Saddle Height - Which Indicator More Reliable

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
Witterings
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Saddle Height - Which Indicator More Reliable

Postby Witterings » 16 Apr 2019, 9:03am

I'm trying to get the right saddle height as I've had a few joint injury's over the years (knee and hip).

I've watched a number of online "bike fit" videos ..... have have common consensus about heel down on the pedal is a basic starting point, and a number suggest measuring your inseam and deduct 10cm as being fairly accurate with others suggesting various percentages around the x 0.883 to 0.887% of inseam measurement.

If I take all three of those my inseam is 76cm so minus 10 cm should give a saddle height of 66cm and the other 2 indicators give a range of less than 5mm between 67.1 and 67.4cm high.

I went for a bike fit and he used a goniometer which with my saddle at 69cm high was giving a reading of 35 degrees and he suggested the saddle could still go another 5 to 10 mm higher and would be within the accepted range in between 25 and 35 degrees ..... but 3 to 4 cm away from what most seem to consider optimum seems like a large disparity.

I know people will be tempted to say trial and error and see which you prefer but what feels comfortable at the time of riding can feel very different / sore the day after a 40 mile ride so ideally looking to get a closer ballpark as a starting point to help avoid injury.

Interested to see which other people believe would be the better indicator????

ANTONISH
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Re: Saddle Height - Which Indicator More Reliable

Postby ANTONISH » 16 Apr 2019, 9:18am

Are you sure about your inseam measurement? It should be crotch to floor without shoes - it's not a tailoring measurement.
531 Colin has some excellent advice about positioning on other threads - I would advise starting there.

Witterings
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Re: Saddle Height - Which Indicator More Reliable

Postby Witterings » 16 Apr 2019, 9:40am

ANTONISH wrote:Are you sure about your inseam measurement? It should be crotch to floor without shoes - it's not a tailoring measurement.
531 Colin has some excellent advice about positioning on other threads - I would advise starting there.


I've just checked t again ... it may be 77cm ... that still puts me at least 10mm under what he's suggesting.

I'll search for 531 Colin as well and see what I can find so cheers for that.

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NUKe
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Re: Saddle Height - Which Indicator More Reliable

Postby NUKe » 16 Apr 2019, 9:56am

I have always used 108% of inseam, inseam being crotch to floor in cycling shoes. Other methods tried seem to come out approximately the same. Heel on the pedal at 5 o’clock position. I like the Sheldon Brown method which still gives me the same 108%, put the seat to where you think it should be move up 0.5 cm and ride, keep repeating this until it feels too high, then drop by 0.5cm and that is the height.
I know Colin disagrees with the 108% and he has fitted bikes to a lot more people than I have, but that is what has worked for me.
You did say you have had injuries Wittering, it might be worth considering a proper bike, I suggest this with one word of Caution though, you need someone who understands injuries rather than someone who can give the best race set-up. So if they don’t start by asking what type of riding do you intend to do, walk away. However some do specialise in injuries and disabilities.
NUKe
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Norman H
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Re: Saddle Height - Which Indicator More Reliable

Postby Norman H » 16 Apr 2019, 10:51am

Do you have access to a turbo trainer? Some pictures of you on your bike would be more useful.

Failing that get a cycling buddy to observe you, both from the side and from behind, to see if you are dropping your toes or rocking your hips. You should feel a momentary loss of fluidity at the bottom of the pedal stroke if your saddle is too high. This should also be detectable by someone watching if they know what to look for.

Here's Colin's bike fit guide.

Witterings
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Re: Saddle Height - Which Indicator More Reliable

Postby Witterings » 16 Apr 2019, 11:31am

I have always used 108% of inseam


Sorry I know this is me being daft but 108% ????? That'll be longer than my inseam ie 76cm x 108% = 82.08cm so I wouldn't be able to reach the pedal at the bottom ??????? Or do I divide the 76 by 108 which gives me 0.70 which would be 70cm???? This would correlate to what the fitter is suggesting would be my optimum for a 25 degree knee bend but would feel very straneg at the moment

it might be worth considering a proper bike

Was that meant to be a proper bike FIT as opposed to a proper bike???

you need someone who understands injuries rather than someone who can give the best race set-up

I definitely think this is probably what I do need, I just want to get set up so I can ride distance at "a reasonable" pace .... I'm not racing or anything but more tour style of riding so comfort is the main aim.

Do you have access to a turbo trainer? Some pictures of you on your bike would be more useful.

I wish I did but unfortunately not and the people I ride with would have no more idea than me in knowing what to look for / would be right / wrong.

Cheers for the link to the Colins Bike Fit !!!

Vorpal
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Re: Saddle Height - Which Indicator More Reliable

Postby Vorpal » 16 Apr 2019, 11:53am

I would recommend Colin's bike fitting guide as well, but at the end of it, the most important thing is how you feel. If you are comfortable, that's the most important, surely?
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Syd
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Re: Saddle Height - Which Indicator More Reliable

Postby Syd » 16 Apr 2019, 12:02pm

I tried various methods before settling on the goniometer method.

Calculated the setting on one one bike and copied it across the others. Only problem I ever had was pain following a ride when I’d forgot to take into account the difference in stack height when I swapped to Speedplay pedals on one bike. Made the required adjustment and been fine since.

Halla
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Re: Saddle Height - Which Indicator More Reliable

Postby Halla » 16 Apr 2019, 12:47pm

Hello All

First, I will agree, look at Colin's bike fit advice referred to, above.

