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Wow, I guess my saddle was really low...

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Wow, I guess my saddle was really low...

Old 08-12-13, 06:08 PM
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Wow, I guess my saddle was really low...

Been riding my (first) road bike for about a year now, and when I bought it, the guy at the LBS just kinda eyeballed my seat height as I sat on it (heck I wasn't even wearing cycling clothes). Well, I've been comfortable all this time, but for some reason out of the blue about 2 weeks ago, I started getting some knee pain on the front right side of my left knee(y'know, in that little pocket of muscle/tissue on the inside of the knee cap). FWIW, I ride platform pedals(VT Gripsters), with straps (Hold Fast)--not going clipless (yet).

So as I say, all of a sudden, my knee gets to hurting, though I haven't changed a thing.

I started reading more about saddle height and from what I can deduce, my saddle was a good 2.5 inches too low(that's quite a lot, no?). I base this on the "109% theory" I've read about, plus just the plain old putting one's heel on the pedal at full extension with the pedal all the way down, etc. etc. I can't really afford a pro fitting right now, BTW, but will get one at some point (probably when I make the switch to clipless, which is inevitable, but also out of the budget right now). Anyhow, everything I read seems to suggest that saddle height being too low is the first thing to check for front of knee discomfort.

I raised my seat tonight and will ride tomorrow and see how it goes. Just thought it was weird how I've been comfy up until now, and then all of a sudden--knee pain, with nothing being changed. I suppose it's good in a way, as it lead me to check out my saddle height more thoroughly

Last edited by pbass; 08-12-13 at 06:24 PM.
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Old 08-12-13, 06:29 PM
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Be careful with extreme changes to your setup. Better to change a bit at a time and get used to it.
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Old 08-12-13, 06:33 PM
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That's how it works when your positioning isn't optimal. The various pains never show up immediately, rather, it's only after the repetitive motion over time that your body starts to show any indications. This illustrates why it's so important to at least get close right from the start, as once something like a knee becomes sensitive or inflamed, it could take a while to properly heal.
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Old 08-12-13, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01
Be careful with extreme changes to your setup. Better to change a bit at a time and get used to it.
Thanks. I've raised it about an inch for now--haven't ridden yet(except around the driveway, so hard to tell) Do you think that's too much for starters?
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Old 08-12-13, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by pbass
Thanks. I've raised it about an inch for now--haven't ridden yet(except around the driveway, so hard to tell) Do you think that's too much for starters?
No, that's probably fine.
BTW, you'll know it's too high if your hips rock at a comfortable cadence.
If this happens, lower the saddle in 1/4 inch increments until the rocking stops.
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Old 08-12-13, 08:50 PM
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I see way more peps on the road riding with thier saddles to high. Cyril said it right. Find where your hips rock back and forth and slowly move it down a little bit. You'll find you have way more power and your indurance will increase as well
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Old 08-12-13, 08:56 PM
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If you wear cycling shorts, over time the chamois can compress, effectively lowering your seat height. If your fit was on the borderline, this could be a possible cause.
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Old 08-12-13, 09:20 PM
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Originally Posted by thinktubes
If you wear cycling shorts, over time the chamois can compress, effectively lowering your seat height. If your fit was on the borderline, this could be a possible cause.
Ummm... 2.5 inches of chamois compression??
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Old 08-13-13, 08:03 AM
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Here's an interesting recent article on saddle height: https://velonews.competitor.com/2013/...sionals_297968
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Old 08-13-13, 08:51 AM
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I thought the 109% rule had been tossed out years ago, no? I used that for a while years ago, and I think it gave me some Achilles tendonitis.

The heel on the pedal system works well for me.
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Old 08-13-13, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl
I thought the 109% rule had been tossed out years ago, no? I used that for a while years ago, and I think it gave me some Achilles tendonitis.

The heel on the pedal system works well for me.
Interesting---as I mentioned, if I used the 109% rule, mine was WAY off!
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Old 08-13-13, 09:53 AM
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The 109% or the 0.883 methods both work. For some...
Something that affects pain appearing in various places is also the fore aft position of the seat.

But all of these methods are ballpark systems and it is really up to you and your personal preference to find the right position. Some like it high and some like it low.
But for examples
35º knee angle is least optimal for power output or aerobic performance but is best for control and handling
35º-25º is normal and inbetween for everything. This is where most of us ride
25º-15º is optimal for power and aerobic efficiency but not as good for handling. Injuries might occur when the seat is this high.

I like my seat in the 15º-20º degree knee angle region with a neutral ankle position.

