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Seat Height

Old 09-16-19, 05:51 PM
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Seat Height

Hi All,
I'm 6'4" and for two years have been riding a bike too small for me, so I broke down and purchased a new bike of the proper frame size. I have a 37" inseam from the crotch to the floor and did the calculations and came up with 40" from the top of the pedal to the top of the seat. When sitting on the saddle with the crank down at the furthest point in line with the seat tube my heel just touches the pedal, with an ever so slight bend in the knee.

According to what I've always read your leg should extend until straight, but here's my dilemma I feel like I'm going to fall over at a stop, and it's much harder to mount the bike and get started.

Is it a matter of just getting used to it or do you think the seat is too high?

Thanks
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Old 09-16-19, 06:00 PM
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Are you staying seated on the saddle when you stop?

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Old 09-16-19, 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
Are you staying seated on the saddle when you stop?
Yes, I usually come to a stop and put my foot down to hold myself up. Getting on the bike I've always swung my leg over the back wheel and seat with the bike leaning towards me.
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Old 09-16-19, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Johnny H. View Post
Yes, I usually come to a stop and put my foot down to hold myself up. Getting on the bike I've always swung my leg over the back wheel and seat with the bike leaning towards me.
Try this: When you come to a stop, scoot forward off the saddle and straddle the top tube. Like this:





While you wait for the light, rotate one of the pedals to 2 o'clock. It's harder to see, but that's what the rider in the photo is doing. When the light changes, stand up on the 2 o'clock pedal. Your weight will drive the pedal down and the bike forward. In that same motion, sit on the saddle, put your other foot on the other pedal, and ride away.

I don't know if your saddle is too high, but proper saddle height shouldn't be set by how you can reach the ground from the saddle. That is, set your saddle height for riding, not stopping.
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Old 09-17-19, 06:55 AM
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Some generalities: In the long term, front of knee pain indicates saddle is too low. Back of knee pain, or groin or Achilles pulls, indicate saddle is too high. Hips rocking while riding means saddle is too high. Make small (2 mm) adjustments. Start with level saddle.
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Old 09-17-19, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Johnny H. View Post
Hi All,
I'm 6'4" and for two years have been riding a bike too small for me, so I broke down and purchased a new bike of the proper frame size. I have a 37" inseam from the crotch to the floor and did the calculations and came up with 40" from the top of the pedal to the top of the seat. When sitting on the saddle with the crank down at the furthest point in line with the seat tube my heel just touches the pedal, with an ever so slight bend in the knee.

According to what I've always read your leg should extend until straight, but here's my dilemma I feel like I'm going to fall over at a stop, and it's much harder to mount the bike and get started.

Is it a matter of just getting used to it or do you think the seat is too high?

Thanks
If you truly have a 37 inches (94 cm) cycling inseam then set your settle using the Lemond Method to 32.7 inches (83 cm) for starters. This works for 75% of the population +/- .5 cm and 90% of the population +/- 1 cm. Measure this distance along the seat tube from the center of the bottom bracket to the crown of the saddle. This will usually result in a lower saddle than the 109% I think you used from the pedal to seat top.

You are NOT supposed to be able to touch the ground from a proper seat adjustment on a normal (diamond) frame bicycle, maybe a recumbent or something. You must dismount as was suggested. If you are riding with clips (toe cages) or clipless then as you approach a stop decide which foot is going down and then bring the foot to remain in/on the pedal down and and simply step off the saddle and STRADDLE the bicycle as you brake smoothly to a stop and set your now unclipped or free foot to the ground. Then rotate the foot that is still in/on the pedal to about the 2 o'clock position and when it is time to go, step down on that peddle, you will go up and on to the saddle and the bicycle will move forward, all in one fluid motion both up and own.

If you cannot straddle your bicycle top tube when stopped, then something is not right as in the frame is too large. Yes, I know, my mommy and my first grade school teacher told me to ride against traffic and they adjusted my seat so I could touch the ground from the saddle, but you know, I have learned a few things along the way since then, I think. One of them is that they were wrong!

