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Which Part of your Foot do you Pedal with?

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Which Part of your Foot do you Pedal with?

Old 03-12-21, 02:54 PM
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Moisture
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Which Part of your Foot do you Pedal with?

Couple things:

- I've learned that pedalling more with the balls of your feet (such as when using toe cages, clips, or pedal straps) requires you to set the seat somewhat higher than baseline to achieve a normal leg extension.

- I find that i can sort of "compensate," or adjust the "effective" reach of a bike with a longer reach figure, such as a mountain bike, by pedalling closer towards my heel over the pedal.

- It seems to have taken some stress of my knees, while allowing for me to ensure ideal leg extension with a lower saddle height.

- I've read somewhere that the back of your knee should roughly lineup with your heel as you pedal. Is this true? If so, would this be a good indicator of your ideal reach measurement paired with where you should be placing your foot on the pedal?

- has anyone given this a thought, or do we all subconsciously pedal with our feet placed wherever we feel is right? Who has experimented with different foot positions and what were your observations?
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Old 03-13-21, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
has anyone given this a thought, or do we all subconsciously pedal with our feet placed wherever we feel is right? Who has experimented with different foot positions and what were your observations?
Surprisingly YES! many have indeed 'given this a thought'; pretty much since the start of the 20th century billions of cyclists have been paying attention to their foot / pedal relationship.
You'll find that the vast majority of road cyclists use a clipless pedal and cleat system to ensure that their feet are always positioned in the same position over the pedal axle and hopefully, although not always, in the optimum position. Now although the 'optimum' position is a contentious subject (with a couple of exceptions) there isn't that much variance.
This page will explain in perfect detail:-
https://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com...leat-position/
Any fitter of any worth will always start with the feet; then saddle then front end. If the feet are wrong, it can throw out everything else. This is why, other than for casual riding; most people don't use flat pedals.
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Old 03-13-21, 09:32 AM
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Old 03-13-21, 09:33 AM
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Why do I click on his threads?
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Old 03-13-21, 09:43 AM
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To address your other points:-

Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
- I've learned that pedalling more with the balls of your feet (such as when using toe cages, clips, or pedal straps) requires you to set the seat somewhat higher than baseline to achieve a normal leg extension.
How are you determining baseline?
If you're using the conventional position of (and when I say conventional I mean 'generally conventional') ball of foot 'roughly in line with' or 'to some degree in front of' pedal spindle then your seat will need to be set higher than it would be of you were pedalling with the middle of your foot as the front of your foot is further away from you saddle than the middle....

Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
- I find that i can sort of "compensate," or adjust the "effective" reach of a bike with a longer reach figure, such as a mountain bike, by pedalling closer towards my heel over the pedal.
I have no idea what this means

Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
It seems to have taken some stress of my knees, while allowing for me to ensure ideal leg extension with a lower saddle height.
I don't know what you're referring to here but as a rule of thumb, if your saddle is too high you will experience pain behind the knee; if it's too low you will experience pain in front. In terms of injury or performance, if in doubt too low is better than too high.

Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
I've read somewhere that the back of your knee should roughly lineup with your heel as you pedal. Is this true? If so, would this be a good indicator of your ideal reach measurement paired with where you should be placing your foot on the pedal?
This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever; I can't even imagine how that could be physically possible. You do not use pedal position or saddle position to determine reach, ever.
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Old 03-14-21, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by aniki View Post
Surprisingly YES! many have indeed 'given this a thought'; pretty much since the start of the 20th century billions of cyclists have been paying attention to their foot / pedal relationship.
You'll find that the vast majority of road cyclists use a clipless pedal and cleat system to ensure that their feet are always positioned in the same position over the pedal axle and hopefully, although not always, in the optimum position. Now although the 'optimum' position is a contentious subject (with a couple of exceptions) there isn't that much variance.
This page will explain in perfect detail:-
https://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com...leat-position/
Any fitter of any worth will always start with the feet; then saddle then front end. If the feet are wrong, it can throw out everything else. This is why, other than for casual riding; most people don't use flat pedals.
Couple points -

So why Do people use the heel to pedal method as a general baseline for seat height if you are supposed to be pedalling with the ball of your foot(according to link you posted, will make sure to study more in depth on that later)

- I think i will need to raise my seat a bit more then, because I'm still getting a bit of pain in the front of my right knee when pushing up windy hills. I realized that, within one minute of moving my feet slightly backwards on the pedal so that the balls of my feet were inline with the pedal axle, the knee pain completely disappeared.

