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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 06-25-06, 05:31 PM   #1
Danielle
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Saddle height vs inseam length.

What kind of saddle height are you guys using vs your inseam length. Do you measure with cycling shoes on? I am trying to get an idea of where to put my saddle after various attempts. It would be neat if a bunch of you could give your inseam vs your saddle height (either from seat to bb or seat to center of pedal spindle). I appreciate your help. What method do you use o get the figure? Lemond?
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Old 06-25-06, 05:50 PM   #2
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Inseam=83 cm, Saddle top/center of BB=74.5 cm, by trial and error. Lemond method=73.3 cm
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Old 06-25-06, 06:38 PM   #3
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For a number of reasons, those formulas don't work very well. The "old fashioned" method works as well or better: with your bike shoes on, and sitting centered on the saddle, with your heels on the saddle, your leg should be dead straight with the pedal at six o'clock. You should be able to pedal backwards smoothly, with your heels on the saddle, and without any rocking of the hips.

Then, with the balls of your feet on the saddle, there ought to be a distinct and visible bend in your knee with the pedal at 6 o'clock. And, again, you ought to be able to pedal rapidly without any hip rocking.

The formulas in books tend to put the saddle about a half inch or so higher than the "knee straight/knee bent" method. Supposedly, according to "scientific theory" the higher position is more efficient. But, for average cyclists, having the saddle too high leads to crotch pain and knee pain.

If this height proves to be comfortable for you, carefully measure the distance from the center of the bottom bracket bolt to the top of the saddle, and write down that measurement. Using the same BB to top of saddle distance on all of your bikes makes it easier to change from one bike to another.
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Old 06-25-06, 06:47 PM   #4
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+1

You might be able to get a "ball-park" setting with a formula but it won't help with the fine adjustments, not to mention seat angle and fine distance from the handlebars.

Ride lots, carry tools and don't be afraid to stop to make a small correction on the road.
That's how to get it really right.
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Old 06-25-06, 06:54 PM   #5
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"with your heels on the saddle, your leg should be dead straight with the pedal at six o'clock. You should be able to pedal backwards smoothly, with your heels on the saddle, and without any rocking of the hips.
Then, with the balls of your feet on the saddle"

I think you mean heels/feet on the "pedal" don't you??
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Old 06-25-06, 07:01 PM   #6
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FWIW, a more reliable measurement than 'inseam' is 'pubic bone height'. They're not quite the same thing.
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Old 06-25-06, 07:04 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danielle
What kind of saddle height are you guys using vs your inseam length. Do you measure with cycling shoes on? I am trying to get an idea of where to put my saddle after various attempts. It would be neat if a bunch of you could give your inseam vs your saddle height (either from seat to bb or seat to center of pedal spindle). I appreciate your help. What method do you use o get the figure? Lemond?
The best method would be to have an experienced rider (or even a fitter) observe and give you an initial saddleheight/leg angle setting. You can make needed adjustment from there. I don't particularly care for these formulas. As you can see there's a certain level of confusion, and the formulas do not factor differing stack heights between the variety of shoes and pedals.
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Old 06-25-06, 07:38 PM   #8
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I have a 30.75 pubic bone height. My Seat to bb is 26.7". Does that sound right?
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Old 06-25-06, 07:44 PM   #9
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Mine is 31.7" and 27.45".
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Old 06-25-06, 08:33 PM   #10
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I adjust until I'm comfortable. I find with my foot cleated I can straighten my leg by dropping my heel.
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Old 06-25-06, 08:39 PM   #11
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The book I'm currently reading suggests that you should get dressed as you would to ride (shoes, cleats, shorts) and put your bike in a stationary trainer then unclip from the pedals and place your heels on the pedals. You should have the saddle height high enough so as to just barely keep your heels in contact with the pedals as you turn them.

--Steve
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Old 06-25-06, 08:54 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by zimbo
The book I'm currently reading suggests that you should get dressed as you would to ride (shoes, cleats, shorts) and put your bike in a stationary trainer then unclip from the pedals and place your heels on the pedals. You should have the saddle height high enough so as to just barely keep your heels in contact with the pedals as you turn them.

--Steve
The problem with that though is that you've just completely removed the cleat stack height from the equation when it's an important factor. Seriously, these catch-all forumulas are no good. Get yourself in the ballpark, go out for a ride with a hex key in your jersey pocket and tweak things until they're perfect.
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Old 06-25-06, 09:49 PM   #13
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32'' inseam, ~72 cm saddle height. I do agree with eyefloater, though, tweak until it feels right, but not at huge incrememts at a time.
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Old 06-25-06, 09:51 PM   #14
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My inseam is 85.1 cm and I run my saddles at 75.5 cm on bikes with Look pedals and 75.0 on bikes with Speedplay pedals. Arrived at this purely by trial and error from a starting point suggested by a fit calculator.
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Old 06-25-06, 10:01 PM   #15
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just a guideline

One thing to note is the saddle itself. I have a brooks B17 that flexes a bit under weight. So my inseam to seat height measurement according to the most common methods is actually too low, because the saddle height differs by half an inch depending on whether I sit on it or not. And of course since I sit on a saddle, it is that distance that is important. Also a short spin around the block isn't sufficient to tell if the saddle height is right. As with my brooks, it takes about ten minutes for it to warm up and "sag" a bit under my weight. I find that my saddle height is slightly too high at the start of the ride, but within minutes is just right.
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Old 06-26-06, 05:08 AM   #16
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i also agree there's nothing wrong with the "heels on the pedals" technique (I think it's in bare feet or just socks), at least as a starting point, as all methods probably shoule be.

Last edited by 531Aussie; 06-26-06 at 05:36 AM.
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Old 06-26-06, 08:39 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danielle
What kind of saddle height are you guys using vs your inseam length. Do you measure with cycling shoes on? I am trying to get an idea of where to put my saddle after various attempts. It would be neat if a bunch of you could give your inseam vs your saddle height (either from seat to bb or seat to center of pedal spindle). I appreciate your help. What method do you use o get the figure? Lemond?

It took me a while to get this measurement right because I kept messing with formulas. The Lemond method had me too high and so did a few others.

My inseam is about 88cm and I was using a height of about 77, per Lemond.

After much grief, I just do it the old fashioned "heel on pedal" way and adjust slightly if necessary.

I now go about 74cm on the saddle measured from center of BB to top of saddle.
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