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Thread: Seats set high

  1. #1
    Junior Member paultech6's Avatar
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    Seats set high

    Ok so Iam watching USA Pro Challenge .I need an answer to something I dont understand.
    When I was fitted for my road bike my seat was set at about the same level as my handlebar stem and was told this is the standard setup .
    Here is my question watching the pros why are their seats at least a foot higher than handlebars ?
    Paul

  2. #2
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    Because it's more aero and they can take it. Outside of TTs I don't see a foot lower very often, more like 6-9" for the pros.

    A LOT of everyday people find bar level with saddle too low, even.

    I used to roll w/ bar about 4" below saddle. Now that I'm an old man I find 3" below more palatable.

    I'm working for an equation for bar height creep. I'm thinking about a centimeter higher for every 5 years over the age of 30.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

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    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    That's surely what Paul meant, but the way he asked "Seats set high" put me in mind of some of the wrong reasons for funny seat settings I see.

    Literally, the pros have their seats set high for the maximum sustained power. The handlebars are set low for aerodynamic purposes. Also, it looks like a lot more because the top tube slopes down.

    At a given bar height, raising the seat a little doesn't improve the aerodynamics much, because the rider's frontal area doesn't change much. If he has a skinny torso and largish upper legs that is. You're decreasing one and increasing the other, as viewed from the front. With a big torso he'd see some change, but most of these cyclists are big legs and small upper bodies, right?



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    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    Ha, yes indeed. Their saddle height is dictated by their leg length. Pros generally like kinda low bars so they make sure they get a frame that'll allow for that.

    Wanna be like a pro and happen to be shopping Specialized? Get the Tarmac.

    Want bars level with saddle? Get the Roubaix.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

  5. #5
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    + Look back at race pictures from the past, say 50 years ago,
    and you will see this has not always been so.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    The seats are not set high. It's the bars that are set low. Yes, lower bars make you more aero up to the point where your back is horizontal and your torso presents the minimum frontal area. Aero bars on TT bikes help riders achieve and maintain that position. That said, my wife and I are both pushing 60 and find that lower bars work better for our backs. The top of my bars is 10cm below the top of my saddle (only ~4", not a foot). I'm mentioning this because it works for us and seems counter to the conventional wisdom. It certainly won't work for everybody depending on the physiology, conditioning, back pathology, ...
    Last edited by Looigi; 08-26-12 at 11:56 AM.

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    Senior Member dwatson's Avatar
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    Pros also will ride the smallest possible, weather it fits or not. Look at the stem length, most are 120mm or larger.

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    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwatson View Post
    Pros also will ride the smallest possible, weather it fits or not. Look at the stem length, most are 120mm or larger.
    Wrong. It fits their preferred riding position, very low bars with respect to the saddle. A frame alone doesn't fit or not fit without consideration of components, and subsequent adjustment.

  9. #9
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    My road bike/commuter has the bars about 2 inches higher than the saddle.

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    I'm currently running a 4" drop from seat to bars, but it might be too much because my ability to breathe is severely restricted.

  11. #11
    Don from Austin Texas
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    It is a big mistake to set the seat for the handlebars. You set the seat for the proper relationship to the pedals. Parameters for this are pretty tight. If seat/pedal spacing is wrong then, at the very least, you will lose efficiency big time. Once the seat is set, parameters for handlebar height are much looser and depend on personal taste, riding style. fitness of core, presence or absence of back problems etc. Notice how many types of handlebars offer different positions and reach depending on type of riding or even just to give you a break.

    Don in Austin

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