- so I imagine that the reach and top tube are the main factors which determine where you will place your feet over the pedals, and after that it's up to the rider to select an ideal fore/aft saddle position to maximize power transfer?

For reference, the reach on my nishiki ( and norco) is 390mm. On my GT mtb, its about 480mm. The short reach on the road bike allows me to comfortably apply power with the ball of my foot which in turns allows for my calves to become more involved with pedal rotation. On the contrary, with the GT's longer reach, I feel most comfortable pedalling towards the back part of my foot, closer towards the heel. This implies to me that the reach on the GT is a bit too long?
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Old 03-14-21, 09:00 AM
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Old 03-14-21, 11:19 AM
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I'm noticing a very specific trend with the style/genre of commenters who dislike my posts which otherwise lead to an advancement of education.
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Old 03-14-21, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
So why Do people use the heel to pedal method as a general baseline for seat height if you are supposed to be pedalling with the ball of your foot
If you have absolutely no idea where your saddle height should be, this is generally accepted good starting point. You should not be able to actually pedal with your heels on the pedals; or at least not without difficulty. When you pedal, assuming your foot position is correct, you should have an angle of approximately 145 to 155 degrees between your femur and fibula at full extension.
As I said earlier, your heel is nearer your saddle than your toes; so, to establish an approximate starting point, set your saddle height so that with your heel on the pedal your knee is almost fully locked out at full extension. You will then find that when you move your foot back into the 'correct' position, at full leg extension you should be somewhere in the ballpark mentioned above. Again, this is just a starting point, depending on your flexibility you may benefit from going slightly higher / lower (There are many reasons why you may benefit from adjustment outside of this range but we're just looking at the basics here)

Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
I think i will need to raise my seat a bit more then, because I'm still getting a bit of pain in the front of my right knee when pushing up windy hills. I realized that, within one minute of moving my feet slightly backwards on the pedal so that the balls of my feet were inline with the pedal axle, the knee pain completely disappeared.
Your comment merely suggests that pedalling with the middle of your foot you were over extending your leg and 'reaching' during the pedal stroke. By pulling your feet back you are reducing the distance between the seat and your foot and no longer over-stressing the hamstrings / knee flexors etc. This is a good example of why your saddle height and foot position should be relatively 'fixed' unless just riding casually. If you want to pedal with the middle of your foot, move your saddle down.

Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
so I imagine that the reach and top tube are the main factors which determine where you will place your feet over the pedals
NO! Reach and top tube length have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with where you should be placing your feet on the pedals.
Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
and after that it's up to the rider to select an ideal fore/aft saddle position to maximize power transfer?
Fore and aft is set to achieve balance over the bottom bracket (and to encourage pelvic rotation but that's another tangent) nothing more, nothing less. Too far forward and you will likely have too much weight on your hands and shoulders, your pelvis will not rotate forward (meaning your back will with either be too upright or rigid or bent in the wrong place or all three!) and your pedal stroke can become too quad dominant.
Too far back causes less problems but if you disengage the quads too much your pedal stroke will be less powerful.
When adjusting fore and aft, remember that it you move the seat back you are effectively making it higher and similarly if you move it forward it becomes slightly lower so re-check the height after fore and aft adjustments.

Once you have established a pedal position and then a saddle position; only then should you adjust your reach using stem length / stem height / hood position / handlebar drop and reach based on your preference and to a large extent your flexibility.

