1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
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2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
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    Bike Fit, high seat low bars.

    I have noticed many Mountain bikes that are posed with an extreme seat height vrs handle bar height with the seat two to 5 inches above the bars. I take it that it makes the rider go into a more "road racing" posture?

    Om my bike I have spent hours getting the seat just right and have, because I am totally comfortable on it all the time. I did the slight bend in the knee at bottom stroke, the 9 and 3 o-clock, knee over the spindle test(mine is perfect) and I feel comfortable with the bar reach(not stressing to reach or scrunched up. I can really lay down power this way and I don't hurt a lot after a long road run(60 miles plus)

    Still though, my seat is exactly even with the stem and cannot go any higher or my feet wouldn't reach. Most Mountain bikes I see the seat is always above the stem.....

    Is my bike too big? it's an 18" frame, I'm 5' 6". I feel totally nimble and confident on it though, can throw it around good and it doesn't feel big. I have sat on a 14" model of the same bike and that feels just like my 18" frame... I suppose the 14" would be better for strict trail riding(weight wise) but the 18" seems better for road riding(I do a lot) but I also do ok with it on the trails.

    So..why do they have the seat jacked up like that? Is it for certain, specific, hardcore riding?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    If you're comfortable and able to "lay down power" without hurting your knees, then it really doesn't matter if your seat is above or below the bars.

    Consider this...for any given bike, irregardless of the size of the frame, the axle to crown length is the same as they use the same fork; there might be slight differences in head tube length from one size to another; ultimately all the different frame sizes of the same bike model have similar bar height. However, with each decrease in frame size (with presumably shorter rider with shorter inseam for the smaller frame), the seat height drops lower and lower. In the end, larger frame sizes tend to end up with seats above the bar while smaller frame sizes tend to end up with the seat below the bar. (Of course, there can be fine adjustments using different stem angles and stem spacers; I'm just speaking in general).

    As trails and terrain become more challenging, it's actually more beneficial to lower the seat so as to be able to more easily move around the bike (sideways and especially when shifting weight behind the saddle); that's why adjustable seat posts are becoming more and more popular on AM and FR bikes.
    Go on ahead, I'm gonna take a breather.

  3. #3
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    I wouldn't worry too much about what other riders are doing with their saddle/bar position. Everyone is different.

    It sounds like you may have been better suited to a smaller frame but really a large frame can be fit to a smaller rider (to a limit) and a smaller frame can also be fitted larger (again, to a limit). From what you say about where you ride; a larger frame will work for you. Think of how the older "vintage" road bike frames were made; very low saddle and slightly higher stem.

    I'm 5-11 and ride an 18" Giant NRS but ride that bike strictly on trails.
    I do ride a lot on the road(on my road bike) so am fairly flexible so my saddle is about 3" above my stem cap; but I also have a 20mm riser bar and this is a comfortable setup for me. This bike is set up for mostly riding XC style riding/racing but still good enough to tool around.

    It might not hurt to get a second opinion from a "professional fitter". I realize that almost every LBS will "fit" you a bike but there is a difference in being fit by someone experience and trained in fitting. I realize it will cost you some money for this but in my experience it was well worth the price. My fitter not only fit my position on my bike (road) but also "fit" my cleat positioning and even added a shim in my right cleat because of my knee issue to position my foot better. It truly was an experience.

    Hope that helps some....
    Last edited by bikerjohn64; 03-13-2012 at 11:21 PM.

  4. #4
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    A few points.

    18" sounds like a pretty big bike for someone your height. I can never remember the way that the even and odd sizes correlate, though, and it's not really consistent anyway. What bike is it?

    People who are developing more power tend to like a little more reach and a little more saddle-bars drop.

    Wankers on the internet are aware of that and pose their bikes with their saddles higher than how they'd actually ride.

    Don't think of it as raising your saddle. If you want to increase your saddle-to-bars drop and your saddle is already in a good position for developing power, do it by lowering your handle bars. If it's not appropriate for you, it's going to give you a lot of back pain. (But you don't need to tell the other wankers on the internet that you only did it long enough to take a picture. )

    Finally, SLAM THAT STEM! Do it on my behalf, because I won't.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  5. #5
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    There are many thoughts on bike fit. You can read books or websites or pay for "Pro" fittings but in the end what works is what is comfortable to you. Most will say your knee should be around a 23-30deg angle at the bottom of your pedal stroke. Knee over pedal axle is a good starting place for saddle setback but I find myself with the knee about 5mm behind the axle.

