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  1. #1
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    Wink stem to saddle height - effects

    The top of my saddle is about 5 inches higher than the top of my stem for best peddaling efficiency. That keeps me in a bit forward stance. I have to raise the saddle kind of high because I run a slighlly smaller frame (I'm an old bmx'r and like to throw small frame around) Thinking about raising the handlebars but not sure..would the bike feel like a beach cruiser? I will be getting a dropper post for rough downhills.
    What's average stem to seat height for trail riding? P.s I like to climb but value the downhill more. Thx!

  2. #2
    Bicyclochondriac.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kneetowaist View Post
    The top of my saddle is about 5 inches higher than the top of my stem for best peddaling efficiency. That keeps me in a bit forward stance. I have to raise the saddle kind of high because I run a slighlly smaller frame (I'm an old bmx'r and like to throw small frame around) Thinking about raising the handlebars but not sure..would the bike feel like a beach cruiser? I will be getting a dropper post for rough downhills.
    What's average stem to seat height for trail riding? P.s I like to climb but value the downhill more. Thx!
    How high the saddle is relative the stem is not too relevant. What matters is the height of the bar at the grips, not the stem.

    You will find everything from a few inches above the saddle to as low as you are, though you are certainly at the lower end of what I see these days.

    FWIW, my grips are about 1" higher than my saddle.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  3. #3
    usually cranky
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    my saddle is about 1-2'' higher than my grips. i like the "attack" position it puts me in.

  4. #4
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    mine is around 2in higher than grips. My XC bike is about 4in above. I would think that 2-3in would be your AM average.
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  5. #5
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    As usual it's a trade off. Lower bars are better cornering - higher bars are better in the steeps. I don't usually think of bar height in terms of the saddle. But I've also ridden frames sized small for me - run flat bars with zero rise stems and never been close to seeing a saddle 5" above the bars. I think that is purely in the xc realm which is not where I find joy. So I'm wondering if there are other questions that you should be asking instead of bar - seat height difference.

  6. #6
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    I measured top of seat to top of grips and that measurement (using a level) was 2.75 inches. So, right about where the avge seems to be. Thanks for the inputs on measuring saddle to grips and not saddle to stem. For the record that 2.75 inch distance is killer for winding singletrack, giving the bike a rally car feel. Still feels great on the downhills too. Love a smallish frame!

  7. #7
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    For really steep descents, I'll drop my seat maybe 2 inches below the bars so I can shift my weight back easier. Otherwise it's 2-3" above the bars. Haven't been able to find a good middle ground for seat height that works for all terrain.

  8. #8
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    I think flat even height is the average for AM bikes.
    2-3" drops is XC bike fitting.

    jx

  9. #9
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    my bars are about 2'' below saddle...
    remember that when you sit on the bike the rear shock sag will level things a bit.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by lorteti View Post
    I think flat even height is the average for AM bikes.
    2-3" drops is XC bike fitting.

    jx
    +1^
    I shoot for even on all my bikes.

    Quote Originally Posted by axolotl View Post
    Lower bars are better cornering - higher bars are better in the steeps... I think that is purely in the xc realm which is not where I find joy. So I'm wondering if there are other questions that you should be asking instead of bar - seat height difference.
    I'm assuming your low bar comment are for climbing, and high bar comment is for descending...if so, I fully agree, else you've got it backwards.
    But I agree that the "ass up, face down" position is a pure XC race thing and completely BS for long trail (XC) rides.
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  11. #11
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    Seat 2 or more inches higher than grips on an AM bike? No bloody thanks. Not where I live anyway.
    I hate 650b because it's not as fun as 26 inch wheels and because it doesn't have the rollover ability of 29 inch wheels.

  12. #12
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    I always love these "bar vs. saddle height" discussions.

    My bars are 2-3" above the saddle

    This is partly due to my body geometry. The other part is that if I need a lower position over the front...... my elbows can bend

  13. #13
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    I totally agree

    Quote Originally Posted by Turtle01 View Post
    I always love these "bar vs. saddle height" discussions.

    My bars are 2-3" above the saddle

    This is partly due to my body geometry. The other part is that if I need a lower position over the front...... my elbows can bend
    My handlebars are about 6" above the seat since I climb with a Intense M1 and you can't raise the seat very high since the seat tube is angled back so far and it would move the seat back too far. All you have to do is bend your elbows so you are leaning forward when climbing, but for the desent it is great for handling more like a motocross motor cycle which has the handlebars about 8"-10" above the seat. For all mountain bikes I would say the handlebars 2-3" above the saddle would be ideal for climbing.

  14. #14
    Yes, that's fonetic
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buster Bluth View Post
    Seat 2 or more inches higher than grips on an AM bike? No bloody thanks. Not where I live anyway.
    Uh, that would be for climbing, not descending.

  15. #15
    Jungle rider
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    This question is purely a XC thing, since in AM you are constantly lowering & raising your seat post (therefore changing the saddle/stem distance ratio) either manualy or with a dropper post, IMO.

