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Fitting Your Bike Are you confused about how you should fit a bike to your particular body dimensions? Have you been reading, found the terms Merxx or French Fit, and don’t know what you need? Every style of riding is different- in how you fit the bike to you, and the sizing of the bike itself. It’s more than just measuring your height, reach and inseam. With the help of Bike Fitting, you’ll be able to find the right fit for your frame size, style of riding, and your particular dimensions. Here ya’ go…..the location for everything fit related.

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Old 04-06-14, 05:24 PM   #1
The Hansenator
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I can't push the seat back far enough

I'm not sure if I'm just crazy but I was hoping someone can help me with this.

I'm in the market for a new bike and have been test riding a few. It seems like on everything I ride, as well as the old Schwinn I currently have, I can't push the seat back far enough. This is because I feel like I have a lot of weight on my hands and I feel like I'm tipping forward. With the seat farther back, I feel more balanced and like I'm using more of the leg muscles to pedal instead of just doing a knee extension. When I'm pedaling hard up a hill I always end up perched on the back edge of the saddle, when it's already as far back as it goes. It's like the horizontal distance of the seat behind the cranks is too short.

I rode the old Schwinn to the local LBS and they had me try tipping the seat up a little. It felt more balanced that way but I was still hanging over the rear edge of the saddle.

What would account for this? Is it seat tube angle or are there other things that affect it? I'm told I have a long inseam for someone my height, could this affect it? Do I just not know how to ride a bike?

Can anyone recommend a bike to consider with this issue in mind? I've been looking at the Cross_Check/Crossrip/Space_Horse style of bikes.

Thanks.
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Old 04-06-14, 05:30 PM   #2
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Cheap solution: longer stem.
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Old 04-06-14, 05:51 PM   #3
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more expensive solution, a saddle with longer rails or a seatpost with a longer setback. Basically if the bike is the right size for you (and you are not too far out of the mainstream when it comes to proportions), this can be fixed. A competent bike shop will set you up right. Where your center of gravity is on the bike matters a lot when it comes to stability.

It's pretty normal to move around on the saddle depending on what sort of riding you are doing, the terrain, wind, etc.

In any case, your description of the problem hasn't convinced me that you have a problem. It may be that you need more time in the saddle before you really know whether this is an issue or not.
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Old 04-06-14, 06:25 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies.

I don't think a longer stem will help, it's not a reach issue. If anything, a shorter stem will be required since I seem to have a short reach. The problem is more about weight distribution over the pedals.

I think I actually do have a problem though. I think I spent most of my life too far forward, my arms would always tire before my legs do and my hands always got really sore from supporting the weight. Unless that's normal, but I'd rather it weren't. At any rate, if it's as simple as swapping out the seat post, it shouldn't be too big of an issue.

I did have less of this issue on a Trek Crossrip than I did on a Surly Cross Check. They wanted to try me on a larger Cross Check but didn't have one in stock and I'm worried that the reach would be longer as well. The Crossrip was also a little long in the reach and the stem looks pretty short already.

I seem to suffer from long legs and a short reach.
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Old 04-06-14, 06:38 PM   #5
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Is the saddle at the proper height? Moving the seat to the rear... has a similar effect as raising it.... and vice versa. I would guess that if the saddle was at the proper height it would be impossible to slide rearward without feeling too stretched.

When descending an extremely steep hill I move to behind the saddle for weight distribution.... but can't really pedal.
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Old 04-07-14, 10:15 AM   #6
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Before spending money the o.p. should get the hard numbers of leg length, seat height, etc.. Its not all subjective. Its a simple thing to see how long your legs are and measure how high or low your saddle and where it is on the rails. My experience is that, if anything, most people are too far rearward and need to come forward a bit. I am much happier now that I have been switching out my many seatposts, all of which came with the 'standard' set-back of about an inch (25.4mm). With the inch in the seatpost and the 3" or 4" in the seat rails and the fact that most people have their saddles shoved about as far back as they can go and the fact that most seat tubes are at a 73* angle. I find it very unlikely that the o.p. needs still more rearward extension. Of course, I don't know this for sure. But s/he can certainly find out. And its easy enough to do.

H
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Old 04-07-14, 10:26 AM   #7
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the old cruisers had a lower than 72~3 degree seat tube angle.. the steeper seat tube angle is popular, these days..

Last edited by fietsbob; 04-07-14 at 10:30 AM.
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Old 04-08-14, 10:33 AM   #8
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Thanks for the replies.