    Adjusting your reach most guides will put you around 90deg leg to torso and torso to arm angles. That will vary depending on flexibility. More flexible will stretch you out more and have more drop, less flexible will have you more uprite. Another factor is riding style. Do you find yourself hucking off drops or blistering climbs on buff singletrack? Your setup will vary between the styles.

    Now with all that said, it's a guide line, a starting point. How much saddle to bar drop is right for you? It's hard to say. One factor is that is your frame size. I usually ride ~18" frames and I'm 5'10". So what will happen is once your seat height is set, the taller headtube of the bigger frame is going to make that drop less. You will likely end up with a shorter stem due to the frame size as well.
    i ride bikes

  6. #6
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    Something I feel should be mebtioned is BB height and crank legnth, this too can affect your seat height quite a bit, I have a simple system for this to get the correct height and length for my riding style and and body type.

    I'm 5'11" and ride an 18" (three 18" frames, all GT).

    First I put the crank in the 5-oclock position (so its strait with the seat tube), I measure from the center of the pedal spindle to the top of the saddle, then I measure from the back of the saddle to the center of the handle bar...presto!

    This way, no matter the frame size, BB height, crank legnth, stem length, my bikes always generally fit the same.
    DJ, "Because I'm sure the world need's more dudes stalking the woods stoned out of their mind carrying a deadly weapon."

  7. #7
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    for XC riding, handlebar level with the saddle should work for the average rider. racerboys will lower their bars a bit.

    however, I think a 18" frame for someone your size sounds too big. the standover might be fine, but a 18" frame is made for someone with longer legs and longer arms that a person of your height typically has. if it works, it works, but I would have fit you on a 15-16" frame if you came into the shop to buy a bike from me. I ride a 16" 29er hardtail which I bought after riding a 18" version of the same bike, only to discover that it had to me too stretched out and it hurt my back. I am 5'8" or 9" tall fyi.
    Last edited by mack_turtle; 03-14-2012 at 07:40 PM.

  8. #8
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    I personally need to have the seat really high up in order for me to get a slight bend at the knee, so my saddle is always a few inches above my stem especially since I run zero spacers. Most of my friends run a lot of spacers and don't put their seats high enough to get a full leg extension.

    They think it's "comfortable", and it probably is seeing how you're sitting more upright, but when you're riding XC aggressively you'll be better off with a more hunkered down position.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    What bike is it?
    Response Sport


    Don't think of it as raising your saddle. If you want to increase your saddle-to-bars drop and your saddle is already in a good position for developing power, do it by lowering your handle bars.
    I actually like the bars where they are and riding mild XC trails and lots of road, I think my upper body angle is good for casual, touring riding. I can get aggressive in this position though and go up a trail hill with power to spare. I guess I could be more aerodynamic, but I'm not worried about that as I do not race....I prefer the more comfortable ride position for what I do.[/QUOTE]

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    for XC riding, handlebar level with the saddle should work for the average rider. racerboys will lower their bars a bit.

    however, I think a 18" frame for someone your size sounds too big. the standover might be fine, but a 18" frame is made for someone with longer legs and longer arms that a person of your height typically has. if it works, it works, but I would have fit you on a 15-16" frame if you came into the shop to buy a bike from me. I ride a 16" 29er hardtail which I bought after riding a 18" version of the same bike, only to discover that it had to me too stretched out and it hurt my back. I am 5'8" or 9" tall fyi.
    I don't know what to think...

    I feel ok on it, throw it around, knees don't hurt after long road rides, I don't feel stretched,
    I can really floor it and sprint..ect ect. However I have sat on a same year SMALL frame of the same exact model and felt just like I was on my Medium frame.

    I was expecting to be a little more bunched up on the small frame, but it was just like sitting on the bigger frame. I felt no difference between the small or medium.

    When I get a new bike I'm going to have a pro fit me.... It would be worth it and pece of mind to know I have the right size....I hate second guessing.

  11. #11
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    Tomorrow I'm going to do some very accurate measuring of my inseam, height and all that, plus meaure out the bike itself and I will report on it.

    I simply do not have the experience to even tell if the bike is right for me, bu tit feels good.

    Confusing.

  12. #12
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    One more thing, lol, sorry.

