How do you find out the correct saddle height? Do you just jump on and see what feels right? There are all sorts of wonderful ways to find your optimum saddle height. And some people may vary in what they find comfortable. We can suggest that certain guides are the best way but if simply are not comfortable at the end of it then you have to take this into consideration and do what feels right for you. For instance an expert once came to Chris Froome and said his saddle height was wrong, so they altered it to the ‘correct’ position, shortly after he had to revert back to what he was used to as it just didn’t suit him. It hasn’t done him any harm has it!
There are a few methods you can use but we are going to explain the easiest and simplest way that can be used at anytime, anywhere. You never know when you may need to do any emergency saddle adjustment on go!
The best and easiest way of getting the right saddle height is to make sure you have a tape measure, a turbo trainer with a turbo tyre (as Pictured) if possible and a spirit level. Use the same pedals, shoes and saddle you would use when setting this measurement up. Oh and a bike of course!
How to find the right measurement.
Sit on the bike with all your kit on.( shorts, remember have pads in them which makes a difference to the saddle height set up) You don’t have to wear a helmet! Once on the bike, place the heel of your foot on the pedal. If your leg is almost dead straight in this position then this is just right. If you have a big bend in the leg or can’t reach the pedal with your heel then you need to make micro adjustments to the saddle height until you reach the required measurement. Theory behind this is when your foot is in the pedal you will have a small bend in the knee, around 25-30% is often discussed as being the best angle. For every degree out raise or lower the saddle 1mm . This system works very well for most people. But this doesn’t take into consideration back knee or hip problems into and if you do suffer from any complaints then this does need to be looked at with a professional bike fitter so you can both come to a conclusion on what saddle height is best for you and the situation.
What type of rider are you?
Sprinter, long distance rider, timetrailist, mountain biker, commuter – You may not have thought this but saddle height and position could vary considerably depending on the type of riding you are doing. Track cyclists often have their saddle quite far forward as their cadence and power are quite high for short periods of time. Long distance riders often chose positions that they are most comfortable with and tend to being a more central position on the bike itself. Timetrailists also tend to have their saddle quite far forward, as again are needed to be aerodynamic and powerful. Mountain bikers and cyclocross riders often have their saddles slightly further back to enable them to get more weight over the back of the bike for more grip. Either way you need to try and stick to the KOPS method as explained below.
When moving the saddle backwards or forwards you have to remember this does affect the position of the leg and the bend in the knee essentially so have to always check the saddle height before jumping aboard.
What type of bike do you ride.
This ties in with the type of riding you are doing. But if you are switching from bike to bike the position of the saddle may vary due to the differences in geometry. The length of either the top tube or length of stem and or type of bars you are using. Different hoods can have different contact points so you do need to check where the saddle is on all your bikes.
To ensure the saddle is in the right place forwards or backwards then you can easily find this out by using a piece of rope or plumb line. Tie something weighty to the end and drop this down to your foot from the front of your knee and if the line is straight and falls directly to the end of the crank arm then this is an optimum position. This should help you to find out if the saddle is in the right position. If it is not then you need to adjust the saddle forward or backwards to meet the desired position.
Pedals and cleats
What type of pedals and shoe combo are you using. If you are using different pedal set ups between bikes then you will need to use this procedure for every set up to ensure you are as close to the same position on every bike as much as possible as the stack height on different pedals can vary.
What type of saddle are you using?
Some saddle like ISM saddles are different to standard saddles and require slightly different set up. See the video below. Also bear in mind other brands of saddles may have different rail set ups. one other thing to consider is, what’s the padding like? Is there any on it at all or does it have a lot of cushion. This will affect the overall height of the saddle.
Make small adjustments
As long as you use this method if you change anything on your bike then you shouldn’t go far wrong. Remember though if you have been riding in the same position for a very long time and these methods change the position dramatically this can in fact injure you or cause pain. So when you do make adjustments, be careful making them and do it gradually.