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Old 02-09-12, 05:04 PM   #1
SurlyLaika
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saddle height revelation

So I've had my Brooks Flyer, the sprung B17, set pretty high for about the last 6 months.
I used these instructions from Jim Langley to set the saddle height. I thought I would get more power out of each stroke but I've had consistent perineum pain no matter how I tilt the saddle--and I have tilted it every which way. No relief.

The saddle is probably about an an inch to two inches higher than my handlebars. I'm not 100% sure on that, just guessing from looking at it, but it is visibly higher than my bars. So today, just out of curiosity, I lowered it about a cm or the width of a finger. (I always remembered the height it was supposed to be according to the Jim Langley site because it was the width of my index and middle finger, below my Knog Boomer. I can take pictures if it helps visual what I mean. Point is I lowered it by the width of a finger)

What a difference! Suddenly, my sit bones were positioned right on top of the wide part of the saddle instead of sliding forward towards the nose, putting pressure on my wrists to support myself and push myself back to the wide area. Maybe I did lose some pedaling efficiency but it is so much more comfortable! I think this will make a difference on those long rides especially. I might try playing with it, to see how much higher I can get the saddle and still be comfortable but I think one finger width is way more comfortable. My butt, perineum, and wrists all feel much better. I have to take a longer ride to see if my neck still hurts.

Anyways, thoughts on saddle height and comfort? Loss of pedaling efficiency?

edit: I've also read that the Brooks Team Pro is the better Brooks saddle if you ride with your saddle positioned higher than your handlebars, but I can't afford to buy another saddle, so lowering the saddle seems like a good solution to me!

Last edited by SurlyLaika; 02-09-12 at 05:10 PM.
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Old 02-09-12, 05:14 PM   #2
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I just read the Langley instructions again.
"This is a starting position. If it feels too low or high, adjust the seat up or down. But, only slightly to fine-tune the adjustment."

I don't know why I was so stuck on having the saddle high. Do you think a cm is too large of an adjustment for fine tuning?
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Old 02-09-12, 05:17 PM   #3
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Do what feels best for your butt....
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Old 02-09-12, 07:31 PM   #4
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That is a poor way to set height. People tend to reach with their heels set on the pedals. Frankly, I would remove the shoes for this. Your saddle was too high.

A better starting point is center of bottom bracket to crown of saddle should be set to .67 X PBH. PBH is your pubic bone height as taken in stocking feet, standing back to wall, feet set naturally, take a hard cover book and lift it hard into the crotch, mark a line on the wall at the top of the book to wall intersection, measure that value. That is your pubic bone height, PBH. This is a very accurate, universal method of getting a correct starting point saddle height for all people and all bicycles, all of the time.
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Old 02-09-12, 07:40 PM   #5
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I've always used the rule of thumb that your knee should be just slightly bent when at full extension while pedaling. That gets me pretty close and I can find tune it from there over a couple of rides.
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Old 02-09-12, 09:27 PM   #6
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OK So I think I'm missing something.

Was your leg extension correct with the original set-up? If so then couldn't the same results have been achieved by raising the bars one cm?

Glad you're more comfortable, just keep working till you get the most effective 'fit'.
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Old 02-09-12, 10:53 PM   #7
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OK So I think I'm missing something.

Was your leg extension correct with the original set-up? If so then couldn't the same results have been achieved by raising the bars one cm?

Glad you're more comfortable, just keep working till you get the most effective 'fit'.
yea, the leg extension was perfect before. It just didn't feel good to my butt and wrists. I think I feel slower but it might just be an adjustment after riding 6 months with my saddle too high. I could raised my handlebars more but I don't want to. Right now it has a 25 degree rise...the adjustable stem goes up to 40 degrees, but I don't like how upright they are then.

I'll keep playing with the saddle height, though. I guess some people ride with saddles too low. I rode with it too high.
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Old 02-09-12, 10:54 PM   #8
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I've always used the rule of thumb that your knee should be just slightly bent when at full extension while pedaling. That gets me pretty close and I can find tune it from there over a couple of rides.
That's a good rule of thumb. That's how I try to explain for people who don't have the patience for more complicated explanations. BTW, is it the same for mountain bikes? I tried telling my non-biking friend that his seat was too low, but he said it's supposed to be lower on a mountain bike. I don't ride mountain bikes, so I couldn't really say anything.
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Old 02-10-12, 02:46 AM   #9
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I've been having some problems lately with saddle height, it either hurts behind my knee which I think is too high, or in front of my knee. I have put it up from the .67 x inseam which I think was a bit low, and am still having a bit of an ache in the front. But, when setting it with a slight bend at full extension, what position should my foot be in? Should it be totally horizontal, toes down heel up, or heel down? And the crank should be inline with the seat tube? It's really irritating me that I can't get it right.
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Old 02-10-12, 09:33 AM   #10
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First you set the saddle height and fore-aft position correctly with respect to the cranks, then you adjust the bar position with spacers, choice of stem, etc.. You don't move the saddle to accommodate bar position.
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Old 02-10-12, 09:38 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Loose Chain View Post
That is a poor way to set height. People tend to reach with their heels set on the pedals. Frankly, I would remove the shoes for this. Your saddle was too high.