Cycling inseam, with a buddy, stand back to the wall in stocking feet and wearing some thin cycling shorts similar to what you might wear (or nude is best but we will not go there). Stand up straight, feet one foot apart (not on carpet). Take a hardcover book with a one or two inch spine and shove it up you know where until it begins to hurt and your feet get light. Put a pencil mark on the wall at the top of the book square to the wall, do this three times and average. That is your PBH, pubic bone height, and that is your true cycling inseam for hence forth and forever.

Your cycling inseam is not your pants inseam, in slacks I wear a 32 (per current fashion), in my cowboy boots or shoes with a heel, I wear jeans at a 34, my cycling inseam, as an example is 33.8 inches.

Last edited by Loose Chain; 09-17-19 at 08:17 AM.
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Old 09-17-19, 09:55 AM
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So much has been written about seat height over the decades of cycling that it's hard to add more. Just about any book about the basics of riding (not repair stuff) have a section giving their favorite method(s) of a starting seat height. Most methods don't take into account the foot lengths, toe lengths (where along the foot is it's "ball" or the natural balance point), a few will mention the various purposes of riding (off road, ultra long distances, triathlons) and nearly none talk about the rider's flexibility, possible injuries or strength. As with so many aspects of life mere formulas don't cover the entire picture.

An example of a frequently missing detail is the saddle's softness. I don't know of many (any?) who measure seat height with a ruler/tape measure that does so with the rider on the seat and is compressing the seat.

The use of a goniometer does include some of these missing details though. The pedal/shoe "thickness", the seat's compressibility as example. But using a goniometer isn't as straight forward as a tape measure (Bad almost pun). Even here there is disagreement as to what is the "proper" angle the knee should be at when the foot is at the bottom of the stroke. And ankle angle comes into play too.

I work for/with one of our area's most experienced fitters. We have various measuring devices. But Scott rarely uses them as his eyes takes into account the whole body and the rider's style. he sees the rider's movements and notes their issues. Even after the initial fitting session we often have the rider return after a few weeks/months to revisit the fit now that the body has begun to acclimate to the different set up. None of this stuff is locked in stone, all of it will evolve as the rider/body changes over the miles and season.

It is this experience that makes me question when people who have never watched the rider on their bike claim this or that. (As I find myself frequently saying here in Bike Forums) this isn't rocket science, there are more then one answer. But some answers are just missing the depth of the subject. Andy
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Old 09-17-19, 10:38 AM
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As I get older I'm tending to raise my saddle, mostly because at age 61 my knees aren't as strong as they used to be. I don't have any real knee problems and don't want any. Most of my power and smoother cadence seems to come when my saddle is high enough that I practically need to consciously point my toe down at the bottom of the stroke.

It does mean I sit more heavily in the saddle at times, so I've had to make a few minor saddle adjustments -- a bit nose down -- or switch to saddles with cutouts and/or more flexible shells. And I wear thicker padded shorts now. But all in all, I'm pretty satisfied with these modifications.

Ditto, scooting off the saddle at stops, especially if you use clipless. I'm having to break myself of the habit of leaning over, sitting on the saddle and propping myself up with the ball of my left foot on the ground. That's less risky with grippy casual or MTB shoes on dry or clean pavement. But still not a good habit. I've tipped over on motorcycles a couple of times over the decades when my foot slipped on oily pavement or a patch of sandy gravel.

With clipless shoes I *can* still lean over while seated and prop myself up with one foot. But I should stop doing that. Especially with older Look Delta cleats, which lack any rubbery tips to provide a bit of grip for standing or walking.
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Old 09-17-19, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Johnny H. View Post

"When sitting on the saddle with the crank down at the furthest point in line with the seat tube my heel just touches the pedal, with an ever so slight bend in the knee."

Yes, I usually come to a stop and put my foot down to hold myself up. Getting on the bike I've always swung my leg over the back wheel and seat with the bike leaning towards me.
Since the pedal is about 5" off the ground, how do you do that? You'd have to lean over mighty far?

When you get your adjustment close, ride and see what cadence you can maintain with the same degree of effort.
Likely your highest cadence is your best spot. I mess around with 1/8" adjustments!

