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Thread: saddle height

  1. #1
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    saddle height

    I just moved my saddle up a little, I still have a slight bend in my knee when the pedals are at 6 o'clock but I'm peddling toes pointed down as I pull through. Is this normal, do I need to lower the saddle a little?

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    Yes no maybe...

    I'm not a fitter but, I've seen toes down on guys with saddles too low, too high and everything in between. Conversely, I've seen guys dropping heals with saddles too low, too high and everything in between. Toes down in-and-of-itself doesn't indicate too high or low. How fluid your stroke is through the bottom; location of saddle pain; cleat position; rocking; pain behind the knee combined with toes down might indicate too high.

    All i can say for sure is it's worth having a pro look at your cleats and subsequent position on the bike. DIY fitting is difficult imo. Especially cleats which I think dictate the rest of the fit...

  3. #3
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    I think the relative lack of response shows that this a highly debatable and subjective topic, or that it's in the wrong forum. Anyway, zzzziiiiiipp! (flame suit on)

    I personally believe that the best way to self fit is to bring tools on the road, make changes and see how things feel. Doing it the "next time out" doesn't give you that instant feedback which is helpful in evaluating minute changes.

    I can also tell you that during my fit my ankles were at approximately 23 degrees of flexion at the bottom of my stroke as per video capture. I rode with that saddle height and then with the seat effectively 1.6cm lower and my ankle flexion didn't budge at all. Go figure. There really are a lot of things going on out there on the road that contribute to your pedal stroke.

    you may already know that seat too high = rocking hips, dropping hip slightly to compensate and toe pointing (> 25 degrees) keep in mind this compensation may be subtle
    seat too low = loss of power, possible knee pain, knees splaying to the outside (not only at top of stroke which is likely cleat related but gradually throughout the motion)

    then there's hamstring flexibility and its effect on ankling...

    try focusing on what your hips are doing as you pedal. ideally you want to be planted on a flat seat, supporting your upper body with your core abdominal group. too much side to side rocking? focus on keeping your hips still and just pedaling, are you reaching more than you did before? are you applying power as if you were on a stairmaster? (1,2,1,2,1,2!) instead of a fluid motion?

    lower the seat 3mm, repeat the short run and take note of your biomechanics.

    how much is "up a little"? and why did you raise it?

    always keep notes on your starting point so if you stray too far and want to hit reset you'll know where you started.
    "That pretty much sums it up. I'm 43 and my max is ~178-180. If that HR chart was mine or Froome's, we'd be on the verge of death. But for you it probably looks like a normal workout." -TLG

    LOLOLOL

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    I just had my first bike fit 2 days ago by my local shop by a guy that has a bunch of different levels of fit certification through Specialized, FWIW. Regarding seat height, he had me with pedal at 6 o'clock and had me extend and straighten my leg and he then swung it like a pendulum and we raised the seat until the heal of my shoe was almost but not touching the pedal surface as it swept back and forth. Again, this was at full leg extension. This was different than how I have seen it explained in previous methods. I rode a short 20 miler yesterday and it feels just fine. No hip rocking. Good extension. I'll know better today after I stretch out the mileage.

    Now, on the subject of Toe Point. I discussed that during my fit. He said it's not necessarily wrong or right but it does affect leg extension during the pedal stroke. I don't know why but I catch myself pointing my toes during the stroke. I really have to force myself to think about dropping the heel. I get some knee pain over the top of my left knee (longer leg by 1/2") when I don't check myself. When I drop the heel, I feel it stretching the tendon of my IT and Quad where it's attached and crosses over the patella. This tells me I need to be dropping the heel but my brain just spazzes out sometimes and I catch myself pointing which has the effect of reducing leg extension. Whodathunk it's so complicated, this pedalling of bike?
    Last edited by Oh My Sack!; 06-08-2016 at 10:53 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oh My Sack! View Post
    I get some knee pain over the top of my left knee (longer leg by 1/2") when I don't check myself.
    As part of the fit was it confirmed that your leg length discrepancy structural? i.e. actually shorter bones.

    There's a possibility that you have a hip girdle imbalance and your shorter leg is being pulled up by tight muscles inside your trunk (such as the psoas). When one measures point to point oftentimes the legs are the same length.
    "That pretty much sums it up. I'm 43 and my max is ~178-180. If that HR chart was mine or Froome's, we'd be on the verge of death. But for you it probably looks like a normal workout." -TLG

    LOLOLOL

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oh My Sack! View Post
    . Whodathunk it's so complicated, this pedalling of bike?
    It's not. If you or anyone has to think about pointing or dropping I'd suggest your fit is off. You should be able to get on the thing and push down with out thinking. With out pain. If you want to go faster you push harder. Shift. Repeat. The end.

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    There are a ton of theories, and some are really crazy, but the general consensus is that you should have a knee bend of between 25 and 35 degrees.

    But please note your foot should NOT be at 6:00 (straight down).

    You should measure knee bend with your foot as far away from the saddle as possible, which means it should follow the extended line of your seat tube below the bottom bracket this means your foot will be slightly further forward (toward the front of the bike) than it would be at 6:00.

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    I'll use this thread for my question.
    My son is about 10cm shorter than me but has inseam 1 or 2 cm more than me.
    Yet my saddle is about 5cm higher than his.
    Is there an likely explanation for this or is one/ both of us certainly wrong?

