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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 08-06-07, 12:42 PM   #1
LoRoK
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Saddle height pro & con

Hey. So, about saddle height. I guess it's standard to have the height so that when one crank is at the bottom of it's rotation, there is a slight bend to the knee. I also understand that that should happen while the foot is parrallel to the ground, not with the toes down. My question is, what is considered the proper slight bend? should it be 5 degrees? More? Less? And what are the advantages of more leg bend vs. less leg bend? What are the disadvantages? The reason I ask is that the other day I realized that my leg bend seemed, imo, less than slight. Not substantial, but probably 10-15 degrees. So I raised my saddle about an inch. I can't notice a difference, I'm still comfortable in all positions. I haven't noticed any benifit in having the saddle higher, nor did I notice anything wrong when it was lower. So, enlighten me.
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Old 08-06-07, 12:59 PM   #2
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should be about 90 to 95% of full extension, and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong but I believe that you should take into account how you pedal. If you pedal with your toes down you might want to raise your seat slightly so that you hit the leg extension and if you pedal with your heels down just lower the seat slightly.
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Old 08-06-07, 01:25 PM   #3
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you generally want the saddle to be as high as possible before you have to rock your hips side-to-side during the pedal stroke. Thats a starting point (anything higher is way too high), then if you find yourself getting tired or feeling any aches, gradually bring it down a bit. your gear can also have a bit to do with it, a tad higher saddle lets you develop more force in the saddle for pushing big gears, while a tad lower will make spinning a lower gear less tiresome. but the range will only be a few mm. My ideal spot is about 5mm below where my hips start to rock.

SOO many people ride with the saddle too low, i work at a shop that mostly services casual riders and only a few will have their saddle high enough and essentially never will i see one that is too high. Any bike no matter how poorly fit can be passably comfortable for a few miles, so try and do longer rides and make little trial adjustments after 50-100 miles until find what feels just right.

You'll know when its too high, but its common to get used to one that is too low. error on the high side.

Last edited by roadgator; 08-06-07 at 01:31 PM.
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Old 08-06-07, 01:27 PM   #4
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Easy way to calculate: (Lemond method)

.883 x inseam = center of BB to top of saddle

where inseam is bottom of foot to crotch, not just your pant length measurement. Use a book or something to wedge into your crotch for accurate measurement.
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Old 08-06-07, 01:30 PM   #5
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I've also heard it explained that with your heel on the pedal your leg should be fully extended.

Is that actually true?
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Old 08-06-07, 02:41 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by volthause View Post
I've also heard it explained that with your heel on the pedal your leg should be fully extended.

Is that actually true?
That's what my old LBS used. I've found it to be pretty effective.
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Old 08-06-07, 02:44 PM   #7
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all pro, no con
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Old 08-06-07, 03:08 PM   #8
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It should be 25-30 degrees, really. Without someone photographing you or measuring you with a big protractor, though, that doesn't mean much. Your saddle should be as high as possible without making your hips rock while spinning.
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Old 08-06-07, 03:56 PM   #9
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Another way I've heard to diagnose it is if you have pain or soreness in the front of your knees, you're probably too low, and if you have pain in the back, too high. Though hopefully riding is painless, I sometimes notice my knees getting a little sore in the corresponding area if I ride a saddle that's too low/high. I go for my knees just a little less than fully extended, but pretty close, and I like to set the front end off of that for a big seat to bar drop, because that's what I find comfortable and fast. The almost-fully-extended is a good starting point, and it shouldn't be hard to adjust it from there to where you're really comfortable. Once you hit it, it's great- I've hesitated to move from road drops to bullhorns because my Langster feels so good right now. In fact, I'm going to go ride it right now.
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Old 08-06-07, 06:02 PM   #10
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I recently lifted my saddle a touch and it made a noticeable difference. I was surprised at how little it took.

My pedalling is more efficient.
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Old 08-06-07, 08:10 PM   #11
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i cleaned my bike recently, which means i pulled my seat out and regreased the post and reinstalled it. well i thought i got my seat right, maybe a little higher. i went and rode it and it felt ok. i noticed after a few days that the front of knees were feeling a little stressed. i pulled a foot out of my clip and pedaled a few times and noticed that my knee was still a bit bent when i had my HEEL on the pedal. so i raised it about half a centimeter. that was all it took. nice and comfy again, yeah i could raise it just a bit more probably but that makes it harder to get my butt off the seat to hop curbs and thangs and it all feels smoother with it not at the max height i could have. it's pretty much personal preference.
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Old 08-06-07, 08:23 PM   #12
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I got a new bike recently & raised the seat too high---consequent mad knee pain left me sidelined for 2-3 weeks. lowered it and rode again long this past friday (nice city night ride) & then pain again after 30k or so, but this time in the front of the knee & mcl rather than the back & mcl.

