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Thread: Fit advice

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    Fit advice

    I've been back in the saddle for about a year (after a 30+ year break) and on my current bike (81 Raleigh Team Pro) for about six months. My biggest problem was my butt was getting really sore after 20 miles or so. I realized (or came to believe) I was sitting too far forward on the saddle and started to make a conscious effort to keep my butt further back. That seemed to help quite a bit, but I would keep reverting to the more forward position and have to slide myself back.

    So I lowered my saddle, which seemed to help me keep my butt in what I think is a more correct position. Helped quite a bit in reducing the butt soreness, but I suddenly am experienced a lot of soreness in my thighs. I've never had any pain or soreness in my legs before, so I suspect it's a function of the lower saddle.

    I'm thinking I need to raise the saddle and move the seat forward. Does this seem like the right direction? (My fear is that this will put me too far forward as I'm flirting with that already based on the fit advice I see online. Will moving the seat forward 'require' a shift to a longer stem?).

    TIA for any advice.

  2. #2
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    How is the angle of your saddle? Is it possible that it is angled a bit down, and that is causing you to slide forward? As a general rule, your butt is going to find the natural place that it fits on the saddle, but that is partly dependent on angle. In any event, you should not correct for that with height - dropping your saddle is very likely to be what is causing your leg soreness. Different heights emphasize different muscles. Get your saddle height close using one of the easy methods, like putting your heel on the pedal and having your leg almost straight. Fore and aft adjustment involves more complicated factors: it's a combination of fitness, bike handling in corners, and your flexibility relative to how low/aero a position you want. Generally, riders who are more fit tend towards a more forward position. Then, of course, there is the uncomfortable truth that you may need to go through a variety of saddles to find one that works for you.
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    Senior Member Mort Canard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AzTallRider View Post
    How is the angle of your saddle? Is it possible that it is angled a bit down, and that is causing you to slide forward? As a general rule, your butt is going to find the natural place that it fits on the saddle, but that is partly dependent on angle.
    ^Yep, this! You should be able to tip the front of the saddle up just a bit and locate your sits bones right on the wide portion of the saddle. If you start to get numbness in your genitals or keep sliding too far back you have gone too far.

    Having too low a saddle is also hard on the knees and can cause pain in the kneecaps.
    "The future's all yours, you lousy bicycles" Butch Cassidy

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    Senior Member bud16415's Avatar
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    Saddle height is most surly the cause of the thighs getting sore. Somehow my saddle got lowered on my tour bike one of the problems in the 50+ age doing things and forgetting what you did. My saddle was of an inch low and I had some really bad thigh cramps after about 20 miles to the point of not being able to walk it off. I thought I needed water or something and shook it off forgetting about it till I rode the bike again and around 30 miles cramped again. This time I checked things out and found it low. It actually felt better being low on short rides but for sure was straining the thighs. Seat position front and back will change height a bit also. I like to place the seat about mid position and set height to the heal method and then do the plum bob method putting the front of the knee cap over the center of the pedal with the crank level. Then go back and recheck the height. Keep the saddle level. If anything for myself I error on being back rather than too far forward. Then you have to look at what back angle you want and can your core support it over a long ride. Stem length and quill height are next. For me if I go too aggressive when I get tired I start putting more weight on the arms the shallow arm angle is hard to support weight so I start straight arming in line with the fork and that causes me to move forward.
    What's not in your legs needs to be in your gears.

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    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    AZTallRider's questions about saddle tilt are right on the money. Sliding forward on a saddle is almost always caused by the nose being tilt down too much. I'd start with the saddle as level as possible, and I'd raise the seat post back where it was. After a 30+ year layoff you must also anticipate that your backside needs some time to acclimate. If you want to play with fore aft adjustments, I'd encourage you to only do that after you've got the seat level and back up where it was with another ride or two set up this way. I'm a believer in only changing one thing at a time. This way you know which change has caused what you're experiencing. If you go to fore and aft adjustments on the seat, I'd only go a half cm or 1/4 inch at a time. And, I'd probably go back 1/4 inch first. If that didn't do it, I'd go forward form that spot 1/2 inch. This should let you know if fore or aft is the direction you want to play with some more.
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    Favorite rides in the stable: Indy Fab CJ Ti - Colnago MXL - S-Works Roubaix - Habanero Team Issue - Jamis Eclipse carbon/831

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    Thanks for the replies.

