Many people ride an ill-fitted bicycle. That is to say, they ride a little hunched, too strained or short at the knees and pedals, or are not pedaling at the optimal revolution per minute (rpm) they should be because a little too much time is spent pulling up your legs from the updraft as the crank goes back up the cycle.

Short of getting a professional bike-fit, there are a few well-established methods you can use as a casual cyclist to adjust your saddle well. This video by Global Mountain Bike Network (GMBN) sets the bar on correct saddle height adjustment. Of course, not every method is tailored to suit you. Feel free to browse other methods that complement your needs.

 

1) Setting the Saddle Angle

Most saddles come with bolts that require an Allen key to open them.

Most saddles come attached by two pitch bolts requiring an Allen key to open them. The most common issue here is that the saddle is a little skewed or slanted up or down. Say you want to lower the angle a little. Loosen the back bolt enough to jiggle the saddle. Ease it to the angle you want, then adjust the front bolt the same way. You can slide the saddle horizontally to achieve best leverage/angle. After that, screw tight both bolts; ensure the saddle is solid as a rock in its place. Too loose a saddle, and you find yourself rocking your hips as you ride. That’s a no-no, since you want to maintain a firm seating while cycling.

Moreover, You don’t want to feel like you’re cycling behind the bottom bracket, nor have too much leeway on the front or rear of the saddle. Thus the median position is best.

 

2) Setting the Saddle Height

The optimal saddle height gives you a little bend at the knee when your foot’s at the six o clock position.

The most optimal saddle height consists of two things:

a) The optimal saddle height gives you a little bend at the knee when your foot’s at the six o’ clock position.
b) You should be able to crank up and down while seated comfortably at 12 and 6 o’ clock positions without feeling too strained or too short.

Too high a reach means you have to exert more power on the downstroke from a locked knee; this causes injury in the long run (imagine cycling on stilts). Too low, and your knees are bent (imagine cycling in the crunches posture!).

Either way, you’re likely to cause injury to your knees because you have to exert a lot more when pedaling. A little bend in the knees is a sure marker that you’ve reached the most complementary saddle height for yourself (see second image above).

 

Setting your seat height:

  1. If you’re wearing cleats, set the height a little higher than if you’d ride with flat pedals to accommodate the cleats. Thereafter, you can lower the seat to flat pedal-height when you ditch the cleats.
  2. Some bikes come with quick releases; other models need allen keys. Regardless, do put a little mark on the point where your saddle reaches maximum height. This is a reference point you can return to later if you have a habit of messing around with the saddle height.
  3. If you have a slightly shorter leg than the other, set your saddle height to suit the shorter leg.
  4. Again, and I do stress this:

The most optimal saddle height consists of two things:

a) The optimal saddle height gives you a little bend at the knee when your foot’s at the six o clock position.
b) You should be able to crank up and down while seated comfortably at 12 and 6 o clock positions without feeling too strained or too short.

Whatever the case, if this method doesn’t work for you, do go to a professional bike-fitter for in-depth measurements of your own optimal saddle height. This is of course if you’re gearing toward professional riding. Or read this article by RCUK for a more “professional” way of saddle adjustment.

 

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