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  1. #1
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    Seat to handlebar height relationship

    I've got a 09 Cannondale Rize 5 and lately I've been taking my riding a little more seriously so I've been bringing tools with me on the trails and making adjustments (seat position and height mostly) as I go as so I can get the bike set up just right for me.

    I swapped out the stem for a 40mm Truvative Hussefelt and I think i'm getting used to it, initially I didn't like it but after a good long ride today, I think i'm sold. I lowered my seat about a half inch as well and I feel really comfortable on it but i'm curious about the relationship between the seat and handlebar. Right now the seat is slightly higher, maybe an inch or so and i'm wondering if it would be even more comfortable if they were even? I got to looking at the matching handlebars on Truvativ's site and they offer 20, 30 and 40mm rise so I have some choices (I know there are a zillion other bars out there, I just like sticking to the same brands, OCD I guess). I first need to figure out what my current bars are and then decide if I want or need to change it. What do you guys prefer when riding?

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    Ok, I measured and it looks like my bars are around 660mm width and best I can figure about a 20mm rise.

  3. #3
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    as close as you can get to equal height is good i think. my seat is an inch or two above my bars.

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    40mm stem and 660mm bars must feel twitchy as hell. Bump up to at least a 710mm bar and you'll be able to take advantage of the short stem.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by mnigro View Post
    40mm stem and 660mm bars must feel twitchy as hell. Bump up to at least a 710mm bar and you'll be able to take advantage of the short stem.
    Yes, with a 70mm and more so with shorter stems, a 710mm would be better for a medium sized rider, 750 to 800mm for taller trail-AM riders. Narrower bars with short stems feel twitchy or the wheel feels floppy when turning, and unstable overall, especially when the the trail is rough and rocky.

  6. #6
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    One to two inches above for pedaling and climbing, slammed for descending. Your bars are WAY TOO NARROW!!!! GET NEW ONES!!! Minimum 725 for that setup. I set up my MTB for full leg extension, then drop it just a tad for easier maneuverability. Too high and you will jack up your crotch, too low and you will jack up your knees..... give it a few weeks once you get your new bars and stop tweaking so much.

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    Quote Originally Posted by b-kul View Post
    as close as you can get to equal height is good i think. my seat is an inch or two above my bars.

    Quote Originally Posted by motochick View Post
    One to two inches above for pedaling and climbing.
    I wonder how I manage to ride at all given the above...

    The saddle/bar height relationship depends upon many factors but limb length has the biggest impact. Lowering your saddle to reach some arbitrary "one to two inches above" metric is silly if it compromises an efficient riding position for climbing.

    Equally silly would be to raise the bars a whole bunch to achieve this "one to two inches above" metric.

  8. #8
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    I run my seat around 5-6 inches above the bar height, for me that's just where it feels comfortable with a very long inseam and average length arms.

    For the DH orientated riding I drop the saddle to bar height or a little lower to make getting behind the seat and jumping easier.

    I don't think there are any hard and fast rules about the height difference, it's just what feels right depending on the frame and anthropometric's.

  9. #9
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    The seat to bar height means nothing essentially, person to person, bike to bike, style of riding. Guys with longer legs have seats higher in the climbing or xc position. This is beauty of the dropper post. Climbing effeciently is about leg extension, being leaned forward enough to help with leverage, and by forwarding your center of gravity. This same position is not optimal for descending. rather lowering and getting your center further back; while getting more behind the bars than atop of them.

    there isnt one position that is perfect for all situations imo. For me theres atleast 3. Climbing=post way up. normal riding= about an inch down from climbing. down hill= about another inch or two down from normal. Jumping = all the way down.

    xc guys posts are usually all the way up because the most significant time separating yourself from the field is done climbing.

    If i were to pick one setting and not fuss with it . ..... it would be just below the climbing position: high enough to pedal well, but just low enough to slide my hips off the side of seat comfortably when leaning into turns. Jmo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Uphill=sad View Post
    I run my seat around 5-6 inches above the bar height, for me that's just where it feels comfortable with a very long inseam and average length arms.

