Written by 8:19 pm MTB, MTB Skills

My Correct Saddle Height for a Mountain Bike

Reading Time: 7 minutes(Last Updated On: January 22, 2021)

Truth be told; for any serious mountain biking activities, a proper bike seat height is incredibly essential.  It plays a key role as it can determine a number of things. First, it can influence how comfortable your entire ride is going to be. It is one of the reason riders always are advised to make sure the kind of seat they are going to use comes with the correct height. A wrong choice could actually come with an array of issues both to you the rider and also your bike.

Issues that may arise if the saddle is not of the right height

There is a pretty good number of issues you would have to deal with you should settle for a seat that comes with the wrong height. Some can be serious and can actually see you off the bike for a couple of weeks as wait to heal from those excruciating body pains. 

Before we even learn how to set your seat height, here are some of the most common issues associated with incorrect set height.

Discomfort on the saddle:

If the seat is a little bit too high, discomfort on the saddle area is the very first thing you will notice should you settle for the wrong seat height today. Because you will be forced to wiggle around the seat in order to compensate that alone can leave you feeling very uncomfortable all through the ride.

Knee problems:

If your mountain bike’s seat is too high or even too low, that also can have you dealing with a number of issues on the legs and knee problem being top on the list. A seat that is too high or low can actually put a bit of strain on your knees, especially on the knee cap and that could lead to a lot of stress on the knee joint. So if you want to avoid those excruciating knee joint pains when you are on your bike, you need to make sure you get the right seat height.

Hamstrings:

If you are one of those riders with very short hamstrings, a relatively high saddle can actually cause a lot of muscular tension and in other cases cramps. You really don’t want to know how painful that could be. Another reason why you need to ensure your bike’s seat height is correctly set before you take a ride.

Lower Back pain:

If at some point you have had to deal with lower back pain after a bike ride, chances are the saddle height wasn’t set properly. Any incorrect seat height often leads to left-right movements, especially in the hip area. That one can lead to a lot of strain on the spinal disc found in the lumbar region. If you have had to deal with lower back pain in the past, clearly, you would really don’t want that to happen again.

How Do You Know Your Bike’s Seat Height Need To Be Adjusted

Now, you have a clear picture of how things could actually get wrong if you are using the wrong set height. What are you now going to do about it? There are quite a number of ways you can have the problem sorted real quick. But before that, let take a quick look at how you can tell you are using the wrong seat height. There are plenty of indicators that will give you a clear idea when there is something wrong with your seat height.

  • There is a lot of rocking in your saddle. This shows the seat is either too low or too height.
  • Ankle extension: If at some point you realize you need to point your toes in order to keep your pedals going around, that is an indicator the seat is too high.
  • When you turn back, you can see back part of the saddle: This tells you the saddle is too high. And you are going to experience a bit of pain since you will be forced to sit on the nose of the saddle.

METHODS YOU CAN USE TO CORRECT YOUR SEAT HEIGHT

There are a handful of ways and methods you can actually use to correct your saddle height. You don’t need professional help as some of them are pretty much straightforward. In fact, it won’t take you more than 5 minutes to have the problem rectified and enjoy your ride.

THE HEEL METHOD

This is one of the most basic and widely used techniques. In fact, as a mountain bike rider, it is what you need to learn first. First, you need to place your seat parallel to the ground. Once you do that, get on to your bike. Here you can ask a friend to support you or alternatively, you can hold onto an object or even a wall. Put your one foot right on the pedal. Here you need to make sure the heel is right on the pedal axle.

Maintaining this position, when the pedal is right at the lowest point, your leg should not be bent but completely straight. However, when you start to pedal as when you are actually riding your mountain bike, your leg will be a little bit bend. This simple technique will help you find the correct seat height for you.

THE 109% METHOD

Developed in the late 60s by Hamley and Thomas, this is another great method you can use today to find your ideal seat position.  What these people came to learn is that your seat position was actually a distance of 109 percent of the inseam length. That is right from the top of the saddle all the way to the lower paddle axle. This may sound so complicated, but we are going to make it look very much simpler to you.

