How to Adjust Bike Seat Properly to Get Comfortable Ride

How to adjust your bike seat

Setting the mountain bike saddle height is something very essential for your comfort. But is it is also very important to ensure that you reach optimum efficiency as well as staying injury free. I am going to present you with two methods for performing this task. These are going to help you on how to adjust your bike seat height & placement easily, and all of this from the comfort of your home.

The first thing you need to know is how to measure the saddle height. Such measurement is typically taken as the distance from the bottom bracket’s center to the middle of the saddle. A saddle too low, or even too high can lead to wastage of some of your energy. Though this is alright if you are no competing, it can lead to an injury.

How to Adjust Bike Seat Properly to Get Comfortable Ride

The optimum height for a saddle has caused a lot of debate between the manufacturer’s experts and bikers. If you are looking for the absolute performance, you may probably wish to seek a professional bike fitter. What the fitter is going to determine is the perfect height for your saddle using your strength, flexibility, as well as unique dimensions your body. He’ll take all of these parameters into consideration.

But if you are only looking to do this yourselves and avoid any injury with optimal pedal comfort, we have the below two methods. Both are very popular and widely used across bike lovers. These are going to have you in the correct ball-park. Please visualize the below video and further down are more information:

 Method #1: Calculating Saddle Height Using Inseam Measurement 

This inseam method of measurement is one you can very easily do from the comfort of your home. There are some variations to this method such as the ‘LeMond method’ (1, 2). The method has your inseam length multiplied by 0.883.

However, the version we like is the one KernowPhysio’s Scott Tomkinson uses. This is a person that is responsible for offering advice to WorldTour teams on bike fit elements. Here is the method:

  • Stand (with shoes off) with the feet at the width of the shoulder apart. What I mean is you should open your legs. The length from one foot to the other is the length between one shoulder to the other. Say that from one shoulder to your other one you have 50 cm, then open leave a distance of 50 cm between your two feet. That’s all.
  • Have a ruler or spirit level placed between your legs, then slightly pull up to have pressure stimulated from sitting on a saddle.
  • On the wall, make a mark at the spirit level’s height. A pencil could be used if this is being done in the living room.
  • From this point, a measurement is taken straight down to the floor using a measuring tape. The leg’s line should not be followed.
  • Off the measurement, have 10 cm taken off. For instance, if the measurement of your inseam leg is 76.9 cm, take away 10 cm to get the initial height of your saddle as 66.9 cm.
  • Have the measure applied to the height of your saddle, from the floor up to the 66.9 cm.
  • Now that you have this very important measurement, you can use it on any bike. Note that the application of the measurement is from the bottom bracket’s center to the top-most part of your saddle following the seat tube’s line.

The KernowPhysio’s method is going to have you get into the right ball-park figure for the height of your saddle. Now, you may want to fine-tune the height of your saddle for best performance. This is again another point of discussion between cyclists. But Tomkinson highlights: ‘Similar to any other method, and with many variables, there are going to cause the height of your saddle to require a little bit of tweaking’.

‘These could be including leg length discrepancy, a rider’s flexibility, or posture – which could include various things such as medial foot arch collapse, scoliosis, or pelvic instability.’ So, use the KernowPhysio’s Scott Tomkinson method to get close to your best ballpark. Then tweak this a little bit to optimize your performance. You’re done.

 Method #2: Heel On Pedal Method 

This is an alternative method that you can also use. It is very simple and has been able to survive the test of time. It is as follows;

  • With the bike attached to a turbo trainer, sit on it or hold yourself against a wall. Just to ensure the straightness of the bicycle.
  • Have one of your heel placed on one pedal, while it is approximately in the 6 O’clock position. Basically, one pedal is at the bottom and the other one at the top.
  • You should have your leg fully straight with your foot in such a position,
  • If a bend is present in your knee, the implication is that the saddle requires going up further.
  • In case your hips are tilted or move by any distance on placing your heel on the pedal, the seat should be taken down.
  • Now check with your other foot, meaning the pedal that was up will now be down and the one that was down will now be up. And repeat the checks. If there is an issue with your hip, then you may have a leg shorter or longer (depending on how you look at it) than the other. You may need insoles.

 Steps in Bike Saddle Adjustments 

I. Adjusting The Height Of The Seat

1. You should be aware that a seat placed at the correct height leads to pedal strokes that are even and comfortable

  • The position of your knees should be bent to about 25 degrees. The feel of this position is similar to stand upright in an athletic position.
  • If you lack the access to a measuring tape, this can be used as a guideline in the adjustment of the height of the seat using your hands.

2. Measure your inseam.

  • This is the distance that is there between your crotch and the ground measured along the inside of your leg. To have an inseam reading that is very accurate;
  • Hold a hardcover book’s spine under your crotch as you mimic a seat’s feeling.
  • With the feet 6” apart, stand up.
  • Measure the distance from the book’s spine to the ground. (your inseam)
  • Have your inseam multiplied by 1.09. The result is the distance regarding inches that should be there between your saddle’s top and your pedals axle.

3. Learn the adjustment of your seat post.

Every seat post is loosened and adjustment made at the junction of the seat post and the frame of the bike. You can pry a lever that is quick-release at the seat post’s base and adjusts it using the hand. In case a small bracket having a screw in it is present, the seat post has been bolted.

