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  1. #1
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    Seatpost Height Adjustment: How it Affects Performance

    A few weeks ago I raised my seatpost height about 3 or 4mm (a little less than the height of a number on a credit card). Since then, I feel like I've lost some power and my corning feels sketchy like I'm about to wash out. Is this just in my head? How long should it take to adjust to the um...adjustment? Is it part of the process to feel like you've lost a little something in order to eventually reap the greater gains?

    I liked my seat a little low because it gave me more confidence/control in technical stuff. I raised it to a more proper height because I'm doing longer rides/races now and dont want any comfort issues at distance to start coming up...and of course to maximize pedal stroke power. Besides "go get a bike fit" which I will do eventually, any other thoughts or experiences with transitioning to a different seat height? Thanks.
    I may not have the best of everything, but I have everything.

  2. #2
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    You should raise, lower seatpost height 1 millimeter at a time. Anything more than that is too much for me.

    My issue is typically a balance of two things:
    -knee discomfort
    -back discomfort

    Too high hurts back . Too low hurts front of knees .

    Fore and aft adjustment is similar. ("Too fore" similar to "too low". "Too aft" similar to "too high").

    Another thing is I feel I get more power when I can really drop my feet to horizontal in the pedal stroke (no heel up), which goes against setting it too high. But some people really like heels up in the pedal stroke.

    Another rule of thumb is to set seat high as you can, until your hips start to rock while pedaling. If they rock, then lower your saddle a mm or two. (but some people rock, no matter what)

    And as far as fore/aft adjustment, I like using the Andy Pruitt method: plumb drop over front of knee (over knee cap, not the little bone below (older traditional method)) with cranks arms horizontal, plumb drop line should align with forward edge of crank arm (you'll have to move your knee inwards towards the bike a bit, to check that alignment). That is a great starting point. (Andy Pruitt bike fit article: Ultracycling: Bike Fit)

    As far as bike handling, I believe I get used to any position I'm in after a while. "Drop Posts" are for wimps.
    Last edited by Poncharelli; 10-06-2011 at 06:39 AM.
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  3. #3
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    When you raised your seat height did you slide your saddle forward any? Normally when seat height is adjusted the for/aft needs to be adjusted also. Some people are really sensitive to seat height adjustments and others aren't. I can tell when mine is off a mm but I have a relatively longer lower leg/foot compared to my femur. My seat height is unusually high and forward on the rails compared to most everyone else...

  4. #4
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    In terms of handling, its just a matter of getting used to the new height.

    I find a higher setting allows me to make better use of my hamstrings during the pedal stroke, whereas a lower height tends to burn my quads up quicker. But, as you said, for tight technical stuff, a lower height is more confidence-inspiring and is better for shifting your weight back over the rear of the bike when needed.

  5. #5
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    SEAT HEIGHT – HOW HARD CAN IT BE? Bike Fit Steve Hogg's Bike Fitting Website ADDENDUM TO: SEAT HEIGHT – HOW HARD CAN IT BE? Bike Fit Steve Hogg's Bike Fitting Website
    SEAT SET BACK: for road bikes Bike Fit Steve Hogg's Bike Fitting Website

    Check out these links to Steve Hogg's blog about fit. Completely different philosophy from knee over pedal spindle (KOPS) fit. I recently changed from a KOPS fit, and it has given me a lot more power, endurance, and stopped my quad cramping issue (at least so far). KOPS had me way to far forward, which over-utilized my quads and under-utilized my glutes and hamstrings. I also moved my cleat position back a bit based on his article on that as well. Hogg's philosophy is based on balance and individual functionality and not arbitrary formulas. Worth a read, if nothing else.

  6. #6
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    Pretty much everything Whambat said. I don't like formula fits. Two riders with the same length inseam can have very different setups...

  7. #7
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    Oops, double post..

  8. #8
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    how often do you ride?

  9. #9
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    2 or 3 rides a week on the mtb and 2 or 3 rides a week on the roadbike. So I guess in the last few weeks I've really only had about 7 or 8 rides to adjust.

    J.mc. I did not slide the seat forward...am I supposed to?

    Thanks for the details Ponch. Appreciate the help. I'm going to maybe do some minor tweaks here and there till i get it right.

    Will read Steve Hoggs info as well. Thanks!
    I may not have the best of everything, but I have everything.

  10. #10
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    Not being able to see your setup it's hard to say but if i'd've raised my seatpost 4mm I would also slide the saddle forward a couple mm's. That is assuming you were happy with your for/aft setting prior to raising your seat height... Definitely read the Steve Hogg info. Extremely helpful stuff!

  11. #11
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    Hmm...after reading the Steve Hogg report, I'm considering returning to my near original (possibly slightly too low) seat height. According to him it's a far greater evil to have it to high than slightly too low.

    I took mine up about 3-4mm because I thought I needed to according to a few outside observations, even though I wasn't really having any issues...think I'm going to bring it back down maybe 2-3mm and see how that feels.
    I may not have the best of everything, but I have everything.

  12. #12
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    Last year I had a Specialized "PRO" fit with the cameras and marker points at a local shop. They ended up raising my road bike saddle by about an inch. I experienced a huge power drop (about 10%) and it felt like my legs were dangling from the saddle. Their adjustment got my knee into the ideal position according to their measurements and software, but I was compensating by pointing my toes down through the entire pedal stroke (which was killing my calves and making the bike really sketchy to pedal over rough pavement, since I couldn't hover over the saddle). I had a followup fit where we ended up putting everything back to within a mm of where it was before, and power came back.

  13. #13
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    Wow you guys are picky. I raise and lower the seatpost inches at a time depending on the trail I'm riding. Sometimes I'll forget about the height for weeks at a time. I remember face-palming earlier this year after realizing my seat post was about 3 inches too low for several XC races in the spring series. Oops! It makes a little difference, but in the grand scheme of things it's not that big a deal unless it's causing you injury / pain. Some of the nastier trails around here are a lot less sketchy with a lowered seatpost, though none of the race courses have those type of features. My road bike's seatpost was too low for the last year straight, mainly because I didn't want to buy another seatpost (it was maxed out). I still did plenty of crits and RRs and considered it a training bonus as my MTB seatpost is always lower than my road saddle height anyway. I finally fixed it last month! To the OP - it will take some getting used to, but you'll find your happy place. Just keep pedaling and don't overthink things.

  14. #14
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    If you're happier riding offroad with the saddle a few mm lower for extra maneuverability then that can outweigh any power gains you might get from the higher saddle position. You'll often see it recommended to have the saddle on a mountain bike roughly 1cm lower than the saddle height you would use on a road bike for that reason. A lower saddle height can also be more comfortable over long rides as you don't get as much chafing or saddle soreness when the saddle is lower. It depends upon your own setup though. You don't want your standard saddle height to be excessively low.

    Do you keep a measurement of what your saddle height is set at? On a mountain bike the seatpost is more likely to slip down slightly over time so it's worth keeping track of. On my Specialized Epic the seatpost will gradually slip down a few mm over the course of a few months riding, due to the pounding it gets from riding seated over bumpy terrain. I can generally tell when it needs adjusting again because it starts to feel a bit harder riding uphill. A mark on your seatpost at your preferred height is useful to set it back to the correct position.

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