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  1. #1
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    Saddle height - power vs lower back soreness

    Just thought I'd get your opinions here.

    I've pretty new to riding and I haven't got my bike professionally fitted yet. I setup my saddle height based upon my size and inseam length. My initial setup seemed good, didn't really have any issues. I visited a friend of mine which used to own a bike shop and he did a quick look over me and told me to adjust my saddle height up by half an inch.

    I did my first ride with this setup for about an hour. The setup felt good and I seemed to have more power and be a bit faster. During the ride I didn't have any soreness or pain. However after I finished and got off the bike, I noticed my lower back was a bit sore.

    Is this just a matter of me getting used to the setup and strengthening my core, or should I lower my saddle back a bit. Might be too early to tell. I do like the way my legs felt.

  2. #2
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    In general, you adjust the saddle position with respect to the pedal position, to get your legs working right. Then, you adjust the handlebar to get arm reach, back angle, etc. right. I.e., you don't use saddle position to adjust back angle.

    You probably haven't ridden the setup enough to evaluate well yet. The fact that you legs felt good is a good sign that saddle position isn't bad. You back soreness may just be a sign that you're still conditioning. Or you may need bar adjustment. But don't move the saddle based on that.
    Ubuntu: I am what I am because of who we all are.

  3. #3
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    Thanks, I'll probably give it a bit more time before any other adjustments. If I do continue with lower back soreness do you suggest that the bar height be raised slightly?

  4. #4
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    Back problems are also often related to tight hamstrings. Stretch.

  5. #5
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    Dave... your completely right... I have a hell of a tight hamstring... short hip flexors...

    Amazingly though... cycling has helped. Used to be chronic lower back soreness, but since I've been cycling, it doesn't seem to be bothering me as much. Just this last time that I cycled I noticed it to be sore. But during my regular activities now a days, I'm noticing that I don't complain about lower back problems as much. Might just be a coincidence... not sure.

  6. #6
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    Just another noob throwing in $0.02. Irrespective of my fit, I have witnessed my back getting stronger and healthier as I ride more. Big and dramatic changes to my spine and shoulder muscles even. I just eclipsed 1,000 miles since I got my GPS smart phone Oct 27 and my back as well as almost everything else is way better shape. So, like you, we notce the back is part of the deal. After an initial fit, I have changed seat and seatpost, as well as bar angle. Maybe I just got lucky on the fit.

    Are you riding with cleats yet or no ?
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red90 View Post
    Dave... your completely right... I have a hell of a tight hamstring... short hip flexors...

    Amazingly though... cycling has helped. Used to be chronic lower back soreness, but since I've been cycling, it doesn't seem to be bothering me as much. Just this last time that I cycled I noticed it to be sore. But during my regular activities now a days, I'm noticing that I don't complain about lower back problems as much. Might just be a coincidence... not sure.
    Might not be coincidence. It's a common experience. I know personally the only times I've had lower back issues in the last 40 years were a few periods when I wasn't cycling much. Road cycling, for most people, is good for both stretching and strengthening that area.
    Ubuntu: I am what I am because of who we all are.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by skitorski View Post
    Just another noob throwing in $0.02. Irrespective of my fit, I have witnessed my back getting stronger and healthier as I ride more. Big and dramatic changes to my spine and shoulder muscles even. I just eclipsed 1,000 miles since I got my GPS smart phone Oct 27 and my back as well as almost everything else is way better shape. So, like you, we notce the back is part of the deal. After an initial fit, I have changed seat and seatpost, as well as bar angle. Maybe I just got lucky on the fit.

    Are you riding with cleats yet or no ?
    Yup, I got cleats after a couple of weeks of riding. They completely change the way you ride. I can't imagine riding without them now.

    I guess I'm undoing the years of sitting around at the desk.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by davew88 View Post
    back problems are also often related to tight hamstrings. Stretch.
    this!....
    Of course I'm sure...that doesn't mean I'm right......

  10. #10
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    Why be uncomfortable? Raise your bars a half inch and see if it gets better. You can always lower them again later.

  11. #11
    .je
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    Whenever I've felt back pain it was from 2 reasons: Out of shape and not cycling enough, or / and having the saddle too high, even by as little as 20mm.
    Incidentally, even lowering the bars, and taking out the use of my back to hold position, helped avoid any pain. The alternative for me is to sit very upright, strangely enough.

    This brings me to my own question: I've used a number of the online fit calculators (like CC, Merilith, Pedalforce, ebicycle, etc.), and happily they all return pretty much the same numbers, which leads me to believe I'm on the right track. I once had a fit at a LBS (I felt so much better after this) that put me on almost identical numbers to the calculators (most closely the Eddy Fit, but not as racy). I found the LBS fitter's fit the easiest to live with.

    Most all the calculators suggest a saddle height of 73 or 74 cm from the BB CL. The exception to this is CC's, which give almost 1.5cm higher than the other fit methods (this unfortunately puts the seatpost that came with the bike up past the 'maximum' line). I've tried the saddle up in this range, and am not sure if I like it more or less? I change my mind all the time, or so I think.

    so,
    > Do you find the CC calculator does this for you too, or do you find their measurements to be the ones to use? <

  12. #12
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    I have to admit I don't even know my inseam for cycling purposes. I'm way too lazy to take all the measurements for an online fit calculator!

    Just to throw another horse in the race, what if you split the difference?

  13. #13
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    First thing I'd suggest is finding a reputable fitter and opting for a standard fitting. If you don't, you'll just continue to 'wing it' on fit, trial and error being the rule.

    Next, if you go with the DIY method, since the lower back pain started with raising the saddle, lower it 1/2 the 'starting' distance. Go for a few rides, then reassess and adjust 1/2 the distance again.

    Next, if the pain continues, raise your bars about 1cm, go for a few rides, reassess. 'Better' would indicate the right track, so raise the bars another 1cm, max. Don't get them to the same height (or higher than) the saddle. You need some drop.

    All that said, make this easy on yourself and get a decent fitting.

  14. #14
    wim
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    Quote Originally Posted by PJ352 View Post
    Next, if you go with the DIY method, since the lower back pain started with raising the saddle, lower it 1/2 the 'starting' distance. Go for a few rides, then reassess and adjust 1/2 the distance again
    This is good advice. It gets you the correct saddle height by involving your own impressions and deductions rather than through a mathematical construct ("fit calculators"). These calculators are designed to appeal to those who'd rather trust numbers—not because they work, but because they look so wonderfully scientific. Steve Hogg, a well-respected coach, advocates a similar approach as you can see at the link below. Definitely worth reading.

    SEAT HEIGHT ? HOW HARD CAN IT BE? » Bike Fit » Featured » Steve Hogg's Bike Fitting Website

  15. #15
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    Thanks for your suggestions, honestly after riding at this height for the last month, the back soreness has gone away. I think it was just a matter of getting used to it. As well, I've been concentrating on contracting my abs to help my back. It helps to keep hips tilted in the right direction. I'm really just paying for the years of sitting on my ass studying and working.

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