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  1. #1
    Senior Member daihard's Avatar
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    Saddle Height - Use the Holmes method (25-degrees) can still can stand on toes?

    Hi.

    I used the "Holmes method" mentioned in the following link to adjust my saddle height.

    http://www.bikeradar.com/us/gear/art...t-right-14608/

    (The Holmes method) uses a device called a goniometer for measuring the angle of the knee joint at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Holmes recommends an angle of between 25 and 35 degrees and closer to 25 for those with a history of patella tendonitis.
    My knee angle is currently about 25 degrees. I feel comfortable pedalling at this saddle height. In fact, my knee pain has gone away since I raised the saddle according to this method.

    However, when stopped, I can still reach the ground on both toes (albeit barely). According to Sheldon Brown, it indicates that my saddle is set too low.

    http://sheldonbrown.com/saddles.html#height

    With older bicycles, it was sometimes possible to put a toe down at a stop with the saddle properly adjusted, especially for riders with large feet. Due to the higher bottom brackets common on newer bicycles, especially mountain bikes, it is no longer possible to do this. If you ride a mountain bike, and are able to balance it while stopped and seated, it is a sure sign that your saddle is too low. This is also true of most hybrids.
    I have a 2013 hybrid bike. It may not be one of the "most hybrids" he's talking about, but this makes me wonder if I am missing something in deciding on my saddle height. Any advice would be appreciated.

    [NOTE] I do have long feet for my height (5' 5"), if it matters.
    Last edited by daihard; 10-29-13 at 10:29 PM.
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    A bottom bracket that's lower to the ground will allow your toes to touch.


    I am no expert here but after all the advice and research I have received and read, you should be ok. I don't think not touching the ground is the focus but what the angles are and overall riding geometry. I am sure some guys with more experience will chime in.

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    There are so many theories and procedures out there when it comes to ideal saddle heights.

    I am of the opinion now that I do not think that there is only one perfect procedure for everyone. I think because so many people are built differently, one method might work for some and not others.

    The good thing is, we have a few great methods to work with. I will try them all, note the differences with respect to data and how I feel and then choose the fit with a great balance all around.


    You can read my thread below for a lot of insight and advice from so many of the guys who shared their advice and experiences.

    I also sought advice from the guys in the 200 plus lb sub forum to see what they were experiencing with saddle heights, many have their advice and facts too.

    see here http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...eight-question
    Last edited by Carib Can; 10-31-13 at 11:34 AM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member daihard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carib Can View Post
    There are so many theories and procedures out there when it comes to ideal saddle heights.

    I am of the opinion now that I do not think that there is only one perfect procedure for everyone. I think because so many people are built differently, one method might work for some and not others.

    The good thing is, we have a few great methods to work with. I will try them all, note the differences with respect to data and how I feel and then choose the fit with a great balance all around.


    You can read my thread below for a lot of insight and advice from so many of the guys who shared their advice and experiences.

    I also sought advice from the guys in the 200 plus lb sub forum to see what they were experiencing with saddle heights, many have their advice and facts too.

    see here http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...eight-question
    Thanks! I read the thread. It actually confuses me a bit more, because most people there seem to indicate that you should not be able to put your foot on the ground if you have the proper saddle height. Granted, I can't stand on the ground, but I can still reach out to the ground on both toes if I stretch enough.

    It may just be that the bottom bracket height of my bike is relatively low. Plus like I said, I've got long feet.

    I will take the 0.883 measurement tonight to see how the number comes up.
    Badly-behaved cyclists are usually just cyclists with inadequate infrastructure. Or none at all. - Mikael Colville-Andersen

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    Yes those can be reasons why you can barely touch the ground. I have read a few places where some bikes have a lower centre of gravity, meaning that the frame sits lower to the ground than others.

    Another critical element , is your bike the right size for you? Do you know your bike size?

    It could be that your bike is too small for you especially if you have grass hopper legs

  6. #6
    Senior Member daihard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carib Can View Post
    Yes those can be reasons why you can barely touch the ground. I have read a few places where some bikes have a lower centre of gravity, meaning that the frame sits lower to the ground than others.

    Another critical element , is your bike the right size for you? Do you know your bike size?