Last edited by Bill Kapaun; 09-17-19 at 04:29 PM.
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Old 09-17-19, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Loose Chain View Post
If you truly have a 37 inches (94 cm) cycling inseam then set your settle using the Lemond Method to 32.7 inches (83 cm) for starters. This works for 75% of the population +/- .5 cm and 90% of the population +/- 1 cm. Measure this distance along the seat tube from the center of the bottom bracket to the crown of the saddle. This will usually result in a lower saddle than the 109% I think you used from the pedal to seat top.

You are NOT supposed to be able to touch the ground from a proper seat adjustment on a normal (diamond) frame bicycle, maybe a recumbent or something. You must dismount as was suggested. If you are riding with clips (toe cages) or clipless then as you approach a stop decide which foot is going down and then bring the foot to remain in/on the pedal down and and simply step off the saddle and STRADDLE the bicycle as you brake smoothly to a stop and set your now unclipped or free foot to the ground. Then rotate the foot that is still in/on the pedal to about the 2 o'clock position and when it is time to go, step down on that peddle, you will go up and on to the saddle and the bicycle will move forward, all in one fluid motion both up and own.

If you cannot straddle your bicycle top tube when stopped, then something is not right as in the frame is too large. Yes, I know, my mommy and my first grade school teacher told me to ride against traffic and they adjusted my seat so I could touch the ground from the saddle, but you know, I have learned a few things along the way since then, I think. One of them is that they were wrong!

Cycling inseam, with a buddy, stand back to the wall in stocking feet and wearing some thin cycling shorts similar to what you might wear (or nude is best but we will not go there). Stand up straight, feet one foot apart (not on carpet). Take a hardcover book with a one or two inch spine and shove it up you know where until it begins to hurt and your feet get light. Put a pencil mark on the wall at the top of the book square to the wall, do this three times and average. That is your PBH, pubic bone height, and that is your true cycling inseam for hence forth and forever.

Your cycling inseam is not your pants inseam, in slacks I wear a 32 (per current fashion), in my cowboy boots or shoes with a heel, I wear jeans at a 34, my cycling inseam, as an example is 33.8 inches.
Thanks for this in depth instruction. What is the crown of the saddle?

When I measured the inseam I was on carpet, I didn't realize how important this measurement was, (I was going ballpark).

I am 62 years old and since I first started riding it's always been leg down at a stop, I guess my seat has always been too low in all my bikes, especially since I'm above average height.

Learning a new technique now is going to be very difficult for fear of falling.

I see folks getting on their bikes by hoisting themselves on with one foot on the pedal and then throwing the leg over while the bike is rolling. As a kid I would think noting of trying that, but now forget it. Lol
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Old 09-17-19, 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
As I get older I'm tending to raise my saddle, mostly because at age 61 my knees aren't as strong as they used to be. I don't have any real knee problems and don't want any. Most of my power and smoother cadence seems to come when my saddle is high enough that I practically need to consciously point my toe down at the bottom of the stroke.

It does mean I sit more heavily in the saddle at times, so I've had to make a few minor saddle adjustments -- a bit nose down -- or switch to saddles with cutouts and/or more flexible shells. And I wear thicker padded shorts now. But all in all, I'm pretty satisfied with these modifications.

Ditto, scooting off the saddle at stops, especially if you use clipless. I'm having to break myself of the habit of leaning over, sitting on the saddle and propping myself up with the ball of my left foot on the ground. That's less risky with grippy casual or MTB shoes on dry or clean pavement. But still not a good habit. I've tipped over on motorcycles a couple of times over the decades when my foot slipped on oily pavement or a patch of sandy gravel.

With clipless shoes I *can* still lean over while seated and prop myself up with one foot. But I should stop doing that. Especially with older Look Delta cleats, which lack any rubbery tips to provide a bit of grip for standing or walking.
That's how I've always come to stops. When I come to the stop I simply put my foot down to balance, but now I can't, it's way more unstable with the proper sized bike. Sometimes I ask myself why didn't I just keep riding the too small bike I didn't have these problems, that take the fun out of it for me.