Conclusion: before it was too high, now too low But also I think you have to watch frontness/backness. When I start to get tired a little I move back on the seat, and I'm guessing this is what is causing my pain. Next is to move the seat fwd a little.

How about crank length? A friend advised me that maybe having changed cranks on this new machine (170--->175) may have caused some of this.
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Old 08-06-07, 10:49 PM   #13
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Thanks for all the replies everyone. I still haven't noticed any discomfort, and I think I may have noticed a slight improvement in the way my knees feel. I've only been riding a couple months, and some I expect some soreness now and again, but after the last 2 days with 25+ miles each day I don't feel any soreness or weakness in my legs when somedays it would feel almost like shin-splints in my knees. I might even go a touch higher, just to see what I can get out of it.
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Old 08-06-07, 11:12 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by littledjahn View Post
It should be 25-30 degrees, really. Without someone photographing you or measuring you with a big protractor, though, that doesn't mean much. Your saddle should be as high as possible without making your hips rock while spinning.
35 degrees for grindhouse

25 degrees for mad spinnaz

30 degrees for people like me who do both

it has been my personal experience that fore/aft of the saddle plays a bigger role in knee comfort and that a slightly too low saddle is better than slightly too high

also that toeing downward throughout the stroke puts a lot of pressure on your ankle and knees and is generally not recommended
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Old 08-07-07, 12:45 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MIN View Post
Easy way to calculate: (Lemond method)

.883 x inseam = center of BB to top of saddle

where inseam is bottom of foot to crotch, not just your pant length measurement. Use a book or something to wedge into your crotch for accurate measurement.
+1
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Old 08-07-07, 01:12 AM   #16
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I might even go a touch higher, just to see what I can get out of it.
Good plan. You wot really know its dialed in until you've tried going both directions away from a setting and neither felt as good.
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Old 08-07-07, 07:26 AM   #17
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Whatever doesn't hurt my knees.

Seriously. All the above are great starting points then tweak up or down 1/4" to 1/2" at a time until everything feels perfect and painless.

This is assuming you've got your cleats properly positioned already.
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Old 08-07-07, 07:34 AM   #18
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Whatever doesn't hurt my knees.
Ba-ding! Expand "knees" to include hamstrings, achilles, ankles, etc.
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Old 08-07-07, 09:59 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by volthause View Post
I've also heard it explained that with your heel on the pedal your leg should be fully extended.

Is that actually true?
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That's what my old LBS used. I've found it to be pretty effective.
This is what I do as well, it works for me. It's definitely the quick/easy way to proper height.
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Old 08-07-07, 10:00 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by MIN View Post
Easy way to calculate: (Lemond method)

.883 x inseam = center of BB to top of saddle

where inseam is bottom of foot to crotch, not just your pant length measurement. Use a book or something to wedge into your crotch for accurate measurement.
ive always used .886 but yea. +1. good place to start.
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Old 08-07-07, 10:10 AM   #21
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ive always used .886 but yea. +1. good place to start.
Your way = 28.57"
My way = 28.47"

BB to saddle on my 32.25" inseam.

As you mentioned, it's merely a starting place. For instance, I have have my road bike at +1.2" higher than my fixed gear since I am a masher in my fixed and spinner (keeping it above 90 rpm) on my road bike.
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Old 08-07-07, 10:23 AM   #22
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This is my method: while riding, let go of the bars. If you feel yourself start to rock side-to-side, or straining with one leg more than the other, or ankling toe-down in the pedal stroke, then your saddle is too high. If not, then raise the saddle just until you barely start to feel any of the above symptoms, then back it down 4mm. This takes care of saddle height and leg-length discrepancies at the same time. Oh yeah, but before you do, (for those who ride clipless), first make sure your cleats are spot-on.
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Old 08-08-07, 01:10 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MIN View Post
Easy way to calculate: (Lemond method)

.883 x inseam = center of BB to top of saddle

where inseam is bottom of foot to crotch, not just your pant length measurement. Use a book or something to wedge into your crotch for accurate measurement.
Can I ask a silly question at this point? What does BB mean?

(Yes I'm new to this)
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Old 08-08-07, 02:50 AM   #24
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