    It could be that your bike is too small for you especially if you have grass hopper legs
    Trust me, I have short legs.

    As for my bike size, I have a 15-in. frame. I'm 5'5". I *think* I could have a 17.5-in frame (which is the next size for the Trek FX), but I tried it and it gave me almost no standover clearance. FYI, the 15-in. frame and 17.5 have the same bottom bracket height. Does it mean anything?
    Badly-behaved cyclists are usually just cyclists with inadequate infrastructure. Or none at all. - Mikael Colville-Andersen

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    As far as the sizes and measurements you gave, it looks ok, but your inseam will help if you knew what it is. Measure your inseam and then look up bike sizing charts on the net, there are many.

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    f18
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    Knowing the frame size and/or seeing a picture of you on the bike would help a great deal.

    That said, it sounds to me like your seat is low.

    As a rough cross-check, where is the top if the saddle in relation to your iliac crest (pointy bone at top/front of your pelvis)? Are they at about the same height?

    Dynamically, have you tried raising the seat several mm at a time and continuing the process to the onset of peddling instability?

    Glad the pain is gone...

    Bob

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    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Peddling instability has something to do with door to door sales?

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    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by daihard View Post
    Trust me, I have short legs.

    As for my bike size, I have a 15-in. frame. I'm 5'5". I *think* I could have a 17.5-in frame (which is the next size for the Trek FX), but I tried it and it gave me almost no standover clearance. FYI, the 15-in. frame and 17.5 have the same bottom bracket height. Does it mean anything?
    Road bike sizing or MTB sizing? I guess I don't know how Trek handles size anymore.

    At least as big an issue as stand over is effective top tube length.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by daihard View Post
    Hi.

    I used the "Holmes method" mentioned in the following link to adjust my saddle height.

    http://www.bikeradar.com/us/gear/art...t-right-14608/



    My knee angle is currently about 25 degrees. I feel comfortable pedalling at this saddle height. In fact, my knee pain has gone away since I raised the saddle according to this method.

    However, when stopped, I can still reach the ground on both toes (albeit barely). According to Sheldon Brown, it indicates that my saddle is set too low.

    http://sheldonbrown.com/saddles.html#height


    I have a 2013 hybrid bike. It may not be one of the "most hybrids" he's talking about, but this makes me wonder if I am missing something in deciding on my saddle height. Any advice would be appreciated.

    [NOTE] I do have long feet for my height (5' 5"), if it matters.
    In general, I would not worry about touching a toe down. If you can touch a toe down when you stop, that seems safer than not being able to. But you can also learn to come forward off the saddle when you stop, and land on BOTH feet, that's even better.

    If you have a saddle height that has improved your power and fluidity, and you can still touch down, I would call that a good day's work and go have a ride and then a beer. Don't sweat the rest of it.

  12. #12
    Senior Member daihard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carib Can View Post
    As far as the sizes and measurements you gave, it looks ok, but your inseam will help if you knew what it is. Measure your inseam and then look up bike sizing charts on the net, there are many.
    I just measured my inseam using the "book between my legs" method. It is just a bit shy of 29 inches. According to this site, 16-in. is the right frame size for me. My Fx is 15-in. so like I said above, it's on the small side but not by much.
    Badly-behaved cyclists are usually just cyclists with inadequate infrastructure. Or none at all. - Mikael Colville-Andersen

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    Senior Member daihard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by f18 View Post
    Knowing the frame size and/or seeing a picture of you on the bike would help a great deal.

    That said, it sounds to me like your seat is low.

    As a rough cross-check, where is the top if the saddle in relation to your iliac crest (pointy bone at top/front of your pelvis)? Are they at about the same height?

    Dynamically, have you tried raising the seat several mm at a time and continuing the process to the onset of peddling instability?
    Thanks! I just calculated my "ideal" saddle height using the "0.883" method. According to this, I should raise my saddle a bit (by about half an inch). I will try riding it with this saddle a bit later tonight.

    Now, I've found something interesting about the "0.883" method. According to a website, the method "assumes riders are wearing standard cycling shoes and your knees are bent at 15 degrees at the bottom of the pedal stroke."

