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How To Set Your Saddle Height At Home


Disclaimer:

This article presents some of the most known methods to easily estimate a saddle height at home with little to no equipment.
Sorry to say, it is really unlikely that any of the methods below (or any other formula based methods) will provide a correct saddle height. This is due to the fact that many aspects are not considered (i.e.: individual characteristics, bone length, flexibility, injuries,…). Therefore, as a bike fitter, I do not use this method to decide the saddle height and I do not recommend to set the saddle height from any of these methods alone.
So if the saddle height cannot be calculated, why use any of these methods?
Simply because they provide a starting point. As a beginner cyclist, it is a quick way to get a dimension to start from and to refine from there: set the saddle height with one of the methods below and use the next few rides to adjust the saddle up and down by small increments until you find what feels best.

The LeMond method

Probably the most known and the most used method to calculate a saddle height
Measure your inseam and multiply it by 0.883. The result is the your saddle height from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the saddle.
For example, if you measure a inseam of 82cm, your saddle height would be 82 x 0.883 = 72.4cm from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the saddle.

The Heel method

This is also a very famous method to set your saddle height and doesn’t requirement any equipment. I’m sure your local bike shop used this method to set up your saddle height on your new bike.
Sit on your bike, put the pedal at the bottom of the stroke (crank in line with the seat post for full extension – not at the 6 o’clock position) and put your heel on the pedal. You then adjust the saddle up or down until your leg is straight in that position.
TEST: pedal backward without losing contact between the heel and the pedal at the bottom of the stroke nor tilting your pelvis.

The Hamley method

Similar to the LeMond method, start by measuring your inseam but this time, multiply by 1.09. The result is the saddle height from the top of the pedal to the top of the saddle (make sure the crank is aligned with the seat post – not at the 6 o’clock position).
The benefit of this method compared with the LeMond method is the consideration of the crank length in the measurement.
For example, if you measure a inseam of 82cm, your saddle height would be 82 x 1.09 = 89.4cm from the top of the pedal to the top of the saddle.

The Holmes method

Not so easy to do at home as it requires more equipment (a turbo trainer, a goniometer and an assistant).
Start pedalling until you are in the “correct” position (what feels natural on the saddle) and stop pedalling when the crank is aligned with the seat post – it’s not so easy to stop there but you can ask your assistant to grab and lock the foot at this point – then measure the knee angle. The recommended angle is between 25 to 35° or between 145 to 155° depending on how the angle is measured.
This method is often used on “bike fit” apps and I do not recommend this method to get your saddle height for multiple reasons. The main reasons being a lack of accuracy and repeatability when placing the dots to measure from (or making sure you are measuring from the same points everytimes), the lack of consideration of your flexibility and your own body, and also that many bike fitters have proven that this ranges of angles for non-professional cyclists are likely to result in over-extension of the legs and cause issues on the short and long term.

Take Home

  • Only a starting point – adjust up and down by small increments (even multiple times per ride) until it feels good.
  • Many aspects of the body / individual’s characteristics / equipment / … are not taken into consideration.
  • By changing the saddle height, other settings are impacted and may cause new issues.
  • Accuracy of the measurements can also affect saddle height.
  • A bike fit is the only way to get an optimal riding position – including saddle height.

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