  16. #16
    local trails rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by Turtle01 View Post
    This is partly due to my body geometry.
    My body geometry is different: whether going up or down hill, hands above XC seat height makes me feel too high above the bike.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  17. #17
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    I know this is an old thread but......taking away the debate of what All Mountain is, and accepting for the sake of argument that it is mostly out of the seat trail riding, wouldn't some measurement of standing on the pedals to grip height be more relevant?

  18. #18
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    ^^saddle position is somewhat fixed based on the length of your legs and so serves as a constant.
    that being said, the measurement you suggest would probably yield the same results.

  19. #19
    local trails rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by smellurfingers View Post
    wouldn't some measurement of standing on the pedals to grip height be more relevant?
    Some bike companies give you that measurement. They call it "Stack".

    Example: Spitfire V2 Geometry

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  20. #20
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    1 inch or so lower for the handle bar is the norm. the stem could be anywhere depending on it length and rise.


    i would pick stem height, rise and length to fit the bike to myself in relation to the handle bars distance fom the saddle and how i feel on the bike. i find the wrong bar position can give me backaches.

    the attack position is recognized to be quite efficient as you say.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by smellurfingers View Post
    I know this is an old thread but......taking away the debate of what All Mountain is, and accepting for the sake of argument that it is mostly out of the seat trail riding, wouldn't some measurement of standing on the pedals to grip height be more relevant?
    Funny you should mention, because I adjust my handlebar height so that I can just almost extend my arms (not locking the elbows), so that when I do a long climb out of the saddle, I can put a lot of weight on the arms without wearing them out, and concentrate on spinning the cranks. This out-of-saddle technique is different to stomping down on the pedals and pulling the handle bar up, which wears you out quickly.

    I adjust the saddle height about 4 cm below my road bike setting, so I can easily move behind the saddle for steep descents.

    Effectively I end up with a consistent height difference between the saddle and bar, but it's just a by-product of making other settings to my liking.

    Quote Originally Posted by elwoodturner View Post
    ^^saddle position is somewhat fixed based on the length of your legs and so serves as a constant.
    that being said, the measurement you suggest would probably yield the same results.
    For one rider it might be somewhat fixed from one bike to another, but I feel there's more room for personal taste in the MTB realm compared to road bikes, where it's pretty much a formula of inseam * X. It also depends on the purpose: racers will probably raise their saddles higher, while joy-riders like me don't care that much for efficiency.

    If I'm not horribly mistaken, having a low bar in itself doesn't improve the ability of the rider to put power to the pedals, but allows a more aerodynamic riding position. So if you're going up a steep hill, having the bars a bit higher shouldn't make you less efficient. Of course too high bars will make it difficult to shift your center of gravity down and forward, but that's another question.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saul Lumikko View Post
    snip
    I adjust the saddle height about 4 cm below my road bike setting, so I can easily move behind the saddle for steep descents.

    Effectively I end up with a consistent height difference between the saddle and bar, but it's just a by-product of making other settings to my liking.
    snip.
    not sure if you have a religious aversion to dropper posts, but this sounds like what you're missing...
    I like my saddle in the full extension position for climbing then drop it as needed for descents.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saul Lumikko View Post
    Funny you should mention, because I adjust my handlebar height so that I can just almost extend my arms (not locking the elbows), so that when I do a long climb out of the saddle, I can put a lot of weight on the arms without wearing them out, and concentrate on spinning the cranks. This out-of-saddle technique is different to stomping down on the pedals and pulling the handle bar up, which wears you out quickly.

    I adjust the saddle height about 4 cm below my road bike setting, so I can easily move behind the saddle for steep descents.

    Effectively I end up with a consistent height difference between the saddle and bar, but it's just a by-product of making other settings to my liking.


    For one rider it might be somewhat fixed from one bike to another, but I feel there's more room for personal taste in the MTB realm compared to road bikes, where it's pretty much a formula of inseam * X. It also depends on the purpose: racers will probably raise their saddles higher, while joy-riders like me don't care that much for efficiency.

    If I'm not horribly mistaken, having a low bar in itself doesn't improve the ability of the rider to put power to the pedals, but allows a more aerodynamic riding position. So if you're going up a steep hill, having the bars a bit higher shouldn't make you less efficient. Of course too high bars will make it difficult to shift your center of gravity down and forward, but that's another question.
    Efficiency aside, my saddle has to be at full extension to avoid knee pain. (39 years old).

  24. #24
    local trails rider
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    Different riding positions do have an effect on which muscles are doing most of the work.
    Is that important?
    Depends.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by fsrxc View Post
    not sure if you have a religious aversion to dropper posts, but this sounds like what you're missing...
    I like my saddle in the full extension position for climbing then drop it as needed for descents.
    I'm standing when climbing most of the time, and on flats my speed is not limited by efficient power output, but just the speed of my legs. (It's a fully rigid SS bike.)

    I've given it a thought for my Cannondale Prophet, though.

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