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Funny, just posted this on another thread about a guy with knee pain. A standard method of determining seat height: set it so your leg is fully extended when the pedal is at 6 o'clock with your heel on the pedal. At this setting, your knee should be slightly bent when the ball of your foot is on the pedal at the same 6 o'clock position.

This is generally considered the optimal setting for seated pedaling efficiency. Many riders lower the seat for technical or downhill sections, trading some pedaling efficiency for a lower center of gravity while seated. Use it as a starting point.

So, if you seat height is good, then to your question: While many riders (including me) keep their handlebar grips about level with the top of the saddle, there's no requirement for it to be so. If you're comfortable, especially while descending, then that's all that matters. If you're curious, try a riser bar or a stem with more angle and see if you like it better.
 

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Agreed, there is no set rule for seat vs. handle bar height. It's pretty much a matter of personal preference and comfort. Riding style can also play a big role in it as well.

My personal preference is for the bar to be right at or just slightly below the level of the seat. The generally keeps your body weight more centered over the bike, provides good stability when descending, yet still gives good climbing position when seated with a little bit of a forward lean. This works for XC/Trail and AM pretty well.

On the other hand I've got a riding buddy that prefers his bars an inch or two lower than his seat. He loves to climb and he races XC regularly. He prefers a bit more weight forward so he doesn't have to lean as much while climbing. So he runs his bars lower and usually with longer stems than many riders do. It requires a bit more body english when he descends. But his philosophy is that an XC race is won on the climbs not the descent. Which is quite true. And man can he climb!

Anyway, the key is to get your seat height right, then worry about bar position. Your set up sounds about average for XC/Trail and AM riding. As Gasp4air noted, if you feel the need to adjust it a bit, a bar change, different stem length or rise, or wider or narrower bar can be tried. But if you are comfortable with it and it works for you, stick with it.:thumbsup:

Good Dirt
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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I don't know. But I'll tell you how I figure it out.

If the saddle is tipped forward too much, I slide forward on it and get a turbo-wedgie. If it's tipped back too much, it puts pressure on my taint. Neither of these situations is okay with me. At the moment, I think my MTB saddle is tipped forward just a tiny bit, so a little bit more when the suspension on my bike compresses.

A lot of people recommend starting with level and experimenting from there. Some even go as far as to use a bubble level. I think level is a good starting point, but since you're tuning by feel, getting out carpentry tools seems like a bit much to me.
 

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DynoDon
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There are three points of contact, five points if you count grips, and peddles twice, saddle, grips, peddles when you get it close enough you'll know, it will change as you loose weight, buy a new seat, handlebars, peddles, bike, etc.. there is a fit chapter in, Zinn & the art of Mountain Bike Maintenance, or you can spend $150 to have a fit.
Once I got mine good for me, I took the measurements from grips, to saddle, to peddles, and back to grips, I set up my spinning bike to those measurments, it seems to make spinning more tolerable, nothing beats the trail.. Good Luck
 

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Gasp4Air said:
Funny, just posted this on another thread about a guy with knee pain. A standard method of determining seat height: set it so your leg is fully extended when the pedal is at 6 o'clock with your heel on the pedal. At this setting, your knee should be slightly bent when the ball of your foot is on the pedal at the same 6 o'clock position.

This is generally considered the optimal setting for seated pedaling efficiency. Many riders lower the seat for technical or downhill sections, trading some pedaling efficiency for a lower center of gravity while seated. Use it as a starting point.

So, if you seat height is good, then to your question: While many riders (including me) keep their handlebar grips about level with the top of the saddle, there's no requirement for it to be so. If you're comfortable, especially while descending, then that's all that matters. If you're curious, try a riser bar or a stem with more angle and see if you like it better.
Agreed....This method will put you in the ball park but be sure to set this height with your cycling shoes on and not street shoes or sneakers.

And as another poster said start out with the saddle level. I do use a small bubble level but that may be over kill. It's a habit leftover from my road racing years I guess.

A word of caution any changes you make (unless it's hurting your knees) give it some time before you make another change. To many changes to soon will have you more confused
 

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AndrwSwitch said:
I don't know. But I'll tell you how I figure it out.

If the saddle is tipped forward too much, I slide forward on it and get a turbo-wedgie. If it's tipped back too much, it puts pressure on my taint. Neither of these situations is okay with me. .
+1 on this advice. Just experiment a little to fine tune for comfort. Most of my saddles end up being level or an 1/8" up tilt or down tilt. It depends on the bike and or the brand of saddle.

If it's tilted down a hair too much I find I'm always sliding forward and pushing myself back which often causes a little hand or wrist pain if I keep riding like that. If it's tilted up a hair too much, it only takes about 10 pedal strokes to feel discomfort.
 