This is all 'baseline' stuff and much will depend on your individual proportions / strengths / weaknesses / preference etc. So it's all up for debate to some degree but if you really have no idea where you should be on the bike or why you can adjust certain things in different directions then it should get you in the right ballpark.
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Old 03-14-21, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by aniki View Post
If you have absolutely no idea where your saddle height should be, this is generally accepted good starting point. You should not be able to actually pedal with your heels on the pedals; or at least not without difficulty. When you pedal, assuming your foot position is correct, you should have an angle of approximately 145 to 155 degrees between your femur and fibula at full extension.
As I said earlier, your heel is nearer your saddle than your toes; so, to establish an approximate starting point, set your saddle height so that with your heel on the pedal your knee is almost fully locked out at full extension. You will then find that when you move your foot back into the 'correct' position, at full leg extension you should be somewhere in the ballpark mentioned above. Again, this is just a starting point, depending on your flexibility you may benefit from going slightly higher / lower (There are many reasons why you may benefit from adjustment outside of this range but we're just looking at the basics here)



Your comment merely suggests that pedalling with the middle of your foot you were over extending your leg and 'reaching' during the pedal stroke. By pulling your feet back you are reducing the distance between the seat and your foot and no longer over-stressing the hamstrings / knee flexors etc. This is a good example of why your saddle height and foot position should be relatively 'fixed' unless just riding casually. If you want to pedal with the middle of your foot, move your saddle down.


NO! Reach and top tube length have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with where you should be placing your feet on the pedals.

Fore and aft is set to achieve balance over the bottom bracket (and to encourage pelvic rotation but that's another tangent) nothing more, nothing less. Too far forward and you will likely have too much weight on your hands and shoulders, your pelvis will not rotate forward (meaning your back will with either be too upright or rigid or bent in the wrong place or all three!) and your pedal stroke can become too quad dominant.
Too far back causes less problems but if you disengage the quads too much your pedal stroke will be less powerful.
When adjusting fore and aft, remember that it you move the seat back you are effectively making it higher and similarly if you move it forward it becomes slightly lower so re-check the height after fore and aft adjustments.

Once you have established a pedal position and then a saddle position; only then should you adjust your reach using stem length / stem height / hood position / handlebar drop and reach based on your preference and to a large extent your flexibility.

This is all 'baseline' stuff and much will depend on your individual proportions / strengths / weaknesses / preference etc. So it's all up for debate to some degree but if you really have no idea where you should be on the bike or why you can adjust certain things in different directions then it should get you in the right ballpark.
my knee isn't fully extended with my heels on the pedals. According to your information, I need to raise my seat a little bit higher and slide the seats forward on the rails slightly.

I noticed that when I am placing my feet over the pedals as normal (balls over pedal axle, by keeping my calves flexed (using ankle flexion to keep your foot pointed downwards) I have noticeably more of a bend in my knee then if I was to pedal with my foot more or less perpendicular to my shin.

I like to pedal with my calves engaged to help with a smoother/faster cadence, but I should be raising my seat much higher than the current seating. So I am assuming that it comes down to making the right compromises to ensure that you achieve an ideal level of knee extension without having the seat simply set too high? (Such as when using toe cages and an exaggerated toe flexion), seat way to high, still not quite enough knee extension..
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Old 03-14-21, 03:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
I'm noticing a very specific trend with the style/genre of commenters who dislike my posts which otherwise lead to an advancement of education.
It's good to know you feel like you actually are learning something. It seems to be a difficult process for you so kudos for perseverance.
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Old 03-14-21, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
I noticed that when I am placing my feet over the pedals as normal (balls over pedal axle, by keeping my calves flexed (using ankle flexion to keep your foot pointed downwards) I have noticeably more of a bend in my knee then if I was to pedal with my foot more or less perpendicular to my shin.
Stop worrying about flexing your calves and don't point your toes up or down. Just let your feet rest wherever they naturally want to be!
A smooth and efficient cadence comes from experience; there's no short cut. If after several months and several thousand miles your body doesn't make at least some adaptations, try using smaller gears and / or shorter cranks*

* I say this based on the fact that we know you currently have a low natural cadence and the cranks you are using are more than likely already too long.
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Old 03-14-21, 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by aniki View Post
Stop worrying about flexing your calves and don't point your toes up or down. Just let your feet rest wherever they naturally want to be!
A smooth and efficient cadence comes from experience; there's no short cut. If after several months and several thousand miles your body doesn't make at least some adaptations, try using smaller gears and / or shorter cranks*

* I say this based on the fact that we know you currently have a low natural cadence and the cranks you are using are more than likely already too long.
If going up a few crank sizes helped you to increase your average cadence (while obviously having more leverage over your cranks) this should indicate that the range of motion is still within limits, or even optimal.

