How to Raise and Lower the Seat on Your Bike
How to Raise a Bicycle Seat
Sitting at the correct height on your bicycle seat will impact how comfortable you are when riding your bicycle and can even prevent knee injuries. There are a number of methods and formulas that professionals use to determine the ideal seat height, taking into account your inseam, the shoes you're wearing, and your bicycle frame. Raising your seat can, however, be a simple task, and in just a few minutes, you can be off riding your bicycle with comfort and ease.
Determining your Seat Height
Wear the shoes that you normally wear when you ride.Some bicycling shoes have thicker soles than others, and this can make a difference when figuring out how high your saddle should be. Even a small amount of thickness can make a difference in making it easier for you to pedal your bike. Professional bike shoes might have cleats that can give you a bit of added height, and this is important to calculate into your seat height.
Stand astride your bicycle.Hold the handlebars yourself and also have someone hold the handlebars for you so that the bike doesn’t rock or tilt. Lift yourself up to sit on the seat. Your bicycle seat, or the saddle, is not intended to carry all of your weight. Rather, your weight should be distributed between the saddle, your legs and feet as they rest on the pedals, and through your arms and hands on the handlebars.
Let one pedal crank rotate all the way to the bottom.Let your heel touch this pedal. Do not tilt the bike. There are different interpretations of what the ideal angle for your bent knee, but generally, bending your knee at a 5 degree angle (so you have a slight bend in your knee and your leg is not entirely extended) will be sufficient when you are sitting on the saddle and reaching the pedal when it is at the bottom of its rotation.
Calculate the best saddle height for yourself.Professional bicyclists often use formulas and calculations to determine the most ideal seat height. These include the Greg Lemond formula and the 109% formula, among others. Other professional riders consider these formulas to oversimplify the unique body structure of each individual rider, whose foot length, type of pedal, shoe thickness and other factors can have an impact on a comfortable seat height.Using a calculation can give you a basic idea of an appropriate height for your seat, however. Determine your seat height using one of these formulas and raise your seat to match the measurement. If you need to rock your hips while sitting on the bike in order to pedal, then your seat is too high.
- Greg Lemond formula: This formula takes into account saddle height, shoe cleats, height of bicycle, and angles of the handlebars. To achieve ideal saddle height using the Greg Lemond formula, measure your inseam by measuring from the sole of your foot as it sits flat on the floor to your crotch. Don’t wear shoes for this measurement. Then multiply this measurement (in inches or centimeters) by 0.883. This will be the length between the center of the bottom bracket on the bicycle to the low point on top of the seat.
- 109% formula: Using this formula, your ideal seat height is a calculation of 109% of your inseam. To measure your inseam, measure from the sole of your foot as it sits flat on the floor to your crotch. Don’t wear shoes for this measurement. Then multiply this number (in inches or centimeters) by 1.09 to find the appropriate number. This will give you the number of inches that should be between the top of your saddle to the pedal when it is at its lowest position.
Raising your Bicycle Seat
Loosen the bolt or lever clamping the seat post.Look under the bicycle seat to see if you have a lever that you can pull out, or if you have a bolt that will need to be loosened with a ratchet or wrench. The seat post telescopes into the bicycle frame and is fairly loosely fit into what is called the seat tube. The seat post is held in the seat tube by a binder bolt or quick-release lever. If you have a quick-release lever, you don’t need any tools to continue raising your seat. If you have a bolt, you may need a wrench, ratchet or Allen wrench. Most seat posts need either a 13mm or 14mm wrench, or a 5mm or 6mm Allen wrench.Loosen the bolt by twisting the bolt to the left, or counterclockwise, direction.
Mark your seat height on the seat post with a marker.While you’re sitting on your bike with your legs in the proper position, lift the seat up to where you can comfortably sit on it. Ask a friend to mark the seat position on the post with a marker so you will be able place it at the right height once you’re off the bike.
Raise the seat.Move off the bike and move the seat to your marked position. The seat should slide up and down fairly easily, although you may need to wiggle the post a little bit to loosen it up. It should slide easily straight up and down. It is not suggested that you twist the seat from side to side, as this can cause scratches on the seat post. Pull the seat up to your optimum height.
