When it comes to a comfortable cycling experience, setting your saddle height correctly is crucial. It’s common to see riders getting their saddle height adjustment wrong, which can result in knee pain, injuries, discomfort, and poor pedalling performance. In fact, the fundamentals of a good bike fit are to have a well-adjusted saddle height.
The good thing is that with the right guidance adjusting your saddle height is easy and can be done at your home.
What is saddle height?
Saddle height, in layman terms, is the distance that lies between the center of the bottom bracket and middle of the saddle.
Why is saddle height so important?
Saddle height is essential because you need to be comfortable when riding your bike. Having the right height will enable you to ride longer and maximise power transfer. It’s also one of the ways to prevent compression injuries from having it too low or too high. Unless you fall off the bike, cycling shouldn’t result in any injuries or pain.
Setting the right saddle position at home
We’ve mentioned that setting your saddle height is easy and can be done at home. So how do you get it right? There are plenty of techniques, methods, formulas and even magical calculations. But, let’s face it, nobody wants to get involved in all that heavy calculations especially when you’re measuring at home.
The most basic and accurate method:
1. Adjust saddle height
Sit on the bike attached to a trainer (if you don’t have a trainer you can also lean against the wall, just be careful). With your shoes on, you want to put the heel of your foot on the pedal to the furthest point of the crank so the crank is in line with the seat tube. At this point your legs should be locked out. Pedal and make sure that your pelvis isn’t rocking from side to side.
Looking at the left picture, with your heel, make sure to down the pedal to the furthest point so the crank is in line with the seat tube. This will give you a slight bend when riding in normal position as shown in the right picture.
2. Inspect the layback
Another thing to inspect when adjusting the saddle height is the layback. In other words, you should check your fore and aft position.
With cranks level, lower a plumb line (tie a 30-inch piece of string to a rock if you don’t have one) from the front of your kneecap to where the pedal spindle connects to the crank arm. If the line falls in front of or behind the spindle, slide your seat forward or back, then recheck. You should have a straight line from the kneecap to the ball of the foot, which should sit over the pedal axle.
If you make adjustments to fore and aft, repeat the saddle height test. We suggest taking the bike for a spin to get an idea how it feels. The saddle height adjustment is more like a trial and error process.
If it’s too low, you’ll tend to feel compression at the front of the knee. If it’s too high, you’ll tend to rock on the saddle and feel a strain at the back of your knee. In this case, you need to move your saddle 1mm up or down each time. Continue the trial and error until you eliminate the rocking and you feel comfortable on the saddle.