Commuting - Seat Adjustments
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04-26-01, 06:32 PM
As I mentioned in another thread, I have a new Giant Cypress that I am having a great time on. But I'm curious about seat adjustment. I realize that this topic may be more appropriate in another forum, but what the heck - I hang out here most of the time anyway...
I've always heard that you set the seat height so that you can fully extend your leg when your heel is on the pedal. But the guy at the LBS said that that only gets you in the ball park. He says that as you ride, you'll find that if you feel pain on the top of your knee, you should adjust you seat up a fraction of an inch. If you feel pain on the back of your knee, adjust your seat down slightly (I may have that backwards). He said it's really just a matter of millimeters, and eventually you'll find the exact position where you will be most efficient and have the least pain.
Has anyone else heard of this method? Did I describe it correctly? Do millimeter sized differences in seat height really make that big of a difference?
And there's something else on my mind (well, actually at the other end. Mrs. Wild would suggest that there's no practical difference). The Cypress has a shock mounted seat. That obviously will make a big difference in seat adjustment. When the seat springs up and down 1 or 2 inches, how do you know where to set the seat height?
And since I no longer need to pad the number of posts, please allow me one more question. How do you determine an appropriate distance from the seat to the handlebar stem? A quick glance under the seat and you'll see that there's 3 or 4 inches of adjustment there. Is there a rule of thumb (or some other body part) for determining where the seat should go? I've noticed that I seem to be putting a lot of pressure on my hands, so I wonder if I don't have the seat position adjusted incorrectly.
"I may be going to hell in a bucket, but at least I'm enjoying the ride"
04-26-01, 07:50 PM
I have read 3 or 4 accounts of how to adjust the seat and a couple were in direct contradiction to each other. I will say this. I had the seat all the way back because, well, it just felt like it needed to be back. After reading some stuff, I now have it pretty much all the way forward. After 6 months or so, I am still working on it. I started a thread about measuring crank length that got into seat height a month or two ago. I think it might have been under Bicycle Mechanics. You might want to go look at the responses. If I remember correctly, the rule of thumb is 1.09 times your inseam from crotch to floor. For instance, my inseam is exactly 32 inches. Times 1.09 equals 34.88. I set my seat right at 35 inches, to allow for a little padding squish, from top of seat to top of pedal at 6 o'clock, and it feels pretty good. I may move it up .25 inches to see how that feels for a while. You don't want it so high that you have to rock to reach the pedals, and you want your leg still slightly bent, when the ball of your foot is on the pedal at 6 o'clock. That does work out to having it close to straight in a relaxed way, not stretched, if your heel is on the pedal at 6 'clock. Others please correct me if I am leading Carl astray here.
I will address the suspension seatpost, since I also have a Cypress. There is a little clamp at the bottom of the suspension, just under the rubber boot. You can actually tighten that clamp up and completely lock the suspension so you have a fixed seatpost. Once my seat got used to riding, I did that. Since I ride on streets, I don't really need the suspension anyway. It might make it easier to get the height adjustment down if you went ahead and locked it up. Once you kind of get seat position figured out, you can loosen the suspension then figure out how far up to go to compensate for it.
Just a thought.
Yes, a millimeter or so can make a difference, though it's hard to believe.
It may even be necessary to adjust for different weights of fabric (as in seasonal changes), or for padding, as Pete indicated.
As for the suspension seat post, I've never used one but my initial reaction is to feel skeptical: doesn't it rob you of some pedaling power? I believe I would lock mine.
How I deal with unavoidable obstacles is to rise up off the seat just before colliding with them. It works!
And the part about location of the pain (behind or in front of the knee) is true--but I can't remember which way you're supposed to adjust, and I'm not sure any of the books I have here at home tell about it.
Ideally the correct position to be in would be that your legs are slightly bent at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Your elbows should be plumb with your toe at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Hoever this can vary depending on how you like it to feel.
04-27-01, 06:22 AM
Peter White's web page has some sound advice on fitting a bike.
I don't know the specifics of the seat adjustment thing, but I'd agree with Hunter that you should have a slight bend in the knee when you're at the bottom of your pedal stroke.
For myself, I just adjust the whole set up until I'm comfy. As for suspension seat posts, I don't find that it robs me so much with bobbing up and down, but I guess it depends how soft you run it.
My post is set up regular, and works fine...
04-27-01, 08:48 AM
04-27-01, 11:13 AM
That's a good idea to lock the seat suspension. I don't think I use it much, and honestly I'd rather maintain a more accurate seat position. This is the first bike I've ever had with a suspension like this. It does give me a sort of "living room sofa with a beer and the remote" kind of feel. I don't know if it robs me of any pedalling power, except when it bounces the seat height far enough out of whack that I can't pedal properly.
Hunter, your suggestion about elbows plumb with the toe sounds like a great starting point for adjusting the "fore and aft" positioning of the seat. I'll try that today.
By the way, I didn't have any luck getting to the Peter White web site - I'll try again this evening from home.
Thanks for all the advice.
04-29-01, 01:02 PM
Try Arnie Baker's "Bicycling Medicine", for a discussion on knee pain vs seat position, and pedal/cleat adjustments if you use clipless.
04-29-01, 06:32 PM
Just a followup -
Yesterday I went to the Peter White web site that MichaelW recommended. It has some excellent advice about adjusting you bike to fit you, with an explanation of the trade-offs (comfort vs. power, aerodynamics vs. enjoying the scenery). Probably the best thing I did was adjust the seat back as far as it would go. This took a lot of the strain off my hands, and I'm leaning a little more foward so I'm slightly more aerodynamic. It's amazing what a couple of inches will do (insert rude comment here...).
Combining that with adjusting the pre-load on the shock mounted seat to "fully loaded" - i.e. no spring to it- and tweaking the handlebar and wow! What a difference. I've added probably 3 mph to my average speed, can power up hills better, and am less fatigued. Rode 25 miles yesterday running errands, etc, and another 15 miles today with Mrs. HogWild, and I feel great.
Thanks for all the advice, and be sure and check out the Peter White site if you feel like you could use an adjustment. As Michael said earlier, it's at http://www.peterwhitecycles.com
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