I took some measurements and it looks like a 35.5 inch inseam and a seat height of 37.75 inches. I wasn't sure where to measure it from so I went from the pedal surface to the weight bearing portion of the saddle.

What's funny is that I also have a LeMond Poprad and I can't push the seat far enough forward. So, with the seat all the way back on the Schwinn and all the way forward on the Poprad, that puts the weight bearing part of the saddle about 11-11.25 inches behind the bottom bracket on both bikes. The frames look about the same size and the seat height is identical so I figure it must be a difference in geometry and/or saddle design.

On a positive note; I test rode the Bianchi Volpe and that seemed pretty good in terms of saddle position and reach. I might go give it a second look. It was also suggested by someone that the Spcialized Tri Cross might work for me so I plan to look at that tonight.

Last edited by The Hansenator; 04-08-14 at 10:41 AM.
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Old 04-08-14, 11:14 AM   #9
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To measure , a plumb-line thru the BB axis is the dividing line .. setback is the distance behind that line..
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Old 04-08-14, 01:21 PM   #10
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To measure , a plumb-line thru the BB axis is the dividing line .. setback is the distance behind that line..
Ok, thanks. What point is the other end of the measurement taken from?

I dropped a plumb-line from the weight bearing part of the saddle and measured to the BB from there.
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Old 04-08-14, 01:24 PM   #11
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well then you would do likewise to other bikes you have, and thus see where they differ ..
just use a similar rear point, of your choice, for comparison
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Old 04-08-14, 01:33 PM   #12
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I checked and they are all pretty close. The difference is that all but one have the seats all the way back. The Poprad is all the way forward and then some because I switched to a straight seatpost. The frames all look about the 'appropriate' size too.
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Old 04-08-14, 03:30 PM   #13
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Do these bikes have very different seat tube angles? Just line them up and look.

I also have my saddles pretty far back.
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Old 04-08-14, 04:28 PM   #14
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The seat tube angles aren't visibly much different.

I think I solved the problem though. I swapped saddles and that changed the whole game. Now the saddle on the Schwinn is pretty far forward and the saddle on the Poprad is back far enough that I'll probably put the set back seat post back on. Who knew there could be such a difference between saddles? It will still take some tweaking but now I can move both saddles farther than they need to go in either direction so it's just a matter of dialing it in.
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Old 04-12-14, 08:28 PM   #15
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Yeah there's a crazy amount of variably even between similar saddles. There's no standard rail length for example and it's often impossible to tell if any particular saddle will work until you bolt it on and ride awhile. Finding a good saddle can be frustrating and there's no real correlation between the amount of money you spend and how well they work. In my opinion though it's a lot easier to find an exacting fit with a saddle that's flat side-to-side and front-to-back because as you ride one you'll tend to migrate in the direction of optimal fit. Curvy saddles will capture and hold you sometimes in the wrong spot.

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Old 04-22-14, 05:57 AM   #16
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I am 6'4" and I have the exact same problem. All of my bikes have a setback seatpost with the saddle at the furthest rearward position. I don't think it is a saddle height issue for me, but I am willing to say that I am not an expert in fitting. I just got a new touring bike (Rocky Mountain - Sherpa) that has a shorter top-tube than my other bikes, so I am in the same spot as you trying seat post and saddle combos.
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Old 05-06-14, 11:54 PM   #17
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I'm having the same problem on my touring bike. It's a "large" and I've had two other Cannondale "large" T-series bikes that didn't have this problem. One part, I'm convinced, is that my original (1999) bike and the warranty replacement frame Cannondale provided (2001) were the non-compact models that were about an inch longer than my 2006. It seems to be that inch that I want in a longer saddle now. I already have put a Thompson setback micro-adjust on it and have tried three saddles. The Fizik that came with it is narrower than my posterior physique. My original 1999 saddle is an old-school Viscount Imperial. It has over 5K miles and is still in good condition, but I'm hanging off the back of it in order to get comfortable. My latest experiment has been to put a Delta stem raiser on it. It didn't make much difference in arm pressure, which astounds me. (It's also oh-so much not lovely.)

So I'm looking for a long saddle with a flat area for the rumpus that will slide back one more inch than the Fizik. This has been an amazingly hard specification to track down at manufacturer's websites.
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Old 05-08-14, 08:53 AM   #18
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A couple of other issues - it can be core strength and it can be handlebar height. If the bike fit is correct, then a little core work can pay big dividends in terms of holding yourself up with your core instead of your hands. Getting (borrow from LBS) one of those stems that is adjustable angle can be helpful for quickly figuring out bar height.

