As a bike shop, we see one of our duties as educating the community on the safest, most efficient, and least annoying ways to bike. Today we’re tackling low bike saddles – a pandemic problem in CU.
People of CU! Please. Raise. Your. Bike. Saddles.
I’m not here to scold you. I’m not here to make fun of you. I’m here to make your life better. Hear me out and I assure you that by the end you will see the light.
Let’s start with a myth. This myth is pervasive, insidiously spreading its way from biker to biker, falsified by how absolutely reasonable it sounds and how, in some ways, it seems to work. This myth is the following:
You should be able to touch your feet to the ground while seated on your bike.
I’m here to say, no! This is not the case. It’s a waste of your energy and the best way to feel cramped and exhausted after even the shortest bike rides. I get why it’s done, though, you think that you’ll fall otherwise and raising your seat higher than that makes stopping feel more difficult and less natural. This sounds reasonable, but it’s actually not true. I explain below.
So how high should my bike saddle be, then?
- Your bike saddle should be high enough that your legs can nearly fully extend – making sure not to overextend – while comfortably seated on your saddle. More technically: With the ball of your foot on the pedal and the pedal at its lowest point, there should be only a slight bend at your knee (140-150°).
The most accurate way to get a correct saddle height is to use math. Click here for a link to a good explanation – with videos – of how to do this. If you’re not comfortable raising your seat yourself, or just want a second opinion to be sure you got it right, feel free to come by Neutral Cycle and we’ll help you out – no charge.
And why, exactly, is this any better?
- It’s more natural: It straight-up does not feel good to keep your legs in a cramped position while moving them repeatedly for any extended period of time. By fully extending your muscles each time, your body is more easily – and with less likelyhood of cramping – able to perform a repetitive action.
- It’s more efficient: Having a saddle that’s high enough will maximize efficiency – that means getting further using the same amount of effort.
- It’s less likely to hurt you: Beyond just cramps, biking with a too-low saddle is higher impact and is more likely to cause injury.
So how do I stop my bike now?
- Just push yourself off your saddle, moving your body towards the front of your bike. You’ll end up straddling the top tube with one foot anchoring you to the ground and the other on one of your pedals. When you want to start up again, just use the foot on your pedal to push yourself back up on the seat and start pedaling. It may sound kind of hard at first, but soon it’ll become completely natural. And I promise you’ll feel the difference.
- If you’re still not totally sure what to do, then check out this video made by the League of American Cyclists: