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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 10-28-13, 06:03 PM   #1
Carib Can
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Thread: Comfort VS potential knee injuries....... Saddle height question.

Guys, I posted this in fitting too. Just wanted to get feed back on people and how they bike for fitness and weight loss purposes here.

The fitting guys will share their thoughts a on competitive cycling and whats good and here it would be nice to see how you guys ride with lower or high saddle heights.

Hi Guys,

I have browsed quite a number of the saddle height threads and most seem to point towards having the seat set high enough for power strokes efficiency.

The common claim or fact, is that a low saddle height can cause knee injury if it's set too low ie. your feet being able to touch the ground while being on the saddle.

Two facts are, it's safer and more comfortable to be able to touch the ground a bit without leaning or getting over the bar to be standing firm on the ground.

Two questions I have,

a. If someone is riding just to be fit and to loose some weight, is the need to fitted on the bike as a competitive cyclist important?

Posture and pain free riding is important but how important is aerodynamics and sitting high on the saddle is in terms of biking for health reasons?

A good riding technique is always a good thing but do we need to be riding with a racing compliant set up to keep fit and loses weight?

Question b.

If having the saddle set low so we can touch the ground causes knee pain and knee injury, then how is it we don't see Gramps and Gramma balling in pain riding around?
Is riding with a saddle height set so someone can touch the ground really that bad if they are not riding competitively?

Thanks.
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Old 10-28-13, 07:10 PM   #2
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Saddle height is based on body mechanics and is well established and is somewhat universal for anyone riding a bicycle.

When you stop a bicycle completely you shouldn't be seated. If you can reach the ground from your seat and you aren't on a recumbent, your seat is much too low and you will hurt your knees and waste a lot of energy pedaling in that position.
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Old 10-28-13, 07:10 PM   #3
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First off, stand over height is irrelevant to where your seat should be.

Second, too low of a saddle height can cause sore knees. If you follow a "Lemond" type of fitting, he actually promotes a lower seat setting. That's what I do. As low as possible without any knee issues.

It's pretty simple. If you are riding and your knees don't hurt you're fine. You may not be in the optimal position but you're fine. If you start pushing things to either lose weight or get better performance you may need to raise it up. Follow what your body is telling you.
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Old 10-28-13, 07:14 PM   #4
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Proper saddle height has nothing to do with whether you are racing or not and I really wouldn't put too much faith in what grampa is doing... he's probably going 3 mph and not putting any stress on his joints at all.

Try some different saddle heights out and ride around the block. Try it your way and see how hard you can pedal and then put the saddle up higher (a rough guess is to put your heel flat on your pedal and set the saddle so your leg is straight) and try it again. See which one is more comfortable.

Get off your saddle when you come to a stop, you shouldn't be able to stand comfortably with your butt on that thing. You can also hurt your knee if the saddle is too high, so there's that.
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Old 10-28-13, 07:19 PM   #5
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If having the saddle set low so we can touch the ground causes knee pain and knee injury, then how is it we don't see Gramps and Gramma balling in pain riding around?

Thanks.
At 74 yo, perhaps I qualify for gramps in your estimation. Also, I think I speak for a whole lot ot 50+ bicyclists in the 50+ forum. Except for recumbents or perhaps some strange configuration, WE DO NOT RIDE SO OUR FEET CAN TOUCH THE GROUND on both sides when we stop, and why are you seemingly so concerned about that issue? Neither does my wife at 76yo. Nor does one of our 50+ riders, Zonatandem, at 80yo who rides 100 miles per week, and neither do any of the 70+ riding group I lead.

So, please don't try and stereotype "gramps and grammas" as you don't know what you are talking about.

And I ride two road bikes and a mountain bike about 3,000 miles per year.

Last edited by DnvrFox; 10-28-13 at 07:26 PM.
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Old 10-28-13, 07:36 PM   #6
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Could you please decide where you want this thread and remove the other? And DnvrFox knows what he is talking about. And I've had to raise my saddle on both of my bikes to help my knees, I've even found that they get rather warm racing about in pants for a long while.

If you have the height set correctly then you should have an optimum transfer. I wonder if your frame is too small.
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Old 10-28-13, 08:20 PM   #7
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Seems like you have your mind made up about this already and are just trying to find someone to tell you that you are right. Unfortunately it seems you are mistaken about some of your assumptions and facts. That's okay happens to everyone. Seat height is about how your your leg travles through the motion needed to rotate the crank through it's travel. If you try to stuff too long of a leg into to small of a circle the stress point will be the knee. It's not about racing versus fitness it's about how much room your leg needs to make the circuit without being jammed up or over extended.
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Old 10-28-13, 08:23 PM   #8
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So, please don't try and stereotype "gramps and grammas" as you don't know what you are talking about
Quite contrary to my question might seem to imply, I was simply asking why older people do not suffer much knee injuries by riding with lowers seats. Sine we are more prone to injuries as we age I was wondering why I do not hear about such complaints from older cyclists.

