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Saddle Height

jhopjhop Posts: 369
edited January 2008 in Workshop
Intrigued by the recent C+ magazine article on the different methods for calculating optimum saddle height I checked all three of my bikes today.

Thankfully they all were the same BUT much higher than either the '109%' or Lemond method calculations, which gave considerably lower settings. If I use 109% then I am about 7cms too high if Lemond then 4cm too high.

The article says that it is possible to decrease the time to exhaustion by as much as 12% if the saddle is too low but does not speculate on losses by being too high. I cycle 6000+ miles per year commuting, training, sportive and audax riding and have had a proper fitting carried out by LBS to ensure frame, stem, cranks and riding position are right.

Is it likely that I have my seat too high?
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  • I suspect something has gone awry in your calculations - if the saddle was 7cm too high you wouldn't reach the pedals at the bottom of the stroke, surely?
    Even if the voices aren't real, they have some very good ideas.
  • gkerr4gkerr4 Posts: 3,408
    hmm - 7cms sounds a lot

    in fairness though - if you ride 6000miles a year and all your bikes were the same then chances are you don't need to fiddle to much - sounds like you have them about right in fact - somethings are best left alone....
  • jhopjhop Posts: 369
    The 109% method suggests LOWERING saddle by 7cms and the Lemond method lowering by 4 cms.

    I obviously can reach the pedals!!!!

    But if I follow the methods and calculations quoted in the magazine I should have my saddle lower.

    My point is can I have been riding 6000+ miles for years with the seat so far out?
  • jhop wrote:
    The 109% method suggests LOWERING saddle by 7cms and the Lemond method lowering by 4 cms.

    I obviously can reach the pedals!!!!
    Aye, I got that. :P

    My point is, unless I've seriously misunderstood bike set up, if your saddle actually was 7cm too high you wouldn't be able to reach the pedals. I'm pretty sure my saddle is in the correct place and there's no way I could raise it 7cm and still reach at the bottom of the stroke, this is why I think it's unlikely your saddle is that much too high.
    Even if the voices aren't real, they have some very good ideas.
  • redddraggonredddraggon Posts: 10,862
    I think you worked it out wrong somewhere, 7cm is a massive difference.
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  • ShakyShaky Posts: 50
    I must admit, I read that article in this months C+, and if I adopted either the 109% and 88% method, I would have to lower my saddle by a good 5 cm. I originally based my saddle height on the heel method, which now appears to wrong. I did lower it a bit, and have noticed a difference in terms of tiredness in my legs, but if I lowered it by the amount suggested I think I would be worse off.
    "Take me Garth"
    "Where? I'm low on gas and you need a jacket"
  • sloboysloboy Posts: 1,139
    I don't know - but the "heel" method and the .883xinside leg give nearly identical positions for me.
  • jhopjhop Posts: 369
    Shadowduck wrote:
    jhop wrote:
    The 109% method suggests LOWERING saddle by 7cms and the Lemond method lowering by 4 cms.

    I obviously can reach the pedals!!!!
    Aye, I got that. :P

    My point is, unless I've seriously misunderstood bike set up, if your saddle actually was 7cm too high you wouldn't be able to reach the pedals. I'm pretty sure my saddle is in the correct place and there's no way I could raise it 7cm and still reach at the bottom of the stroke, this is why I think it's unlikely your saddle is that much too high.

    Shadowduck how does your actual saddle height setting compare with the 109% or Lemond method?
  • protoproto Posts: 1,482
    Do you mean millimetres?
  • redddraggonredddraggon Posts: 10,862
    Using the 109% Method - My saddle should be 83cm high, but I've just measured it to be 87cm on my commuting bike, and 89cm on my decent bike. (Pedal axle to top of seat)

    I think Jhop has got a point. My saddle definitely isn't too high, my commuting bike's saddle is too low if anything.
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  • redddraggonredddraggon Posts: 10,862
    However if I measure my inseam again, the result I got fit with the recorded measurements off the bikes.

    Jhop - measure you're inseam more accurately, that's probably the thing that's throwing you off.
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  • jhop wrote:
    Shadowduck how does your actual saddle height setting compare with the 109% or Lemond method?
    Haven't a clue! I guess it'd be interesting to find out though, I might have a measure tomorrow and let you know.