4. Adjustment of the height of the seat to your measured length.

Slide gently up or down the seat post for it to reach the measurement ideal for you. At the perfect height, nicking the post can be helpful in the event the seat slips requiring you to have it adjusted again.

5. Have the seat firmly tightened.

Either through pressing the quick-release level down back to its position when locked, or re-tightening of the bolts using an adjustable wrench or Allen key to a point where there is no more movement. It is not a requirement for you to have it very tight that undoing it becomes a problem later.

6. Check your measurement through a test ride.

For a little slow test drive, go out and onto the driveway. Ensure you can reach the pedals easily and get on top of the bike with your knees not being locked. Try to stand up as you pedal to ensure you can get from the saddle comfortably. Ensure that the seat is in a position facing right ahead. Failure to do this will result in your riding position becoming uncomfortable and awkward.

  • Have your heel placed on the pedal as you ride. While doing so, a little bend of your knee with the pedal at the lowermost point should be observed. This becomes the optimum height for your seat.
  • In the case of cages or clip pedals, ensure they are used during your test ride. They are going to affect your ride.
  • Every person has a type of body that is different. What should serve as the starting point is your inseam measurement. An adjustment should then be made to have the bike comfortable fit you.

7. Have any issues troubleshoot through movement of the seat a bit up or down. In the event you experience some pain to the knee, the greatest cause often is the height of your seat.

  • Where the pain is situated on the back of the knee, the problem is that the seat is too high.
  • Whereby the pain is situated at the front part of the knee, the problem is that the seat is too low.
  • The position of your hips should be sturdy, not rocking as you pedal. If they slide from side to side as you make pedal strokes, the position of your sit is too high.

II. Adjustment Of The Seat Placement

1. Be aware that a bike’s forward position and the angle is going to affect the comfort of your riding.

To examine the position that is perfect for the saddle fore aft position:

  • As you ride, stop the feet in a manner that one pedal is in the 3 O’clock position.
  • Picture a line that is straight and running down to the ground from your knee’s front part.
  • The line should make an intersection through the middle part of the pedal. This means that the knee should be just over the pedal in the 3 O’ clock position.

2. Have the bolt that is underneath the seat loosed for forward or backward changing the seat position.

At the back position of the seat, a small bolt is present at the position that is pointing downwards at the rear wheel. The small bolt is responsible for controlling the placement of the seat.

It makes a connection to a bracket. The bracket then clamps onto little metal tubes have the seat held in position. To reduce the pressure that is applied on the clamps keeping the seat in place, loosen the bolt through turning it in an anti-clockwise direction.

3. Ensure the seat is at a distance that is far enough forward to have a ride that is comfortable.

If you are experiencing any of the following problems, the seat should be slide back or forward as the bolt is loose;

  • A challenge as you stand, reach for the bars and fingers becoming numb whose possible implication is that the seat is way back.
  • A challenge feeling comfy as you ride down a hill along with pain on the shoulders. Possible meaning is that the seat is way forward.

4. Ensure the angle of your seat is the same as that of the ground.

If you get an uncomfortable experience particularly in your crotch, a little adjustment to the seat can be made. However, this should be not greater than 3 degrees in one direction or the other.

  • Typically, the seat should be tilted by women a bit down to experience greater comfort.
  • To men, the tilting of the seat should be done slight up to experience greater comfort.

5. On the seat’s side, have the bolts loosed to have the angle of the seat changed.

Most often than not, the bolt is located on the right side of the seat. It makes it possible for you to change the seat’s angle with ease and then have it again tightened in place. Some seats that are a bit older possess two little bolts below the seat. One is located at the front part of the seat post while the other is behind. These are essential in changing the seat’s angle.

One side must be tightened to have the side pushed up while the other side is loosened up, almost as in a seesaw.

  • Large adjustments should never be made on the angle of your seat. The height of the seat should be checked, and the forward position before the angle is adjusted slightly if need be.

 Tips 

  • A saddle that has been adjusted way too back is going to make the maintenance of a high cadence more challenging.
  • Balancing becomes easier in case the height of your saddle is too low or the saddle tilt is up.

 Warnings 

  • Avoiding riding a bike that has been not adjusted to fit you. This not only results in discomfort, but you can also end up hurting yourself.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Question: How can the whole seat post be taken off and have another one put in?
Answer: In the majority of the bikes, you can be able to have a seat lifted up and out of the frame. This is on having the lever released, or the bolts loosened.

Question: how can left or right adjustment of the seat be made?
Answer: Many seats of the bike have a lever or a screw. On undoing them, it becomes possible for you to adjust the seat through twisting.

Finally, If you went through this big article I hope you find your desired information about how to adjust bike seat height & placement easily for smooth riding experience. If you think this comprehensive bike saddle fitting guide will help you to learn a little bit about bike saddle position then my effort will be a success.


ReferenceQuoraBike Features, Physiotherapy Cornwall

 

About the Author Timothy E. Wilson

Hi, I'm Tim I proud to be a bike adviser and bike rider at BikesGuider. I'm most helpful for new bike riders who want to join the bike community. I take it personally when someone wants to buy a new bike with my consult and experience. That's why I'm here to help new rider widely. I have researched, tested and summarized my finding in many articles on this site and I hope you'll learn and enjoy it. I will continue to add articles about bikes, accessories and parts for you. Come back as often as you can. Speak soon and enjoy the reading and ride.

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