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NCMt.Biker said:
Ok since i have my saddle higher up then my handlebars...should i have my saddle leval or tipped forward a bit or tipped back..or does that matter?Thanks for the help guys
Start with it level and ride it for a while. Usually having the saddle tipped forward will result in a slow forward slide as you are riding. You'll end up pushing yourself back against the bars all the time. Not a good thing. A rearward tip will produce the oposite effect (obviously) and have the nose of the saddle pushing into the soft tissues of you nether regions as the others have noted. This is also not a good thing, both for your comfort and any future off spring you may be planning on.

Again this is a starting point just like "recommended" saddle height is. If you are not comfortable with "recommended" settings then adjust them a bit. But as the others have said, make the adjustment SMALL, and then ride the new settings a bit before making any other changes. You'd be amazed at the difference a few milimeters one way or another can make when it comes to cockpit adjustments. As an example, My "recommended" saddle height for my height and inseam is 31.78" measured from the center of the crank arm to the top of the saddle with a 175mm crank. However that setting results in a bit of knee pain and more than normal leg fatigue. Through a bit of adjustment over time I have discovered that 31.5" is right on the button for me. That's only a .28" difference or 7mm, but it makes ALL the difference!

The moral of the story is, always keep in mind that any bike fit recommendations are someone elses ideas of how a bike should fit. They are exactly what the term implies, recommendations or starting points, nothing more. There are no hard fast rules to bike fit, what works for me likely won't work for you or anybody else for that matter.:thumbsup:

So as the others have stated, experiment a little and find what works for you. Just do it slowly and a little at a time.

Good Dirt
 

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Easiest way I've heard of determining roughly where your optimum saddle height for pedalling efficiency should be is to measure your inside leg and subtract 4". Put the top of the saddle that distance from the centre of the crank. Works for me: inside leg 33", top of saddle 29" from centre of crank. For general offroad stuff where I'm not going to be seated much I'll run it 2-3" lower than that though to give me room to move about, but it's a good starting point.
 

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R.I.P. DogFriend
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gradeAfailure said:
Easiest way I've heard of determining roughly where your optimum saddle height for pedalling efficiency should be is to measure your inside leg and subtract 4". Put the top of the saddle that distance from the centre of the crank. Works for me: inside leg 33", top of saddle 29" from centre of crank. For general offroad stuff where I'm not going to be seated much I'll run it 2-3" lower than that though to give me room to move about, but it's a good starting point.
Reminds me of this thread:

http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=676618

:skep: I am trying to understand the logic of subtracting 4" no matter what the inseam is and it's just not computing for me.

I have heard of measuring the inseam (with cycling shoes on) and multiplying that number by .883, and then setting the top of the saddle that distance from the center of the crank arm bolt (bottom bracket spindle). This is known as the "Lemond Method". Make small adjustments from there to suit.

==========

From Sheldon Brown: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/saddles.html

How High?
There are lots of formulas for saddle height, most based on multiplying leg length by some fudge factor. The numerical exercise to 3 decimal places gives the illusion of scientific rigor, but, in my opinion, these systems are oversimplification of a problem which involves not only leg length, but foot length, what part of the foot fits on the pedal, shoe-sole thickness, type of pedal system and pedaling style.

You cannot judge the saddle height to any accuracy by just sitting on it, or riding around the block. As you get close to the correct position, the clues get more and more subtle.

Most people start with the saddle too low. This is a habit left over from childhood, because growing children almost always have their saddles too low for efficient pedaling. First they have it low for security while they are learning to balance, then, even once they have mastered balancing, their growth rate tends to keep them ahead of their saddle adjustment.

If you always ride with your saddle too low, you get used to it, and don't realize that there is a problem...but there is. Riding with the saddle too low is like walking with your knees bent (as Groucho Marx often did for comedic effect.) If you walked that way all the time, you'd also get used to that, but you'd think that half a mile was a long walk. The way the human leg is made, it is strongest when it is nearly straight.

I like to think that William Blake summed it up nicely 200 years ago when he said:

"You never know what is enough
until you know what is too much."

I suggest gradually raising your saddle, perhaps half an inch (1 cm) at a time. Each time you raise it, ride the bike. If it doesn't feel noticeably worse to ride, ride it for at least a couple of miles/km.

If it had been too low before, your bike will feel lighter and faster with the new riding position. If raising the saddle improved things, raise it again, and ride it some more. Keep doing this until you reach the point where the saddle is finally too high, then lower it just a bit.

