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How To Find Best Saddle Position

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How To Find Best Saddle Position

Old 11-03-21, 06:05 AM
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bike eagle
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How To Find Your Best Saddle Position

Hi folks. While riding the other day, I was tinkering with my saddle placement after installing one of my old saddles back on the bike. As I made small adjustments and rode, something new occurred to me about saddle fore-aft placement and I wanted to get the collective thoughts on my idea.

It occurred to me that one way to place the saddle would be to equate it to where your body would be if you didn't even have a saddle on the bike. In other words, if you were riding a bike without a saddle, where would you tend to place your body from a fore-aft standpoint, with respect to the BB? So, here's how I tried to answer that question for myself.

While coasting along on level ground, I stood over the pedals with both crank arms aligned horizontally, knees partially flexed. Making sure that my back was leaning forward at the angle that I usually ride at, and that my hands were in their normal position on the hoods, I moved my torso forward and aft and paid attention to where I felt my weight being supported. As you might imagine, as I moved too far rearward, I felt more weight being supported by my back foot and less by my front foot and hands. As I moved too far forward, I felt more weight being support by my front foot and hands.

After moving forward and aft like that for awhile, it didn't take long before I settled on a position where my weight felt balanced between my feet, or in other words centered over the bottom bracket, and with very little weight on my hands. After finding that position, I simply lowered myself straight down until my behind contacted the saddle. Then, I asked myself one question: "Where are my sit bones in relation to where the saddle is designed for them to be?"

In my case, they were about an inch ahead of the correct place on the saddle, or too far forward toward the nose of the saddle. It was a real "eureka!" moment for me! So, I stopped and adjusted the saddle forward by an inch and attempted to ride again. What a difference! I felt much more comfortable with the reach to the handle bars, my back, neck, and hands felt more comfortable, and my pedaling felt way more powerful.

I guess I'm just wondering if any of you have tried this as a way to adjust your saddle fore-aft placement? I've read all kinds of threads here and articles online about ways to place the saddle, but I've never seen anyone advocate doing it in this simple way. Forget KOPS, plumb bobbing, etc. Simply get on your bike in your normal riding position, balance yourself over the pedals, lower yourself to your saddle, and move the saddle to where your sit bones are. It's so simple and effective, I wish I had thought of it years ago!

Last edited by bike eagle; 11-03-21 at 06:15 AM.
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Old 11-03-21, 06:53 AM
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Andrey
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To adjust the saddle fore and aft I usually follow this balance test:
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Old 11-03-21, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Andrey View Post
To adjust the saddle fore and aft I usually follow this balance test:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvRWxPddYU4
Interesting video. He seems to be saying the same thing I am, except that he advocates balancing with the arms held back along the sides of your body, rather than out in the normal riding position. I'll tinker with that, but I doubt that it will make much difference. Also, he advocates checking balance while pedaling rather than using my static coasting method. I do think that might make a bigger difference, so I'll try that too. For me, since I am more of a bike tourist rather than a racer, I'm more interested in being comfortable while coasting and/or pedaling easily, so I may have to strike a balance between the two.

What I was trying to contribute here was mainly the idea of finding your body's balance point, then lowering to your sitting height, then moving the saddle to where your sit bones are. I hadn't read or heard that anywhere, but it definitely helped me make the adjustment easier and simpler than ever before.
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Old 11-03-21, 08:02 PM
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They way you're describing fore-aft is the way modern bike fitters do it. KOPS and plumb bobs are and always have been BS. There isn't even one particular optimal position for a given person. So any "formula" that claims to have the answer is wrong, right off the bat.

I see fore-aft as a tradeoff. More rearward is better for cruising, like on beach cruisers. Forward is better for hammering like on track bikes or TT bikes.
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Old 11-05-21, 02:45 AM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
We do need dynamic fore and aft sitting position because sitting balance can change dramatically, between downhill and climbing or between spinning and mashing. Mashing can't be avoided in situations like very steep climbs, even for just a short period, optimal sitting position will matter.
It's not as dramatic as you suggest.
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Old 11-06-21, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by smashndash View Post
They way you're describing fore-aft is the way modern bike fitters do it. KOPS and plumb bobs are and always have been BS. There isn't even one particular optimal position for a given person. So any "formula" that claims to have the answer is wrong, right off the bat.

I see fore-aft as a tradeoff. More rearward is better for cruising, like on beach cruisers. Forward is better for hammering like on track bikes or TT bikes.
Your comments on this issue reminded me to pay attention on my last group ride. Yep, when I hammered I was all the way up on the nose. The more power I wanted, the further forward I found I was sitting. When I was cruising, I was all the way back.

I always start with KOPS because the reason KOPS exists is because it produces decent balance a lot of the time. It has zero to do with efficiency or muscle optimization or joint comfort, never did. After getting close with KOPS, I check for balance in my aft, cruising, saddle position. KOPS is usually quite close.

