Saddle height quandry!

Stylo26
Stylo26 Posts: 11
edited December 2011 in Road buying advice
I have noticed that the tendancy these days is to raise the saddle of bikes up high in order (i presume) to find a more aerodynamic position.

Considering that I have a relatively short inside leg measurement (28") would I be better off having a bike where I can touch the ground with one foot with crotch on the top tube ( as I usually do) OR have a ridiculously small bike and raise the saddle?

Comments

  • Omar Little
    Omar Little Posts: 2,010
    Normally i'd say forget about where your feet are on the ground when you are sitting on the saddle what is important is where they are in relation to the pedals (and obviously what the reach is like to the bars etc)

    However only being able to have one foot on the ground when standing over the top tube seems a bit extreme - if it was me i would go for a smaller frame and more seatpost. Maybe a bike with a sloping top tube will help too.

    What height are you and what size of frame do you have?
  • bristolpete
    bristolpete Posts: 2,255
    Perhaps consider compact geometry?

    Specialized, Giant, Cervelo all offer bikes that can fit rather well. I am 5'9 with a 29 in seam but ride both a 56cm Specialized and a 56 cm Cervelo as I have a stupidly long torso though thankfully, I don't look like a freak. The compact rear with longer top tube suits my shape.
  • sungod
    sungod Posts: 16,540
    on a road bike, the saddle should be at the correct position for leg length, too low/high and it can cause all kinds of trouble

    getting a more aero rider position often results in lower bars with respect to the saddle - maybe this makes the saddle look high - but how low depends on the rider's flexibility/tolerance, and a better aero position can be negated by lower power output vs. a less aero position

    correct bike sizing depends on several things, if you are unsure then it's best to find a decent lbs and get some advice
    my bike - faster than god's and twice as shiny
  • Zoomer37
    Zoomer37 Posts: 725
    Stylo26 wrote:
    I have noticed that the tendancy these days is to raise the saddle of bikes up high in order (i presume) to find a more aerodynamic position.

    Increasing the seat height will give you a more aggresive position on the bike, but to get a aero/flat back postion its about roating your pelvis forward, how you sit on the seat and also putting the right amount of bend in your elbows.

    Id focus less on becoming a aero warrior and just get a frame which is your correct size.
  • On Omar Little's comment, saddle position should not be decided in relation to reach to the bars.

    The first part of bike fit is to ensure the saddle is in the right position in relation to the pedals.

    After that is fixed you work on reach and height at the front end.

    Reach is adjusted through different TT and stem lengths, and also different stem height, and shifter type/position, and only that, NOT saddle position.
  • Omar Little
    Omar Little Posts: 2,010
    On Omar Little's comment, saddle position should not be decided in relation to reach to the bars.

    The first part of bike fit is to ensure the saddle is in the right position in relation to the pedals.

    After that is fixed you work on reach and height at the front end.

    Reach is adjusted through different TT and stem lengths, and also different stem height, and shifter type/position, and only that, NOT saddle position.


    Wasn't meaning it that way - was intended to be a comment on general fit and not buying a bike where you only take into account the saddle height and neglect the other parts.
  • nickel
    nickel Posts: 476
    There was a thread a long these lines a while back about pro's riding smaller frames. For example cadel evans is 5ft 9 and I think it tour bike was a 50cm. In contrast I'm 5ft 7 and ride a 54cm frame. If I were to ride a 50cm frame and adjust it raising the saddle/ adding a longer stem it'd fit me but I'd have a huge drop from the saddle to the bars. This is great if you're a really flexible pro rider but I'd end up with pretty bad back ache. I know this isn't what the OP was asking about but what I'm trying to put across is don't buy a deliberately buy a frame that's too small for you, unless you're amazingly flexible and in that case why the hell not :P
  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    Many riders spend most of their time riding on the hoods and so optimise their bar position accordingly - before the advent of integrated brake and gear levers, the preference was to ride on the drops i.e. whilst the rider position remains much the same, but modern bikes would appear to have a greater saddle to bar drop. Compact handlebars also make life easier for those forays onto the drops.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • I have a 29" inside leg and ride a 50cm ... i can only get the absolute tip of my toe on the ground while in the saddle, and even then i'm off to one side ...

    Just scooch off the saddle when stopping ... Too high a saddle you get sore hips, too low you get sore knees (and arse/balls if you pedal over 100rpm) ... Just set for whatever suits you regardless of look/fashion ...

    I used to,ride a 52cm Specialzed, a 52cm equivalent Spesh compact (fast but way to small) then a 52cm Cannondale (2cm smaller than the standard geometry Spesh in real terms) and now have a 50cm 'dale which seems perfect ( the Mrs had a 48cm that was too small, similar to the compact Spesh) ... Essentially got it right 4th time (and £5k worse off) round ...

    Obv. this all just means something to me butbas a fellow shortar$e I thought Imwould pass on my experience ...
  • ChrisSA
    ChrisSA Posts: 455
    Nickel wrote:
    There was a thread a long these lines a while back about pro's riding smaller frames. For example cadel evans is 5ft 9 and I think it tour bike was a 50cm. In contrast I'm 5ft 7 and ride a 54cm frame. If I were to ride a 50cm frame and adjust it raising the saddle/ adding a longer stem it'd fit me but I'd have a huge drop from the saddle to the bars.

    It is very hard to compare frame sizes without having the geometry to check. Your 50cm could be a very similar size to Cadel's 54cm.

    My road bike (horizontal tob tube) could be considered a 56cm. My Tri bike (compact geo) could be a 51cm, and my MTB could be a 43cm.
  • DaleB
    DaleB Posts: 19
    Personally i would suggest that you go to a specialist bike shop and get measured/fitted properly using one of the many measuring systems that are available these days.
    This way they will take things like flexibillity etc into consideration when recommending a specific bike/frame.
  • Is this recent article on saddle height from Bikeradar of any use?

    http://www.bikeradar.com/fitness/articl ... ight-14608
  • cougie
    cougie Posts: 22,512
    You only need worry about clearance on the top tube for off road riding.