    I set the height originally by raising the saddle until my hips started to rock then dropping it a tadge (2.54 smidgens), basically so that my leg didn't feel overextended at the bottom of the stroke and the hip rocking disappeared. I've since been set up using the "angle of knee bend" method and it came out pretty much the same, give or take.
    Even if the voices aren't real, they have some very good ideas.
  • kenbaxterkenbaxter Posts: 1,251
    Shaky wrote:
    ....I originally based my saddle height on the heel method, which now appears to wrong. .

    What do you mean it was wrong? Compared to what or is there some evidence that this "method" gives the wrong saddle height?
  • geoff_ssgeoff_ss Posts: 1,234
    A lot depends on how you pedal. My wife tends to pedal on tip toe and so her saddle may be slightly higher than the theoretical ideal. I drop my heel over tdc especially when climbing and also a bit at the bottom of the stroke.

    I usually use the 'heel' method to set my saddle hight and it's been OK for ?? years (where ?? is a large positive integer). It's often easy to see if someone's saddle is too high when riding behind them. If there's a definite hip rock, then it's too high. In the end it's what's comfortable. If you're riding 6k miles/year on your current set up it might not be a good idea to change except experimentally for shortish rides.

    Geoff
    Old cyclists never die; they just fit smaller chainrings ... and pedal faster
  • BuglyBugly Posts: 520
    Question re LEmond method - my understanding the measurment is the vertical distance to the cup of the seat fromt the centre of the bottom bracket (and assumes 170 mm cranks) If you are so different is it possible that you are measuring the actual distance along the seat tube not the vertical compenent?

    Sorry if I am offending you by asking and more sorry if my understanding of the 'Lemond' method is wrong :lol:
  • ShakyShaky Posts: 50
    kenbaxter wrote:
    Shaky wrote:
    ....I originally based my saddle height on the heel method, which now appears to wrong. .

    What do you mean it was wrong? Compared to what or is there some evidence that this "method" gives the wrong saddle height?

    Just based on the advice in C+. Apparently, the heel method "does not take into account individual variations in femur, tibia and foot length"

    But then i'm not sure the 109% or the Lemond method do either

    Who knows :?
    "Take me Garth"
    "Where? I'm low on gas and you need a jacket"
  • mdg1157mdg1157 Posts: 222
    Got me curious did this one!!

    Been out and measured, both bikes are 720mm BB axle to seat top.

    My inseam is 780mm, so by the 83% method , saddle should be 689 mm, so i'm 30mm too high accoreding to this. (difference even bigger with 109% method)

    I ride around 6000 miles a year, so don't think I'll go down 30mm, but might drop 15mm for tomorrow's ride to see if it makes a difference to the way it feels.
  • nickwillnickwill Posts: 2,735
    mdg1157 wrote:
    Got me curious did this one!!

    Been out and measured, both bikes are 720mm BB axle to seat top.

    My inseam is 780mm, so by the 83% method , saddle should be 689 mm, so i'm 30mm too high accoreding to this. (difference even bigger with 109% method)

    I ride around 6000 miles a year, so don't think I'll go down 30mm, but might drop 15mm for tomorrow's ride to see if it makes a difference to the way it feels.

    As far as I can remember the measurement should be 88.3%! I assume that is the measurement you used because 780mm x .883 comes out at 688.74.
    I'm wondering if you are setting your saddle too high to compensate for too short a reach.
  • mdg1157mdg1157 Posts: 222
    Sorry , meant 88.3%, thats what I used to work it out

    Dont think the reach is an issue, I don't like to be stretched out, had a Lemond a few years ago that I was never comfortable on because the reach was too much.
  • SDPSDP Posts: 665
    i think everyone is different !

    as a coach i have adapted many riders positions ...some up & some down..TBH the heel method is never far out..

    i agree re femur length altho i trhink that affects crank lentgh more..

    anotther method to try is riding down hill on a fixed wheel ...try to get leg speed upto to max

    if you bounce up & down in saddle you are too low ..if you start rocking the saddle is too high... :wink:
  • magibobmagibob Posts: 203
    For a complete newbie. Is the Heel method that you set up so that sitting on the saddle the heel just can sit on the pedal with the legs straight, Or have I misunderstood from something else I read?

    Thanks

    Andy
  • SDPSDP Posts: 665
    Magibob wrote:
    For a complete newbie. Is the Heel method that you set up so that sitting on the saddle the heel just can sit on the pedal with the legs straight, Or have I misunderstood from something else I read?

