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Video: How important is correct saddle height?

How to set your saddle height correctly

“How do I set the correct saddle height?” It's one of the most common questions I get asked. But just how important is getting your saddle height correct? The chaps at GCN have waded into this debate with a video looking at the importance of saddle height.

The optimum way to measure the difference saddle height makes is to use as much data to test the differences, so GCN use a Wattbike to measure the changes in pedal stroke and power output. They use three different saddle heights to determine if there are any differences. And are there? Well, you'll need to watch the video to find out the answer.

- How to set your saddle height

Regardless of the difference a few millimetres makes, it’s understandably important to get your saddle roughly at the right height. There are many bike fitting services across the country that will happily help determine your ideal saddle height. Your local bike shop probably offers this service, and often it’s included in the purchase of a new bike.

You can get your saddle height in the right ballpark without spending any money. Our simple how-to guide talks you through the simple steps required to get a comfortable saddle height. It uses the LeMond formula to get you in the right ballpark. Don’t be afraid to fine-tune your saddle height as you ride, many top pros are famous for constantly adjusting the saddle height based purely on feel.

What you’re trying to avoid in an incorrect saddle heights is over or under extension of the leg. Too high and you’re extending your knee too much and you’ll rock from side to side in the saddle. Too low and you simply won’t achieve full power.

It’s worth measuring the saddle height before you make any changes. With a tape measure, measure from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the saddle. Note this measurement so you can go back to it if you make any changes, and so you can replicate onto other bikes.

How high do you have your saddle from the centre of the BB to saddle top? Mine is 755mm.

David worked on the tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes

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Marky Legs | 8 years ago

Surely your saddle height should be determined by the angle your legs make at certain points in the rotation of the crank.  Obviously, there will be some leeway with this as feel comes into it.


I had a Retul fit which does exactly this and then fine tuned it on the bike to produce the power along with the comfort required for me.

It really is a personal thing, and often best to listen to our body and what it is telling you.

urbane | 8 years ago

My current rule of thumb is to start adjusting from where the inner knee angle of a higher leg is about 90 degrees from where it will start to exert pedal force, to reduce knee damage and being slower. I use 175mm cranks and don't need to rock while pedalling.

I later fitted a Cane Creek parallelogram based suspension seat post because it was uncomfortable to cycle over poor road, bridge and cycle path surfaces. I shun all piston based suspension seat posts because they stupidly reduce saddle to pedal distance under load, so will put harmful extra load on knees and worsen pedalling efficiency!

biga | 8 years ago

My inseam is 86cm, but my saddle height (77cm) sits 1cm higher than the formula.

I keep on higher saddle heights because of the tendency to chondromalacia.

In fact it was slightly higher but chafing on my new romin saddle (yes, now I know...) made me lower it a little.

HLaB | 8 years ago

I've found bike fits quite variable.  My first fit in a jig gave me one height, a retul some years later lowered it and a recent fit from an expro/trainer lowered it again  7

HalfWheeler | 8 years ago

I used to use the Lemond method until I went to a 'professional' bike fitter who said my seat was a whopping 3cms too low. When I told my physio (ex champion, rode the Nissan tour in the 80s) how much my sadde had been put up he said that bike fitters often diagnose the correct issue (saddle too low) but then over compensate  by increasing the saddle height way too much. Steve Hogg, the Aussie bike fit guru, say as much too.


Cue much scratching of head now...


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