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gtofan 11-16-03 12:48 AM

Seat height to handlebar height
Is there a "magic formula" for the two? I understand the jacked-up seat position for time trials but for everyday road riding should the seat be lower, even, or slightly above the handlebars, or does it even make a difference? Does the rule of having the bars block the view of the center hub still apply also?

MKRG 11-16-03 01:16 AM

I'm not the most qualified here but I would say that whatever position you're comfortable in would be the best.

Kev 11-16-03 01:16 AM

Basicaly it is personal preference, some prefer having their handlebars higher since they find it more comfortable. I believe the bar blocking the center hub still applys, but I am not positive.

gtofan 11-16-03 01:38 AM

I tried a 55 & 57cm Buenos aires today and the 57 felt considerably larger, less twitchy, and I was very comfortable on it. However, is this just a normal feeling for a larger bike or should a road bike of this caliber have some sort of an agressive feel to it. Should I go as large as I can or as small as I can fit into a bike. It just isn't like going down and picking up a Huffy 10-speed anymore there are just sooo many variables now, and for the price I definately want to get it right the first time. I understand it is what feels best for the rider but I don't want to overlook the more obvious details that are "new" to me now. Tks for the input.

Allen H 11-16-03 09:00 AM

The LBS ought to be able to ultimately help fit you, but much of the comfort factor IS personal. I liked the slightly more "stretched out" feel of the 59cm Buenos Aires MUCH better than the 56, 58, and even 60 cm frames of the other bikes I test rode. Some of that is the difference in frame materials, some is frame geometry.

For me, I could breathe better and the bike was much less twitchy when I was stretched out, and I could even do simple figure eights and feel in complete control on my test ride, whereas on many of the other frames I was nowhere near that comfortable.

sch 11-17-03 08:44 PM

There has been a tendency among the pros to ride
frames that a few yrs ago would have been felt "too
small" for them. They then make up for the smaller
frame by seat post extension and long stems. Pix of
road frames ridden by pros will show the seat to be 4-5 even 6" above the level of the bar. The higher the seat
the more you tend to bend over and transfer weight
forward. Comfort bikes, with flat bars have the seat
top and bar at almost the same height, rarely is the bar
set above seat level. This allows a nearly uprite posture with the back bent only 10-20*, compared with 40+ degrees that pros use. Another compenstion the pros use is to mount the brake hoods high on the curve
of the bar, useful especially in climbing. Your tolerance of the bent over, weight forward position will determine
where you end up; as your mileage goes up and ability to bend improves, you may find yourself adjusting the position over time. Of course your leg length is the determinant of seat top to pedal distance but as the frame gets smaller the seat floats higher and hence the seat top to bar top distance can be varied more. steve

miamijim 11-18-03 08:34 AM

Time trialists do not 'jack-up' their seats. As sch has mentioned seat to pedal distance should be the same regardless of the bike your on...

Smoothie104 11-18-03 09:45 AM

They don't jack up thier seats, instead they move them forward. The UCI has mandated a minimum distance that the nose of the saddle must be behind the center plane of the bottom bracket. It is 5 cm. If you look closely at some of the pro's bikes. They cut the tip of the nose off the saddle in order to get as far forward as possible, yet still remain "legal"

For track sprint, keirin, 500m or 1K time trials, the above does not apply, but under no circumstance is the tip of the saddle allowed to be ahead of the bottom bracket spindle.

A good frined of mine went to 'John Cobb's Bicycle Sports' John is a bike fit and Aero guru who works with Lance Armstrong and the Posties, as well as with several top Ironman competitors. They have a fit system you can sign up for where you get your bike on a trainer and start riding. They whip out some sort of laser or pyrometer and start measuring the temperature of your muscles in different places. Depending on the data they make adjustments to your position. My friend says he is faster now, because he can breathe eaiser in his new position and he feels less fatiqued in his arms and back. He was raving about it. I have yet to get mine but plan on it soon.

I met John in Kona this year, check out he has some articles regading aerodynamics that you will find interesting.

late 11-18-03 10:58 AM

I like having them the same height.

MichaelW 11-18-03 12:56 PM

You can retain the same pedal-saddle distance, but vary the "rotation" of the saddle about the pedal 6:00 position, either high and forward, or low and back. You can take this approach "ad absurdum" and end up with a recumbent.
This position affects the muscle groups you use, and the amount of weight transfered to the bars. Im not sure there is a "right" solution.

The UCI 5cm rule is a bit unfair on smaller riders, who have to move their saddle much farther back, proportionately, than a tall rider.

james Haury 12-07-03 06:53 PM

I have always found handlebars higher than the seat to be most comfortable. I have never like handlebars lower than the seat and I dislike Maes bars. James

randya 12-07-03 10:23 PM


Originally Posted by james Haury
I have always found handlebars higher than the seat to be most comfortable. I have never like handlebars lower than the seat and I dislike Maes bars. James

I'm with James here; I've been riding with a more comfortable Euro-style (think Amsterdam, Holland city bike or UK Postman-style bike) upright position and I've continued to move my bars higher and higher above the seat height, and also back towards the seat post. But it all depends on what your goal is. I'm riding in town on flat to moderately hilly terrain, mostly commuting short distances, running local errands, etc., so speed is less important to me than comfort, and I've modified a couple of hybrid bikes accordingly. I also intensely dislike dropstyle racing bars and the straight bars that are common on mountain bikes and hybrids, and prefer an upright bar with the grip ends angled towards the seat, mostly for reasons of comfort. However, if you were racing, or touring longer distances, a whole different kind of bike and setup would apply. I'd say personal preference and comfort, and the type of riding you do will be the determining factors.

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