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Saddle Height

Old 02-18-11, 02:56 PM
  #1  
chadteck
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Saddle Height

I've tried nearly all the methods for determining saddle height (88.3%, 109%, heel on pedal, 25-35 degree knee angle) and it seems none of them give the exact proper measurement for most people (except the knee angle method, but how do you know which knee angle your body prefers in that 10 degree range?). There is a huge range of saddle height that is "ridable" to me and it is quite hard for me to notice changes through normal pedaling.

I was messing around on the trainer the other day and came across a method for determining saddle height that I haven't heard mentioned previously:

I set the trainer/bike gearing to a low resistance. Unclipped one of my feet and rested it on the trainer, leaving my hips level as they would be during normal riding. Then I "threw" the clipped-in foot down without making a conscious effort to move it around the circle and noted where it ended up. If my saddle was too high or too low, my foot would end up near 6 o'clock. When my saddle was in a specific few mm range, my foot would end up in the 9 o'clock position.

It seems logical to me that this small range would be my optimal saddle height since it is where my foot naturally encounters the least resistance moving around the path. If your legs are the same length / proportion, this height should be good for both legs. If not, one leg needs cleat adjustment / shim.

I already had my saddle set to a level that I thought was close to optimal, so I used that as a starting point. For someone with no starting point, it seems the heel on the pedal method is a good starting point but I've read is usually a bit too low.

Any opinions on this? Does it make sense? Have you tried it? Has it been mentioned before and I missed it?
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Old 02-18-11, 03:03 PM
  #2  
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Originally Posted by chadteck View Post
I've tried nearly all the methods for determining saddle height (88.3%, 109%, heel on pedal, 25-35 degree knee angle) and it seems none of them give the exact proper measurement for most people (except the knee angle method, but how do you know which knee angle your body prefers in that 10 degree range?). There is a huge range of saddle height that is "ridable" to me and it is quite hard for me to notice changes through normal pedaling.

I was messing around on the trainer the other day and came across a method for determining saddle height that I haven't heard mentioned previously:

I set the trainer/bike gearing to a low resistance. Unclipped one of my feet and rested it on the trainer, leaving my hips level as they would be during normal riding. Then I "threw" the clipped-in foot down without making a conscious effort to move it around the circle and noted where it ended up. If my saddle was too high or too low, my foot would end up near 6 o'clock. When my saddle was in a specific few mm range, my foot would end up in the 9 o'clock position.

It seems logical to me that this small range would be my optimal saddle height since it is where my foot naturally encounters the least resistance moving around the path. If your legs are the same length / proportion, this height should be good for both legs. If not, one leg needs cleat adjustment / shim.

I already had my saddle set to a level that I thought was close to optimal, so I used that as a starting point. For someone with no starting point, it seems the heel on the pedal method is a good starting point but I've read is usually a bit too low.

Any opinions on this? Does it make sense? Have you tried it? Has it been mentioned before and I missed it?
If it isn't broke? Why go through all that if you aren't have any problems, what are you trying to solve?
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Old 02-18-11, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by rankin116 View Post
If it isn't broke? Why go through all that if you aren't have any problems, what are you trying to solve?
I thought it was close to optimal, but since recently switching to new shoes I haven't felt like I've been able to nail it down - until I went through this process. The process only takes a few minutes, so it's not really "going through" much. I'm not tying to solve anything anymore, but I'm posting this information and asking if others agree with it, have tried it, or have heard it suggested previously.
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Old 02-18-11, 04:01 PM
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Start with a 25 degree knee bend. If you hips rock when you pedal, then lower it a little. 35 degrees seems pretty extreme.

There is no single easily-computed formula that works for everyone. Your body dimensions, fitness, cleat setup, and bicycle geometry are going affect your ideal riding position.
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Old 02-18-11, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by johnny99 View Post
Start with a 25 degree knee bend. If you hips rock when you pedal, then lower it a little. 35 degrees seems pretty extreme.

There is no single easily-computed formula that works for everyone. Your body dimensions, fitness, cleat setup, and bicycle geometry are going affect your ideal riding position.
Thanks for the recommendation, but I am suggesting that the method I described is a method that will work for everyone, because it takes into account all other fit factors.

The problem with the knee angle method is that it is not really possible to just pick an exact optimal knee angle for any individual. In addition, I can have my saddle way too high and still not have any noticeable rocking at the hips due to varying foot angle.

