Commuting 101: Seat Position

Recently I twisted around a bit to look behind me and twisted my bicycle seat in the process. I’d been happy with the position of the seat before, but having ridden the bike with the alignment off a bit I noticed a little numbness at the end of my ride. When I reached the office I straightened the seat and raised it just a hair; I thought I imagined an increase in power on the way home so I researched. Here is what I found out:

According to owner’s manual for my bike: “If the seat is too low, power will be low. But if the seat is too high, stress is placed on the knee and lower back.” Makes sense, but what is the best position and how do you find it?

Harnessing the power of the internet I searched several sites regarding bicycle seat adjustments. The majority of the sites recommend sitting in the saddle with a hand against a wall or car, placing your heals on the pedals and pedaling backwards. If your legs are straight at the bottom of the stroke you’re seat should be in the correct position. If you notice that your hips are rocking from side to side, you seat is too high.

So I gave it a try. Here you’ll see me seated and standing (without resting a hand against anything – sorry) with my heal on the pedal and leg comfortably straight.

Seat Adjustment 1
When I put the ball of my foot on the pedal my leg is bent in this angle.

Seat adjustment 2
I would suggest this as a starting point. Ride a time or two this way and make some small adjustments up or down to find the position you’re happiest with.

Additionally, you can adjust the saddle up and down and forward and back. Make sure the seat is level and move it forward or back until your knee is directly over the pedal when the crank arms are parallel with the ground. Again, you may want to tweak this ever so slightly for a few rides.

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