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Saddle Height Dilemna

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Saddle Height Dilemna

Old 03-12-10, 11:56 AM
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Saddle Height Dilemna

Iíve been cycling pain free for decades. Even the years I spent messengering in hilly Seattle and post a patella relocation surgery were great. It was always about just hopping on the bike to put in more miles and build up my fitness. I have always used the Greg Lemond .883 saddle height adjustment without any problems.

Fast forward to parenthood and down to at best 50 miles a week of mostly commuting and an extra 40 lbs and I can barely go 15 miles without my back locking up and being off the bike for days at a time. Iím hitting the gym more, core work, and PT, but I thought I should also make sure my position wasnít too far off and decided to invest in getting professionally fitted.

I went with someone who comes highly recommended and works with a few pros. He spent a few hours setting me up on my commuter and club ride bike and according to his measurements, in addition to flipping my stem and bringing up my bars, my saddle height was too low by 6 cm. With a 89 cm inseam my old saddle height was 78.5 and now Iím at 85. My leg doesnít bottom out at the bottom, but now after only a few mellow rides I have screaming pain in the back of my left knee, which Iíve NEVER had before. Because of this Iím actually afraid to get back on the bike. And with all of the adjustments Iím afraid to touch anything and make it worse.

I laid out some serious cash to this guy, but he hasnít returned any emails asking for a little advice. Iím sorry I donít have any pictures of my position either post or pre-adjustment, though I will try and find some.
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Old 03-12-10, 12:33 PM
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I have a 87.5 inseam and my saddle is 77.7 and my leg is bent 30 degrees. I think the saddle height you had before you went to get fitted was better, or right on. The back of your knee hurts, because your saddle is to high. I would drop the saddle and leave your bars with the stem flipped up. Good luck.
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Old 03-12-10, 12:49 PM
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I like to use .91 x inseam. A bit higher than LeMond but I get much better pull and rotation than at .883. I would drop you to 81.

Your fitter is f-ing you. I went through this exact thing last year. Fitter made major changes. Saddle up an inch, orthodics in my shoes, zero set back seat post, the he said "go ride, go hit it". After a few days I couldn't walk. After several months of rehab and physical therapy I started getting better. Fitter was right about the saddle height and wrong about orthodics and zero set back seat post.

So I'd suggest you drop down, at least to 81 and check your knee over pedal shaft, at least make sure it is in the ball park, I like it just behind shaft. Ride easy for several weeks. I have a bad back too and high bars and long head tubes are essential for me.
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Old 03-12-10, 01:16 PM
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Thanks for the advice guys.
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Old 03-12-10, 01:26 PM
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I use a bit lower than Lemond...Two reasons
Speedplay and Rocket7 combo with total stack of 14mm and crankarm length.

I've tried several heights over the time, but I'm defiantly best fitted around inseam * 1.072 to pedal at 5-6 o' clock position
Higher gave me hip and back issues, lower some problems at top deadspot
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Old 03-12-10, 02:13 PM
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i am fortunate in that i have never had any real discomfort on the bike, but i'll tell you this: i would not pay for a professional fitting that did not involve at least one follow up session.

since every human body is different, i dont see how one session alone can dial-in a fit. i would definitely hit up this "professional" until you get things sorted out.
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Old 03-12-10, 02:25 PM
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Start moving your seat down in small increments until the pain goes away. I didn't go the pro fit way, but I found the best spot for me by starting with the calculations and then making very small changes until the pains were gone.

Being that you did pay for a pro fit, I would think that a follow up is in order. I don' feel it is possible to fit every person 100% without following up and making some small adjustments.
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Old 03-12-10, 02:40 PM
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That sounds high. Are you able to maintain a high cadence without your hips rocking at that saddle height? This is usually a good way to see if your saddle may be too high.
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Old 03-12-10, 02:52 PM
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I raised mine on my own a couple years ago and developed a Baker's Cyst on back on knee (knee fluid oozes out the back of the knee due to repeated hyperextension). More recently, my fitter wanted to raise my saddle to the "correct" level and I told him that it would not work for me. You should make any adjustments gradually. Just because they are "correct" doesn't mean that they will work for you, or may not take some gradual acceptance by your body. It took almost a year to fully recover from the damage to my knee.
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Old 03-12-10, 03:19 PM
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So my guy got back to me and echoed the lowering the saddle sentiment.
We'll see how it goes.
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Old 03-12-10, 03:21 PM
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If you raised your saddle by 6cm (!) all at once, perhaps you need to drop it back down to it's original position and raise it a cm a month and get your body used to the new position.