I guess I shouldn't have written so much in the OP. What I am really asking here is whether the method I presented makes sense to anyone other than myself.
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Old 02-18-11, 10:56 PM
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Sorry, your method does not make any sense to me. Even worse, you can (conciously or unconciously) get any result you want.
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Old 02-18-11, 11:03 PM
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Sounds like you need to get a fitting......just saying...
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Old 02-18-11, 11:51 PM
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Originally Posted by JavaMan View Post
Sorry, your method does not make any sense to me. Even worse, you can (conciously or unconciously) get any result you want.
If you are getting a result you want, then you are doing it consciously. Maybe I haven't explained it well, or maybe it only works in my case, but there is a clear small range (millimeters) of saddle height where my leg "automatically" completes more of the rotation.

If nobody wants to try it, no big deal, but I'm happy with the results I got. Another bonus is that it allowed me to isolate each leg and determine that I needed to move my cleat forward a bit on one side to compensate for a length discrepancy.

Regarding the fitting: I recently read an article where Steve Hogg re-fit 5 different clients that were "professionally fit" using various methods to determine saddle height and he concluded that they were all wrong.
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Old 02-19-11, 03:17 AM
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So then there one 3 conclusions one can draw from this;

1: the fit of each individual it truly unique and best left to be detemined by the user.

2: professional fittings can not be used to determine how one should be riding there own bike if deemed unsatisfactory by the user.

3: people spend too much time trying to figure out how to ride there bike as opposed to actually riding there bike.

Whatever your conclusion you seem to have a preset notion in your head of the answer(s) you are looking for. None of which are relevant to us.
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Old 02-19-11, 06:25 AM
  #10  
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Saddle Height


Once your seat to stem distance has been established you can now raise your saddle height. Put your armpit on the saddle and make sure your middle finger is exactly touching the top of the bottom bracket. Femur and forearm proportions have been found not to vary between test subjects therefore this is an extremely accurate measurement technique.





from cycling tips blog.com


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Old 02-19-11, 07:36 AM
  #11  
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1. Fit and fitness............I proper professional fitting would address the riders concerns and current level of fitness or lack there of.

2. Raising/lowering the saddle changes setback [unless you have a 90 degree ST]. Randomly changing seat height changes more then seat height.

3. Bacon
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Old 02-19-11, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by rollin View Post
Saddle Height

Once your seat to stem distance has been established you can now raise your saddle height. Put your armpit on the saddle and make sure your middle finger is exactly touching the top of the bottom bracket. Femur and forearm proportions have been found not to vary between test subjects therefore this is an extremely accurate measurement technique.

from cycling tips blog.com
Interesting article. I'll have to see how this compares to my current setup, just for grins. I haven't tweaked a thing since my fit - on the bike.
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Old 02-19-11, 08:06 AM
  #13  
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Uh....if you change seat height you change setback for god sakes! But yeah, what does that matter.......
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Old 02-19-11, 08:41 AM
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Your way is as good a starting point as any other I've heard of. Why anyone would get pissy with you about suggesting something different is beyond me.

What I did: Over the course of a season I continually raised my seat until I started to get pain on the backside of my knee. Then I lowered it a bit.
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Old 02-19-11, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by rollin View Post
Saddle Height


Once your seat to stem distance has been established you can now raise your saddle height. Put your armpit on the saddle and make sure your middle finger is exactly touching the top of the bottom bracket. Femur and forearm proportions have been found not to vary between test subjects therefore this is an extremely accurate measurement technique.





from cycling tips blog.com



It's a damn April Fools joke...I was excited for a moment
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Old 02-19-11, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by RacerOne View Post
Your way is as good a starting point as any other I've heard of. Why anyone would get pissy with you about suggesting something different is beyond me.

What I did: Over the course of a season I continually raised my seat until I started to get pain on the backside of my knee. Then I lowered it a bit.
Thanks. I don't get it either. I thought someone might find my method helpful.

