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Is it Weird to Have Saddle Lower than Handle Bars?

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Is it Weird to Have Saddle Lower than Handle Bars?

Old 02-04-15, 08:35 AM
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Is it Weird to Have Saddle Lower than Handle Bars?

I had a quick question. Is it weird to have the saddle slightly lower than the handle bars? Currently they're on even footing but I find it just SLIGHTLY too high. But then I see the photos from other peoples bikes and their saddles are 99.9% always above the handle bars. If not above, then perfectly flush.
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Old 02-04-15, 08:45 AM
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No. Whatever is comfortable for you is what is right. Although lower handlebars will put you in a more aerodynamic position, and presumably faster, not everyone can ride like that.

My handlebars are about even with my saddle in height. My bikes used to have lower handlebars and I had all sorts of problems related to that -- sore neck, numb hands, general discomfort. Those problems cleared up almost immediately when I raised my handlebars. Contrary to conventional wisdom, this did not slow me down a bit, although I'm not a racer either. If anything, my speed and endurance increased because I could ride more comfortably for longer periods of time. In addition, I am able to ride in my drops for extended periods of time with no discomfort, something I was not able to do when my handlebars were lower.
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Old 02-04-15, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by dippitydoo
I had a quick question. Is it weird to have the saddle slightly lower than the handle bars? Currently they're on even footing but I find it just SLIGHTLY too high. But then I see the photos from other peoples bikes and their saddles are 99.9% always above the handle bars. If not above, then perfectly flush.
Your saddle height must be set for proper leg extension while pedalling. The height of your bars has no relevance to your saddle height. The way you worded your post made me think you are adjusting the saddle to determine the height difference between the saddle and bars, but you adjust your saddle to the correct height and then decide where the bars go.

Anyhoo, if you feel more comfortable with your bars higher than your saddle then that is totally fine, although you are correct that most people prefer it at or slightly below saddle.
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Old 02-04-15, 08:53 AM
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Not at all. Put your handlebars where you are comfortable.

Too often guys will put their handlebars as low as possible to look cool and be more aero. However, if you're not very flexible, doing that reduces the amount of power you are able to generate, negating any aero benefit and ultimately making them slower.

And as others have already said, bars too low can lead to low back pain, hip pain, shoulder pain... which makes it not worth it.
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Old 02-04-15, 09:03 AM
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set the seat height and forward/aft position to get the right pedaling position... your knee position/angle and full extension of your leg during the stroke...then adjust your handle bar height and stem length for your riding style/desire...how the handle bar works out in relation to the seat is what it is...but do NOT make that adjustment with the seat...
go to a reputable fitter and have them fit the bike to you...improper seat position could actually lead to knee injury.
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Old 02-04-15, 09:04 AM
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I assume you're referring to a road bike with drop handlebars?

Funny to see everyone trying to look pro/cool, but rarely ride with their hands on the bottom of the drop

My own setups are usually only an inch lower on the stem and I usually ride more upright from the hoods
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Old 02-04-15, 09:08 AM
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And will add, I prefer the handlebar tops to be above my saddle height. This is a bit atypical but will add my reason. Yes, I am an older rider and have been riding for decades. Further I consider myself a strong recreational rider. Certainly low CAT racers can drop me but I can generally stay with all others out on the road and pass most average riders along the way.
I admit that a handlebar as high as I ride isn't for riding on the hoods. In fact, the optimal bar height may in fact be a bit lower than my position for just hood riding. But rather I ride in the drops 50% of the time. This is in fact my favorite and fastest postion on the bike. With a lower bar...I ride a compact bar with shallow hooks...my neck hurts over 20 miles. So my position is based upon comfort. I would say most ride with a lower bar than me and the vast majority don't ride in the drops nearly as much as I do. This is not acceptable to me because I love the drop position.

Many set up their bike based upon vanity...based upon some pseudo ideal in their mind of what a racing bike should look like. They obtusely compare themselves to pro riders which they don't even remotely resemble. In fact, I have a pro rider's build...I just don't have the flexibility or speed. But if you set up the bike based upon your riding preference and what your body tells you during and after a good ride, you will be a lot happier.

PS: as a side note of pain relative to bar height, I have to relate comments often made about Chris Froome who is one of the three best riders in the world. Chris is reed thin...looks like a coat hanger on the bike and yet his face down riding style is often asked about. His response is because his neck hurts if he looks up. Many can relate to this on a road bike. The difference is, Froome needs to ride with a lower handlebar to be at the elite level and the average guy doesn't. An important distinction.

