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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 02-24-05, 04:00 PM   #1
INP
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I've been trying to adjust my seat angle for a week now, and it is just not comfortable. Let's just say that - well, let's just say it's REALLY not comfortable. I have a toothed rocker style adjuster, so I have to loosen an allen screw, move the saddle a notch down/up, retighten, and try another commute - quite time consuming.

Is there some ideal seat angle in reference to the post, handlebars, etc that would be a good starting point? I'm gonna be commuting standing on my pedals the whole way if it doesn't get solved soon.
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Old 02-24-05, 04:05 PM   #2
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What's your discomfort? Are you male or female? How are your bars positioned relative to your saddle (high/low)? How's your reach to your bars (long/short)? How about to the pedals, what do your legs look like at the bottom of the stroke? At the 3 o'clock position is your kneecap over the pedal spindle (no, KOPS is not required but it's a good place to start)?
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Old 02-24-05, 04:28 PM   #3
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Is it a new saddle? Not all saddles are good for all people. There are too many variables to try to recommend a saddle position for someone. I'd suggest maybe taking your allen wrench set on a ride when you have some time so that you can make adjustments mid ride until you figure it out.
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Old 02-25-05, 04:31 AM   #4
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I'd ditch the seat post and get a two bolt one that is way easier to adjust. For me, I end up with the seat either flat or very slightly sloping downwards.
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Old 02-25-05, 05:26 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by INP
Is there some ideal seat angle in reference to the post, handlebars, etc that would be a good starting point? I'm gonna be commuting standing on my pedals the whole way if it doesn't get solved soon.
Start with level from the high point in the nose to the highpoint in the rear (usually one of the "cheeks") adjust accordingly
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Old 02-25-05, 05:53 AM   #6
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As Raiyn says. Use a spirit level. Make sure the floor the bike is on is level first. Then test the level of the seat. The likelihood is that the toothed adjustment won't give you a perfectly level seat. You also may need to make millimetre-by-millimetre adjustments to fine-tune the most comfortable position.

The problem may be even more fundamental, however. Is the seat height right? What about fore-aft adjustment of the seat on the rails? There are three things we deal with in our training courses when fitting bikes to participants -- seat height, seat fore-aft position, and seat level. Works for our participants.
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Old 02-25-05, 06:48 AM   #7
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your @ss just might not like the seat either...
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Old 02-25-05, 06:53 AM   #8
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As Raiyn and Rowan, start with it level. If you want to be more aggressive, tip in forward a bit. Some like it tipped back a bit.

You might want to take it to your LBS to see if they can help you get a good fit. They might do it for free, or you can offer to pay them "labor" for the time they spend with you. Even if they charge, it would be worth the money if you got a good fit.
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Old 02-25-05, 06:56 AM   #9
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I agree with BigMike and that you should replace the toothed seatpost, I have been using http://www.boldprecision.com/bicycle.htm

This seatpost is very easy to adjust the angle and the fore/aft position.
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Old 02-25-05, 07:37 AM   #10
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It is hard to separate the "seat" from the "seat position". With some saddles, there is no comfortable postion, and there also is no such thing as "level". Some saddles have a top profile that looks like a banana. Where is level?

After trial and error (and trial and error...) I have found that Specialized Body Geometry saddles work best for me. They make about nine different saddles, in different widths and different degrees of firmness.

For a commuting type of bike, I would use a medium width BG that is firm. Set it so that the rear half of the saddle is dead level to the ground. Set the handlebars so that your hands are as high, or higher than the saddle. (Having your hands lower than the saddle is a recipe for pain, regardless of the brand or style of saddle).

For commuting, you might want to have your saddle a bit lower than a "racing" position. Racers want to get full leg extension, for maximum power. Commuters want maximum comfort, and lowering the saddle half an inch allows you to transfer more weight to the pedals and raise your rear a bit off the saddle on rough pavement.

In sum, for commuting, you need a flat, firm saddle, set level, and a bit low, along with handlebars positioned as high as the saddle. It may take a week or two to get used to a new set-up, but after you have adjusted, you won't be tempted to go back to your prior set-up.
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Old 02-25-05, 09:29 AM   #11
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I prefer the saddle tilted back slightly (toward the rear) because a good portion of my commute is climbing, feel like it gives me more power on the climbs.