One always does saddle position first, then reach and drop. One can get saddle position right with any bar position even though that bar position isn't comfortable or optimal.

I have a fitting primer here: How can I fitting my bike
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Old 11-06-21, 09:35 PM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
All the more reason to start using TT saddles for large fore and aft comfortable sitting range which they are deliberately designed for. Makes you forget the importance of KOPS, balance, etc as you can sit fore or aft anytime you want. Great way to get upright from time to time as well (Sitting at the nose while hands on the tops) to relax the back.

Even TDF saddles is evolving into more TT design (wide nose that arches down and possibly to cheat UCI rules)
Fun. I just put on what appears to be an identical saddle, but from Sealle Italia. Performance Bike, $57. Getting the saddle set up, I couldn't tell where I'd rather sit.
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Old 11-07-21, 07:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
...when I hammered I was all the way up on the nose. The more power I wanted, the further forward I found I was sitting. When I was cruising, I was all the way back.
This reminds me of another thought I had the day I discovered the simple seat positioning idea outlined in the OP. When are we putting out the most power? For me, it's when I am standing and pedaling. I haven't tried this yet, but maybe an even better way to locate the saddle would be to move your body forward until it's in the position you are normally in while standing and pedaling. Then, from that position, simply lower your body until your behind contacts the seat, then move the seat to match that position.

Obviously, that position would be forward of the position I advocated in the OP, but it would result in the seat simply being a place to rest instead of standing, but with the legs in the same place as they would be if standing. In other words, standing would not require moving up and forward, but simply moving up, when transition from seated to standing pedaling.
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Old 11-07-21, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by bike eagle View Post
This reminds me of another thought I had the day I discovered the simple seat positioning idea outlined in the OP. When are we putting out the most power? For me, it's when I am standing and pedaling. I haven't tried this yet, but maybe an even better way to locate the saddle would be to move your body forward until it's in the position you are normally in while standing and pedaling. Then, from that position, simply lower your body until your behind contacts the seat, then move the seat to match that position.

Obviously, that position would be forward of the position I advocated in the OP, but it would result in the seat simply being a place to rest instead of standing, but with the legs in the same place as they would be if standing. In other words, standing would not require moving up and forward, but simply moving up, when transition from seated to standing pedaling.
On rare occasions, original thought by newcomers to a field can change the conversation. This field is well over 100 years old and original thought was active around the time of the Wright Brothers. By now, everything's getting pretty much cut and dried. Saddle position for recreational riders and long distance racers is all about balance. There are several ways to test for balance. The way I use is to be pedaling normally on the flat, at my usual cruising speed. If I can briefly lift my hands off the bars and not slide forward on the saddle, that's good balance. So go for that, at least to start with. The idea of being in balance on the saddle is that you should be able to ride for . . . well forever without your arms and hands becoming overtired. A key to riding is to be able to control the bars, brakes, and shifters. That ability starts to go away as the arms and hands tire and that's not good.

When you stand, don't put weight on the bars. Rather pull up slightly on the bars, pulling up slightly on the downstroke pedal side. Thus you'll be slightly rocking the bike away from the downstroke leg. If your standing position is correct, you might find that the backs of your legs are lightly brushing the saddle nose. If you were sprinting or climbing hard, you'd be pulling up hard on the downstroke leg side.

If you can't stand without weighting the bars, stand more, you'll get stronger and better at it. A good policy is to stand for about a minute every 10 minutes, by the clock. That's good for your butt, too. It's also nice to stand on the last bit of a climb, gradually accelerating before you sit down for the descent.
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Old 11-08-21, 12:04 AM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
Easier to do with higher handlebar setup. Harder with slammed stem setup because less open hips OOS unless you move forward which weighs the handlebar.
Not at all. I have a slammed -17° stem and ride OOS most comfortably and powerfully from the drops. That said, my saddle to bar drop is only ~10cm. My back is fairly flat.
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Old 11-08-21, 11:20 AM
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Maybe they 'should', I don't know, but, as designed, bike saddles, not even the ones pictured, allow for a wide 'fore-aft' movement. You are supposed to sit at the widest part of the saddle and stay there. Of course, you 'can' sit ahead of that spot, and behind, but you are not intended to stay there for any length of time. Set up correctly, the SMP saddles rise steeply from the wide platform rear. That's where you are meant to sit and the rise keeps you planted there. I like that 'in the pocket' feeling but it seems to chap the hide of most of you to be told 'sit here, we mean it'.
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Old 11-08-21, 02:39 PM
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I like the idea of balancing between fore and aft leg for saddle position. There is one if condition I noticed though, you must have pretty accurate reach (stem+bar) in the first place for this experiment to work. If you are too out of position for that, it won't quite work.
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Old 11-08-21, 02:58 PM
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I adjusted the fore/aft position of my saddle based on a balance method which I learned from these videos:



As bored117 mentioned, this method recommends against the use of saddle fore/aft position to compensate for reach. Assuming that frame size is reasonably correct, reach should be set by stem and seat post offset.
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