The method you mention is a good way to self-set saddle height. My problem is that my knee and ankle seem to tolerate a wide range of saddle height and during experimentation I've ridden extended periods with my saddle nearly an inch too high or too low without significant discomfort. So using that method I generally move my saddle higher than it should be and don't notice it except for tiring sooner than I should toward the end of a long ride.
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Old 02-19-11, 04:09 PM
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Fitting advise, including saddle height, from a master frame builder:

https://davesbikeblog.squarespace.com...egory/bike-fit
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Old 02-20-11, 12:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Reynolds View Post
Fitting advise, including saddle height, from a master frame builder:

https://davesbikeblog.squarespace.com...egory/bike-fit
He relies on the 109% formula. I've read at least a few studies that have proven that neither the 109% nor the 88.3% formula work well for a very large range of people. They might be good at calculating an average height given a certain leg length, but they are inaccurate unless you are that average person. They don't take other fit factors or individual muscle / joint characteristics into account.

I really don't understand why the method I'm proposing doesn't make sense to more people. Is there anyone here that has been willing to try it, whether to validate current saddle height or determine if a different height might work better?

I went on my second ride today after making saddle height and cleat adjustments using the method I described and I am confident that my saddle height is perfect. I don't feel I've been able to say that any other time since I've owned my bike.
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Old 02-20-11, 12:29 AM
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Originally Posted by FLvector View Post
Interesting article. I'll have to see how this compares to my current setup, just for grins. I haven't tweaked a thing since my fit - on the bike.
Originally Posted by CoachDirty View Post
It's a damn April Fools joke...I was excited for a moment
but it should work


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Old 02-20-11, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by chadteck View Post
He relies on the 109% formula. I've read at least a few studies that have proven that neither the 109% nor the 88.3% formula work well for a very large range of people. They might be good at calculating an average height given a certain leg length, but they are inaccurate unless you are that average person. They don't take other fit factors or individual muscle / joint characteristics into account.

I really don't understand why the method I'm proposing doesn't make sense to more people. Is there anyone here that has been willing to try it, whether to validate current saddle height or determine if a different height might work better?

I went on my second ride today after making saddle height and cleat adjustments using the method I described and I am confident that my saddle height is perfect. I don't feel I've been able to say that any other time since I've owned my bike.
He uses the 109% formula as a starting point, but the final result can be quite different. He does take into account non-average variations.
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Old 02-21-11, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Reynolds View Post
He uses the 109% formula as a starting point, but the final result can be quite different. He does take into account non-average variations.
I think there are two reasons the "raise it until it's too high and then lower it a bit" method didn't work for me:

1. If you have a leg length / proportion discrepancy, your optimal saddle height will be different for each leg unless you have your cleat placement / shims tuned already. As a result, there is no single saddle height that feels exactly right. I knew I had this problem and tried to correct it, but I wasn't able to get it completely correct until I used the method I described originally. The key for me was isolating each leg, which is hard to do during normal riding.

2. As mentioned, my joints and muscles seem to be tolerable to a wide range of saddle height, so it is not much of a bother for me to ride with my saddle too high. As a result, using the "raise it until it's too high" method, I end up setting it higher than it should be.
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Old 02-21-11, 10:52 AM
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I think you are not getting any nibbles because your "method" sounds too much like this:
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Old 02-21-11, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by mmmdonuts View Post
I think you are not getting any nibbles because your "method" sounds too much like this:
I guess it's hard to describe, but the theory is to find the saddle height where your foot subconsciously travels the greatest distance around the circumference of the pedaling path. People are viewing it as random, but it really isn't.
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Old 02-21-11, 01:20 PM
  #24  
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I think the OP presented an interesting concept. I think that it'll get you roughly in the right position pretty quickly. I think repeatability would be tough but I'm sitting here at work, not on my trainer at home, so I can't experiment for myself.

The weakness is if the rider has sub/conscious expectations and sub/consciously adjusts leg extension stuff.

I used to use a similar theory to let riders fit themselves, but I did it a bit differently. I'd have riders stand on something with one leg, hanging onto something for support, and dangle the other leg loose over the edge of whatever (usually a step on a wooden stairway or a milk crate or a step stool). This would give them the feel for a relaxed leg at "full extension", but without using any force to extend the leg further than the natural limiters the body has (flexibility, joint problems etc). This would be the same feel/fit as when they were on the saddle dropping their leg at the bottom of the pedal stroke.

Then they could get that same "relaxed leg" fit on the bike, knowing what to look for in terms of feel and a quick visual on the leg angle. They could fine tune based on how their foot sat, i.e. toes down or flat. Usually this latter adjustment had to take place after some riding.
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Old 02-21-11, 01:41 PM
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Just experiment. I ended up lowering my saddle quite a bit recently, allowing me to drop my heels significantly.
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