BTW, is part of the pain saddle sores? Any saddle will be uncomfortable in that case.
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Old 02-25-05, 09:47 AM   #12
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Can't agree with the handlebar thing. I like my bars about 4 inches below the saddle. Maybe I've just got long arms, but I think it is more to do with feeling less strain in my back when I am tilted forward like that, when I am peddling.
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Old 02-25-05, 09:55 AM   #13
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I see people riding with the saddle tilted back. Doesn't it give you a numb penis? I've often wondered if this is the cause of impotence, tempory and otherwise that is asociated with cycling. This is why I pay a lot of attention to position on the bike, I didn't used to until one day in my mid 30's I started thinking maybe a numb penis from cycling and impotence might be connected.

Maybe this is a bit full on considering how this thread started and maybe you guys have debated this endlessly before, but I have never seen a definitive statement of how to set up your position to eliminate the problem. Maybe their is no one solution and everyone needs a different solution.

Just incase you are wondering, I now have the rule that if anything is numb, or even getting anywhere near this state, something is wrong stop and change the set up so it doesn't happen again.
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Old 02-25-05, 06:56 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigmikepowell
I see people riding with the saddle tilted back. Doesn't it give you a numb penis? I've often wondered if this is the cause of impotence, tempory and otherwise that is asociated with cycling. This is why I pay a lot of attention to position on the bike, I didn't used to until one day in my mid 30's I started thinking maybe a numb penis from cycling and impotence might be connected.
I ride with the saddle tilted back, as if I don't, I tend to slide down the saddle, which puts my weight on my arms and causes wrist pain (which I've already had from too many years working on computers). The trick (for me, anyway) is to have the saddle tilted back far enough to not slide, but not far enough to cause numbness. This is such a delicate balance that wearing rain pants and cycling tights in the winter was enough to throw it off andI had to readjust. Here's a pic my wife took this afternoon to give you an idea (yes, this is my beater bike, and technically it's too small, but it works well for me):



For the original poster, I came to this position through pure trial and error. The stem is maxed out, but ideally I'd like to get a bit more height out of it. The best summation I've seen is to set up the bike so that you can ride comfortably with your hands hovering over the handlebars - if it's too much of a strain the handlebars are too low or the seat is too high, if it feels too wobbly it's the opposite, if it feels comfortable then you've got a good starting point. Generally speaking, I've found if I'm getting a stabbing or shooting pain somewhere it's a pointer that the adjustment is out, whereas if it's more of an ache then it means I just need to "ride in" to wear in the muscles to the new position.
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Old 02-26-05, 04:25 PM   #15
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Interesting. That seat angle would have me off the bike making adjustments in less than 5 minutes, but then as you say the frame is on the small side so you arn't reaching forward much.

Re having the seat tilting forward, yep if I go two far forward then it makes your wrists ache.

Anybody know a really good resource that goes through bike positions and the reasons why. Seen lots of opinions in bike position but nothing backed up by biomechanics.
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Old 02-26-05, 06:02 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigmikepowell
Interesting. That seat angle would have me off the bike making adjustments in less than 5 minutes, but then as you say the frame is on the small side so you arn't reaching forward much.
Yes... with the thick winter boots on I'm pushing 6 foot 6 in height, which also makes a difference. Judging by your nick I guess you might have the same issues as me finding a suitable frame.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigmikepowell
Anybody know a really good resource that goes through bike positions and the reasons why. Seen lots of opinions in bike position but nothing backed up by biomechanics.
Best I've seen in Zinn's Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance. He usually gives two methods, "rule of thumb" and scientific. Here's the saddle height section in the bike fit appendix, to give you a taste:

"When your foot is at the bottom of the stroke, lock your knee without locking your hips. Do this sitting on your bike on a trainer with someone else observing. Your foot should be level, or the heel should be slightly higher than the ball of the foot. Another way to determine seat height is using your inseam measurement (Fig C.3), found in Step 1 under Section C-2, 'Choosing Frame Size from your Body Measurements' above. Multiple your inseam length by 1.09; this is the length from the centre of the pedal spindle (when the pedal is down) to one of the points on the top of the saddle where your butt bones (ischial tuberosities) contact it (Fig C.4). Adjust the seat height (Chapter 10) until you get it the proper height.

