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Saddle setback for dummies

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Saddle setback for dummies

Old 05-25-23, 11:10 AM
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Saddle setback for dummies

I have a DYI monster-cross (MTB frame with drop bars), got it fitted by an LBS, I have no reason to doubt their expertise. But...

Basically, I was absolutely out of shape 6 months ago, the handle bars were raised a lot allowing me cycling in almost a hybrid bike position. Kind of pointless, but I could still drop to the lower parts and have fun. however I am more comfortable now to get lower into more aero position, so I I dropped them bars by ~5-7cm, probably still have extra 10cm to drop in the future without lowering it below the saddle line.

Anyway, this is where I am getting confused with the feeling of the saddle position:
  • If I pedal in upright position or even pedalling without holding the bars my body tells me to move the saddle forward
  • If I drop all the way down and work really hard to keep the speed, my body tells wants me to raise the saddle a bit while move it back
Why is that? Shall I ignore my body and set it as the bike fitter said or prioritize my feelings for the one of the two options above? I'm really confused.
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Old 05-25-23, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by alexk_il
Anyway, this is where I am getting confused with the feeling of the saddle position:
  • If I pedal in upright position or even pedalling without holding the bars my body tells me to move the saddle forward
  • If I drop all the way down and work really hard to keep the speed, my body tells wants me to raise the saddle a bit while move it back
Why is that? Shall I ignore my body and set it as the bike fitter said or prioritize my feelings for the one of the two options above? I'm really confused.
Basically, your body tries to balance itself over your feet. The lower you drop your torso, the farther back your hips want to go to avoid falling on your face, or at least doing pushups with your arms to support it all day long.

My only suggestion is, by increasing saddle setback you are increasing the distance between the butt end and your pedals. Instead of increasing saddle height, you might want to be decreasing it. Or perhaps your bike dealer set the saddle a little low in the first place to accommodate your beginning skill level. I can't see you on the bike, but if you feel like you have to rock your hips or point your toes to finish the stroke, or if the saddle feels like it's driving a wedge up your perineum or you feel out of balance, you're probably too high. And a little too low is better than a little too high, especially on a mountain bike.
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Old 05-26-23, 08:10 AM
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First, I'd talk to the bike fitter and ask the reasons they put you where they did.

Perhaps they thought your preference was for one thing but you really want another. Comfort and power don't always quite go hand in hand with your fit. Or the way you actually ride the bike.

Last edited by Iride01; 05-26-23 at 08:13 AM.
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Old 05-26-23, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by oldbobcat
Basically, your body tries to balance itself over your feet. The lower you drop your torso, the farther back your hips want to go to avoid falling on your face, or at least doing pushups with your arms to support it all day long.

My only suggestion is, by increasing saddle setback you are increasing the distance between the butt end and your pedals. Instead of increasing saddle height, you might want to be decreasing it. Or perhaps your bike dealer set the saddle a little low in the first place to accommodate your beginning skill level. I can't see you on the bike, but if you feel like you have to rock your hips or point your toes to finish the stroke, or if the saddle feels like it's driving a wedge up your perineum or you feel out of balance, you're probably too high. And a little too low is better than a little too high, especially on a mountain bike.
Let me see if I got it correctly:
  • If I drop my torso, my center of gravity moves forward. Therefore I need to the saddle back to maintain the optimal balance/weight distribution
  • If I raise my torso for more comfortable position my center of gravity moves back. Therefore I need to the saddle forward to maintain the optimal balance/weight distribution
It makes sense now, though looks like it's impossible to have both. Then again, I imagine this issue being studied ad nauseum and solved by millions of cyclists, so that are the known ways do address this?
  • Do I prioritize one over another?
  • Any tech solutions to mitigate the issue, maybe a saddle that can interactively slide back and forth and be locked in either position?
  • Keeping the saddle forward and get Popeye hands? Aerobars to hold my weight if I'm too lazy?
Thanks
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Old 05-26-23, 09:02 AM
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[QUOTE=alexk_il;22902838
Thanks[/QUOTE]
You're welcome. While I came up with this theory decades ago from observation of successful riders, ski racers, surfers, tennis players, volleyball players, and baseball players, and personal experimentation, here's Ozzy bike fitter Steve Hogg's take on it. https://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com...or-road-bikes/
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Old 05-26-23, 09:17 AM
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Take note that Hogg's isn't saying you shouldn't ever have any weight on your hands. He just saying that when pedaling at a very high power output that you should be able to briefly take your hands off the hoods or bars and put them behind you.

