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  1. #1
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    What is a 'Level Saddle'

    I'm returning to the road after a 15'ish year hiatus. The Binachi that I am riding was purchased and fit for me back in 1996 or so (I hit age 65 this year, BTW). No fitting actions have been taken since then.

    I'm having more hand numbness problems than I recall from the 90's. 40 minutes into a ride is where it occurs despite a reasonable attempts at changing hand positions. From the reading that I have done one thing to check out is a forward tilted saddle. When I put a level across my saddle (when on a level floor) I find that the nose of the saddle is slightly lower than the rear of the saddle. But from what I can tell my saddle is tilted back as far as it will go (it is 'conventional' with a one bolt design). 'Level' (as measured by a level set across the saddle) would require the nose to go 'up' maybe 1/8" to 3/16" (no more).

    But what is 'level' exactly. And FWIW I feel comfortable on this bike (other than numb hands-right one is worse, BTW) with no particular 'butt problems' or penile nerve problems (which interestingly I did encounter back in the 90's on occasion).

    Thanks.

    dave

  2. #2
    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
    When I put a level across my saddle (when on a level floor) I find that the nose of the saddle is slightly lower than the rear of the saddle. But from what I can tell my saddle is tilted back as far as it will go (it is 'conventional' with a one bolt design). 'Level' (as measured by a level set across the saddle) would require the nose to go 'up' maybe 1/8" to 3/16" (no more).

    But what is 'level' exactly.
    Level is what you don't quite have.

    You are on the right track to verify: tires aired, floor checked w/ bubble level ( smart 'phone app if one must ) and a proper carpenter's bubble level long enough to span the saddle front to rear to verify level. If you have an old style Concor or some other exotic shape it's more difficult than w/ a Turbo or such but level is what the centered bubble says. Time to mark your rail position w/ a marker if satisfied that position over the BB is correct and loosen the seatpost saddle clamp and elevate the nose by the measure you noted. Old school single clamp designs should have enough adjustment get you there, some dis-/re-assembly & cleaning/lubing may be in order. Good thing you marked your rail position.

    And now everyone who points their saddle nose at the moon or basement will chime in w/ "NO! Not LEVEL! that's Not how MINE Is!"

    A level saddle is the base fit for the classic fitting systems and is the proper starting (and frequently end ) point ( Brooks being the long standing exception to the rule).

    Be patient and attach pics.

    PS
    Possibly having no correlation I find that standing not only allows a nice stretch & cooling air to the nether regions but helps to avoid hand numbness as well. As a long time fixed gear road rider I may do this more than most roadies but what works, works.
    Like a level saddle.

    -Bandera
    Last edited by Bandera; 06-03-14 at 05:45 PM.
    '74 Raleigh International - '77 Trek TX900FG - '92 Vitus 979 - '10 Merckx EMX-3- '11 Soma Stanyan

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the helpful reply, Bandera. I'll be a bit more diligent and see I can induce a bit motion rotation (or post pics if that doesn't work out).

    dave

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    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
    Thanks for the helpful reply, Bandera. I'll be a bit more diligent and see I can induce a bit motion rotation (or post pics if that doesn't work out).

    dave
    Dave,

    After marking your saddle rail position loosen the seatpost/saddle clamp & give the saddle a mild "whack" w/ the palm of your hand.
    Re-position at the mark & move the tilt up to actual level w/ your bubble level. Be patient, this may take a trial or three.

    -Bandera
    '74 Raleigh International - '77 Trek TX900FG - '92 Vitus 979 - '10 Merckx EMX-3- '11 Soma Stanyan

  5. #5
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    And "level" is not necessarily from the back of the saddle to the nose. Rather it is the working part of the saddle which should be level or at least start that way: that portion from the sit bones forward.

    Numb hands:
    Numb Hands

  6. #6
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    Thanks to all for the helpful feedback.

    FWIW, I have 'banged around' a bit on my saddle and coerced a somewhat (small change) more rearward angle. But it just isn't at all clear to me that my 'effective saddle angle' is too far forward (see post #5 in this thread). I have moved it a tad rearward but ....

    Anyway this is a virtual instant replay from the mid/late 1990's. Back then I was trying to return to good fitness and my running/marathoning heritage. I kept encountering ankle sprains, illiotibial band issues, etc. And an exercise bike was the alternative to running while I recovered from running injuries. After the 3rd event I decided "to hell with it - let's just be a biker".

