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Knee health - is your seat high enough?

capoz77capoz77 Posts: 503
edited March 2009 in MTB general
How many of you actually ride with your seat high enough so leg is almost straight on the down pedal?

As of late my seat has been that low I feel like i'm riding on a harley :shock: Got some wicked cramp in quads at the end of last ride and a tweaky knee feeling. I think it may be time to elevate my seat!


  • robertpbrobertpb Posts: 1,866
    Now where's that "Get Out of Crash Free Card"
  • capoz77capoz77 Posts: 503
    thats more about spds and not seat height though LOL 8)
  • Mrs ToastMrs Toast Posts: 636
    I used to ride with my seat very, very low. However I had my knees operated on in September, and my consultant said that if I wanted to carry on biking that I would have to make sure that the saddle is the correct height. He said that biking can either be very good or very bad for knees - it all depends on saddle height.
  • robertpbrobertpb Posts: 1,866
    If you read my post you will see it's about seat hight, there is nothing in my post about spds.

    To recap, measure your inside leg with your riding shoes on then add 9% to this and that's your saddle hight.

    Adjust measuring from top of the pedal in its bottom position to the top of the saddle, in line with the seat tube.
    Now where's that "Get Out of Crash Free Card"
  • I recently found mine to be a full 3cm too low due to a mis-measurement of my inseam which gained an inch.
    I found that because i was low i pushed massively from my quads but used my calves very little, so i guess the moral of this story is having a correct height seatpost is more efficient and will also distribute the load of a pedal stroke between a lot of muscle groups.

    Also watch out for your lower back getting tight if it is too low, can cause a lot of other pains, including knee ones which wont go away on there own always.
  • capoz77capoz77 Posts: 503
    would it be easier to set saddle height, sit on bike and extend leg to see it knee is almost straight and then heighten or lower a bit to suit?

    Re the surgery was this a direct result of cycling with low seat?
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    I usually set the height by the above method.

    Also consider how far back or forward the saddle is. Crank lengths can be very noticable for some, even pedal depth!
  • capoz77capoz77 Posts: 503
    i'm off to set seat by the 109% method, see what i get lol
  • robertpbrobertpb Posts: 1,866
    The 109% method has been one of the most commonly used ways of setting saddle hight since the 50's for professional cyclists.
    Now where's that "Get Out of Crash Free Card"
  • Is that with your cleat in the pedal? My saddle is set so my leg is straight (but not stretched) when my heel is just on the pedal at the furthest point from the saddle (not the bottom of the stroke).

    (copied from another thread)
  • xgeekxgeek Posts: 117
    I got my bike around October last year and asked on this forum about seat height. Tried the 109% method and thought NO WAY that is far too high. So lowered the seat to what I thought looks right. 5 months on and lots of rides/adjustments behind me and guess what? My seat is 1cm off of what the 109% method said it should be! :D
  • I just bought a new bike (2009 Giant Rincon) and compared to the old (2001 Scott Rockwood) it feels like I'm sitting WAAY more upright. I had to really jack the seat up higher than I thought I would for it to feel right. (The way softer/ more comfortable saddle played a part, too..)

    Then I put the bikes next to each other and realize the handlebars on the Giant are a good 2-3 INCHES higher than the Scott.
    (I might look for a different stem..)
  • Mrs ToastMrs Toast Posts: 636
    capoz77 wrote:
    Re the surgery was this a direct result of cycling with low seat?

    No, my knees are just rubbish! I originally injured them picking up some German textbooks when I was 13. "Bend with your knees, not with your back" they say.... :evil:

    I will say, I'm finding biking a lot less tiring than when I had my seat lower, and my knees certainly swell up less, and there's less pain. Although hopefully the operation might have had something to do with that... :lol:
  • M6TTFM6TTF Posts: 602
    I've always gone with the heel on the pedal method, although I've found that you have be a bit more lenient on an MTB due to the nature of the riding
  • RaymondavalonRaymondavalon Posts: 5,346
    I select my saddle height through trial and error, I've never used the 109% method or anything like that, I just ensure that my legs are extended at the bottom of the pedal stroke with a slight bend in the knee. I don't use SPD's I prefer flat pedals
    I do have Chondromalacia in my left knee (army injury) and pedaling doesn't bother me at all, in fact cycling has helped strengthen the knee area and surely I can only attribute this to being seated at the correct height for me.
    My lower right leg was repaired in April 2008 with 11 screws and a plate (MTB accident!) and no issues there either, so I'm lucky enough to have found that perfect balance. I am quite happy with the seat heights on all of my bikes, so I feel that I can pedal away all day on any of them without any knee related discomfort at all.
  • capoz77capoz77 Posts: 503
    inside leg 34". 109 method 37.6" from pedal axle (when at bottom) to top of seat itself right?

    Well i had to slant the bike on a real angle to actually get on the seat it was so high but my knee was slightly bent but a lot less than normal. I feel kinda on top of the bike rather than *in* it as I usually do. Have my calculations gone to censored ? :lol:
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    I have to say, I have never heard of this '109%' method.

    But I will say, that the people who test and try usually have the best set up.
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