    The saddle appears to be level, but I'll check it with a level and make sure. It's an old Cinnelli unicantor and the seat clamp has actual bolts (not allen heads) under the saddle. I realized last night I need to get a mini socket set to try and change the seat itself as I can't get those old bolts to move with any of the tools I have on hand. Don't want to strip them and it seems likely they haven't been moved in decades.

    But I'll definitely go back up a bit on the height.

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    As I got older, the reach to the bars was decreased, the height of the bars,
    relative to the saddle got higher,

    But, the height of the saddle relative to the pedals stays the same.
    [heel of (low heel) shoe on pedal leg straight,
    so ball of foot, on pedal, knee is slightly bent ]

    the setback, saddle relative to a plumb line thru the BB
    to the sitzplats on the seat, is also a useful to increase rearward,
    as the position is more upright..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 10-16-12 at 11:24 AM.

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    The seat height is something that you really do not fool with once you get it dialed in. The height you select is about the bend in your legs at the knee joint at the bottom of the pedal stroke. I have found that even very minor changes make my pedal stroke feel not "right". How your rear feels should have nothing to do it it.

    Your fore and aft alignment of the saddle has to do with how you are lined up over the pedals. I forget the exact way of doing it because I do it by feel now.

    I tend to nose up the saddle very slightly but keeping it level would probably work also.

    The thing is that different saddles can give you markedly different feelings in your bottom. At the base of your pelvis are two bony nobs, the ischeal processes. There is one on each side. The idea is that the ischeal processes should make firm contact with the saddle. If the saddle is too narrow, the saddle will be between the ischeal processes and your weight will be suspended on soft tissues which is not a good thing. If the saddle is too wide, you get a different uncomfortable problem. Near where I live, there is a bike shop that has a "butt-o-meter" for lack of a better term. You sit on it. Your ischeal processes form a little image and they can then suggest saddle which will fit correctly. Otherwise finding a saddle can be a bit hit or miss. I have heard of some DIY methods of making the same measurement but I don't remember the specifics.

    Be that as it may, even with a properly fitting saddle, it will take some time in the saddle before things "toughen up". You can expect some initial soreness after rides. But largely go away.

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    You might benefit from a good, professional fitting, if you have someone in the area that is qualified. Be advised that not everyone who claims to be a "fitter" is actually any good. I've been riding about 6 years. Have had my current bike about 3 years and had it initially fitted to me by a LBS in the area. Ride about 1500-2500 miles/yr and have had issues with feeling like I was too far up on the saddle, and also have had problems with cramping, usually after about 45 miles on hard rides. I finally got another fit a few months ago by a former shop owner in the area. He asked me a lot of questions about how I felt on the bike, then watched me ride my bike on the trainer for several minutes before making some minor adjustments.

    WOW! I'm much more comfortable, feel more like a part of the bike as opposed to being a rider on top of it, and I've not cramped on rides that have been longer/harder than previous. Best $75 I've spent in a long time. Realize this was a very good price for a fitting......he works from home in the computer industry and does fittings on the side.

    Good luck!
    "Ever tried? Ever failed? Try again. Try harder. Fail better." - Samuel Beckett

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    Thanks to all for the advice. I am considering a professional fitting, but the shop best known for that charges $250 and that's a bit steep for me right now.

    But I did move the seat back up to it's former position and my legs feel 100% better. I'm not averse to being a little muscle sore after a good ride, but there's good sore and bad sore and I was definitely getting bad sore. Just got the tools today that should allow me to loosen the seat clamp, so I might try and play with that a little. But I think I'll pretty much stick with the status quo for the time being as I didn't realize how good the set up was until I messed with it.

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