How High Should A Bike Seat Be?
Just like people, bikes come in all shapes and sizes. Everyone has different comfort levels when they are cycling but depending on what type of bike you are riding and how tall you are, there is always an optimum seat height. So, whether it is comfort or performance you are looking for when you cycle, you need to know what the best seat height is for you and how to adjust your bike seat.
In this guide, we will look at:
- Why should I adjust my seat height?
- How do I adjust my seat height?
- How high should my bike seat be?
- Adjusting the saddle tilt?
Why should I adjust my seat height?
When you sit on the bike, you need to ensure you have the correct saddle height so that you can maintain a comfortable riding position and prevent injury while cycling. If you manage to get your bike seat at the right height, you will be able to ride for longer, push harder and have a much more comfortable ride. If your seat is not at the right height then you may experience knee pain or trigger an injury.
By having your seat too low, you could trigger a compression injury but if it is too high then you could overstretch while riding. To find the best position, just put your heel on the pedal and push it back to the six o'clock position so your leg is almost straight with a very slight bend at the knee. If your leg is bent then your seat is too low and if the pedal is out of reach then the saddle is too high. Either way, you need to adjust your seat. Ideally, your handlebars should be the same height, or slightly higher than the seat.
How do I adjust my seat height?
Luckily, adjusting your bike seat doesn't involve lots of tools or even the help of a specialist. All you need is a 5 or 6mm Allen key to loosen the bolts on either side of the seat tube. Once the bolts are loose, you can adjust the saddle height by moving the seat post up or down the seat tube and then tighten the bolts back up when you are happy the seat is in the right place.
How high should my bike seat be?
When you sit on the saddle, there should be a very slight bend in your knee when your foot is in the 6 o'clock position. This is a good indicator of seat height and there are a few methods you can try to determine the correct seat height.
The Hamley Method is also known as the 109% method. Stand with your back against the wall and place a sturdy book in between your legs, lifting it up as high as possible. This may feel a bit uncomfortable, but that is normal. The book should be resting against the wall.
Leave the book where it is and step away from the wall. Mark the wall where the top of the book reaches with a pencil mark or piece of tape. This is the height of your inseam.
Measure from the mark where the top of the book was to the floor. You should take this measurement in millimetres.
Now, you need to multiply the height of your inseam, in millimetres, by 109. This number is how high your seat should be in millimetres.
An alternative method is the LeMond Method. For this, all you need to do is multiply your inseam measurement (in millimetres) by 0.883 to determine the correct distance between the top of the saddle and the middle of the bracket at the bottom.
To measure your inseam easily, stand against the wall with a book in between the top of your legs and mark on the wall where the top of the book is. You should then measure from the floor to the mark where the top of the book was and this will give you your inseam.
Adjusting the saddle tilt
As well as having the bike seat at the correct height, it also needs to be at the correct angle which will aid your comfort while you are cycling. Having the correct saddle tilt provides you with the proper support so you should aim to have your saddle parallel to the top tube of your bike. If this doesn't feel like the right position for you, you should only make very slight adjustments to the angle of your seat to avoid an uncomfortable ride.
If you are not sure how to correctly adjust your bike seat, then arrange a bike fitting appointment in your local bike shop. They will be able to help you adjust your bike seat and even service your bike if you are not sure how to maintain it properly. Pay close attention to how they adjust your bike so you can make the same adjustments when you are out on the road if you ever need to.