Once your average cadence starts to become affected, this should be a simple indication that the arms are now simply too long for you. Im able to maintain a higher cadence smoother and for longer now. Maybe if I get a video of me pedalling you'd be able to judge better.

Anyways, so once you begin to have trouble reaching the pedals with your heels, this is roughly the indication that you're at, or close to an ideal saddle height? What if you need to go higher based on the way you naturally place your foot over the pedal? Is that a no no?
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Old 03-14-21, 07:46 PM
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aniki

I'm just trying to understand. I know that no matter how much you adjust your saddle fore and aft, if your top tube isn't the correct length, there's no compensating for that. Regardless of what your effective top tube length is, the bottom bracket is going to be the some proportional distance in front of the tube, which is why is bears no meaning on foo placement, correct?

For example, my gt has a top tube length of 590mm and the Nishiki is 580mm. How exactly can you increase the reach figure of a frame by 90mm of the top tube is only 10mm longer? And how would the the bottom bracket being 90mm closer toward the rider (on an otherwise similarly long top tube) bear no meeting on the way your feet naturally come into contact with the pedals? Please explain
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Old 03-15-21, 01:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Anyways, so once you begin to have trouble reaching the pedals with your heels, this is roughly the indication that you're at, or close to an ideal saddle height? What if you need to go higher based on the way you naturally place your foot over the pedal?
Correct. And as I said, this is just a good starting point. If you pedal 'naturally' toe down the saddle will need to come up a bit. If you pedal heel down it will need to come down a bit.
Make adjustments in no more than 2 or 3mm increments until you find the position you're happy with. If you get it wrong, your body will let you know somehow.
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Old 03-15-21, 01:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
I know that no matter how much you adjust your saddle fore and aft, if your top tube isn't the correct length, there's no compensating for that.
It depends on how you are deciding what is the 'correct' length, this can be entirely subjective based on a persons preference. Top tube length is somewhat meaningless in this day and age as many frames are built with sloping top tubes.
Better to concentrate on seat tube angle which, assuming a consistent reach measurement, will directly influence the length of the 'effective' top tube and to a large extent, the available adjustable range of the saddle. Anyway, NONE of this has anything at all to do with where you put your feet on the pedals.

Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
.... which is why is bears no meaning on foo placement, correct?
For example, my gt has a top tube length of 590mm and the Nishiki is 580mm. How exactly can you increase the reach figure of a frame by 90mm of the top tube is only 10mm longer? And how would the the bottom bracket being 90mm closer toward the rider (on an otherwise similarly long top tube) bear no meeting on the way your feet naturally come into contact with the pedals? Please explain
I couldn't possibly comment on the differences between the two frames without knowing their full geometry. When you say GT, are you still talking about a road bike?
As for the rest, the answer is simply because the starting point of your fit is the feet on the pedals. This position should be optimal and more importantly 'consistent'.
Regardless of top tub length, bottom bracket height or anything else, your foot position comes first and then that sets the basis for your saddle position; which again should be a constant across multiple bikes (assuming the same discipline)
If for ANY reason, the set-up of a bike is CAUSING you to place your feet in a different position on the pedals then something is seriously wrong with that bike.
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Old 03-15-21, 06:47 AM
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Moisture

I thought I'd give you the benefit of the doubt and actually try to help you rather than just mocking your bad decisions; it seemed like for a moment you were actually possibly taking some of this in.
However, despite your temporary ban and the fact that you are obviously very green, you are still insistent on hijacking everyone else's threads to provide your entirely baseless and irrelevant, misunderstood pearls of wisdom!
First you were telling everyone that their 'leaning forward' position was wrong and told everyone to use shorter stems.
Then you got obsessed with crank length and hijacked a million threads telling them their cranks were wrong.
Now you've just done exactly the same telling everyone about their saddle position.
-
You're on your own from here son!
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Old 03-15-21, 12:39 PM
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Here be dragons.
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Old 03-15-21, 12:56 PM
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I use clipless and pedal with the ball of my big toe directly over the pedal axle, as I've done for almost 70 years. Just do that. If you have trouble with that, it's because you lack fitness. Go and do 3 sets of 50 full squats, all the way down, hamstrings on calves. Then do a set of 30 pushups. Do that every other day for a few months, then worry about bike fit.
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Old 03-15-21, 05:59 PM
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I've drafted several responses and backed out, Let's try this....

