my saddle height was. It turns out that it was within an inch of the formula so that's proof that it works for me.
    Odd... I had the opposite experience.

    First time I bought a bike was a cheap hybrid bike for commuting around town. based on the recommendation of the guys in the shop, my seat was extended until my feet were nearly completely extended with the pedal at the bottom of the cycle.

    When I got my first road bike, I set the crank -> seat distance the same, but exerienced some lower back discomfort until I dropped the seat about 2cm total (in a few moves), and lowered the handlebars the same amount. I then went back and lowered the height of the saddle on the hybrid (which I still used as a lock-outside bike for short trips) and found that to be an improvement a well. With the seat in its new, lower position I was actually more comfortable. I also gained the benefit of being able to lean the bike over and touch the ground with one foot while remaining seated.

    I've kept making incremental changes to my fit as I've gotten more into road cycling, all of which have resulted in me being more "stretched out" on the bike -- handlebars significantly lower, slightly longer stem, seat slid back further on the rails, and finally seat lowered even more (to make up for the extra distance by moving the seat back).

    I also sold the old hybrid bike and now use a singlespeed roadbike as a commuter with similar overall seat height, only difference being I have higher handlebars, but the bars themselves have a much deeper drop -- so the drop riding positions is the same as on my main road bike, but the hoods/bar tops are higher.

  11. #11
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    Saddle Height

    I prefer the ratio of 1.09 times inseam from the pedal to the saddle, with the pedal at the lowest point in line with the seat tube.

    It is easier to measure from the pedals than the center of the bottom bracket, as in the Lemond ratio. I also find the 1.09 ratio sets the saddle a little higher.

    Ideally, you want your leg extension to be between 20-30 degrees at the bottom of the pedal stroke. A good way to measure this is with a video camera and stationary trainer.
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  12. #12
    Cycling induced anoesis
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    Once a starting point is established, the only reasons I can see for straying much from a given saddle height is to fine tune based on changes to fore/ aft, accommodating for pedaling style, changes to pedal systems, or feel - and even then (assuming the starting point was correct) adjustments would likely be in the mm's range, not cm's. Otherwise, too high a risk for developing knee problems.

    FWIW, Lemond's method got me to within ~2mm's of my optimal saddle height. As always, YMMV, but IMO Lemond was one of the few pro's that had a pretty good understanding of bike fit.

  13. #13
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    As long as you are within an acceptable range (not so high as to cause issue with knees), are you more efficient and less tireing if the seat is as high as possible?

  14. #14
    Cycling induced anoesis
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayEInd View Post
    As long as you are within an acceptable range (not so high as to cause issue with knees), are you more efficient and less tireing if the seat is as high as possible?
    I see no benefit to pushing the upper limit and having a saddle positioned as high as possible. Same goes for the lower limit. Positioning the saddle where it's most comfortable will likely be where you're most efficient.

    Get a good starting point and fine tune from there...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayEInd View Post
    As long as you are within an acceptable range (not so high as to cause issue with knees), are you more efficient and less tireing if the seat is as high as possible?
    To the extent the question make any sense, the answer is "no." The "acceptable range" is pretty small. Too low causes some kinds of problems, too high causes others. There is no efficiency gain from being at the high end of the range, but again, for most riders the sweet spot is only a few centimeters - almost literally a "spot."

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by clu985 View Post
    I figured the seat should be pretty high. I guess as a newbie, I didn't want my seat to be that high in case I fell :/
    Never base bicycle riding on what will happen if you fall.
    With people like Peter P. around, I am done posting on this website. Mean people have driven me off after 9 plus years. Good luck newbies beware.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by clu985 View Post
    I know its all probably preference...but I was wondering if you should be able to touch the ground if youre sitting on the seat?

    How high of a seat do you guys put yours?
    Actually it has nothing to do with preference unless you're on a beach cruiser. When you're all clipped in, it's an exact science. Screw up the measurements and you could suffer pain in your knees, back or arms.
    With people like Peter P. around, I am done posting on this website. Mean people have driven me off after 9 plus years. Good luck newbies beware.

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