It is important to be seated at the correct height on your bicycle to be able to pedal comfortably and to avoid knee injuries. There are many methods, sometimes used by professionals, to determine the ideal height for a bicycle saddle. They take into account the height of the crotch, the thickness of the sole of the shoes used and the size of the bike frame. In this article, we will learn how to determine the right saddle height and make adjustments in a few minutes so that we can use our bike as comfortably as possible, phew!
Part 1 of 3: determining the saddle height
Step 1. Use the shoes you usually wear when cycling
The sole thickness of a bicycle shoe varies from model to model, and you should take the thickness of your shoes into account when adjusting the height of your bicycle saddle. A small difference in sole thickness can have a relatively large impact if you do not adjust the saddle height. Shoes specially designed for cycling often have spiked soles that raise the foot enough above the pedal that you have to take this into account when adjusting the saddle height.
Step 2. Get on your bike
Hold the handlebars with the help of someone who will continue to hold it firmly when you need to let go. Sit in the saddle. Remember that the saddle is not made to support all your weight which must also be distributed on the pedals and the handlebars.
Step 3. Rotate the crank to put one of the pedals in its lowest position
Put your heel on this pedal. Do not tip the bike. There are varying opinions about the ideal angle the leg should make with the thigh, and you can bend your leg slightly so that this angle is around 5 degrees. Under these conditions your knee is relaxed and your leg is not fully stretched and you should be able to put your feet on the pedals at their lowest level while sitting comfortably in the saddle without feeling any strain.
Step 4. Calculate the correct saddle height
Professional racing cyclists often use calculation formulas to very precisely determine the right saddle height for them. For example, there is the Greg Lemond formula and the 109% formula which are among the most popular. Other runners, who consider these formulas to be too general, take other factors into account such as body structure, foot length, type of pedal, thickness of the shoe sole, in order not to. name a few. However, using a calculation formula gives a first approximation of what the height of the saddle should be. Other clues can also help you with the adjustment. For example, if you have to bend your hips to reach the pedals as you spin them, the saddle is too high.
- The Greg Lemond formula takes into account the thickness of the saddle and that of the crampon sole, the height of the bike frame and the angles of the handlebars. To adjust the saddle according to this formula, measure your crotch height from the ball of your foot to the bottom of your groin. You must take off your shoes to take this measurement. Then multiply the inside leg height by 0, 883. The result of this multiplication corresponds to the distance that there must be between the bottom of the vertical bar of the frame (center of the crankset) and the lowest point above. saddle.
- With the formula 109%, the saddle height corresponds to 109% of that of the crotch. Just multiply the inside leg height by 1.09 to get the distance between the top of the saddle and the top of the pedal at its lowest level.
Part 2 of 3: adjust the saddle height
Step 1. Loosen the bolt or lever that is located just below the saddle
Look under the saddle to see if you can find a pull lever or look for the bolt to get an idea of which wrench you will need to use. The seat tube fits into the vertical bar of the frame and just loosen the bolt or lever to allow it to slide vertically. If there is a lever, you don't need any tools. On the other hand, if there is a bolt, you will need an open-end wrench, an adjustable wrench or a hexagonal wrench (Allen key). Usually a 13 or 14mm open-end wrench or a 5 or 6mm hex wrench should be used. Loosen the bolt by turning the wrench counterclockwise.
Step 2. Leave a marker line on the adjusted seat tube, flush with the upright tube of the frame
You can have a friend draw this mark while your legs are ideally positioned, your feet are on the pedals, and your butt is in contact with the saddle.
Step 3. Raise the saddle slightly
Before that, get off the bike and check that the mark is flush with the edge of the vertical tube of the frame. Since the bolt is not yet tight, you should have no difficulty sliding the seat tube through the frame tube, if the mark is out of place. Sometimes it is necessary to rotate the saddle back and forth to reduce friction as the seat tube slides through the frame. On the other hand, avoid pulling the saddle from one side then the other to loosen the tube from the frame, otherwise you risk damaging the two tubes. Once the mark is where it should be, move on to the next step.
- There is often a minimal insertion mark on the seat tubes. This mark must remain inside the frame tube or flush with its edge. When flush with the edge of the frame tube, the saddle has reached the highest position of adjustment. If the saddle is too low for you then the bike is too small for you. Likewise, if the seat tube is fully pushed in and the saddle is too high for you, the bike is not suitable for your height.
- To adjust the seat of a recumbent bike, sit in it with your normal pedaling shoes on, then stretch out one leg almost completely (knee slightly bent) with your foot on the pedal. Move the seat forward or backward so that the knee is just bent properly. Typically recumbent bikes have a clamp / release lever underneath the seat that you must operate when moving the seat.
Step 4. Lubricate the seat tube
If you have difficulty sliding the seat tube, due to friction or a too narrow frame tube, remove it completely from the frame and add lubricating grease to the frame tube. If the seat tube is carbon fiber, use a fine powder graphite lubricant that you can find online or at stores that sell car or home care products.
If the seat tube is completely blocked, check for rust. If so, you can try to fix the problem with an oil-based lubricant to treat the steel or an ammonia-based lubricant if the frame is aluminum. If the problem is with the width of the seat tube, you can attempt to widen the frame tube using a flathead screwdriver. Preferably, first pull the seat tube from side to side before inserting the flat head. After you remove the seat tube from the frame, lubricate it or replace it with a narrower tube
Step 5. Align the saddle with the frame of the bike
Looking from above, make sure the saddle is aligned lengthwise with the top tube of the frame. Some people prefer a saddle that faces very slightly to the right or to the left. If this is the case for you, make the small correction that will allow you to sit as comfortably as possible in the saddle.
Step 6. Adjust the angle of the saddle down or up
In general, men feel more comfortable in a saddle with the tip raised slightly, while women prefer a saddle that leans slightly forward. This inclination must be very small. If you accentuate it, it will tend to create tension in the arms and shoulders. You may also have a tendency to slide forward if the tip of the saddle is tilted too much down. You would then try to compensate by pushing with the arms which would undergo a strong and constant pressure.
Step 7. Tighten the bolt or lever
Use the correct tool if there is a bolt or return the lever to its original position. You may have to tighten a lever bolt with a wrench as you hand tighten the lever. After each attempt to close with the lever that does not give sufficient tightness, turn the bolt a quarter of a turn clockwise, then use the lever again. If the tightening is too strong, unscrew the bolt an eighth of a turn.
Part 3 of 3: test the saddle height
Step 1. Try out your bike with this new saddle height adjustment
Take a walk around your neighborhood. Your legs should stay relatively relaxed as you pedal slowly. They should never be fully stretched. Make the final small adjustments, if necessary, to get the right feeling.
Step 2. Continue to make adjustments over the next week
After riding the bike several times, you might want to change the angle of the saddle, for example. In addition, you have a clearer idea of the adjustments to be made after using the bike for a long distance, because every little discomfort is then amplified. You might find that the saddle is finally slightly too low. If you raise the saddle and the pedaling becomes more comfortable, you've finally found the right setting.
Step 3. Don't hesitate to make regular adjustments
After a few uses of the bike, the saddle may have slipped, especially if your bike is getting old or not of good quality. If necessary, make adjustments before each new ride. Over time, you will make these adjustments very quickly and automatically. They will allow you to maintain a certain level of comfort, outing after outing.
- You can ask a bicycle dealer to make these adjustments for you. These professionals are usually very knowledgeable and can advise you on how to get the best saddle height.
- If you do not feel comfortable in the saddle after raising it, you may also need to make adjustments to the handlebars that affect the position of the trunk and arms. A properly adjusted handlebar helps prevent back problems and can make arm work easier.