For lower power applications your arms and hands will be supporting some of your body weight.

I have always liked reading Steve Hogg's approach to fitting a person to a bike.
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Old 05-27-23, 04:32 AM
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Originally Posted by oldbobcat
You're welcome. While I came up with this theory decades ago from observation of successful riders, ski racers, surfers, tennis players, volleyball players, and baseball players, and personal experimentation, here's Ozzy bike fitter Steve Hogg's take on it. https://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com...or-road-bikes/
Originally Posted by Iride01
Take note that Hogg's isn't saying you shouldn't ever have any weight on your hands. He just saying that when pedaling at a very high power output that you should be able to briefly take your hands off the hoods or bars and put them behind you.

For lower power applications your arms and hands will be supporting some of your body weight.

I have always liked reading Steve Hogg's approach to fitting a person to a bike.
Actually I had a quick chat about that approach with my bike fitter when he was doing all the measurements. He said he was striving to a hybrid approach that optimizes both the pedalling technique and the weight distribution.

I guess my take away is that I have to find a sweet spot between comfort and performance, can't have both.

Thanks.
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Old 05-27-23, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by alexk_il
Actually I had a quick chat about that approach with my bike fitter when he was doing all the measurements. He said he was striving to a hybrid approach that optimizes both the pedalling technique and the weight distribution.
It boils down to going as forward as you can without causing stress on the arms and shoulders. Some World Tour pros boggle my mind with how forward they're sitting, but they're generating a lot of power on the front of their strokes and they're carrying minimal mass above their hips. But my point is, if you ride with an athletic back angle and you're experiencing arm, shoulder, or back pain, don't think that you can fix it by simply moving the saddle forward.

I look at my bike position like sitting on a bar stool. If I need one hand to steady myself as I lean forward and use the other to reach for a beer, my hips are too far forward.

Last edited by oldbobcat; 05-27-23 at 10:40 AM.
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Old 05-27-23, 11:10 AM
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Align the Greater Trochanter of your Femur with the downtube and center of the bottom bracket to get an initial position, and then (re)adjust saddle height and for/aft position until you are balanced.
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Old 05-30-23, 11:49 AM
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excellent fitter!
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Old 05-30-23, 09:34 PM
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Fitting a bike properly is actually quite simple. Here's my fitting primer: How can I fitting my bike

Whatever position you are trying to use, just do those steps in order. BTW, more comfort is not necessarily more upright. Almost all long distance riders use the standard road bike position, back at about a 45° angle with elbows slightly bent. It is faster, but mostly because it's more comfortable when trying to produce power. One needs to have the torso out over the feet in order to be able to pedal strongly. Some of that is balance, some is the amount of hip bend.
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Old 05-30-23, 10:32 PM
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Originally Posted by oldbobcat
It boils down to going as forward as you can without causing stress on the arms and shoulders. Some World Tour pros boggle my mind with how forward they're sitting, but they're generating a lot of power on the front of their strokes and they're carrying minimal mass above their hips. But my point is, if you ride with an athletic back angle and you're experiencing arm, shoulder, or back pain, don't think that you can fix it by simply moving the saddle forward.

I look at my bike position like sitting on a bar stool. If I need one hand to steady myself as I lean forward and use the other to reach for a beer, my hips are too far forward.
And this is completely NOT what I do or how I think of my position. I find the seat height, setback and forward lean that is the best compromise between comfort, power and lean forward. I then run very close to that relationship on all my bikes except that everything gets rotated back to make the bike more of a cruise or forward to be more aero and faster. (My fix gears and racing bike get the forward treatment. Fix gears because there is no other way to get any break upwind.) Yes, this puts more weight on my hands. I spend a lot more time dialing in the exact rotation of the handlebars and lever position on the forward bikes.
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