    For the DH orientated riding I drop the saddle to bar height or a little lower to make getting behind the seat and jumping easier.

    I don't think there are any hard and fast rules about the height difference, it's just what feels right depending on the frame and anthropometric's.
    a bike with a shorter ETT would help level out your proportions. For example, Santa Cruz have over an inch shorter top tube on their Nomad or BLT, compared to say Yeti. buying a bike based on geometry first is key.

  11. #11
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    I porefer to have my bar a little lower than the saddle, but nothing more than about 1.5" if I can get it there, up to about level - whatever feels comfortable enough and allows me to climb the steep stuff without having to stupidly be all the way taking the saddle up the taint too badly.

    As to the width thing, definitely if you're on a 40mm stem you should be on a much wider bar as others said, somewhere north of 711mm for sure, even wider than 740mm might not be bad, depends on preference. I'm 6'2" and run 750/760/785 bars on my bikes with 65-90mm stems.
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  12. #12
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    I'm 5'9" tall with a 31" inseam. My saddle is 2" lower than where my hands are on the bars. But the only thing relevant is what works for you.

  13. #13
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    Ive always set my seat height for my climbing position based on the amount of leg extension i want to have, which usuallly means a position in which my knees are only slighly bent on the full extension. This usually equates to having the seat at about the same height as the highest of my seat tube spacers.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by paradigm shifter View Post
    I wonder how I manage to ride at all given the above...

    The saddle/bar height relationship depends upon many factors but limb length has the biggest impact. Lowering your saddle to reach some arbitrary "one to two inches above" metric is silly if it compromises an efficient riding position for climbing.

    Equally silly would be to raise the bars a whole bunch to achieve this "one to two inches above" metric.
    no one said anything above not getting proper leg extension or raising your bars a ton. if you have a proper fitting frame with "new school" trail geo your bars and seat should naturally fall more or less in line.

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    Quote Originally Posted by b-kul View Post
    no one said anything above not getting proper leg extension or raising your bars a ton. if you have a proper fitting frame with "new school" trail geo your bars and seat should naturally fall more or less in line.
    Incorrect.

    You are ignoring the fact that folks come in a bunch of different sizes.

    On my properly fitting frame with "new school" trail geo my bars and saddle are no where near being "in line" when I am climbing. The same applies to many other folks as well.

  16. #16
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    Dont listen to what other people say.

    FIT IS VERY PERSONAL

    So even if somone has the exact same dimensions they may not have the same riding style



    ADJUST TILL YOU LIKE IT AND LEAVE IT THERE

  17. #17
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    Just get a dropper post

  18. #18
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    The most important thing in determining saddle height is pedal stroke, as some others have mentioned. You can hurt your knees if it's too low, or at the very least be pedaling inefficiently. Here's what I normally do when I get a new bike, as it pertains to the saddle position.

    1. Saddle height: leg extension at the bottom of pedal stroke should be slightly bent but almost fully extended. Exactly how much is personal preference.
    2. Saddle fore/aft position: a pendulum hung straight from under the kneecap with the cranks at a 90 degree angle should point right at the pedal spindle
    3. Saddle tilt: a matter of personal preference, reach, body type, etc. I like mine exactly flat, so I'm not drifting forward and the nose isn't crushing my junk.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoHeadsBrewing View Post
    The most important thing in determining saddle height is pedal stroke, as some others have mentioned. You can hurt your knees if it's too low, or at the very least be pedaling inefficiently. Here's what I normally do when I get a new bike, as it pertains to the saddle position.

    1. Saddle height: leg extension at the bottom of pedal stroke should be slightly bent but almost fully extended. Exactly how much is personal preference.
    2. Saddle fore/aft position: a pendulum hung straight from under the kneecap with the cranks at a 90 degree angle should point right at the pedal spindle
    3. Saddle tilt: a matter of personal preference, reach, body type, etc. I like mine exactly flat, so I'm not drifting forward and the nose isn't crushing my junk.
    Thats assuming he wont be going steep down hill. Its a personal thing. The only people that have seats that high up are XC racers i dont even mex mine out for xc racing i like a good inch and a half under full extenshion. But thats me everyone is diffent ... as long as you can pedal your seat is the right height. Adjust untill you find your happy spot.....

