Set Your Bike Seat Height

Boost comfort and power by dialing in the perfect seat position on your bike.


Joe Lindsey |

Saddle-height adjustment has always been a bit of a dark art. Your shop can determine it scientifically, but here’s a quick and simple way to estimate it:

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STEP 1: Set cleats
Slip on your shoes, run masking tape along the instep, and mark it at the widest point of your foot. “Align the middle of the cleat with that line, or up to 2 centimetres behind it”, says fitter Paraic McGlynn of Faster, a shop in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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STEP 2: Assume a natural cycling position
Warm up for 15 minutes, then extend your right leg as if it were the little hand of a clock pointing to 5:30 (use a trainer or balance against a wall). Most riders’ heels rise while pedaling. Lift yours 2 centimetres above the pedal when your leg is extended.

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STEP 3: Measure knee angle
Raise or lower your saddle. Have a friend measure your knee bend, aiming for 25 to 35 degrees (see illustration). That’s the sweet spot for producing maximum power.

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STEP 4: Set fore/aft position
With cranks level, lower a plumb bob (tie a 80cm piece of string to a rock) 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.

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STEP 5: Save
Measure from the centre of the bottom bracket to the seat top. Then drop the plumb bob from your saddle tip and measure from the string to the center of the bottom bracket. Record both numbers and mark the correct position on your seatpost and saddle rails.

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