[The ball of the foot should be over the pedal axle, the knees should be slightly bent, around 20 degrees, at the bottom of the pedal stroke, and the heel should be slightly higher than the toe. You might speed up the process of saddle-height adjustment by starting with this rough adjustment -- John Allen]

When the saddle is too high, you'll have to rock your hips to pedal, and you'll probably feel as if you need to stretch your legs to reach the bottom part of the pedal. Another indication that the saddle may be too high is if you find yourself moving forward so that you are sitting on the narrow front part of the saddle. (Although this symptom can also result from having the saddle nosed down, or having an excessive reach to the handlebars.) [Or from increasing fitness, so you are pedaling harder. In this case,you might need to move the saddle slightly forward. -- John Allen]

It also makes a bit of difference what sort of pedals/shoes you use. If you ride with ordinary shoes, virtually all of your pedaling power is generated by the downstroke, so a good leg extension is essential to let you apply maximum power in this direction. If you use clipless pedals and cleated cycling shoes, however, you can also generate a fair amount of your power by pulling the pedal backward near the bottom of the stroke. This action also uses the large muscles in the back of the leg, and can be quite efficient. If you make use of this pedaling style, you'll want a slightly lower saddle position than for direct "piston-style" pedaling with street shoes. A slightly lower saddle position is also conducive to pedaling a rapid cadence.
 

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Works for both self and OH, and she's 6" shorter than I am... It's just a guide, a rough starting point for beginners that's all.

Another way - sit on the saddle, put your heel on the pedal, over the spindle. At max saddle height your leg will be pretty much straight but not locked out. Hence, when you put the ball of your foot on the spindle you'll have the correct knee bend.
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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gradeAfailure said:
Another way - sit on the saddle, put your heel on the pedal, over the spindle. At max saddle height your leg will be pretty much straight but not locked out. Hence, when you put the ball of your foot on the spindle you'll have the correct knee bend.
I actually use this to rough in my saddles. I find I'm better if it's a fully locked knee, and minimal pressure at the heel. But it's fairly dependent on how built up your shoes are at the forefoot vs. heel, if you pedal toes-down, foot length, all the usual caveats.
 

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Trail Ninja
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I go by feeling. I have an adjustable seat dropper, CB Joplin R, and had it set slightly higher than I thought would be max height in which I could pedal without being on my tippy toes. I can drop it down to any height on the fly with a range of 3".

When I lean forward with arms bent in an aggressive feeling, I want to be able to make it feel like I have similar power as if I were out of the saddle. That's the main point of having the saddle that high, since straightening out your legs, squat/leg press motion, is where a lot of power comes from. If you can leg press/squat so much more weight during the latter part of the extension than when your knee is bent 90 degrees or less, in the low part of a squat for example,

I just make sure my knee doesn't get fully locked out at the 5 o'clock position, where extension is longest, to ensure I can spin smoothly. It's hard to spin when you legs/knees get full extension like when you stand straight up and mash. If you are crouching when you standing and pedaling, it's easier to spin like mad, since you're not getting full extension.

I don't find height to be the problem, but more the fore/aft set up to be the problem, since you really can't solve that without changing parts to different set backs on your seatpost, seat angle, and cockpit lengths (stem length, frame top tube length). The Joplin is a set back post and on this bike, I'd prefer a zero set back post, but I consider an adjustable seatpost a must for the riding I do, so I'm going to stick with it.
 

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bigbeck said:
Just experiment a little to fine tune for comfort. Most of my saddles end up being level or an 1/8" up tilt or down tilt. It depends on the bike and or the brand of saddle.

If it's tilted down a hair too much I find I'm always sliding forward and pushing myself back which often causes a little hand or wrist pain if I keep riding like that. If it's tilted up a hair too much, it only takes about 10 pedal strokes to feel discomfort.
A very small change in seat angle can make a huge difference.

I keep a multitool with me during rides, but if I have made any changes to the bike I double check that I have it. Even if everything is fine in the street in front of the house, it often happens that small adjustments or retightening a bolt is needed during the first ride.
 

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Trail Ninja
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I wouldn't stress over tilt so much if you ride hilly areas. If you ride mostly flat land, then you want it level. If you do a lot of DH, having it point a bit up is probably better. If you do a ton of epic hill climbing, having it point a bit down is likely better.

The sliding down feeling can be countered with a strong core. A strong core helps tremendously on a bike, I've found. I just ride tons faster and more stable being in a tucked crouch, which is what some call the attack position. I like to have my chin over the headset, hands light on the bars, and weight on the pedals. Even my ass is very light on the saddle when I'm leaning forward in my crouch. Without a strong core, it'd be difficult to maintain such a position for a long period of time, I'd imagine.
 
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