A better starting point is center of bottom bracket to crown of saddle should be set to .67 X PBH. PBH is your pubic bone height as taken in stocking feet, standing back to wall, feet set naturally, take a hard cover book and lift it hard into the crotch, mark a line on the wall at the top of the book to wall intersection, measure that value. That is your pubic bone height, PBH. This is a very accurate, universal method of getting a correct starting point saddle height for all people and all bicycles, all of the time.

That's the rivendell method, right?
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Old 02-10-12, 10:25 AM   #12
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My 2 cents; upright riders enjoy a lower than recommended saddle height, fully rotated like it high. There are too many variables to list.

I did 70 miles on a new Brooks Pro yesterday, very nice..even out of the box. I was in the drops for a while, and I do rotate forward and down. For me, a B17Narrow is more comfortable for shorter rides, but 35 miles is about its limit. If I was riding more upright, I would avoid both and stay with your wider saddle.
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Old 02-10-12, 10:27 AM   #13
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BTW, is it the same for mountain bikes? I tried telling my non-biking friend that his seat was too low, but he said it's supposed to be lower on a mountain bike. I don't ride mountain bikes, so I couldn't really say anything.
Mountain bike seat height is variable and depends on the riding you're doing, really. For fast, smooth trails, or a long climb, you'll want the seat at about the same height as a road bike for pedaling efficiency. But as the terrain becomes more technical, lowering the saddle helps give you more mobility in the cockpit. It gets it out of your way so you can move around easier. For big descents, dropping the saddle all the way down helps you get behind it.

In fact, you may even adjust it during the ride depending on the conditions. That's what the QR saddle clamps are for, and they make dropper seatposts so you can adjust seat height on the fly.

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Old 02-10-12, 11:28 PM   #14
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That's the rivendell method, right?
No, not really, there are several similar equations and they all place the saddle very similar. It gives a starting point, some modern cleated cycling shoes require the saddle to be a tad higher because of the stack up. It is also needed to take into account crank diameter and foot size/length which is why I said it is a starting point. But, it will get you very close. I would be wary of deviating significantly from the computed height.

It is important to get as good PBH measurement. You will need a helper, also a hard cover book with about a 1 inch spine. Press it up into the crotch with similar force exerted by your saddle. Be sure you are in stocking feet, naturally spread, back against the wall, standing straight. Push that book up there TIGHT!!!!!! Make the mark on the wall (your helper presses the book and makes the mark).

I know it is fashionable in some circles now to jack the saddle way high so that the hips rock or the legs have to reach. You should be able to drop your heels slightly at the bottom of the pedal stroke with the knee not quite straight, if you cannot do that, you are too high.

In fact, .67 X PBH is considered the best power position for long distance road racing and is somewhat universal in use by cycling coaches and many riders.
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Old 02-12-12, 01:06 AM   #15
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That is a poor way to set height. People tend to reach with their heels set on the pedals. Frankly, I would remove the shoes for this. Your saddle was too high.

A better starting point is center of bottom bracket to crown of saddle should be set to .67 X PBH. PBH is your pubic bone height as taken in stocking feet, standing back to wall, feet set naturally, take a hard cover book and lift it hard into the crotch, mark a line on the wall at the top of the book to wall intersection, measure that value. That is your pubic bone height, PBH. This is a very accurate, universal method of getting a correct starting point saddle height for all people and all bicycles, all of the time.
If you got this out of the Lemond or Hinualt books read again, and look at some newer stuff too
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Old 02-12-12, 07:21 PM   #16
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If you got this out of the Lemond or Hinualt books read again, and look at some newer stuff too

Look, dude, if you do not like this method, use another, I do not care. Prove your method is any better, double dog dare ya to provide the proof since you seem to indicate your "newer stuff" method is superior.

And, no, Lemond did not whisper it in my ear, an alien did, no, it was actually Elvis. Oh and since either of the guys you mentioned could kick the ass of just about any living cyclist not on drugs, maybe you ought to try some older "stuff" before you claim "newer stuff" is superior.

LC
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Old 02-12-12, 10:54 PM   #17
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dude, don't stress. Just go to the Jim Langley site I linked. Keep in mind that the saddle height is variable.
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