    Some thiings you have to ride your bike to find out. People on the internet can do everything for you. Like tell you how high to put your saddle. And those on this site that think they can tell you how high to put your seat think too highly of themselves

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuglio View Post
    The only people that have seats that high up are XC racers
    Incorrect. Many folks out on the trails on properly fitted bikes use the steps that THB posted above. It's bike fitting 101.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuglio View Post
    And those on this site that think they can tell you how high to put your seat think too highly of themselves
    Hmmm...isn't that what you just did?

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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by paradigm shifter View Post
    "in line"
    what would you consider "in line" or close to it?

  22. #22
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    I'm not taking the trollbait this time, Fuglio.
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    Quote Originally Posted by b-kul View Post
    what would you consider "in line" or close to it?
    I was using your definition of "more or less in line" which is close to equal in height.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoHeadsBrewing View Post
    I'm not taking the trollbait this time, Fuglio.
    Well maybe next time
    Either way the most important thing to consider for saddle height is riding style not leg extension

    And none of us know his riding style...

  25. #25
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    how 'bout you just stand the whole time. thats a workout there buddy. seats are for the lazy

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by paradigm shifter View Post
    I was using your definition of "more or less in line" which is close to equal in height.
    would it kill you to give a straight answer?

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    Quote Originally Posted by b-kul View Post
    would it kill you to give a straight answer?
    That was a straight answer.

    Maybe this will help you:

    Definition of IN-LINE
    : having the parts or units arranged in a straight line; also : being so arranged Definition of IN-LINE
    : having the parts or units arranged in a straight line; also : being so arranged

  28. #28
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    no, a straight answer here would involve numbers and a unit of measurement, without that it is meaningless. "basically" and "in line" can man many different things to different people.

  29. #29
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    Pot calling the kettle black, I'd say your advice on saddle height being 1.5" below optimum is asking to destroy someone knees unless they're strictly riding downs.

    Yeah, but that's you, and unlike most people you'd try to fix a cracked frame using 2 big steel plates and some plastic steel


    Quote Originally Posted by Fuglio View Post
    Thats assuming he wont be going steep down hill. Its a personal thing. The only people that have seats that high up are XC racers i dont even mex mine out for xc racing i like a good inch and a half under full extenshion. But thats me everyone is diffent ... as long as you can pedal your seat is the right height. Adjust untill you find your happy spot.....

    Some thiings you have to ride your bike to find out. People on the internet can do everything for you. Like tell you how high to put your saddle. And those on this site that think they can tell you how high to put your seat think too highly of themselves
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    Quote Originally Posted by b-kul View Post
    no, a straight answer here would involve numbers and a unit of measurement, without that it is meaningless. "basically" and "in line" can man many different things to different people.
    ?? It's really not that complicated.

    Your recommendation is "as close as you can get to equal height is good i think."

    That recommendation does not account for varying limb lengths and body types.

    You then go on with "if you have a proper fitting frame with "new school" trail geo your bars and seat should naturally fall more or less in line."

    This also ignores varying limb length and body types.

    While it may work for you, claiming that having the bars in line as a rule is ridiculous, as evidenced by all of the folks out there that are riding properly fitted bikes that don't adhere to your recommendations.

  31. #31
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    whatever, dont believe me. what i was saying isnt a hard and fast rule but it is generally correct. just scroll through the am setups thread and see. or maybe all those people are doing it wrong too...

  32. #32
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    Seat to handlebar height relationship

    IMO there is a lot of bad information on this thread. I don't even know where to start calling some of it out, but setting your saddle height based on your handlebar is backwards. And "1 or two inches" is a lot of range in a bike fit.

    In my experience, saddle height is set up for leg length first, and from there you go with the rest of the bike geometry, including saddle-to-bar drop.