Note: These two methods yield similar results, although the measurement-multiplying method is dependent on shoe sole and pedal thicknesses. Both methods yield a biomechanically efficient pedalling position, but if you do a lot of technical riding and descending, you may wish to have a lower saddle for better bike handling control."

I've found this book to be a great help working on my bike. This afternoon I disassembled the rear brakes completely, cleaned them out, regreased the parts, reassembled, disassembled the jockey wheels, cleaned and greased them then reassembled them, all based off the exploded diagrams in the book. I'm glad I did as the rear brakes looked like they were close on seizing up from all the road salt, and the jockey wheels had sludge instead of grease inside.

The US list price is $21.95, ISBN 1-884737-99-4.
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Old 02-26-05, 06:55 PM   #17
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I'm female and found that if my seat was perfectly level and I cut a big hole in it for my privates to dangle through all was well. (Then they started selling them that way, with a hole, I mean.) I have no idea how on earth men ride bikes, so I can't help you there. If something about your body makes it so no matter what you do--what bike you try, what saddle--it still doesn't work, come on over to the dark side and get a recumbent. You'll never have that problem again.
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Old 02-27-05, 02:58 AM   #18
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Can't see myself riding a bent in London traffic or in the welsh mountains, the two places I commute. Will give it a go one day. Re holes in saddles, lets just say it made a big difference for me.
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Old 02-27-05, 03:03 AM   #19
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Thanks, thats exactly what I want. practical advice backed up by some logic. Top tip. By the way, very envious of you cycling in all that snow. I love cycling in snow. Over here it's below freezing most days but insists on raining. The salt gets washed off every day into the side of the road. It then becames mostly on my bike. Literally just finished cleaning it down. It's still irritatingly about zero but still raining. Spring where are you.
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Old 02-27-05, 08:20 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigmikepowell
By the way, very envious of you cycling in all that snow. I love cycling in snow. Over here it's below freezing most days but insists on raining. The salt gets washed off every day into the side of the road. It then becames mostly on my bike. Literally just finished cleaning it down. It's still irritatingly about zero but still raining. Spring where are you.
I'm in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the east coast of Canada (but originally from High Wycombe in Bucks). The temperature here is extremely variable; last month over the course of a few days last month the temperature went from -12C to +8C and back again. The coldest I've seen so far this winter was -20C (with a windchill of -35C, I think, but it was more than that on the bike, of course). The clothing required for cycling in this is surprisingly minimal for short (around 45 minutes) commutes; two polypro wicking jerseys, a windbreaker, cargo pant style cotton cycling shorts, cycling tights, waterproofs, 2 pairs wool socks, winter boots, full finger gloves, oversized wintergloves, headband (for ear protection) and neck gaiter (for rebreathing to heat up the air as you breathe it in).

The salt tends to accumulate on the roads and then on the bike. When it dries out, the traffic breaks up the crystals and it swirls up in the air, and if you don't have something covering your mouth your breath it in. The roads are massively over-salted here, unfortunately.

Anyway, I'm rambling... There's plenty of people who cycle in far colder climes than me who post in the Winter forum if you want to get a taste for what it's like, or take a flick through my bike log (http://hfxbike.blogspot.com).
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Old 02-28-05, 01:15 AM   #21
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Thanks guys - there's lots for me to try here. BTW, I am male......that's a rather important fact left out in the original post. I have to stop by the LBS this week as well, so I'll probably get some input there. I get that part of the process in seat adjustment is personal preference combined with trial and error, but it's better to eliminate some of the error straight up if possible!

The bike is a "perma-borrow" from a friend, and I've only started up biking in the last two weeks after a long sabatical (like, 8 yrs), so I'm certain some of the pain is simply getting used to cycling again, but there's definitely something out of wack with the saddle as well. I haven't had anything go numb yet, which counts for something ("Rule of thumb: don't let it go numb."). Doesn't help that my friend put a post on with a slightly larger diameter than the original, so it's damn near impossible for me to adjust it up or down - that's certainly not helping the process.

Anyways, thanks again. I appreciate the tips - and I'll put them to good use.
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