Your legs are not supposed to be fully extended with heels on the pedals. It's 'heels-on-pedals-pedalling-backward-without-rocking-your-hips.' Full leg extension is not the ideal, and I believe research has shown it's not the way to get the most power out of your legs (though I hesitate to write that, since I can't cite the research).

Here's what I read in your posts: you ride, feel discomfort, attribute the discomfort to an adjustment on your bike, and adjust based on something you've read or, possibly, misread. Then you ride more, feel more discomfort, adjust your bike, rinse, and repeat. And you've ended up with a strange looking bike and strange ideas - for example, that foot placement on the pedals is related directly to TT+stem+handlebar measurement. You jump to conclusions that are unexpected, to say the least. You get dogmatic about those conclusions. And you continue to ride without satisfaction. What you're doing isn't working for you, so do something difference.

I think you need to go through some sort of reset in your head and your body.

Why not start with seat height? Assume that you're probably average, so some small variation on the 3 major rules of thumb for setting seat height will work for you - 109% of cycling inseam from seat to pedal, or LeMond's rule of thumb (.883 * inseam from seat to center of BB), or heels on pedals, or the average of all of them. Ride ... this is new to you, still, so expect some discomfort. If your knee(s) hurt, see if you can avoid the pain by changing your foot position. If you can't, make one small change. One small change. Test. Adjust.

Stop assuming that discomfort is due to something wrong with your bike. Riding takes conditioning. If you're not conditioned correctly, cycling will hurt. You may be great climbing hills, but hills are different from headwinds. You may be great going downhill, but that's different from riding on a road. Your core strength may be great, and you may be great aerobically, but your butt still has to get broken in for the saddle to be comfortable.

Reset your head. Stop jumping to conclusions.

BTW, for me, LeMond's .883 x inseam, 109% x inseam, and heels on pedals yield results that are within 1 (one) CM. I can ride comfortably anyplace within that 1 CM range.
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Old 03-15-21, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by philbob57 View Post
I've drafted several responses and backed out, Let's try this....

Your legs are not supposed to be fully extended with heels on the pedals. It's 'heels-on-pedals-pedalling-backward-without-rocking-your-hips.' Full leg extension is not the ideal, and I believe research has shown it's not the way to get the most power out of your legs (though I hesitate to write that, since I can't cite the research).

Here's what I read in your posts: you ride, feel discomfort, attribute the discomfort to an adjustment on your bike, and adjust based on something you've read or, possibly, misread. Then you ride more, feel more discomfort, adjust your bike, rinse, and repeat. And you've ended up with a strange looking bike and strange ideas - for example, that foot placement on the pedals is related directly to TT+stem+handlebar measurement. You jump to conclusions that are unexpected, to say the least. You get dogmatic about those conclusions. And you continue to ride without satisfaction. What you're doing isn't working for you, so do something difference.

I think you need to go through some sort of reset in your head and your body.

Why not start with seat height? Assume that you're probably average, so some small variation on the 3 major rules of thumb for setting seat height will work for you - 109% of cycling inseam from seat to pedal, or LeMond's rule of thumb (.883 * inseam from seat to center of BB), or heels on pedals, or the average of all of them. Ride ... this is new to you, still, so expect some discomfort. If your knee(s) hurt, see if you can avoid the pain by changing your foot position. If you can't, make one small change. One small change. Test. Adjust.

Stop assuming that discomfort is due to something wrong with your bike. Riding takes conditioning. If you're not conditioned correctly, cycling will hurt. You may be great climbing hills, but hills are different from headwinds. You may be great going downhill, but that's different from riding on a road. Your core strength may be great, and you may be great aerobically, but your butt still has to get broken in for the saddle to be comfortable.