    Thanks

    Andy

    yes ..not with 4 inch stilettos tho. :wink:

    i always think its about right if you do it barefoot.
  • jhop wrote:
    Shadowduck how does your actual saddle height setting compare with the 109% or Lemond method?
    ...and the votes are in!

    Lemond method
    Calculated = 751mm
    Measured = 735mm

    109% method
    Calculated = 928mm
    Measured = 910mm

    So both methods say my saddle is a touch low, if anything, but given the measurements were done by squinting with a tape measure I don't think I'll be adjusting anything.

    I pick up my shiny new bike from Surosa on Friday, it'll be interesting to see what height the saddle's set to after I had my session on the fitting rig!
    Even if the voices aren't real, they have some very good ideas.
  • graham_ggraham_g Posts: 652
    I'm glad I stumbled accross this - I had come to the conclusion that my saddle had been set faaar too high and my hips rocking. I remedied this on the commuter by about 3cm and then the road bike by 10+cm!

    However, when setting the seat using either of these methods, it was just too low. Perhaps the method should take account of pedal/cleat height rather than distance to centre of pedal axle?
  • jhopjhop Posts: 369
    mdg1157 wrote:
    Got me curious did this one!!

    Been out and measured, both bikes are 720mm BB axle to seat top.

    My inseam is 780mm, so by the 83% method , saddle should be 689 mm, so i'm 30mm too high accoreding to this. (difference even bigger with 109% method)

    I ride around 6000 miles a year, so don't think I'll go down 30mm, but might drop 15mm for tomorrow's ride to see if it makes a difference to the way it feels.

    Glad I am not the only one that according to the quoted methods appears to have the saddle too high then. Like you I may drop height a little and see if it makes any noticeable difference.
    Many years ago I had an achilles injury which was cured by a lowering of seat height by about 5mm. But I have been free of such problems for a very long time now.
  • edeverettedeverett Posts: 223
    My saddle height was 6cm too high and I thought it was perfect. But I went to get fitted for a custom bike by Justin Burls, and he was amazed (and possibly a bit worried) by the height of my saddle. He made me lower it for the test ride and while it felt odd, it didn't feel wrong.

    I set my old bike up like this while the new one was being built and it took quite a lot of adjustment and re-training of muscles on longer rides. I got aches and pains in all sorts of new places and had to get used to my saddle all over again. But the result is I'm now very much more comfortable than I was before as well as feeling more powerful.

    Justin didn't seem to have a magic formula for where the saddle should be, but I think his reasoning was that the leg should be at it's most powerful point when the crank arm is perpendicular to your legs (or the ground I guess), where the power will have the most effect.

    Anyway the moral of the story is that I knew a lot less about setting up a bike than I thought I did. If your saddle height is far out from what seems to be the recommendation it might be worth changing it for a week or two to see if the suggestions where right.

    Ed.
  • mdg1157mdg1157 Posts: 222
    Been out for 65 miles today with my seat 15mm lower than before. Had a little lower back ache for 20 odd miles, which went off, other than that didn't notice any difference, until I got home, and came down the stairs! My quads seemed to want to give up, and spasmed, thought they were going to cramp, never had that happen before!!
  • oldwelshmanoldwelshman Posts: 4,733
    mdg1157 wrote:
    Been out for 65 miles today with my seat 15mm lower than before. Had a little lower back ache for 20 odd miles, which went off, other than that didn't notice any difference, until I got home, and came down the stairs! My quads seemed to want to give up, and spasmed, thought they were going to cramp, never had that happen before!!
    15mm is too much to change in one go, you should change it in 2 to 3mm increments after a few rides.
  • jhopjhop Posts: 369
    mdg1157 wrote:
    Been out for 65 miles today with my seat 15mm lower than before. Had a little lower back ache for 20 odd miles, which went off, other than that didn't notice any difference, until I got home, and came down the stairs! My quads seemed to want to give up, and spasmed, thought they were going to cramp, never had that happen before!!

    What are you going to do now?

    Are there likely to be long term benefits of such moves towards lower saddle height?

    I am still in a quandry despite the helpful replies.

    The original article in the magazine speculated on the drawbacks of having saddles set too low but not too high.
  • belgiumbelgium Posts: 19
    the 109% method will give you maximum power over short distances but with the down side that your legs will tire quickly,it is better to use between 105-107% to get the best balance between power and endurance
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