    I'm 6-1 and I ride with 820mm distance for bottom-bracket-to-saddle-top on my road bike, and 780mm on my XC trail bike. My grips are dead level to the high point on my saddle top, which took a higher stem (-5 degrees/100mm versus -15 degrees/110mm for OEM stock) and a riser bar on this Scalpel.

    YMMV.

    Seat to handlebar height relationship-imageuploadedbytapatalk1373054769.978959.jpg

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by LyNx View Post
    Pot calling the kettle black, I'd say your advice on saddle height being 1.5" below optimum is asking to destroy someone knees unless they're strictly riding downs.

    Yeah, but that's you, and unlike most people you'd try to fix a cracked frame using 2 big steel plates and some plastic steel

    Hope thats not you in your profile picture killing your knees with that terribly low seat.....


    Not everyone rides to pedal at the "optimum level" some people ride for fun


    You know what else os bad for the knees? Single speeds but im not giving mine up for you

  34. #34
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    Oh and so know one beats me to it. Doing drops on cracked frames, also bad on the knees.

  35. #35
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    Weak attempt at a come back, weak My saddle isn't actually even lowered for that roll in, so I could just pop back on the saddle and continue pedaling at optimum height, with the proper 10-15 degree bend at the knee
    Quote Originally Posted by Fuglio View Post
    Hope thats not you in your profile picture killing your knees with that terribly low seat.....

    You know what else os bad for the knees? Single speeds but im not giving mine up for you
    Quote Originally Posted by LyNx View Post
    Pot calling the kettle black, I'd say your advice on saddle height being 1.5" below optimum is asking to destroy someone knees unless they're strictly riding downs.
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  36. #36
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    All this talk about proper this and optimum that.... missing the point


    have fun what ever the seat height

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott In MD View Post
    setting your saddle height based on your handlebar is backwards.
    right. but i dont think anyone in here is suggesting that. 1-2'' in proximity to your seat level was just where most people felt would be a good place to adjust your bars to in order to get a feeling of neutrality.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by b-kul View Post
    whatever, dont believe me.
    Don't worry> I have never been in danger of believing what you posted (since it's really bad advice). I merely responded so the OP understood that setting saddle height by its relation to the handlebar height is silly. Again, it's Bike Fitting 101 type stuff.

    Quote Originally Posted by b-kul View Post
    what i was saying isnt a hard and fast rule but it is generally correct. just scroll through the am setups thread and see. or maybe all those people are doing it wrong too...
    You're still confused.

    It might be generally correct if everyone was the same height, had the same body type, same riding preferences, same bike, same handlebar, same cranks, etc. But people and their bikes aren't homogenous.

    As far as the AM setup thread, you need to look a bit closer at many of the photos. Many of the photos show the bikes with the saddle slammed. Others show properly fitted bikes with handlebar and seat heights that are nowhere near being in line, or within and inch or two, as you have recommended.

  39. #39
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    no, i think you are confused and have poor reading comprehension. see scott's post, he explains it well.

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    hey fuglio im with you on this one. half these guys never rode bmx. anyone who sets there seat to the optimal pedaling position and never changes it obviously has no idea of the advantages of lowering your seat for technical downhill. or doesn't ride anything that demands it. my guess is they're getting off their bikes and walking stuff that's doable.
    check out this video of mostly guys who never learned how to ride with a seat lowered.
    BUCS XC CARNAGE.mov - YouTube

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    They never learned how to ride thier bikes for fun. Exercise is a nessasary evil of mountain biking.

  42. #42
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    Who said anything about NEVER changing the saddle height? Damn you people are worse than politicians trying to twist what people say to try to make yourself look slightly more than stupid

    What most smart people said was adjust your saddle height so your comfortable when pedaling and don't feel any pain in the front of the knee (saddle too low/far forward) or back of the knee/hamstring (saddle too high) and then adjust the bars so they're comfortable to you and accordingly to how the bike climbs in the steeps. Then when you hit something steep enough, lower your saddle. These days with infinitely adjustable dropper posts it's no longer an issue, set it up to optimal pedaling efficiency for the road/smooth trails, then drop incrementally as the trail gets rougher/more technical, then back up for smooth pedally bits, then back down for tech, rinse repeat as needed.

