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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
One of the results of a Fit Calculator (link) Mentions Saddle-Handlebar distance.

I got a result of 44.6 - 46.4 cm for Saddle-Handlebar distance.

Saddle-Handlebar
This measurement ties together your choice of stem length with the
fore/aft position of your saddle. It is measured from the nose of the saddle
to the near edge of your handlebar. Keeping within this range will assure
that you don't accidentally push the weight balance of your body either too
far forward or backward.
I've also read online that you set your saddle's front/back position by trying to get your knee in line with the pedal spindle.

When I try to get that "knee above spindle" position, my seat will be all the way to the front, and I get a saddle to handlebar distance of 36cm. I am a little confused here. :eekster:

(I have a feeling that the "knee above spindle" criteria is more important, but I've learned not to assume anything!)
 

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I think it's a waste of time to be too concerned about those measurements for MTB. Adjust for comfort. If you adjust the way it's supposed to be and it's not comfy, you'll tend to not ride your bike as much.

Besides, when you're MTBing and climbing a very steep hill with your butt on the tip of the saddle where do you think your kneecap is? Maybe 5" or more in front of the spindle? It's uncomfortable as hell too. You certainly wouldn't set your bike up that way.

Just set your bike up for what feels like the most comfortable and powerful pedal stroke and stretch out. No doubt you'll probably find that you're probably close to those"ideal" measurements.

Or, you can obsess about it and feel good about yourself that your bike is set up properly, while it sits in the garage collecting dust. LOL
 

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Knee over pedal spindle isn't exact but may be a good starting point if you are a beginner and don't have an established riding position. When determining knee over spindle be sure your seat is at the proper height but don't think that it the end all dimension for for fit. Now I feel that reach is more important then knee over spindle because it doesn't help if your leg position is good if your reach is too short and you're cramped or if it's too long and you're way stretched out. I'd suggest setting things where they are most comfortable and then tweaking your position as your riding evolves.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yogii said:
You must have strange body dimensions, or be VERY short. Using the same program my bar to seat suggestion was over 15 cm longer. Remeasure!!!
I'm 5'4", asian.. :skep: :D

@Dunerinaz: Yes, crank horizontal, and pointing forward.

@Bigbeck: I quit running for 2 years because of a knee pain/strain I got in the army (not US army). So far cycling doesn't give me any knee pain, but just wanna be extra careful. But I understand what you're saying. So far I've preferred handlebars above the seat as opposed to lower than seat level.
 

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bigbeck said:
I think it's a waste of time to be too concerned about those measurements for MTB. Adjust for comfort. If you adjust the way it's supposed to be and it's not comfy, you'll tend to not ride your bike as much.
I think these things are a waste of time for road too. :D

A lot of those old guidelines are based on observations of racing cyclists. So many of them are fairly descriptive of the riding position of a road racer of average proportions. It turns out some of them aren't even right - more people turn out to have a riding position that puts their knee slightly back of the spindle. Probably even more true for someone shorter than the average European.

Saddle-to-bars reach is not a bad thing to record if you want to be able to recreate your fit, but not very useful for initial setup. Unless you know where on the saddle your sit bones are, which varies by a few centimeters on different models, it's not really relevant.

If your bike felt fine before, just go back to that setup and don't worry about it. If it's a new setup, start with saddle height, which you can figure out using your leg as the measuring device, then figure out your handlebar position using your body and Attack Position as the measuring device. Next you'll want to guesstimate saddle forward/back position and tilt. Finally, and this is the best part, go ride! It usually takes me one ride with a lot of stopping and starting to do a pretty good setup, often with a few small adjustments on following rides.

I start my saddle height set up so that I can just reach the pedal, when the crank arm is near the bottom of the stroke and in line with the seat tube, with my heel. That's just a starting place - you'll likely tweak it later.

Next, I get in the Attack Position (pedals at 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock, butt lifted just off the saddle.) I want to be balanced over the pedals, so that all my weight is on them, and I want the handlebars to be in a position that doesn't force me to move my weight back or forward, that allows me to get back behind the saddle, and that doesn't get in my way if I'm out of the saddle climbing something steep. You can see that this is already starting to get into how the bike rides on the trail. When I'm sitting on the saddle and riding at my usual effort level, I should have little or no weight on my hands. Putting the bars too far or too low often causes this problem.

Then, tune the saddle position. Fore/aft so that the part that supports your sit bones is in the right place for where it feels natural for you to ride. If the nose is too high, it'll put pressure on your taint. If the nose is too low, you'll slide forward and get a turbo wedgie from the nose of the saddle. A lot of people start with level; I think most of my bikes are very close to level saddle.

