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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 08-27-13, 11:14 AM   #1
copswithguns 
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Saddle height and such

I thought I and my LBS had my saddle height adjusted properly. Thinking back, they didn't really spend that much time explaining saddles to me, and I felt like I was riding a bit too low on the frame. With my feet resting on the pedals, I still had 90% of my weight on the saddle, so I moved it up about 1 1/2". I just finished a 10 mile hill ride and did almost 1.4 mph faster than I've ever gone before. That, and the hills were so much easier. I guess I should have payed more attention to my saddle
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Old 08-27-13, 11:15 AM   #2
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Oh and I should also mention that I'm significantly more chaffed and butt-sore than before. Not sure if that's normal or not...
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Old 08-27-13, 11:28 AM   #3
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setback or zero offset seat post? If the bike came w/ a setback, go buy a 0 offset post. Personally I don't like setback post on any of my bikes. When you move the saddle forward you also need to increase the height because the total distance from the saddle to the bottom bracket has changed as well. If too low you will start using your lower back more to drive the pedal rotations.

Better bibs/shorts for the butt issues, or some cream will help.
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Old 08-27-13, 11:28 AM   #4
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I set my saddle height the way I learned it 40 years ago---align crank arms with seat tube, and leg fully extended with my heel flat on the lower pedal. Whether that's old school and newer methods are now the common wisdom, it still works for me.

As far as the chafing and soreness goes, do you do anything to the seat position or the angle of the saddle while raising the seat post?
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Old 08-27-13, 11:32 AM   #5
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I definitely need to adjust the angle. It's got a back tilt to it that probably isn't helping much. And it is a zero offset.
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Old 08-27-13, 12:39 PM   #6
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a 10 mile ride should be well within your capabilities unless you have some fit issues, or the saddle is just wrong for you OR maybe you just need to spend some time getting your body used to riding.

Proper clothing helps too - get some bike shorts or at least a liner for your regular shorts. Some people say they can ride 100 miles in jeans but I'm not one of them.
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Old 08-27-13, 01:26 PM   #7
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I think the people who can ride 100 miles in jeans are skinny folks, so they don't get the 4-way seam junction imprinted in their nethers from the pressure on the saddle!
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Old 08-27-13, 02:09 PM   #8
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Just because you are faster does not mean the bike fit is better. For Example time trial bikes often have the rider sitting forward from where they would on their road bike. On a long ride there can be comfort issues with a time trial set up. Moving your saddle forward sounds to have increased how much weight your saddle is carrying which could have caused the chafing or soreness. If that is new and the only change is saddle position then it seems to me that the new position is problematic.

Cycling specific clothing may help but it may not depending on how well it fits you. The tighter it fits and the less it moves between you and the bike the better.
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Old 08-27-13, 05:39 PM   #9
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I'm definitely convinced that the way I was sitting wasn't efficient. I was using far too much energy to pedal. I think they chaffing is just due to unused parts of my nether-region contacting the saddle like that for the first time. I would also add that today marks my 3rd week on the bike after 20 years off it. And that was when I was a child. So I may not have "broken" my body into being in the saddle yet. I just know that I was able to climb hills better, pedal more efficiently, and go faster with my seat post raised up.
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Old 08-27-13, 05:56 PM   #10
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I've become somewhat hesitant to offer saddle height suggestions without first seeing a person, their bike and understanding what they're after. I have to remind myself that not all rides are concerned with performance, nor wearing clipless cleats and cycling specific shoes.

I can only imagine how challenging it is to be an LBS employee. Trying to make on the spot assessments of individuals, what they're expectations truly are and how they'll be motivated and encouraged to continue cycling, or not.

Glad that you're happy with your new saddle height. Don't be afraid to experiment with it. Height, fore/aft, tilt. All play a role in comfort over rides of differing lengths and intensity.

None of it is rocket science. Despite what some of us make it sound like. Enjoy.
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Old 08-27-13, 06:54 PM   #11
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Best advice I have heard is keep raising it up until you KNOW its too far and then back it down half an inch
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Old 08-28-13, 11:29 AM   #12
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I found with clipless pedals, you tend to pedal with the front of your foot on the pedal, but with platform pedals, it's the middle of the foot, and that makes a difference in seat height. Anyway, the theory is that you knee should be nearly straight at the bottom of the stroke.
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Old 08-28-13, 12:01 PM   #13
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There are all sorts of bike fit calculators online, but the basics work out to the degree of bend in the knee at furthest extension for the saddle height, and KOPS - "Knee Over Pedal Spindle" - at 3:00 and 9:00 to determine setback. Saddle angle - everything I have read says start with your saddle dead level, and until you are riding a lot more, I'd be inclined to leave it at that.

These are all things you can adjust with the help of a friend and a plumb bob (or something small and heavy on a string), but are darn near impossible to do all by yourself. But that's just to start, and from there you have to listen to what your body says. Hips rocking? Back of knee bothering you? Lower the saddle a little (less than 1/2 cm). Front of knee hurting? Raise the saddle a little (again less than 1/2 cm).

Unless it's a pain situation, ride any new position a couple times before you alter it again. I had a professional fitting once I'd built up to riding a couple hours at a time, and the guy raised my saddle and moved it forward, and dropped my bars, all by about 1.5 cm. At first it felt like my legs were stretching WAY out at the bottom of my pedal stroke, but over a week or two I got used to the new position and I was able to spin faster and go farther, more comfortably, and my bike lost its 'Death Wobble' at 40 mph.

One thing I discovered, though, was that I didn't notice the discomfort of an 'okay-but-not-optimal' fit when I was riding 10-30 miles at a pop. It was only longer rides than that where problems started to appear. If you build up do routinely doing rides of that length, THEN it's worth your while to look into a professional fitting.
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