I ride casually, with (I'm sorry to the purists out there) shorts and sneakers.
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Old 09-17-19, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
Since the pedal is about 5" off the ground, how do you do that? You'd have to lean over mighty far?

When you get your adjustment close, ride and see what cadence you can maintain with the same degree of effort.
Likely your highest cadence is your best spot. I mess around with 1/8" adjustments!
I didn't have to lean that much before because I always rode a bike with a too small frame, and I have long legs 36" inseam.

Now with a proper bike it's a new ballgame.
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Old 09-17-19, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Johnny H. View Post
I didn't have to lean that much before because I always rode a bike with a too small frame, and I have long legs 36" inseam.

Now with a proper bike it's a new ballgame.
Seat height has little to do with frame size. seat posts are adjustable up and down and are available in really long lengths. Andy
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Old 09-18-19, 07:08 AM
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Seat height recommendations all deal with establishing the most efficient and powerful position and therefore are mainly for enthusiasts. OP, if you are a casual rider and plan to stay that way then I see no problem with keeping things the way they were. I think hills and riding against the wind will be more difficult and taxing for you but it is totally your call.
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Old 09-18-19, 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by mitchmellow62 View Post
Seat height recommendations all deal with establishing the most efficient and powerful position and therefore are mainly for enthusiasts. OP, if you are a casual rider and plan to stay that way then I see no problem with keeping things the way they were. I think hills and riding against the wind will be more difficult and taxing for you but it is totally your call.
This! Andy
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Old 09-18-19, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Johnny H. View Post
Thanks for this in depth instruction. What is the crown of the saddle?

When I measured the inseam I was on carpet, I didn't realize how important this measurement was, (I was going ballpark).

I am 62 years old and since I first started riding it's always been leg down at a stop, I guess my seat has always been too low in all my bikes, especially since I'm above average height.

Learning a new technique now is going to be very difficult for fear of falling. I see folks getting on their bikes by hoisting themselves on with one foot on the pedal and then throwing the leg over while the bike is rolling. As a kid I would think noting of trying that, but now forget it. Lol
What I meant by the crown of the saddle is the top of the saddle. You do not need to get all excessively scientific. Just run a little tape measure up from the bottom bracket center along the seat tube and then sight across to the top of the saddle. Then tighten the seat clamp down. Ride it some, give a little time to get used to it. You may need to adjust up or down a little bit but again, this is going to be a very close setting.

By the way, I am 65 years old, life long cyclist. A recent photo, there is no freaking way I could sit on my saddle and touch the ground without being at such an angle I would topple over. And if your saddle is set correctly, you will not be able to either:



The rolling mount and dismount is fun, I do it all the time. Especially when I need to make a quick get away before my wife can give me a honey do errand!

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Old 09-18-19, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by mitchmellow62 View Post
Seat height recommendations all deal with establishing the most efficient and powerful position and therefore are mainly for enthusiasts. OP, if you are a casual rider and plan to stay that way then I see no problem with keeping things the way they were. I think hills and riding against the wind will be more difficult and taxing for you but it is totally your call.
I find proper seat height makes my riding way less miserable because of all the bad joints etc. old people have.
Because of my COPD, I have to ride a very "efficiently". A little tweek here & there adds up.
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Old 09-18-19, 03:29 PM
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Due to laziness I did not read most of the responses above.

Please stop using 'formulae' to calculate your saddle height, or if you do just use it as a starting point. All the calculations I have seen are far to simple to be accurate for any population of cyclists - they don't take foot size, cleat placement, flexibility, cranks length, etc. into account.

The long-accepted way to adjust your saddle is to keep raising it incrementally until your hips start to rock, then drop it back to the last position where your hips aren't rocking. Once you get the feel for proper leg extension you are likely to be able to feel the need to adjust by simply riding... you will get on and think "I think my saddle needs to be (higher/lower)."

Also, do not adjust your saddle height to make it comfortable to put your feet on the ground. Your legs should be almost straight when pedal is at the bottom, and the pedal is higher than the ground, therefore proper saddle height puts your feet just out of reach of the ground. In fact, on most road or cross bikes, you can probably get your saddle height in a pretty good range by setting it such that your toes just reach the ground.
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Old 09-18-19, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Wilfred Laurier View Post
Due to laziness I did not read most of the responses above.