Now, if you're not already on the trail, go ride! It can be helpful to ride a bike path or flat fire road for a while first, so that you're not distracted by negotiation tight turns, obstacles, climbs and descents. Experiment with saddle position, experiment with bar height. Signs that things aren't quite right yet are excessive weight on the hands, moving around in the saddle a lot, moving forward or back significantly when you get into your attack position, an arched back, and any other pain.

Cycling should be pretty gentle to your knees. Don't use too high a gear, try to use pedals with free float, and don't start riding too many miles right away.
 

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I agree that fit guides, at best, provide starting points. You want your set up to be comfortable and to work for your bones on your bike riding your style on your trails. Start with saddle height - for max power, the rule of thumb is to have it set so your heel just reaches the pedal at the 6 o'clock position. Lower to taste and for added control on rocky descents. The rest is to be experimented with until you get it the way you like it.
 

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LoneReaction said:
One of the results of a Fit Calculator (link) Mentions Saddle-Handlebar distance.

I got a result of 44.6 - 46.4 cm for Saddle-Handlebar distance.

I've also read online that you set your saddle's front/back position by trying to get your knee in line with the pedal spindle.

When I try to get that "knee above spindle" position, my seat will be all the way to the front, and I get a saddle to handlebar distance of 36cm. I am a little confused here. :eekster:

(I have a feeling that the "knee above spindle" criteria is more important, but I've learned not to assume anything!)
Seat position is all about getting the legs and the pedals correct it has nothing to do with the other measurments...

So set the saddle up so it works for the legs....see knee over pedal and straight leg at six oclock...

Then go to work on setting up the handlebars....
 

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LoneReaction said:
@Bigbeck: I quit running for 2 years because of a knee pain/strain I got in the army (not US army). So far cycling doesn't give me any knee pain, but just wanna be extra careful. But I understand what you're saying. So far I've preferred handlebars above the seat as opposed to lower than seat level.
I have a bad knee too. I have to be very careful how I pivot on my right foot or else I'll be limping for a couple of weeks. Sometimes it will act up out of the blue. Doctor said I need surgery if I couldn't live with it. Guess how I live with it? Yup, MTBing.

When my knee feels a little weak, like it's ready to go out on me, and I start to limp a little, I just hop on the bike and do a hard 2 mile ride. I don't know what it does, but man, that Knee feels great for about 2 weeks or so. I've been doing this for about 12 years now. Who knows if I'd be able to ride again after surgery. I'm not taking the chance.;)

Over the years, I've told several friends with bad knees to start riding. It didn't work for them- it made their knees worse.:confused:

Sometimes it takes years to hone your fit to perfection. I too, started riding with bars level with seat,then 1" below, and now 1" above.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Now if only there was a "thank poster" button.. AndrwSwitch's post is really detailed!

@Bigbeck: Glad to hear that you can keep your pain away. My knee isn't that bad, but if I do high impact sports, it will hurt every random X steps I take (depending on how bad it is). In the past it will start hurting after I run for the bus, but now that doesn't happen anymore except when I play stuff like tennis or badminton. Gave those sports up. I think cycling is helping by strengthening the muscles around the knee, so there is less stress on the knee itself. Awesome!

Thank you all for replying, really eye-opening for a newbie. :)
 

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LoneReaction said:
One of the results of a Fit Calculator (link) Mentions Saddle-Handlebar distance.

I got a result of 44.6 - 46.4 cm for Saddle-Handlebar distance.

I've also read online that you set your saddle's front/back position by trying to get your knee in line with the pedal spindle.

When I try to get that "knee above spindle" position, my seat will be all the way to the front, and I get a saddle to handlebar distance of 36cm. I am a little confused here. :eekster:

(I have a feeling that the "knee above spindle" criteria is more important, but I've learned not to assume anything!)
Knee-over-pedal (or slightly behind it) is a good place to start. When setting up a bike, I always start with the saddle (relative to bb) position and go from there.

I think the Competitive Cyclist calculator is good for determining the size frame you need, but as far as bar position, that is going to change a lot from person to person, even with the same measurements.

One other thing, the calculator only works as well as the numbers you plug into it. You need to measure EXACTLY the way they tell you to. We used it for estimating the size road bike for my wife, and it worked very well once we got the measurements right. At first we cut some corners and got some pretty whacked out numbers back.
 
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