    The original method I used recommended that I keep my knee angle around 25 degrees for optimal pedalling performance. Comparing those two methods, I see why my saddle height was lower than what's recommended by the "0.883" method. They are based on different principles, it seems.

    FYI, my iliac crest is about the same height as the top of my saddle now. Does it tell you anything?
    Badly-behaved cyclists are usually just cyclists with inadequate infrastructure. Or none at all. - Mikael Colville-Andersen

  14. #14
    Senior Member daihard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
    In general, I would not worry about touching a toe down. If you can touch a toe down when you stop, that seems safer than not being able to. But you can also learn to come forward off the saddle when you stop, and land on BOTH feet, that's even better.

    If you have a saddle height that has improved your power and fluidity, and you can still touch down, I would call that a good day's work and go have a ride and then a beer. Don't sweat the rest of it.
    True. I've been learning how to get off the saddle and stop properly. I can do it adequately most of the time except when I have to stop the middle of a steep hill. In that case I tend to step "too forward." Need some more practice.
    Badly-behaved cyclists are usually just cyclists with inadequate infrastructure. Or none at all. - Mikael Colville-Andersen

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    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by daihard View Post
    Thanks! I just calculated my "ideal" saddle height using the "0.883" method. According to this, I should raise my saddle a bit (by about half an inch). I will try riding it with this saddle a bit later tonight.

    Now, I've found something interesting about the "0.883" method. According to a website, the method "assumes riders are wearing standard cycling shoes and your knees are bent at 15 degrees at the bottom of the pedal stroke."

    The original method I used recommended that I keep my knee angle around 25 degrees for optimal pedalling performance. Comparing those two methods, I see why my saddle height was lower than what's recommended by the "0.883" method. They are based on different principles, it seems.

    FYI, my iliac crest is about the same height as the top of my saddle now. Does it tell you anything?
    Generally raising or lowering saddle is a process, where you do it just a few millimeters at a time, perhaps adjusting once a week.

    I was set up by a fitter a number of years ago at 30 degrees, setting my height at 697 mm. My PBH is 81.8 cm, which at .883 gives a target height of 722 mm. My shoe thickness is 15 mm, where "standard" is 12 mm. So based on this I should raise to 725 mm. Considering I use 172.5s versus 170 mm cranks, I should lower by 2.5 mm, for a result of 722.5, which is rather similar to the uncorrected spec.

    What's of more concern to me is the 15 degree assumption for the 0.883 factor. That would explain why I feel more stretched out each time I try 0.883, sometimes to the point of perineal pain.

    On what website did you find the insight that with 0.883 the assumption is a 15 degree knee angle?

    No, the iliac crest thing does not tell me anything. Can you explain what it is supposed to mean, and where that info comes from?

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    The Left Coast, USA FrenchFit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by daihard View Post
    Thanks! I just calculated my "ideal" saddle height using the "0.883" method. According to this, I should raise my saddle a bit (by about half an inch). I will try riding it with this saddle a bit later tonight.

    Now, I've found something interesting about the "0.883" method. According to a website, the method "assumes riders are wearing standard cycling shoes and your knees are bent at 15 degrees at the bottom of the pedal stroke."

    The original method I used recommended that I keep my knee angle around 25 degrees for optimal pedalling performance. Comparing those two methods, I see why my saddle height was lower than what's recommended by the "0.883" method. They are based on different principles, it seems.

    FYI, my iliac crest is about the same height as the top of my saddle now. Does it tell you anything?
    My wife's bike is a crank-forward design, so she can touch her toes to the ground - no problem. On my bikes, including my MTBs, my highly complex formula is to raise the saddle until my hips rock when I pedal, then lower slightly. I'd bet that puts me higher than the "0.883" and it works very well for my short legs. It seems to put the power stroke in the correct zone with reference to my leg muscles and crank, if that makes sense to you. You should at least try this "max" setting and see how it works, although be prepared to completely get off your saddle as you stop.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by daihard View Post
    Thanks! I just calculated my "ideal" saddle height using the "0.883" method. According to this, I should raise my saddle a bit (by about half an inch). I will try riding it with this saddle a bit later tonight.