I guess I've found when the weight is on my hands, the problem usually is not my seat presuming my seat is approximately right. I also find that I have more pressure on my hands early in the season until I get my bike riding core muscles back in tune for riding.

j.
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Old 05-08-14, 10:12 AM   #19
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Having given this a little more thought, what I'm really looking at when I slide off the aft end of the seat and find it more comfortable is the difference between rotating the hip on the saddle, which puts the long parts of the hip (the bony parts going forward and inboard from the sit parts) contacting the seat and distributing the weight more, and sitting up in a typical comfort bike position, which flattens the butt, and straightens the back, ironically making the spine more in compression.

Next I'm going to try an extended stem.
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Old 05-08-14, 10:20 AM   #20
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That sounds like you're moving in the right direction. Riding posture is (obviously) pretty important.

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Old 05-08-14, 11:36 AM   #21
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Thanks, John. I ordered a 130mm stem. With the unlovely Delta stem raiser, that will give me lots of positions to experiment with. Why Cannondale ever thought that a touring bike needs the seat several inches above the stem is a mystery to me. They effectively made the "large" frame model a smaller bike. (Literally - it's an inch shorter overall than a large was with the frame style that had the shifter bosses on the downtube and the rear brake control cable on top of the top tube.) Maybe their trying to appeal to appearances rather than function is why they no longer sell a touring bike.
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Old 05-08-14, 12:04 PM   #22
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I've had the same problem and am a taller rider (37 inch inseam). I've always needed a setback seatpost and a saddle with rails that extend further towards the nose. Strange thing about hand pressure for me, after getting the saddle back and rotating my hips, I needed to lower the bars to take pressure off my hands. Seems counterintuitive but might be worth a shot once your setback is dialedin.
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Old 05-08-14, 01:05 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Dirt Road View Post
Thanks, John. I ordered a 130mm stem. With the unlovely Delta stem raiser, that will give me lots of positions to experiment with. Why Cannondale ever thought that a touring bike needs the seat several inches above the stem is a mystery to me. They effectively made the "large" frame model a smaller bike. (Literally - it's an inch shorter overall than a large was with the frame style that had the shifter bosses on the downtube and the rear brake control cable on top of the top tube.) Maybe their trying to appeal to appearances rather than function is why they no longer sell a touring bike.
My wife has big issues with her neck, having had a blown disc and subsequent fused vertebrae. Our LBS, from which we bought a custom bike for her and who's owner is an absolutely expert at bike fit, fit it with an adjustable stem like this to help dial it in. Then, when we found a spot that made sense for her, they made the fore and aft measurements as well as the stem position and ordered a stem for her. The issue is that when you bring a stem up you also bring it in because of the angle of the head tube. So by moving it up and down on the steer tube and then adjusting the angle on something like this, you can sort of cover the range of possibilities. If you have the right wrench with you when you ride, you can experiment on the fly to get it right. I would think it wouldn't take more than a ride or two to pretty well nail it. My LBS will loan this stem out if you buy the new one from them. That also might be worth a try.

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Originally Posted by headset View Post
I've had the same problem and am a taller rider (37 inch inseam). I've always needed a setback seatpost and a saddle with rails that extend further towards the nose. Strange thing about hand pressure for me, after getting the saddle back and rotating my hips, I needed to lower the bars to take pressure off my hands. Seems counterintuitive but might be worth a shot once your setback is dialedin.
I've found this too. I think being properly stretched out probably forces you to rely on core instead of your arms and hands and is ultimately more comfortable.

FWIW, for me, I can tell when my saddle is tipped improperly even a fraction of a degree. So I think many people are pretty sensitive to even what would seem to be inconsequential differences.

J.
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Old 05-08-14, 01:36 PM   #24
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Hi, headset - Maybe that's not so counter-intuitive. I found that if I crowded the rear seat and rotated my hips, it felt better in the drops than on top! I mean in terms of pressure on arms and hands. My knees hit my stomach, though and were a little close to my elbows. The stem raiser has cured that problem.

So I experimented with keeping my back in the same position when I came out of the drops, and that didn't ease the pressure at all.

I've also been playing with a kettle ball to improve my gluts and core. In a crazy way, it's sort of fun.
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Old 05-08-14, 01:41 PM   #25
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You have the opportunity for this to be seen by a bike fitter? Maybe a good LBS? Seeing you on the bike and taking some measurements might solve this in a hurry.

J.
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