    My seat looks EXACTLY like the way this bike has, level with the stem.

    I have full leg extension, pedal center to knee is 90 degrees, and I don't feel stretched or sqished on it.


  13. #13
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    If your riding position is comfortable for you, stop asking questions.

    If your saddle is too high or low, you'll experience knee pain, faster fatigue in your quads, lower back pain...

    If you were sitting too upright, it would hurt your back.

    Getting too low will cause upper back pain for a lot of people.

    That said, it's often instructive to experiment. Make sure you can restore your bike to its present configuration first, since it sounds like you like it the way it is; your experiments won't necessarily improve it.

    Here's a good site on bike fit.
    How to Fit a Bicycle

    FWIW, I race and I only put my handle bars a little bit below my saddle. Less than an inch. It's all about being honest about what works for your body.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  14. #14
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    I actually reversed the spacers on the stem and dropped the bars about an inch below where they were.

    It still feels the same except maybe a little more pain in the bottom of the neck, but not bad. I'm putting it back to the original spot as I like being up more riding the roads.

    It does feel ok to me...I've never had any quad burning or extreme pain in my knees or anything...been putting in a ton of road miles for the last two weeks(weather is so nice) Did 43 miles today, 63 yesterday.... still feel ok, no pain... Guess my set-up is real close.

    I'm thinking there is no solid way to fit a bike...you can get close, but like you say...whatever feels right is right...

    In my nexxt purchase though...I'm going to get a pro recommendation.... Mostly because I am planning to get a serious 1,200, 2,200 dollar bike.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Here's a good site on bike fit.
    How to Fit a Bicycle

    I actually read that last night.

    He doesn't believe in the plumb bobbing the knee over the spindle center...says it's silly
    Man...hard to tell who or what is right

    Just something we all have to study about them make our own decisions on what works..

  16. #16
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    I think it's silly too. Here's a better article against it.

    The Myth of K.O.P.S.

    Like you say in post #14, though - whatever feels right, is. Especially when it comes to mountain biking. Our discipline is particularly dynamic, so while the saddle position needs to be right, or at least right-ish, for developing power, you also need the bike to work well for you for popping up the front end, driving it down, unweighting either wheel, climbing out of the saddle, etc. etc. etc.

    Since you already have a bike, there's nothing wrong with riding it and experimenting until you figure out what you want.

    Here's an article on how to compare fits across different bikes. It's written for triathletes, but can be applied to any bike. I think it only works well if you assume that the handlebars on the two bikes are of the same type.

    Stack & Reach Primer: Chapter One - Slowtwitch.com

    The point of that being that if you figure out the reach and drop you want from your handlebar, you can work backwards to what you need from the bike frame, and then make an educated choice about the size of the bike.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  17. #17
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    Duct tape iz like teh Force. It has a Lite side and a Dark side and it holdz the Universe together.

  18. #18
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    I have the same questions.

  19. #19
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    At 5" 6" I am in between sizes....Guess the way my body is, either a small or medium feels right, but I do think I should of got the small unfortunately. I've been riding this medium for three years and it has been fine and the only sort of pain I get is in my neck, but not real bad. I also noticed my arms do not have alot of bend while on the bars, but I don't feel stretched.

    My nexxt bike will be a long while getting. Most likely a small to start with, but seems that is just the start...Any serious riding you'll have to experiemnt with different bars, seats everything to get a real comfortable ride.

    I guess test riding different bikes is the only solution.

  20. #20
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    im 5'11" i have short legs 30" and long arms (my father was part gorilla). I have been struggling with a comfortable position i always find im too upright with a short stem and to stretched out with a long stem. My solution ended up being that i needed to drop a spacer (down to one 1/4") and flipping my 90mm low rise stem upside down.

    seat height/bar position is going to change form rider to rider and it will change with experience and sometimes the terrain.

    thats why i have a dropper post on order. lol
    2012 Giant Reign 1

  21. #21
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    Don't worry about those guys with the high seats, they're just road bikers who took a wrong turn and got lost in the woods

  22. #22
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    I have to post to be able to PM....lame.

  23. #23
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    samezies

  24. #24
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    I've noticed my seat is a few inches above my stem, but I have long legs. Does this mean I should've got a bigger frame, or not necessarily? I don't feel like I should lower it just for the sake of 'not having my seat high' when it's more important to have the proper bend in my knee I think.

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