Author Topic: Question about seat height  (Read 1899 times)

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Offline Nyimbo

Question about seat height
« on: December 21, 2020, 09:27:50 pm »
Do you use the same seat on your touring bike as you do on your road bike - your regular group ride lightweight road bike if you use one? 


I sold my old touring bike a couple months ago and bought the new Trek 520 recently.  I didn't measure the seat height on the old bike before selling so I set up the 520 the same as my Trek Domane road bike (I know the touring bike is a road bike too - just not sure of the right terminology)


Anyway the 520 touring bike feels like I'm sitting too high in the air but I don't feel like that on the Domane with the same height.  I wonder if this is a thing? I'm sure I'll just do what's comfortable but was curious.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Question about seat height
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2020, 12:31:28 am »
feels like I'm sitting too high in the air

What exactly do you mean by feels too high?

Yes, I use different saddles on different bikes. But no, I don't compare seat height measurements on different bikes. I just set each bike where it feels best. That is generally as high as I can without creating a situation where my pelvis rocks when I pedal, and my leg is nearly, but not fully, extended at the bottom of the stroke. Factors other than saddle height come into play.

Until I have it fully dialed in, I carry a wrench in my back pocket so I can experiment as I ride, moving it up or down. I really don't know when it's right until I've ridden many miles on it.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Question about seat height
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2020, 07:38:41 am »
Seat height should be set for proper leg extension regardless of the bike.  If it feels funny, could it be that the seat is more forward or further back?  That or maybe it just feels funny because the bars are higher and/or closer/further from the saddle.

If I had to guess I'd say you are just feeling like the seat higher because your torso is in a different position due to different reach and bar height.  Maybe those were different on your old touring bike as well.

Oh and one other thing...  If you are measuring from the pedal axle perhaps the pedals themselves are higher.  A quarter inch makes a noticeable difference.  Heck, after a month on the road I get so settled in on the setup that 1/8 is noticeable,  At that point I feel like the saddle is noticeably lower if I get on the bike with unpadded shorts (even when the pad is a thin one so the difference is pretty slight.

I like my bikes all set up as close to alike as possible wrt riding position.  I like the same seat height, bar height and reach on the touring bike and the road bike.  That means that I have my bars far lower than most tourists, but I find my road bike exceedingly comfy, so why wouldn't I just match the setup for touring too.  I am in the minority on this though, so it may not be for you, still something to consider though.

The way I arrive at my starting setup for a bike is to set it up step by step as close as possible to my comfy road bike measuring the road bike and the new bike each step of the way.  I start with the seat and then the bars.  I allow for possibly tweaking settings after riding especially if the geometry is really different, but it is generally pretty much unnecessary.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Question about seat height
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2020, 07:47:27 am »
I use the seat position method from the old Greg Lemond book. The height should be set so there is a slight bend in your knee when sitting on the bike with your pedal in the lowest position. The front-to-back position is set by sitting on the bike with the pedals level and parallel to the ground. Drop a plumb line (any string with a weight on the end) from the front of your knee and it should hit the center of the pedal axle. The seat tilt is a bit more personal and depends somewhat on handle bar height - you do not want to feel like your sliding off the seat, front or back.

Two old adages on seat height:
  • If your saddle is too high you may develop knee pain in the back of the knee. When the saddle is too high, you are more prone to tilting and imbalanced pedal to compensate for over height.
  • If the saddle is too low the knee pain will be at the front of the knee.

Here is a link to a site that talks about seat adjustment. https://cyclinguphill.com/correct-saddle-height-knee-pain/
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Question about seat height
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2020, 08:22:14 am »
Context-free (knowing nothing about the OP's size or his bikes):

Does the new bike have longer cranks than your older/lighter bikes?  If so, and if you measure from bottom bracket spindle to the top of the saddle, you may have inadvertently set your saddle 5 mm higher from the bottom of your pedal stroke.

Offline Nyimbo

Re: Question about seat height
« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2020, 11:09:37 am »
Thanks for the suggestions/thoughts.  Several things were mentioned that are helping me think about what I can mess with.  So I will do that some .  I wasn't noticing pain in this instance, it was just a weird feeling where I asked my self why do I feel like I'm sitting higher on the bike.  So I will play with the saddle forward and back and the handlebars a bit.  I don't think the crank arms are different but, I'll double check that too.  Both bike have the same saddle and both are. perfectly level (Selle Anatomica) I just looked at the handlebars and the 520 handlebars  are angled leaning down - quite a bit more than my road bike.


Offline misterflask

Re: Question about seat height
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2021, 09:21:08 am »
I was on a tour when I cracked the frame of the cross bike I was riding.  I bought a Surly Long Haul Trucker frame and transferred components.  During the teardown, I carefully took measurements, which I transferred to the generally similar LHT.  When finished, the ride sucked.  It took a good bit of adjusting to 'this feels right', to turn it into an all-day bike.  So I wouldn't be surprised that your first setup wasn't where you needed it.

I ride an ancient Brooks Conquest saddle, but if I had to give up on it I think I would tour on the Selle Anatomica you mentioned.  It's already a favorite on my road bike.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Question about seat height
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2021, 09:59:05 am »
I converted my Disc Trucker to touring bars, (butterfly bars) so I could sit more upright and take weight off my old and arthritic shoulders. I also added an adjustable stem. The stem will allow me to drop the bars down and slightly forward during those long headwind days to stretch out and lower my profile. I used to tour with drop bars and a profile bar for the long days, but my shoulders can no longer handle 6 to 8 hours even on the hoods with drop bars.

If you are fitting out a new bike, bring Allen wrenches and do a few day rides then a few short trips loaded. You will want to tweak a lot of things until it feels right. I also bring an older, trust worthy saddle on the first trip with a new saddle, just in case. What feels good around town may really start bothering you after a week on the road.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline TCS

Re: Question about seat height
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2021, 09:07:41 am »
I wasn't noticing pain in this instance, it was just a weird feeling where I asked my self why do I feel like I'm sitting higher on the bike.

If a bike has comparatively larger diameter tires and a higher bottom bracket, your seat will be higher above the roadway.

If a bicycle has more stack and/or less reach, your head will be higher above the roadway.

If you add up even subtle changes in all these parameters, you can wind up riding quite a bit taller in the saddle.

« Last Edit: January 04, 2021, 02:07:18 pm by TCS »
"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."

Offline hikerjer

Re: Question about seat height
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2021, 11:32:41 pm »
I go with the guideline of the slightly bent knee with the pedal at the lowest level but that's not absolute. Just a starting point. I have to ride a bit, some times quite a bit, to dial in exactly where I'm comfortable but it's usually not too far off from my original estimate. Every bike is a little different.

I use a Brooks B-17 on my touring bike, a WTB on my commuter and a Selle Anatomica on my road bike.  I know conventional wisdom says to keep your saddle level but I find with all of mine, it's feels better if I have the  saddle tilted slightly up.   That's espcially true with the Brooks.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2021, 09:10:37 pm by hikerjer »

Offline Nyimbo

Re: Question about seat height
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2021, 01:27:05 am »
Thanks again,
I haven't taken the opportunity to mess with the various suggestions yet because I'm not a cold weather rider. It is supposed to get up to the 60's tomorrow and possible for a few days so will see how it goes.  grateful for a chance to ride but we really need the rain.  Oh well.