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    Quote Originally Posted by swuzzlebubble View Post
    I'll use this thread for my question.
    My son is about 10cm shorter than me but has inseam 1 or 2 cm more than me.
    Yet my saddle is about 5cm higher than his.
    Is there an likely explanation for this or is one/ both of us certainly wrong?
    Are your feet bigger(longer) than his? That could come into play.
    Too old to ride plastic

  10. #10
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    I'm one shoe size bigger
    If I drop by even say 1cm it feels wrong and people will tell me I'm too low.
    Conversely, if I put his up he's rocking all over the place.

  11. #11
    wim
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    Quote Originally Posted by fronesis View Post
    But please note your foot should NOT be at 6:00 (straight down).
    It doesn't matter if the crank is at 6:00 o'clock or in line with seat tube. The distances from the pedal spindle to the saddle are virtually identical. Measure to a sharp edge (like the top of the seat post clamp) for accuracy and see.

  12. #12
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    but it does feel very different when considering leg bend.

  13. #13
    wim
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    Quote Originally Posted by jacksdad View Post
    but it does feel very different when considering leg bend.
    I suppose it could.

    When I bring my crank from 6:00 o'clock to where it is in line with the seat tube, my femur moves a bit. I can't feel or see a difference in leg bend. But that might have something to do with my low saddle height (about a 40-degree knee bend at bottom dead center).

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    Quote Originally Posted by swuzzlebubble View Post
    I'll use this thread for my question.
    My son is about 10cm shorter than me but has inseam 1 or 2 cm more than me.
    Yet my saddle is about 5cm higher than his.
    Is there an likely explanation for this or is one/ both of us certainly wrong?
    While it's impossible to answer this definitively without seeing both of you pedal, this has more to do with flexibility and range of motion than inseam length. I'm assuming your son is more flexible on account of being two decades younger. But, if one of you is less flexible you will not be able to extend the hypothetical same length leg through the same pedaling motion without rocking your hips.

    5 cm is a lot.

    I feel best at a knee angle of 28.5 degrees (that's what the fitting gizmo machine thing said). My lower back is relaxed, my torso is loose because of that there's no undue pressure on my hands. Also, as you get closer to your ideal seat height the seat gets exponentially more comfortable.

    seat setback also alters effective seat height and the types of muscle groups which are recruited during the pedaling motion
    Last edited by 9W9W; 10-06-2016 at 07:33 AM.
    "That pretty much sums it up. I'm 43 and my max is ~178-180. If that HR chart was mine or Froome's, we'd be on the verge of death. But for you it probably looks like a normal workout." -TLG

    LOLOLOL

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    Quote Originally Posted by 9W9W View Post
    While it's impossible to answer this definitively without seeing both of you pedal, this has more to do with flexibility and range of motion than inseam length. I'm assuming your son is more flexible on account of being two decades younger. But, if one of you is less flexible you will not be able to extend the hypothetical same length leg through the same pedaling motion without rocking your hips.
    I must be misunderstanding. You don't think straightening one's legs has anything to do with flexibility, do you?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    I must be misunderstanding. You don't think straightening one's legs has anything to do with flexibility, do you?
    On a granular level, I absolutely do. To clarify: I believe the ability to straighten ones leg while ***in the riding position*** has everything to do with flexibility. Lay on your back on the floor and bring your knees up to mid torso, legs bent. Now, try to straighten one leg while focusing on keeping both hips on the floor. Not so easy, eh? If you try and straighten it past the point of ease your form goes out the window as other muscle groups try to help out (and you possibly raise the hip to help).

    Generally speaking, when you rotate your pelvis forward to get into an aggressive riding position you are already loading/stretching the hamstring complex. If tight, they are not going to perform as well and will not allow the knee to straighten as far (seat height) without dropping the hip a bit to compensate (introducing movement in the hip girdle). IMO, I believe the reason pro riders have a higher crank to seat measurement for a given inseam height is because of their flexibility.

    Ones ideal back angle - and by extension bar drop - is affected by how loose your hamstrings/flexors are. The fitter raises your straightened leg up from while both hips are flat on the table, once the same side hip starts to raise from the table to compensate for the lack of flexibility on your other side you've reached your back angle maximum.... the bars are adjusted not to exceed that back angle....why? Because exceeding that back angle will exceed the limit of hamstring/flexors and compensate with other muscle groups. The idea is to sit square on the seat and allow the leg to extend as far as your flexibility allows. The maximum extension which does not introduce hip rocking in the riding position will vary based on flexibility.

    If the seat is way too high, you're rocking your hips because your bones are too short (and probably getting crotch discomfort). As you approach the correct seat height the last few mm's may depend on how flexible you are.

    Disclaimer: i wrote this all on the fly at work, no proof reading.
    "That pretty much sums it up. I'm 43 and my max is ~178-180. If that HR chart was mine or Froome's, we'd be on the verge of death. But for you it probably looks like a normal workout." -TLG

    LOLOLOL

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by swuzzlebubble View Post
    I'll use this thread for my question.
    My son is about 10cm shorter than me but has inseam 1 or 2 cm more than me.
    Yet my saddle is about 5cm higher than his.
    Is there an likely explanation for this or is one/ both of us certainly wrong?
    Are you running the same length crank arms?
    Does one bike have a setback seatpost?
    BANNED

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by 9W9W View Post

    If the seat is way too high, you're rocking your hips because your bones are too short (and probably getting crotch discomfort).
    That much I agree with. As for the rest of it, I agree but I think you're putting the cart before the horse. If flexibility is preventing someone from straightening legs it's because they have too much saddle to bar drop not that the seat is too high per se. So kind of different topic from seat height. One could change bar drop, not seat height, to deal with inability to extend legs due to flexibility.

  19. #19
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    Update: I just whacked his seat up 45mm and he isn't complaining
    (Other than about the seat-to-bar drop which I cannot do much about for now.)

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