I, too, at one point had pain at the back of my knee after riding with the saddle too high. This was a couple years ago; it was bad enough I had bruising at the back of both my knees. So I lowered the saddle and everything was good. Just this year I went and finally got a fitting (I am into my third year racing and doing lots of miles, so I thought I could use a formal fitting) and the fitter raised my saddle about 2cm. This was pretty much back to where it was when i had the back-of-the-knee pain.

So far, so good. I feel more powerful and the new position is working well.
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Old 03-12-10, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Terex
You should make any adjustments gradually.
Yep... gotta wonder about a guy who'd raise your seat 6cm in one go.
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Old 03-12-10, 10:36 PM
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according to my little program I wrote gathering a bunch of formulas and throwin em all together like you should be , with an 89cm inseam a saddle height of
76.5cm to 80.5cm
image to show


it's by no way exact science but it's spot on for the most part..
If you're interested I'd like to get your measurements, crunch some numbers and see how they compare with what you have..if you're up to it...

When he shot you on to 85 you were leaving the safety zone...

Just lemme know.. I'd really like to try my program and see how it works with peoples setups...

T.I.A.

MTA I am not a sports physiologist or trainer or anything like that. I just like to write stupid windows programs.
Attached Images
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Old 03-13-10, 12:20 AM
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K & K Dad,

thanks for the offer, but I think once I get the saddle height dialed in the rest is pretty good.
I dropped the saddle a cm and will see how tomorrow's ride goes.
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Old 03-13-10, 12:41 AM
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I had similar pain too after a few weeks of a seat jacked up too high. It's a combination of the sudden adjustment and also the height just being too much for what you're used to. Did he adjust your cleats also? Sometimes this can be aggravated by toes pointing too much inward.
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Old 03-13-10, 06:19 AM
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your original height looks right to me. my ratio would put you at 78, just where you were, and right in the middle of K&K's range too.
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Old 03-13-10, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Treespeed
With a 89 cm inseam my old saddle height was 78.5 and now Iím at 85.
So you dropped 1cm and are now at 84? I think you are still too high if that is the case. $.02
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Old 03-13-10, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Treespeed
So my guy got back to me and echoed the lowering the saddle sentiment.
We'll see how it goes.
NEVER raise or lower your saddle position more than a few mm at one time. 6cm is extreme. HUGE in fact.
I would mark that 'magical' set-up with marker or measurement.

Then lower till you have no pain in the knee and work back to that point over the course of riding.

Ice the knee intensly and get on and spin it out. It should never hurt like that.

Lastly, you didn't mention if he changed the fore and aft positioning of the saddle.
please comment on this.
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Old 03-13-10, 10:28 AM
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He did adjust my cleats with shims and all. That part feels nice.
I'm going to have my wife shoot a couple of pictures of me on the bike and then we can get some serious fit opinions rolling.
I'll have to break my flamesuit out of the garage and hope my fat ass still fits in it.
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Old 03-13-10, 10:33 AM
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Not sure why you would raise you saddle that much? No matter what bike I have, the saddle height basically stays the same, measured from the center of the BB to the center of the saddle. If you were comfy at 78, leave it at 78! I have a 35.5 inch cycling inseam, and run the saddle at 80-81. 85 wouldn't let me reach the pedals!
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Old 03-13-10, 03:45 PM
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I think this whole "professional" fit thing is a bunch of BS.

But as PT Barnum said...
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Old 03-13-10, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Banzai
I think this whole "professional" fit thing is a bunch of BS.

But as PT Barnum said...
No, it's not, but I think there are some assumptions made by fitters which might be less applicable for low mileage cyclists. The fitter can objectively see how your legs are moving and what angle they make at the top and bottom of the pedal stroke. They shoot for angles that optimize the mechanical advantage of the leg. However, if you lack the flexibility in your hamstrings to accomodate a full leg extension, then you need to compromise and keep the saddle a little low, or gradually raise the saddle, letting the hamstrings stretch out over time to gain full extension.

It sounds a lot like Treespeed's saddle has been too low for long enough that the hamstrings are very tight, which, in turn, irritates the tendons behind the knee.
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Old 03-13-10, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Banzai
I think this whole "professional" fit thing is a bunch of BS.

But as PT Barnum said...
You're probably right, same thing probably goes for certified mechanics and those Doctors with their 'fancy' medical degrees.
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Old 03-13-10, 04:05 PM
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Brian, I think you're right.

Here's some photos from this morning.
Down a cm and no additional pain after 15 miles of spinning.

One from the bottom



One from the top

First person to point out the spare tire wins one Internet Genius Award.
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Old 03-13-10, 04:25 PM
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Scattante R-660? I used to have one, great bike. Still look high to me. What height is the saddle at now?
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