Keeping a good posture on an urban bike is essential in order to pedal with ease, perform better and avoid aches or injuries. Thus, the height and position of the saddle is a very important factor you mustn’t forget about.
Now, what’s the ideal height for a bike saddle? We’ll discuss it, as well as how to adjust it, in this post. Take a seat!
Saddle Height – Which One Is the Right One?
The saddle, together with the handlebars and the pedals, is one of the contact points between the cyclist and their bike. Adjusting the saddle to the right height is essential to make pedaling easier and more dynamic. Moreover, it will help you prevent many injuries, especially on the back, knees and cervical vertebrae.
Get your measuring tape ready
The first thing to know is that your saddle’s height will depend on your inseam length. Thus, start by measuring it: stand still and barefoot with your back and heels leaning on a wall.
Then, place a board or book between your legs, placing it as high as possible. Now, with the help of another person, use a measuring tape to measure the distance between the highest point of your inseam and the ground. This is the basic feature you will be taking into account.
Getting the right height of your bike’s saddle
You don’t need to be a math expert in order to calculate the ideal saddle height – your inseam length will suffice. According to the main papers on biomechanics, as the one written by trainer and engineer Christian Vaast, the right height for the saddle equals 88% of the cyclist’s inseam length.The remaining 12% is necessary to favor flexing the knees.
Thus, the formula you should use to know the ideal saddle height for you is: inseam length, times 0.88. There’s the fact you were looking for!
Obviously, the next step is to set the saddle in the right position. We’ll get there in a moment. However, an important practice is to note down this number in a well-known place – you’ll be needing it sooner or later, either because you’re getting a new bike, disassembling the one you have or because some has borrowed it and has altered your bike saddle’s right position.
Fitting the saddle correctly
Now that theory is crystal clear, and you know what saddle height will be the most convenient for you, it’s time to learn how to regulate the saddle itself.
Keep in mind that this component’s height is measured from the center of the bottom bracket up to the saddle’s padding middle (approximately). Use a measuring tape to get a number as accurate as possible.
Then, untighten the seat clamp that keeps the saddle in place, insert or extract the seatpost as much as necessary until you reach the ideal point and place it perpendicularly to your handlebars. Once you’ve done this, tighten back the seatpost collar and that will be it.
We strongly advise you to hop onto the bike and pedal for a while, in order to check whether you’re comfortable. While trying, focus on keeping a good posture, with your hips facing forward and making a full turn with each pedal strike.
The ideal distance between the saddle and the handlebars
Another important factor related to the height of the saddle is the distance between the saddle’s front tip and the center of your handlebars. As a rule of thumb, it should be between 45 and 65 centimeters.
Thus, if your saddle is between 60 and 68 cm high, the right distance would theoretically be 47‒50 cm. On the other end of possible heights, if your saddle is between 79 and 83 cm high, it should be 59–63 cm away from the handlebars.
What’s the right saddle angle?
Apart from setting the saddle’s height, you also need to check its tilt. The angle of your saddle will also affect your biomechanics and prevent or cause inconvenience. It’s advisable to keep it totally flat, or, at most, with a 1-degree downwards tilt.
If your saddle’s tip is pointing upwards, you can develop soreness on the urinary and sexual systems, as well as low-back pain. If its tip is pointing downwards, you’ll tend to slip forward on it, your hands will feel numb, you’ll feel front-knee, cervical, perineal and low-back ache.
What if your saddle is in the wrong position?
Well, it’s definitely not a joke! Using a bike with a wrongly positioned saddle can have a very negative impact on your body. Never use a bike if you don’t know how to adjust the saddle, unless there’s someone with you who can help.
Here are some signs that your saddle is positioned wrongly:
- The saddle is too high. Your hips swing while you cycle. If this issue continues over time, you’ll develop intense and continuous pain on your buttocks and low back.
- The saddle is too low. When this happens, your knee works harder than it should and you can develop knee overload or more severe injuries which tend to last in time.
- The saddle is in the right position. While pedaling, your hips stay straight and immobile; your knees don’t overstretch, your legs are slightly flexed and every pedal turn is performed naturally.
What’s the most adequate saddle for your bike?
There’s no single answer for this question. There are, for instance, saddles for men and saddles for women, with differing features.
Factors such as your body anatomy, your gender, the modality you practice, your riding style and your personal preference will heavily determine the choice. As a piece of advice, it shouldn’t be neither too soft nor too hard – either feature will be harmful in the long run.
In short, you need a bicycle saddle that’s reliable, adapted to your features and made by a reliable professional. At Santafixie, we can help you choose it.