I was in no way insinuating that seniors can't ride or are not fit, sorry if it seemed that way to you.

Being born and raised in the Caribbean and having lived in Barbados which has some of the highest number of centenarians in the world, I can only say too well how active and healthy Gramas and Gramps are and can be.

As a matter of fact my neighbour who is 76 roller blades everyday around my block for over an hour when warm, is an avid cyclist and swimmer. Lately I told him he should have owned a Gym

Thanks for for your input and advice.
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Old 10-28-13, 08:27 PM   #9
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Could you please decide where you want this thread and remove the other? And DnvrFox knows what he is talking about. And I've had to raise my saddle on both of my bikes to help my knees, I've even found that they get rather warm racing about in pants for a long while.

If you have the height set correctly then you should have an optimum transfer. I wonder if your frame is too small.
I posted the questions in the fitting sub forum for advice on what they see fit as far a competitive edge goes and here for feedback regarding people cycling with lowered seats for comfort and/or possible complains about knee or any associated leg pains.

I made note of that in my opening post "The fitting guys will share their thoughts a on competitive cycling and whats good and here it would be nice to see how you guys ride with lower or high saddle heights."

Last edited by Carib Can; 10-28-13 at 08:32 PM.
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Old 10-28-13, 08:28 PM   #10
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Quite contrary to my question might seem to imply, I was simply asking why older people do not suffer much knee injuries by riding with lowers seats. Sine we are more prone to injuries as we age I was wondering why I do not hear about such complaints from older cyclists.

I was in no way insinuating that seniors can't ride or are not fit, sorry if it seemed that way to you.

Being born and raised in the Caribbean and having lived in Barbados which has some of the highest number of centenarians in the world, I can only say too well how active and healthy Gramas and Gramps are and can be.

As a matter of fact my neighbour who is 76 roller blades everyday around my block for over an hour when warm, is an avid cyclist and swimmer. Lately I told him he should have owned a Gym

Thanks for for your input and advice.
Thanks, but you missed my point. We DON'T ride with lower seats - those of us who ride regularly. At least is I am understanding your message. Lower seats do not mean more comfort - somehow you are equating the two - comfort means lower seats and vice versa. NO!! Comfort comes from a well-fitted bike, with a seat at the appropriate height for your body and the bike, which, 99% of the time, will not be a low seat.
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Old 10-28-13, 08:31 PM   #11
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Found a great article regarding saddle height, comfort etc.

http://sheldonbrown.com/saddles.html#adjustment
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Old 10-28-13, 08:35 PM   #12
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Thanks, but you missed my point. We DON'T ride with lower seats - those of us who ride regularly. At least is I am understanding your message. Lower seats do not mean more comfort - somehow you are equating the two - comfort means lower seats and vice versa. NO!! Comfort comes from a well-fitted bike, with a seat at the appropriate height for your body and the bike, which, 99% of the time, will not be a low seat.
I was riding with my seat relatively high where I had to lean a bit to touch the ground if I was in a hurry to get the bike stopped due to inconsiderate drivers.

I was at one of the lbs today, did some measurements and was advised by one of the techs I needed to go up another 6CM.

I did 30KM on my indoor trainer last night for 1hr 6 mins. I was feeling quite a bit of saddle discomfort despite taking a five min walk break at half time.

This was how the questions all came up?
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Old 10-28-13, 08:39 PM   #13
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Found a great article regarding saddle height, comfort etc.

http://sheldonbrown.com/saddles.html#adjustment
Sheldon is a great resource, and, before his very untimely death from a debilitating disease, was a member of BFN. I had the privilege of talking with him on the phone at one time. He worked at Harris Cyclery in Mass.

This is an excellent resource article. I am glad you found it.
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Old 10-28-13, 08:44 PM   #14
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I was riding with my seat relatively high where I had to lean a bit to touch the ground if I was in a hurry to get the bike stopped due to inconsiderate drivers.

I was at one of the lbs today, did some measurements and was advised by one of the techs I needed to go up another 6CM.

I did 30KM on my indoor trainer last night for 1hr 6 mins. I was feeling quite a bit of saddle discomfort despite taking a five min walk break at half time.

This was how the questions all came up?
Coming forward off the seat and leaning a bike a bit when one stops is standard procedure.

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Old 10-28-13, 08:58 PM   #15
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OP, while saddle height is a function for proper leg extension to avoid injury, the frame geometry will dictate whether you can put your feet down without leaning while stopped.

One can be comfortable on any bike that is fitted to you correctly.
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Old 10-28-13, 09:34 PM   #16
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Sheldon is a great resource, and, before his very untimely death from a debilitating disease, was a member of BFN. I had the privilege of talking with him on the phone at one time. He worked at Harris Cyclery in Mass.

This is an excellent resource article. I am glad you found it.
Thats too bad that he passed on, such amazing talent, knowledge and one who had such great charisma.
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Old 10-28-13, 09:42 PM   #17
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OP, while saddle height is a function for proper leg extension to avoid injury, the frame geometry will dictate whether you can put your feet down without leaning while stopped.