Please stop using 'formulae' to calculate your saddle height, or if you do just use it as a starting point. All the calculations I have seen are far to simple to be accurate for any population of cyclists - they don't take foot size, cleat placement, flexibility, cranks length, etc. into account.

The long-accepted way to adjust your saddle is to keep raising it incrementally until your hips start to rock, then drop it back to the last position where your hips aren't rocking. Once you get the feel for proper leg extension you are likely to be able to feel the need to adjust by simply riding... you will get on and think "I think my saddle needs to be (higher/lower)."

Also, do not adjust your saddle height to make it comfortable to put your feet on the ground. Your legs should be almost straight when pedal is at the bottom, and the pedal is higher than the ground, therefore proper saddle height puts your feet just out of reach of the ground. In fact, on most road or cross bikes, you can probably get your saddle height in a pretty good range by setting it such that your toes just reach the ground.
Since you are too lazy to read what was said then what you say about what you were too lazy to have read is nothing more than that, nothing more than another opinion.

The Lemond Formula does take into account standard cycling shoes and more succinctly, people are not all that different, and the .883 X Cycling Inseam does provide a starting point to adjust from that is in the ball park and sufficiently accurate for that purpose and will get a rider close without out all the gymnastics you suggest. Do not bother to write a long response because I will become suddenly too lazy to read it.

Op, whether you use the "Lemond Formula" or the up and down until your hip rocks and then down until they stop rocking educated-guesstimate, either method gets you to the same place, a well adjusted saddle that suits the human body's mechanics and will provide best efficiency and least likelihood of joint injury. Anyone who tells you that properly adjusting your saddle is only for competitive cyclists is misguided.
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Old 09-18-19, 06:53 PM
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A big Thank You to all the replies.

All the suggestions were good. The Lemond Formula makes sense, and I will use that to get started, and fine tune from there.

What I really want, more than efficiency is preventing knee injury to my old knees.
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Old 09-18-19, 07:08 PM
  #21  
Kapusta
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I use the heel-on-the-pedal method to set my initial saddle height, and it always ends up being pretty darn close to what I settle on. It seems as good of a starting point as any and is really easy to do.

And it is perfectly normal to not be able to easily put a foot on the ground while in the saddle.
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Old 09-18-19, 09:30 PM
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Andrew R Stewart 
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
I use the heel-on-the-pedal method to set my initial saddle height, and it always ends up being pretty darn close to what I settle on. It seems as good of a starting point as any and is really easy to do.

And it is perfectly normal to not be able to easily put a foot on the ground while in the saddle.
This is what most every shop does to start with and it works for most pretty well. It takes into account the body's differences for that Averaging that formulas depend on. Andy
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Old 09-18-19, 11:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Johnny H. View Post
...What I really want, more than efficiency is preventing knee injury to my old knees.
Shorter cranks along with correct seat height.
My knees won't handle longer than 165mm without pain. Age/injury etc.
170mm and I have chronic pain.

EDIT-
I experimented with 160mm and that was simply too short. I felt like I was on a kiddies tricycle.
Since you are about 6" taller, going shorter than 170 would likely be too short for you????

I was recently gifted a bike with 175's. Just riding a few blocks while tuning the DER's and I was feeling pain.

Last edited by Bill Kapaun; 09-19-19 at 10:19 AM.
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Old 09-20-19, 06:17 AM
  #24  
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I finally get it, after watching several YouTube videos on starting and stopping. Thanks to all for your help.

God Bless
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Old 09-20-19, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
I use the heel-on-the-pedal method to set my initial saddle height, and it always ends up being pretty darn close to what I settle on. It seems as good of a starting point as any and is really easy to do.

And it is perfectly normal to not be able to easily put a foot on the ground while in the saddle.
Exactly, if you don't neglect to check both feet for heel-on-pedal in case you're tilting the hip down.

Just get the number and use it, tweak it if you must but the whole 3-mm perfect saddle height adjustment is a myth.
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