    Now, I've found something interesting about the "0.883" method. According to a website, the method "assumes riders are wearing standard cycling shoes and your knees are bent at 15 degrees at the bottom of the pedal stroke."

    The original method I used recommended that I keep my knee angle around 25 degrees for optimal pedalling performance. Comparing those two methods, I see why my saddle height was lower than what's recommended by the "0.883" method. They are based on different principles, it seems.

    FYI, my iliac crest is about the same height as the top of my saddle now. Does it tell you anything?
    FWIW if you are within a few cm's of the .883 measurement you are close enough not to be overly concerned. There is variability in there for physiology and preference to an extent. In my case it really helped as it showed me I was a full 7cm too high, which is way off and making the correction was a huge improvement for me.

    Main point for most people who aren't trying to compete is just that they are in the ballpark of where it should be so they get an understanding of how the bike should be fit. Too low strains the knees, too high strains the hips, but "too" is definitely more than just a cm or two off the mark.

  18. #18
    Senior Member daihard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
    Generally raising or lowering saddle is a process, where you do it just a few millimeters at a time, perhaps adjusting once a week.

    I was set up by a fitter a number of years ago at 30 degrees, setting my height at 697 mm. My PBH is 81.8 cm, which at .883 gives a target height of 722 mm. My shoe thickness is 15 mm, where "standard" is 12 mm. So based on this I should raise to 725 mm. Considering I use 172.5s versus 170 mm cranks, I should lower by 2.5 mm, for a result of 722.5, which is rather similar to the uncorrected spec.

    What's of more concern to me is the 15 degree assumption for the 0.883 factor. That would explain why I feel more stretched out each time I try 0.883, sometimes to the point of perineal pain.

    On what website did you find the insight that with 0.883 the assumption is a 15 degree knee angle?
    Thanks for the reply. This is the site that refers to the assumption on a 15-degree knee angle.

    http://www.ebicycles.com/article/det...-saddle-height


    No, the iliac crest thing does not tell me anything. Can you explain what it is supposed to mean, and where that info comes from?
    That part was in response to f18 who asked where my iliac crest is relative to the saddle.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member daihard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingsqueak View Post
    Main point for most people who aren't trying to compete is just that they are in the ballpark of where it should be so they get an understanding of how the bike should be fit. Too low strains the knees, too high strains the hips, but "too" is definitely more than just a cm or two off the mark.
    I'm finding that to be true. I adjusted the saddle height again and it was just 3-4 mm higher. I commuted today and felt a bit of strain on my hips after I got home. I don't think my hips were rocking, but it feels like I should revert to the original height. I will ride some more tomorrow to make the decision.
    Badly-behaved cyclists are usually just cyclists with inadequate infrastructure. Or none at all. - Mikael Colville-Andersen

  20. #20
    f18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
    Peddling instability has something to do with door to door sales?
    nope. certain gov't agencies.

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    f18
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    Quote Originally Posted by daihard View Post
    FYI, my iliac crest is about the same height as the top of my saddle now. Does it tell you anything?
    Just one of several rough cross-checks. By no means the final word.

    Bob

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    Senior Member daihard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by f18 View Post
    Just one of several rough cross-checks. By no means the final word.
    In general, though, is my iliac crest supposed to be above the saddle top, below, or about the same height?

    I currently have my saddle set just a couple of millimetres below what the ".0883" method suggests. In other words, between the "0.883" method and the Holmes method. I will keep this setting for a week or so and see how it feels.
    Badly-behaved cyclists are usually just cyclists with inadequate infrastructure. Or none at all. - Mikael Colville-Andersen

  23. #23
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by f18 View Post
    Just one of several rough cross-checks. By no means the final word.

    Bob
    Soooo, can you explain it?

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    The "0.883 method" is problematic because it ignores crank length, along with the thickness of shoe and pedal between naked foot and the pedal spindle. Really, the best and simplest method is just to start with your heels on the pedals and adjust until you have full leg extension at the bottom. Then, pedal normally and have a spotter tell you if your hips are rocking. From there, just ride and make small adjustments if you encounter knee pain.

    (Whether you can or can't touch a toe to the ground is completely incidental to the fit.)
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