One can be comfortable on any bike that is fitted to you correctly.
Thanks no1mad, I was told that by the the owner of another LBS. He was telling me that the bottom brackets were now made higher on some bikes and that even measuring the frames from there was now inaccurate.

I had my saddle set us based on some rule of thumb techniques, at that height I was barely touching the ground when tiptoeing. I did some measurements and found some procedures online to set my saddle height.

I am accustomed jumping off the seat when I have to stop however during some emergencies, I had to lean the bike to stop.

I will go to do a basic fitting and see where that sets me again. We did a rough fit but was out of time today, will head back again to get it done well.

Thanks for replying.
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Old 10-29-13, 07:14 AM   #18
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Try some different saddle heights out and ride around the block. Try it your way and see how hard you can pedal and then put the saddle up higher (a rough guess is to put your heel flat on your pedal and set the saddle so your leg is straight) and try it again. See which one is more comfortable.

Get off your saddle when you come to a stop, you shouldn't be able to stand comfortably with your butt on that thing. You can also hurt your knee if the saddle is too high, so there's that.
HI Trojan,

I did the heel on pedal technique to adjust my saddle height initially and seemed comfortable with that but everyone says it's too low and after doing a rough inseam measurement, it was deemed that I am 6 CM lower than where I am sitting.

I have a bike trainer at home so I will bring the seat up and give it a few runs to see how it feels. When it warms up a bit later I will go out for a road feel.

I will be heading out back to the Caribbean within the month for a year bike in tow on the airplane with me so will get a lot of road time in.

Thanks for taking the time to reply.

Cheers.
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Old 10-29-13, 08:50 AM   #19
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it was deemed that I am 6 CM lower than where I am sitting.
I'm not sure what you mean by that, but if you did heel on pedal (which is just an approximation, not "the answer") then you should not be able to put your feet on the ground.

If you put the seat too high, you may notice your hips rocking back and forth when you pedal, or you may feel like you're on tippy toe a little bit. I seem to get a little pain behind my knee when the seat is too high, you may not.

Good luck.
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Old 10-29-13, 10:27 AM   #20
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I'm not sure what you mean by that, but if you did heel on pedal (which is just an approximation, not "the answer") then you should not be able to put your feet on the ground.

If you put the seat too high, you may notice your hips rocking back and forth when you pedal, or you may feel like you're on tippy toe a little bit. I seem to get a little pain behind my knee when the seat is too high, you may not.

Good luck.
I raised my saddle to the 73cm (29") recommended height. I placed the bike on my trainer and rode for 33 mins covering 16km (10 miles) and found no discomfort to speak of, if anything at all it felt better because I was applying more pedal power thus reducing the weight on the saddle on every power stroke.

I will try to get on the road to see how it feels in the real world.

Thanks for all the input guys.

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Old 10-29-13, 01:23 PM   #21
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Seems like you have your mind made up about this already and are just trying to find someone to tell you that you are right. Unfortunately it seems you are mistaken about some of your assumptions and facts. That's okay happens to everyone. Seat height is about how your your leg travles through the motion needed to rotate the crank through it's travel. If you try to stuff too long of a leg into to small of a circle the stress point will be the knee. It's not about racing versus fitness it's about how much room your leg needs to make the circuit without being jammed up or over extended.
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Old 10-29-13, 01:35 PM   #22
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Just did 7 km on a 16 min trip with the seat at 73 CM high. Rode fast between 30 to 42 kmh and slow to see if there was any aches or pains, felt no difference.

I felt the difference in power/speed with no comfort compromise. Will raise it a bit more from there and look at my data and body communications until it's a great balance.
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Old 10-29-13, 05:32 PM   #23
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Sounds like you're on the right track now. The guys here are great--exceptionally knowledgable as a group, and just hoping that others learn from their experience and not just from personal mistakes

Nice bike, btw--and a nice trainer set up.
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Old 10-29-13, 07:17 PM   #24
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Sounds like you're on the right track now. The guys here are great--exceptionally knowledgable as a group, and just hoping that others learn from their experience and not just from personal mistakes

Nice bike, btw--and a nice trainer set up.
Thanks Erwin8r. Yes most of the guys here are awesome, kind and knowledgable.

It's nice to get the advice and opinions of others. There are sooooooo many bike shops just on the main stretch here and I speak with most of the techs. Just within a few Kms we have six bike shops, it's unreal.

My bike does not weigh less than a fart and far cheaper than a divorce

Thanks for the compliments about my bike and trainer.
I spend a bit of time and money on the bike. Just bought a carbon handle bar, new Look pedals, a Garmin 510 and some other accessories. It's money well invested though, the joy and benefits of cycling outweighs the cost.

Mine will never meet the cost of yours which is a superior bike but like this one for what it is. The 2014 models to mine are now out averaging between 4 to 6,000 bucks so I am ok with mine

Thanks for replying.
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