Reading through the above posts, no-one has mentioned where the measurement of saddle height is taken from. My understanding is that, if you are using inseam by 1.09, you measure from the top of the pedal spindle vertically to the top of the saddle.

If using the 0.83 to 0.9 of inseam, you measure fron the centre of the crank axle to the top of the saddle.

I have also heard of another method as a starting point, stand by the the bike and line the saddle with your hip bone, probably an old school method.

Also agree, get someone to observe you riding to check that your hips are not rocking, or your legs are not over extending.

Make sure that the saddle setback is correct.

Andy

Vorpal
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Re: Saddle Height - Which Indicator More Reliable

Postby Vorpal » 16 Apr 2019, 12:54pm

Halla wrote:I have also heard of another method as a starting point, stand by the the bike and line the saddle with your hip bone, probably an old school method.

Yes, but that's mostly what I used to set the saddle height for Bikeability trainees who needed some help with adjustments (can be read as kids who attended Bikeability with completely unsuitable set-ups :lol: )
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geocycle
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Re: Saddle Height - Which Indicator More Reliable

Postby geocycle » 16 Apr 2019, 1:13pm

Vorpal wrote:
Halla wrote:I have also heard of another method as a starting point, stand by the the bike and line the saddle with your hip bone, probably an old school method.

Yes, but that's mostly what I used to set the saddle height for Bikeability trainees who needed some help with adjustments (can be read as kids who attended Bikeability with completely unsuitable set-ups :lol: )


Yes, that's what I do! Position the saddle roughly according to the hip bone method then adjust by a cm or so according to the pedal stroke. After a few short rides it is pretty close.

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Paulatic
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Re: Saddle Height - Which Indicator More Reliable

Postby Paulatic » 16 Apr 2019, 1:17pm

Vorpal wrote:I would recommend Colin's bike fitting guide as well, but at the end of it, the most important thing is how you feel. If you are comfortable, that's the most important, surely?

Vorpal is right and to achieve it you’ve to
1 read , read, and read everyone’s theories
2 ride ride and ride and listen to your body. What’s aching unduly? Hamstring, Quads, hands, bum, knee pain Don’t be afraid to fiddle.
3 be very careful how you measure. Experienced as I am i hurriedly assembled a bike around this time last year went on a 40 ml ride and came back with a saddle sore. The whole ride my feelings we’re fighting my thoughts I’d measured correctly. Examining it closely the next day I’d measured the saddle hight wrongly. How? Well if you pull up a tape from the pedal along the seat tube to the top of the saddle now hold your head 20-30 cms below the saddle and read off. Now hold your head 20-30cms above the saddle and read off. I get two different figures because where exactly is the top of the saddle? I’m fortunate now all my bikes have the same make saddle and I now just hook the tape onto the rail near the seatpost and measure down to a pedal.
4 be very afraid of someone who thinks they can solve your problems if you cross their palm with silver. It’s not all down to the fitter either you yourself have to recognise and manage to convey your concerns in a productive way.
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RobinS
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Re: Saddle Height - Which Indicator More Reliable

Postby RobinS » 16 Apr 2019, 3:06pm

I am someone who rarely cycles, except when I go off on tour, riding almost every day for 3 months. I just set the saddle at what feels the right height, after the first day (or maybe sooner) I adjust if it if it doesn't feel perfect - I may do three or four adjustments in the first couple of weeks. After that it is always fine. After the first 1000km of any trip I get no aches and pains at all. I honestly think you can overthink, and over measure these things, if you use a any formula it is generic, and does not necessarily work for you. With a bike fit you will get what the fitter thinks is right for you - so why not just experiment and tweak until it is right?

Witterings
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Re: Saddle Height - Which Indicator More Reliable

Postby Witterings » 16 Apr 2019, 3:11pm

I had a read through Colins bike fit and one bit that stands out to me was if you go to a bike fitter they'll possibly make large changes at one time which may seem "odd at 1st"

I'm thinking that maybe moving my saddle 30 mm higher and 20cm back in one hit is too much of a move with a body that's susceptible to injury and maybe that's what's caused me some recent discomfort.

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NUKe
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Re: Saddle Height - Which Indicator More Reliable

Postby NUKe » 16 Apr 2019, 3:16pm

Witterings wrote:
I have always used 108% of inseam


Sorry I know this is me being daft but 108% ????? That'll be longer than my inseam ie 76cm x 108% = 82.08cm so I wouldn't be able to reach the pedal at the bottom ??????? Or do I divide the 76 by 108 which gives me 0.70 which would be 70cm???? This would correlate to what the fitter is suggesting would be my optimum for a 25 degree knee bend but would feel very straneg at the moment

it might be worth considering a proper bike

Was that meant to be a proper bike FIT as opposed to a proper bike???

you need someone who understands injuries rather than someone who can give the best race set-up

I definitely think this is probably what I do need, I just want to get set up so I can ride distance at "a reasonable" pace .... I'm not racing or anything but more tour style of riding so comfort is the main aim.

Do you have access to a turbo trainer? Some pictures of you on your bike would be more useful.

I wish I did but unfortunately not and the people I ride with would have no more idea than me in knowing what to look for / would be right / wrong.

Cheers for the link to the Colins Bike Fit !!!


Sorry yes did mean proper Bike fit and not a proper bike.
But know I did mean 108% of inseam, unless you have had your ankles fused. you need the reach to be slightly longer than your inseam to get power out
. 108 comes from old racing setup but you will be comfortable somewhere between comfortable between 103 and 108% of inseam. Don't forget your foot has length too
NUKe

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