    Quote Originally Posted by akiracornell View Post
    hey fuglio im with you on this one. half these guys never rode bmx. anyone who sets there seat to the optimal pedaling position and never changes it obviously has no idea of the advantages of lowering your seat for technical downhill. or doesn't ride anything that demands it. my guess is they're getting off their bikes and walking stuff that's doable.
    check out this video of mostly guys who never learned how to ride with a seat lowered.
    BUCS XC CARNAGE.mov - YouTube
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  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuglio View Post
    Oh and so know one beats me to it. Doing drops on cracked frames, also bad on the knees.
    Quote Originally Posted by LyNx View Post
    Who said anything about NEVER changing the saddle height? Damn you people are worse than politicians trying to twist what people say to try to make yourself look slightly more than stupid :rolleyeugher/more technical, then back up for smooth pedally bits, then back down for tech, rinse repeat as needed.
    Why do you feel the need to make personal attacks?


    Some people get lost in whats the best setup the most optimum this and that... thats all well and good

    Just have fun enjoy the out doors take lots of breaks have a picnik take pictures....


    You dont need a specific degree of knee bend to do any of that...

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by akiracornell View Post
    hey fuglio im with you on this one. half these guys never rode bmx. anyone who sets there seat to the optimal pedaling position and never changes it obviously has no idea of the advantages of lowering your seat for technical downhill. or doesn't ride anything that demands it. my guess is they're getting off their bikes and walking stuff that's doable.
    check out this video of mostly guys who never learned how to ride with a seat lowered.
    BUCS XC CARNAGE.mov - YouTube
    That's what dropper posts are for! On shuttle runs, I was getting tired of running the post slammed at the top, then putting it back up for the pedally sections. But just for the record, I ride with a couple guys in their 40s that have been doing some gnarly riding for almost 20 years. They run their seatpost WAY up there, even on jumps, steep downhill runs, and sketchy drops...no problem. They're not getting off their bikes at all, and they clean more sections on their XC bikes than a lot of young guys on their 6-7" travel FS bikes.

    But to get back on topic, I think the original question was about changing the stem to put the bars at a somewhat level relationship to the saddle height. Due to my height, the bars with a normal straight or slight rise stem is about level. If I run a smaller frame it ends up being a little below the bars, and a larger frame will put the saddle below the bars. It all works, but I think just about level is what I prefer for most riding. And the dropper is of course key for a variety of conditions.

    My current Blur LT, which is the right size frame for me, and bars a little below the saddle. Dropper post for the DH sections:


    My old 29er, which was a little too big for me. Saddle is a couple inches lower than the bars.
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  45. #45
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    why not ride in the position you are most comfortable in. Every one is different.
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  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by paradigm shifter View Post
    I was using your definition of "more or less in line" which is close to equal in height.
    Incorrect.

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    Quote Originally Posted by deke505 View Post
    why not ride in the position you are most comfortable in. Every one is different.
    Blasphemy!

  48. #48
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    This is a dirt jump bike

    Seat to handlebar height relationship-kona_cowan_dirt_jump_bike_2011.jpg

    This is a down hill bike

    Seat to handlebar height relationship-2010-specialized-demo-8-downhill.jpg

    Read this:

    Noob Guide to Geometry, Bike Fit and Handling
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

  49. #49
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    fully raised seat should leave the knee almost fully extended with pedal down, adjust stem/handlebar height to personal preference using spacers. don't cut your fork until youre sure and leave a small spacer or two above the stem!

    i do have the seat a bit higher now that i have a dropper post. if i had to go back to a fixed post, id probably drop it about a cm from ideal climbing height. i like my handlebar even with or a bit lower than my seat when post is fully extended.

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by deke505 View Post
    why not ride in the position you are most comfortable in. Every one is different.
    Yes!!!

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