- Bicycle seats have a minimum insertion mark on their posts. This is the minimum amount that a seat post should be inserted into the bike frame, meaning that the seat cannot get any taller. If you need the seat higher or lower than it will actually go, your bicycle is the wrong size for you.
- To adjust the seat height of a recumbent bicycle, sit in the seat with your riding shoes on. Straighten one of your legs almost fully onto the pedal, but keep a slight bend in your knee. Move your seat forward or backward to ensure you have a slight bend in your knee while sitting. Usually, a recumbent bike will have a lever under the seat that you lift when you move the seat.
Lubricate the seat tube.A seat post that is hard to move might have too much friction or a tight fit inside the seat tube. If this is the case, remove the seat post entirely and use a lubricant to grease the inside of the seat tube. If you have a carbon-fiber seat post, use a dry graphite powder lubricant, which is available online, automotive store, or at a home improvement store.
- If the seat post is totally stuck, look for the cause. It might be rusted, in which case you can use a lubricant or other oil for a steel frame to loosen it up, or ammonia if the frame is aluminum. If the seat post is the wrong size for the seat tube, you may need to pry the seat post out, possibly using a flathead screwdriver to assist you. Twisting the seat from side to side might also help loosen the seat. Once you get the seat post removed, either fully lubricate the post and the seat tube, or replace the seat post with a new one that fits better with your bicycle frame.
Align the seat with the bike frame.The front pointed end of the seat should generally align with the frame of the bicycle. Look at the seat from above so you can see whether the seat lines up properly. Since all bodies are different, however, you might find it more comfortable to twist the seat a fraction to the left or right.
Adjust the angle of the seat up or down.Men often prefer a seat that tilts upward, while women are often more comfortable on a seat that tilts downward.This will be a minor tilt. Avoid the temptation to tilt the seat downward very much; even though it may be slightly more comfortable when sitting on the bike, it will actually cause more strain to your arms and shoulders. You may also have a tendency to slide forward when you ride if your seat is tilted too far down. This will cause you to push back with your arms and hands on the handlebars, further straining your arms as you ride.
Tighten the bolt or the lever.If your bike seat tightens with a bolt, use a wrench, Allen wrench, or ratchet to tighten the bolt. If your bike seat tightens with a quick-release lever, push the lever back in. You may need to tighten up the bolt side of the lever so that when you push the lever down, it will be tight enough. To do this, use a wrench to hold the bolt in place while you wind the lever. After every few turns with the lever, test it by closing it to see if it’s tight enough. If it’s too tight, then unscrew the bolt a few turns, and try the lever again.
Testing Out the Seat Height
Try out your seat’s new height.Ride your bike around immediately to see if the seat height works for you. Your legs should rest comfortably on the pedals but shouldn’t bend too much or stretch too much. Make minor adjustments right away since you already have the necessary tools out.
Continue to make minor adjustments over the next week.You might want to tweak the seat height or seat tilt somewhat after you’ve ridden around for a week or so. Oftentimes, a seat will feel uncomfortable if you haven’t ridden your bicycle in a while and you go on a long ride. When your body is more accustomed to riding, you should consider checking your seat height again. Your ideal seat height might be higher than you originally thought. If you raise your seat and all of a sudden it’s easier to ride, then it’s likely your seat was too low.
Don’t be afraid to adjust the seat for every ride.While riding around, your bike seat may move fractionally, especially if you have a lower quality or older bike. You can keep adjusting your seat every time you ride. As you keep doing this, you’ll find the quickest and easiest procedure and it won’t take you much time at all. It will also ensure you have a comfortable ride, especially if you are going for a long or strenuous ride.
- You can ask a local bicycle shop to raise your seat for you. Bike shop employees are usually very knowledgeable about fit and comfort of a bike, and will help you figure out your bike seat’s best height.
- If you raised your seat and you are still not comfortable on your bicycle, you may also need to adjust the handlebars. This will affect how you lean over the bike and may give your arms and back a rest if adjusted properly.
- Some riders, particularly men, have experienced numbness in the crotch area after riding long distances on a bicycle. This numbness might contribute to reducing blood flow to penile arteries, which may lead to impotence or prostate issues. If you are experiencing this, you should try adjusting your saddle by lowering it or tilting it upward. You may think about getting a new saddle as well.
Video: How To Adjust Your Bicycle Seat Position
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