    So I bought I nice Bianchi from a local LBS and rode for a couple years. I entered 'biking' in reasonably good biking condition. And I quickly encountered 'hand numbness'. After a month or two it just kind of fixed itself. And interestingly that is EXACTLY where I am now. I have gotten my fitness back to reasonable on strictly an exercise bike. And a month or so ago I (and my local LBS) resurrected my Bianchi and I am back on the road (actually mixed road and exercise bike). Other than being much older it is an instant replay.

    I have continued my research on this issue, considered and/or implemented the data suggested in this thread, etc. In particular the Numb Hands thread suggested previously is one that I encountered several weeks ago, and was really worth a revisit. But the truth is that I have been here before and this was a problem that mostly resolved itself.

    So I have already made a minor change to my saddle angle, and am continuing to better focus on my hand positions and hand position changes during riding. Today I did a 'nothing special' 90 minute ride. My #1 focus was proper hand position and moving that hand position every couple of minutes. After 90 minutes I had encountered only minor hand numbness. This is a HUGE improvement over previous experiences. So I am hopeful that continued focus on such things will resolve this problem.

    If not my current handlebar height is 3.25" below the nose of my saddle. I would think that raising the handlebars is the next step. And beyond that is a full professional bicycle fitting. But today's ride was most encouraging.

    dave

    ps. Just for grins here is a general pic of my bike - not so helpful as one with me on it. But since I had the pic ....
    Attached Images Attached Images

  7. #7
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Nice setup. That saddle looks right to me.

  8. #8
    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    Nice setup. That saddle looks right to me.
    Agree, well done.

    You have a fairly aggressive "drop" to the bars than w/ old school fit and more down-tilt at the bar-end.
    Try rotating the bar-end to nearly parallel to the ground to get pressure off the wrists, ride w/ relaxed elbows and set the stem to the "max" marker.

    Relax and you'll be like this dude in the pic, ready for whatever.

    PS: Lovely machine.

    -Bandera
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    '74 Raleigh International - '77 Trek TX900FG - '92 Vitus 979 - '10 Merckx EMX-3- '11 Soma Stanyan

  9. #9
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    Bandera/Carbon, thanks for the helpful comments and references.

    Bandera, when you said set the stem to the "max" marker, I assume that what you are suggesting is that I raise the stem (which doesn't seem unreasonable to me). Am I correct here? If I can resolve the numbness problem without doing that do you see any other reason to raise the stem? I am assuming the the bar end rotation is a separate issue (that I will be addressing, BTW).

    And (IMHO) this is a nice bike. When I decided to 'hit the road' back in the 90's I was completely and totally clueless. I went to a local (Ca. at the time) LBS and asked for a bike that would be raceable if I wanted to do that someday (I did do a few Cat IV's in Ca.). I was most fortunate to get a good LBS guy who actually built me a bike that (save for maybe 1.5 pounds of frame weight and the inevitable mid 90's groupset) is actually a darn nice bike even today (Bianchi Nivacrom, EL/OS steel frame). I have no idea what I will ultimately change but I'm keeping that frame for sure. And other than the fact that I may be just plain too old to ride a 53/39-12/25t groupset (8 speed), I'm actually happy with the Chorus components.

    dave

  10. #10
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    Put a compact and an 12-28 on it and I bet you'll find it nicer off the flats. Thats what I did with my brevet bike. I don't see any need to suffer at 39-25 up steep hills.

  11. #11
    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
    Bandera, when you said set the stem to the "max" marker, [COLOR=#000000]I assume that what you are suggesting is that I raise the stem (which doesn't seem unreasonable to me). Am I correct here? If I can resolve the numbness problem without doing that do you see any other reason to raise the stem? I am assuming the the bar end rotation is a separate issue (that I will be addressing, BTW)
    If you are comfortable with the drop let her be: that which works, works.

    Bar-end position is indeed a separate issue.
    Pre-brifters the pro set-up was to have the bar-end parallel (or nearly) to the ground.
    With brifters the lever level is often the set-up point. Rotating your bar-end to near parallel will do both for you.
    You are close, document all changes & ease into it.

    Riding with a relaxed supple elbows bent style will get you where you want to be.

    -Bandera
    Last edited by Bandera; 06-05-14 at 07:30 PM.
    '74 Raleigh International - '77 Trek TX900FG - '92 Vitus 979 - '10 Merckx EMX-3- '11 Soma Stanyan

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