Having your bike seat at an incorrect height has the potential to cause you a lot of discomforts while riding. Not only can your weight get distributed unevenly across the soft tissue between your sit bones, but there can also be painful chafing and aches in the arches of your feet, so learning how to adjust the height of your saddle accurately is crucial for serious riders.
However, what is the proper height for a bike seat? Honestly, it varies from person to person, but you can use the steps, tips, and tricks provided in this guide to help you further.
1. Saddle Height
When you’re determining the proper height for your saddle, measurements mean more than you might realize. The angle and height of your bike seat can be off by a mere five millimeters and cause discomfort. Over time, many professionals have come up with a handful of variations and ways to measure what the height of their bike seat should be.
- Method #1: The height of the saddle to the pedal should be set at approximately 109% of the rider’s inner leg length. The crank should also be set to six o’clock using this method.
- Method #2: This is used in measuring the center of the bottom bracket to the top of the saddle using 88.3% of the inner leg length. Professional bike riders frequently use this method in the Tour de France.
Regardless of the method that you choose to adjust the height of your bike seat, it is vital that you do so. Everyone’s physiology is different, and it’s unlikely that every bike you purchase is going to be ideally suited for you unless you’re getting it professionally customized.
Thankfully, adjusting it yourself is relatively easy because most bikes include seat posts that slide up and down. Keep in mind that it’s always recommended that you make a note of the measurements of your bike seat before making any adjustments.
2. Leg Extensions and Knee Bends
The extension and degree at which your legs extend and your knees bend play a major part in determining your correct bike seat height. Over the years, many people have suggested that it’s best to have your legs extended entirely straight, but that’s not the case. If you are a long-term bike rider, damage can be done to your knees if your seat isn’t at the correct height.
Ideally, your legs should be extended to a 5 o’clock position when your foot is resting on the pedal, and your knees should have a maximum of a 30- to 40-degree bend. The quickest way to tell that your seat height is off is if you start to experience dull aches in your lower back, neck, and backside during your trail ride. Your seat is going to tell you everything. There’s also a good chance that your seat is too high if you feel that your hips are rocking too much while you’re riding your bike.
Tips to Adjust Your Bike Seat Height
Each body and bike is different, so if you’re asking yourself “What is the proper height for a bike seat?” don’t worry. Unless you have been professionally trained how to adjust saddles, lower and raise the height of a bike seat, change the tires, and recommend different models of bikes for specific cyclists, you won’t be expected to be an expert. Here are a few tips that you can use to make the process easier for you:
1. Observe Your Hip Movement
Take note of the movement of your hips while you are enjoying your ride. If you or the person riding behind you notice that your hips are swaying from side to side as you ride, your seat height is off.
2. Make Gradual Adjustments
When starting, it’s suggested that you don’t make dramatic adjustments to your seat’s height. Instead of moving with centimeters at a time, try going with small three- or four-millimeter increments.
Even the slightest change is capable of making a significant difference in the height of your seat and your comfort level. Once you’ve adjusted your bike, test it out with a ride, as you’re going to know you are on the right track when you start to feel comfortable.
As people, we naturally adapt, just like our bodies do. Almost anything feels awkward for the first time, and that’s no exception when riding a bike. Your body is likely to adapt to any height and position that you have your seat set at, but after some time, you’re also likely to start experiencing pain and discomfort.
Don’t be afraid of experimenting with the height, angle, and type of seat you have on your bike. Just ensure that you don’t go to any extremes, so you avoid any potential injuries.
4. Look into YouTube
The video platform is full of resources that are freely available to you and full of tips and step-by-step guides to adjust the height of your seat. We’ve included an informative video for you to watch, but suggest watching more if you need the help.
Generally speaking, the height of the bike seat would depend from one person to another, so you have to adjust it accordingly. Nonetheless, if you still question what the correct height for your bike seat is after making adjustments and using online resources, don’t forget that your local bike shop is always available to measure and adjust the seat for you.