Reset your head. Stop jumping to conclusions.

BTW, for me, LeMond's .883 x inseam, 109% x inseam, and heels on pedals yield results that are within 1 (one) CM. I can ride comfortably anyplace within that 1 CM range.
Wow. I am within .7cm when plugging 0.883 x my inseam (88cm).

However, my saddle is very puffy and cushioned, so with my body weight pressed into it, im sure that the variance is likely just over 1cm. So I was right about feeling the need to raise my seat slightly.

I wasn't right about having my saddle almost all the way back. I will adjust both of these factors in small increments every couple rides or so (along with lowering my stem slightly) and see how that feels.
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Old 03-16-21, 05:24 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by philbob57 View Post
...dogmatic...
That's an excellent word and I think is really at the crux of a lot of the problems with keyboard bike fitting.
As I've tried to point out in my responses to Moisture; regardless of precisely what your preferred method is of achieving a basic starting point, it is still only and exactly that; a starting point.
With saddle height; you can get in the right ballpark using fairly crude methods but then pelvic rotation, hip / knee / ankle flexion, foot position, leg length, body symmetry, injury etc. plus several other factors can ALL influence your final optimal position and realistically that can take some time to achieve.
Once in the right ballpark you really only have two options; go out and ride and adapt and make changes where necessary but understand WHY and HOW certain changes to the bike will affect you. OR go to a bike fitter.
And I'm not talking about a bike fitter who also happens to sell bikes and works behind the counter in the local bike superstore or the guy with a loft, a laptop and a goniometer I mean; well basically someone who understands bikes AND understands bio-mechanics. Or just see Steve Hogg or anyone who uses his methods!
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Old 03-16-21, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by aniki View Post
That's an excellent word and I think is really at the crux of a lot of the problems with keyboard bike fitting.
As I've tried to point out in my responses to Moisture; regardless of precisely what your preferred method is of achieving a basic starting point, it is still only and exactly that; a starting point.
With saddle height; you can get in the right ballpark using fairly crude methods but then pelvic rotation, hip / knee / ankle flexion, foot position, leg length, body symmetry, injury etc. plus several other factors can ALL influence your final optimal position and realistically that can take some time to achieve.
Once in the right ballpark you really only have two options; go out and ride and adapt and make changes where necessary but understand WHY and HOW certain changes to the bike will affect you. OR go to a bike fitter.
And I'm not talking about a bike fitter who also happens to sell bikes and works behind the counter in the local bike superstore or the guy with a loft, a laptop and a goniometer I mean; well basically someone who understands bikes AND understands bio-mechanics. Or just see Steve Hogg or anyone who uses his methods!
Thanks Aniki. You've helped to share some invaluable information within the community.

So other than the fore aft position of the saddle, anything else that directly impacts how your feet come into contact with the pedals? How would one type of frame achieve a different foot placement over another?
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Old 03-16-21, 05:08 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Thanks Aniki. You've helped to share some invaluable information within the community.

So other than the fore aft position of the saddle, anything else that directly impacts how your feet come into contact with the pedals? How would one type of frame achieve a different foot placement over another?
I've ridden and raced on road bikes, time trial bikes, cyclocross bikes, and mountain bikes. On every one of them, my foot placement on the pedal has been exactly the same - ball of foot (big toe joint, more specifically) centered over pedal axle. I understand that there is some newer research that indicates that a slightly further rearward cleat position might have some benefits, but I would STRONGLY suggest you start with a baseline position while you are trying to get everything else sorted out before you start agonizing over minor adjustments.

Saddle fore-aft position doesn't affect where I place my foot on the pedal. It affects my knee position over the pedal, and my balance over the bike.

Right now, it feels like you are worrying about the color of your door handles before you've built the foundation of your house.
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Old 03-16-21, 05:13 PM
  #25  
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I don't think I've seen this question asked of you...What kind of riding are you trying to do? It seems like you are interested in improving your performance (your ability to go faster and farther), but there are also some strong indicators that short and leisurely rides are more of your thing.
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