Last edited by Campag4life; 02-04-15 at 09:14 AM.
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Old 02-04-15, 09:21 AM
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It varies with the individual, their bike geometry, comfort and style of riding. What is "weird" is forcing yourself to ride in an uncomfortable position for the sake of style points. The tops on my road bike handlebars are only a cm or two below the level of the seat and my flatbar touring/gravel grinder is about even.

+1 that you set your seat position based on pedaling efficiency and comfort, then adjust the handlebars to what is comfortable with the seat in it's proper position.

Last edited by GravelMN; 02-04-15 at 09:29 AM.
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Old 02-04-15, 09:34 AM
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Just to be controversial, I do find it weird.

Unless you are extremely short, if you have your bars higher than your seat, then you maybe aren't on the right type of bicycle.

Except maybe if you are riding in the drops half of the time...
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Old 02-04-15, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Campag4life
Many set up their bike based upon vanity...based upon some pseudo ideal in their mind of what a racing bike should look like. They obtusely compare themselves to pro riders which they don't even remotely resemble.
do you make this stuff up on the fly?
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Old 02-04-15, 10:06 AM
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Thanks for the replies guys! I like where my handle bars are. I just feel as though my seat is a bit high at times.

Is it true though that the perfect saddle height is one where you can full extend your leg? If so, I guess its at a good spot right now.

Still, it just feels high at times. lol.

edit:

How should you feel when off the saddle? On your tippy toes, should you be able to still be slightly on the saddle albeit sliding off or you should be firmly planted on the saddle on your tippy toes? Or should you need even be able to be on the saddle at all, tippy toes or no tippy toes.


Tippy toes.

Last edited by dippitydoo; 02-04-15 at 10:11 AM.
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Old 02-04-15, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by dippitydoo
Thanks for the replies guys! I like where my handle bars are. I just feel as though my seat is a bit high at times.

Is it true though that the perfect saddle height is one where you can full extend your leg? If so, I guess its at a good spot right now.

Still, it just feels high at times. lol.
I would say the correct seat height would have your leg almost fully extended with the pedal at its farthest position from the saddle with your foot level and with the ball of your foot on the pedal. Most people find this feels high at first, especially when they realize they can only touch the ground with their tippie toes.

However, if your saddle feels a little too high when riding, lower it a bit. Everyone is different and your bike should be set up for you to be comfortable.
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Old 02-04-15, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by dippitydoo
Thanks for the replies guys! I like where my handle bars are. I just feel as though my seat is a bit high at times.

Is it true though that the perfect saddle height is one where you can full extend your leg? If so, I guess its at a good spot right now.

Still, it just feels high at times. lol.
You kind of want your leg extension to be close to full, but not all the way, and you don't want to have to rock your hips to pedal through the bottom of the stroke.

As for seat vs handlebar height... Another factor is weight shift. If your handle bars are higher, you'll tend to be sitting back further with more weight on your rear. This might be more comfortable because it takes weight off your hands/arms, but it also takes weight off the front wheel which might affect handling.

Anyway.... that's what I think is going on where I feel much more secure on my bike in the drops which puts more of my weight forward, but I can't ride that way for long.
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Old 02-04-15, 10:58 AM
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Sure you should do what feels comfortable but if we are talking about a road bike with drop bars I would say you are riding the wrong size bike if you have your saddle lower then the bars
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Old 02-04-15, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by bt
do you make this stuff up on the fly?
I said nothing about fly handlebars.

The better question is...are you Superfly?

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Old 02-04-15, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by rms13
Sure you should do what feels comfortable but if we are talking about a road bike with drop bars I would say you are riding the wrong size bike if you have your saddle lower then the bars
Well that's wrong...lol. Are you related to bt aka Superfly?
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Old 02-04-15, 11:06 AM
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On a road racing bike, yes it is weird. However it's just as weird to see a recreational rider with a six inch saddle to bar drop for purely aesthetic purposes. I have a 1 1/2 inch drop from my saddle to the top of the hoods. Times sure change.