First, we need to start with your inseam length. To find out this, you have to stand next to a wall with you facing straight on the wall. Now, take a thick book and put in between your legs; assume that is your mountain bike.

In this same position, ensure your heels are on the floor and the legs completely straight. Now, you see the part where the top of the book comes in contact with the wall, draw a line there.  Now, that distance from the wall all the way to the floor in the inseam length.

Your correct seat height is 109 percent of that length. Here you need to measure the distance that is right from the top of your seat all the way to the lower pedal axle. When doing this, you need to ensure the crank aligns so well with the seat tube and the seat post, as well.

THE LEMOND METHOD

Named after a very successful American cyclist, this method is also widely used by professional riders. It also touches on the inseam length. However, unlike the 109 percent method, this one measures the most suitable seat height based on 88.3 percent of your inseam length. Here, the seat height is mostly measured right from the top of your seat all the way to the bottom bracket.

THE HOLMES METHOD

Last but not least is the Holmes method. It is one of the trickiest and typically meant for serious bikes only. This method is completely different from what we have seen in this article. Ideally, before you could actually pull it off, you will need to have a goniometer. It is a sort of device that can help you get the right measurement of the angle of your knee joint right at the bottom of pedal rotation. In this case, a 25 to 35 degree comes highly recommended. The use of a device to find the right angle can be a huge turn off for most people. However, if you don’t want to put your money a goniometer, the other three methods can truly come in handy.

What To Keep In Mind When Adjusting Your Seat Height

After realizing the seat comes with incorrect height and doesn’t match your riding needs, obviously, you will have to make a few adjustments. However, when you are doing it, you need to consider your comfort the most. Here are some of the few things you need tri to consider when adjusting the height.

Measure the inseam

The inseam has some direct impact on your mountain bike’s seat height. Because of this very reason, you need to focus so much on the height of your inseam. You need to have its measurement. You can seek help from a friend when you are taking the measurement and once you have it as we mentioned in the 109% method, you can have the seat height 1.09 times as that of the seam.

Use dropper seat post

Most riders often forget to use the dropper seat post when making adjustments. The dropper seat post does not only come with plenty of benefits when we are racing but also in our day to day life. Putting the dropper post into good use can make your bike extremely comfortable to ride on.

Always insert below the level

When you take out the seat from the seat post, you will see some markings right on the lever of your seat. These markings are incredibly useful; they show you the rider’s height level at a given time. You can take note of these great markings when making an adjustment. Word of caution though; make sure you don’t insert the seat into the post all the way below the insertion level.

Know how the dropper seat post adjust

Before you could make those few adjustments, it is important to first know how your seat post can be adjusted. All seat posts we have in the market today can be loosened and adjusted right the exact place where the seat post meets the frame. You will find there is a quick release lever right at the base of your seat post. You can actually try to open it and make any adjustments using your hands. In other cases, if you notice there is a sort of a small bracket alongside a screw, here your seat post is bolted and you might want to loosen the bolts with the use of an adjustable wrench. It is as simple as that.

Your seat must always be far enough forwards

When making your seat adjustments, if you are looking for great level of comfort, there is this one thing you need to always remember. The seat must always be far forward. In this case, we are saying you should be able to reach your handlebar with so much ease. Plus, your knee must be over the pedal when your foot is at around 3:00 in the pedal position. One of the best ways you can tell if you have everything right is standing when you ride. Here, you should be able to stand without having to pull or even push on the handlebars.

Your posture

When making those few adjustments on the seat, you need to take your posture into great consideration. This is important for many at times, the seat height directly influences your posture and also the amount of comfort you are going to get when riding

Final Thoughts

So if you are getting started as a mountain biker or you have had to deal with seat height issues in the past, you now know what you need to do. It is important you have the seat adjusted to provide that perfect fit before you take those long rides into the woods. After all, who would want to have a very uncomfortable ride, especially when dealing with those very technical terrains up in the mountain?

Last modified: January 22, 2021

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