Keep in mind some pros have seat heights that look way high or way low and do fine. The human is not a machine so one rider can succesfully ride several different seat positions. What is optimal is dependant on the situation. climbing a high seat is good I find but if I were to ride a long downhill stretch in the alps I might lower my seat a few centimeters (one or two inches) for added handling and better tuck position.
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Old 08-13-13, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by 2 wheeler
Ummm... 2.5 inches of chamois compression??
I suppose it all "Depends" on what you have on *rimshot*...
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Old 08-13-13, 07:22 PM
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https://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com/...ard-can-it-be/
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Old 08-14-13, 08:17 PM
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Well, took a ride with my saddle raised up, and seems like it sorted things out! I raised it an inch, and rode for about 3 miles. Then went up another 1/4", and rode about 10 miles, and lo and behold, not only does my knee not hurt like before, it feels better now post-ride than it has for the last couple days I took off to rest it (due to stiffness I suppose).
Still, a pro bike fit is in the cards--will be switching over to clipless soon as I get the funds and will do it then.
Thanks for all the replies.
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Old 08-14-13, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by 2 wheeler
Ummm... 2.5 inches of chamois compression??
Those aren't bike shorts, those are Pampers!
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Old 08-17-13, 02:51 AM
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I have asked a bit regarding this. My answer was that it's also pending on how you like to have your foot pedaling, ancle down or up, foot length and stack of pedal and cleat.
For example, i could be approximatedly slightly over 79cm and down to 78cm. I ain't saying i am correct, bit it's something you might consider. Oh, i am talking BB centrum to top of saddle length.
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Old 08-17-13, 03:00 AM
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There are some fit calculators on the net that can get you a pretty good fit and they are free.
When I got my first race bike a few weeks ago I used the one at Competitive Cyclist.
You'll need someone to help you measure up and after you put in all your measurements it will output good fit numbers for your bike.
With the help of that I was able to set it up well enough even before my first ride on it.
Setting the saddle too low is a typical newbie mistake, btw ... don't worry ... you'll learn
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Old 08-17-13, 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by pbass
Well, took a ride with my saddle raised up, and seems like it sorted things out! I raised it an inch, and rode for about 3 miles. Then went up another 1/4", and rode about 10 miles, and lo and behold, not only does my knee not hurt like before, it feels better now post-ride than it has for the last couple days I took off to rest it (due to stiffness I suppose).
Still, a pro bike fit is in the cards--will be switching over to clipless soon as I get the funds and will do it then.
Thanks for all the replies.
Once you get the seat height set relatively close, I like to mark the seat post at that position. Seat posts can slip down slowly over time (especially carbon ones, it seems). Happens so slowly that you don't know it's happening day to day.

J.
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Old 08-17-13, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by AdelaaR
There are some fit calculators on the net that can get you a pretty good fit and they are free.
When I got my first race bike a few weeks ago I used the one at Competitive Cyclist.
You'll need someone to help you measure up and after you put in all your measurements it will output good fit numbers for your bike.
With the help of that I was able to set it up well enough even before my first ride on it.
Setting the saddle too low is a typical newbie mistake, btw ... don't worry ... you'll learn
Competitive Cyclist gives me a fit that's 2-5cm too short depending on what of their three types of fit I'm looking at - so whatever they recommend should be taken with a quantity of salt.
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Old 08-17-13, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80
Once you get the seat height set relatively close, I like to mark the seat post at that position. Seat posts can slip down slowly over time (especially carbon ones, it seems). Happens so slowly that you don't know it's happening day to day.

J.
Thanks--I have a mark where it WAS, but now that I think it's feeling good I'll mark it here as well. I suppose it could have slipped some. But as I say, I never gave it much thought, the guy at the LBS just eyeballed me on it in street clothes the day I bought it, and off I went. So perhaps some slipping combined with being a tad low to begin with and the cumulative effect on my knee just eventually kicked in.
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Old 08-17-13, 10:27 AM
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If you raised your saddle 1 inches, you may need to check the saddle setback. If it is too much, you will get pain in the lower back and (depending on reach) shoulder area.
1 inches of upward movement should be about 0.3 inches of backward movement. If you end up having issues, you may want to move the saddle forward by 0.15-0.2 inches.

Ps. Try using a measuring tape that has metric scale on it. Cycling world speaks metric.
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Old 08-17-13, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Fiery
Competitive Cyclist gives me a fit that's 2-5cm too short depending on what of their three types of fit I'm looking at - so whatever they recommend should be taken with a quantity of salt.
Good to know, but for me the fit seems absolutely perfect.
Are you sure you measured everything right?
Are you somehow very disproportionate?
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Old 08-17-13, 01:39 PM
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Just a thought- but as you dial this stuff in, pay attention to your pelvis mechanics as you pedal. Is one side "dipping", or does one leg feel like it's extending while the other doesn't? 'Cause you may have one leg shorter than the other.
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Old 08-18-13, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by AdelaaR
Good to know, but for me the fit seems absolutely perfect.
Are you sure you measured everything right?
Are you somehow very disproportionate?
Measured with help from a friend, so it should be accurate within reason. I am of quite average proportions, somewhat long in the arms but that's about it.

Interestingly enough, the fit I got from the Wrench Science calculator is 1-2cm too long.
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