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Old 02-04-15, 11:29 AM
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Without a lot more information, it is really hard for us to know how your bike got set up this way, OP. It could be that it is simply too big for you. When you set the saddle more or less right, the bars are too high and can't be lowered. Like I say that is just one possibility. But follow the good advice you have been given here to get your saddle right first. Then how do you feel about the bars? Do you want them where they are, higher, lower? Do they have adjustability in both directions with more or fewer spacers or can you flip the stem? Which way? Bottom line is that nothing is weird if it is right for you. I would just hate for you to be in a strange position, because you are not on the right size bike. Wondering, was this a used purchase on the street or a new purchase from a shop?
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Old 02-04-15, 11:37 AM
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And as a further comparison, you maybe twice as fit at the OP who can't tolerate the drop you ride with. So you don't or can't ride like a top rider and he can't ride like you. This shouldn't be a revelation to anybody. The vast majority of bicycles sold throughout the world have their handlebar positioned above saddle height. The simple reason is, the vast majority of bike riders do not have the fitness of a racer. Further, the biggest revolution in road bikes in the last 10 years has been the advent of the endurance geometry. The biggest difference between these bikes and conventional road bikes is a higher handlebar based upon a taller head tube which makes them more comfortable for the average rider who doesn't have the core strength or who puts out the watts to unweight the upper body that a fit person does.



Originally Posted by Lazyass
On a road racing bike, yes it is weird. However it's just as weird to see a recreational rider with a six inch saddle to bar drop for purely aesthetic purposes. I have a 1 1/2 inch drop from my saddle to the top of the hoods. Times sure change.


Last edited by Campag4life; 02-04-15 at 11:40 AM.
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Old 02-04-15, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker
Without a lot more information, it is really hard for us to know how your bike got set up this way, OP. It could be that it is simply too big for you. When you set the saddle more or less right, the bars are too high and can't be lowered. Like I say that is just one possibility. But follow the good advice you have been given here to get your saddle right first. Then how do you feel about the bars? Do you want them where they are, higher, lower? Do they have adjustability in both directions with more or fewer spacers or can you flip the stem? Which way? Bottom line is that nothing is weird if it is right for you. I would just hate for you to be in a strange position, because you are not on the right size bike. Wondering, was this a used purchase on the street or a new purchase from a shop?
Purchased in a bike shop. I'm 5'6 (and a half). It was either go for the 51 or the 48. I think the 48 would be small but comfortable and snug. Guy at the store said 51 was the logical choice though for my size (he didn't take an inseam or anything). He did swap out a stem for a better fitting one, according him.
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Old 02-04-15, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Campag4life
Well that's wrong...lol. Are you related to bt aka Superfly?
An opinion maybe but not wrong
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Old 02-04-15, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by dippitydoo
Purchased in a bike shop. I'm 5'6 (and a half). It was either go for the 51 or the 48. I think the 48 would be small but comfortable and snug. Guy at the store said 51 was the logical choice though for my size (he didn't take an inseam or anything). He did swap out a stem for a better fitting one, according him.
Ugh, it sounds like, maybe, you got sold what he had, not necessarily what you need. The inseam would be the number 1 measurement to take in order to choose between the two sizes.

That being said, you ought to be able to make it work (and hey, it might actually be the right size for you)

Here are a couple of random sites on getting your seat height right:
How to get your seat height right - BikeRadar
How to Calculate the Correct Bicycle Seat Height? | LIVESTRONG.COM

Get a good inseam measurement and then you can zero in on the height using one of the many possible methods. None of them is necessarily going to give you the exact right spot to put it, but they should all get you pretty close.

Pick a height that falls in that range, ride it a bit and see how it goes. Make changes in small increments slowly. In other words, don't set a height, go out on a ride, change it down an inch in the middle of the ride, up two inches toward the end of the ride, down again at the beginning of the next ride, etc. Move it a centimeter after your first ride or two -- depending on what your rear end tells you.

Also remember, if you're new to this, your rear could just be telling you it needs to get acclimated to all this and not that the seat is in the wrong spot.

Make sure your hips aren't rocking as you stretch for the pedals and make sure your leg gets sufficient extension with each stroke. From there, it's fine-tuning that you'll do over time.
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Old 02-04-15, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by dippitydoo
Purchased in a bike shop. I'm 5'6 (and a half). It was either go for the 51 or the 48. I think the 48 would be small but comfortable and snug. Guy at the store said 51 was the logical choice though for my size (he didn't take an inseam or anything). He did swap out a stem for a better fitting one, according him.
Well good. That hardly sounds too big. As others have said, get that saddle right first both height and fore-aft position. Then address how much you want to reach and bend over.
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Old 02-04-15, 04:30 PM
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well, I'm gonna reverse flip my stem!

thanks for the hot tip campag.
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Old 02-04-15, 04:42 PM
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Once I hit 35 or so, my bars started getting higher every year.

My hoods are still a couple inches below saddle, but I suspect they'll be above it by the time I hit 55.

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